Sunday, June 8, 2003

Monuments to be removed

Adams County schools to lose biblical tablets Monday

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST UNION - One year after a federal court judge deemed them unconstitutional, granite tablets bearing the Ten Commandments are scheduled for removal Monday from the grounds of four high schools here in Adams County.

Those who favor the displays, such as the Rev. Ken Johnson and others with the activist group Adams County for the Ten Commandments, are expected to hold a rally at 9 a.m. in front of Peebles High School - the first of the schools where tablets will be removed - along Ohio 41.

The rally will continue as workers also remove tablets from North Adams in Manchester, Peebles and West Union junior-senior high schools. Each monument is about 3 feet tall and weighs about 800 pounds.

"We wish to show our support and let the community know we believe they're needed," said the Rev. Johnson, a United Methodist minister who acts as a spokesman for the ACTC.

In April, a U.S. magistrate threatened Adams County school officials with contempt of court charges for failing to begin removal of the stone tablets, as ordered in a previous federal court's decision.

The district had waited in the hopes of a ruling on its pending appeal that might have made removal unnecessary. Nevertheless, the school board agreed to remove the tablets and scheduled the work for Monday, three days after school dismissed for the summer, so students wouldn't be affected.

The appeal, which is in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, will continue even though the tablets will be gone.

The monuments are gifts from ministers in Adams County, about 50 miles east of Cincinnati, and have been on display since 1997.

In 1999, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the county on behalf of a Peebles resident, Berry Baker, who objected to the display.


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