Over the weekend, a Ten Commandments monument was unveiled in front of St. Paul’s AME Church in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, courtesy of the group Thou Shall Not Move.
You’re probably thinking: Who cares? That’s not a story.
You’d be right.
But the church members — for reasons that have everything to do with a complete lack of understanding about how the law works — thought they were hoisting up a giant middle finger to atheists:
“Freedom from religion offends Christians,” Colatch said. “Christians don’t believe that atheists should tell us what we can and cannot do. This monument is the free speech zone.
“They have wakened up people of this area,” Colatch said. “We decided to stand up for Freedom of religion — not from religion. No one is going to move this stone. We will not allow it. We’ve decided to stand up for this monument and to stand up for Jesus Christ.”
And the atheist response has been a collective:
Seriously, it’s fine. No atheist group has any plans to take down this monument.
So what’s this all about?
In 1957, the Fraternal Order of Eagles put up a Ten Commandments monument in front Connellsville Junior High East in Pennsylvania. It’s boarded up in the picture above because, last year, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters to the school district telling them it had to be taken down; public schools should not be promoting one particular faith, after all.
District officials knew they had been caught:
The district plans to comply — a move that is unpopular but necessary to avoid a costly lawsuit…
“It’s been here since 1957, and now we have to remove it,” [Superintendent Dan] Lujetic said. “If we wanted to fight this, there’s no way we would win.”
The monument is now gone from school grounds and that’s that. The monument is still boarded up on school grounds (pending ongoing litigation). Hopefully, it’ll be removed soon and give us a happy ending to the story.
… unless you’re ignorant of the law and religious, in which case you think the school district is endorsing atheism (by covering or removing the monument) and that putting up Ten Commandments monuments on private (church) property is something that would piss off atheists.
Well, it doesn’t. Have at it. No one cares what you do on your personal land. All we care about is that there’s no entanglement between church and state.
In fact, I wish churches everywhere would take this approach: Stop wasting time and money trying to get these monuments up in front of courthouses, city halls, and public schools when there’s perfectly good space on your church’s front lawn.