Ten Commandments to Grace New Hanover County Schools in North Carolina

According to a timeline proposed on May 6, 2002, the Ten Commandments and other historical documents could grace the walls of New Hanover County schools by the middle of August.

To reach an agreement on what the display of historical documents should look like and which documents will be included, chairman of the Board of Education Policy Committee Don Hayes said he wants the full board to meet in June where the committee would make a recommendation with July set for final approval.

In March, the New Hanover County Schools became the first in North Carolina to allow historical documents, including the Ten Commandments, to be posted in its schools under a state law adopted last year.

To display “documents and objects of historical significance that have formed and influenced the United States (U.S.) legal or government system and that exemplify the development of the rule of law,” the law permits local boards of education to allow.  Also, “in the same manner and appearance generally” as the other historical documents, religious documents must be displayed adds the law.

The committee has been charged with developing a protocol for posting the historical documents.  Chairman Hayes proposed including 13 historical documents in the displays at the May 6, 2002 meeting.  For example, the Ten Commandments, the First Amendment, the Mayflower Compact, the national motto, the national anthem, the New Hanover County Proclamation, the New Hanover County seal, the Mecklenberg Declaration, the Halifax Resolves, and the preamble to the North Carolina Constitution were included in his suggestions.  The documents were recommended because of their local, state and national significance said Hayes.

Concerns about posting the Ten Commandments in the schools were reiterated by board member Maryann Nunnally.  The Biblical laws should be displayed in Hebrew said Nunnally.  She said, “At least it would be the original historic document.”  A few of the secular tenants could be highlighted in English as a compromise she suggested.

The version hanging in the U.S. Supreme Court building, which is a Protestant translation, is what he thought the committee would use.

Nunnally said she doubts students would even look at any of the historical documents. 

Freedom shrines, which are documents revolving around freedom in America are in high schools currently.  At one high school, Nunnally said she went to five classrooms and asked if any of the students knew what was hanging on the hallway.  She said few had any idea of what the documents might be.

For input regarding discussion of the historical documents in the classroom Mr. Hayes turned to Superintendent Dr. John Morris who said, “We can’t find where it would fail.”  Some historical documents, however were discussed as part of the U.S. history curriculum he added.

(Sherry Jones, “Biblical laws on list for school walls,” Wilmington Morning Star, May 14, 2002)



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