WHITLEY CITY, Ky. (AP) _ A poster of the Ten Commandments was removed from a county courthouse Wednesday as one preacher declared it ``a dark and shameful day.''

``God forgive us,'' shouted one of the roughly four dozen people who had assembled at McCreary County Courthouse, many wearing T-shirts that bore a recitation of the scripture.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman last week reiterated an order that the display in McCreary County be removed while a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality is pending. Similar displays in the Pulaski County Courthouse and the Harlan County schools also were to be taken down this week.

Coffman had earlier agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the displays amounted to a government endorsement of religion.

``Today or tomorrow they will probably be taken off the walls and stored,'' said Harlan County Schools Superintendent Don Musselman. ``But I'm sure they will be going back up one day.''

He said the school district has received more than $25,000 in donations toward its legal fight to keep the Commandments posted.

Community officials have portrayed the Commandments as collections of historic documents that show the importance of religion in America. Coffman said the displays, which included excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, the state Constitution and the Mayflower Compact, all had a religious tone.

The Rev. Willie Ramsey, pastor of the Somerset Church of Christ, said Coffman had declared the documents illegal. ``That's a dark and shameful day. That's communism. That's atheism,'' Ramsey said.

It was a Kentucky case that the U.S. Supreme Court used to rule in 1980 that posting the Ten Commandments violated the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion.

Undeterred, the 2000 Kentucky General Assembly passed a resolution that encourages local governments and schools to post the Ten Commandments and ordered a display on the Capitol grounds.