This past Sunday, the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Uniontown, PA unveiled a giant seven foot tall by six foot wide monument of the Ten Commandments on their front lawn. This was done as a display of solidarity with the town’s local school district’s battle with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
This is also in the event you forgot what they were, especially if you’re one of those “Christmas and Easter” Christians. You know who you are. And we do too.
The monument was presented as a show of support for a court battle between the Connellsville Area School District and the Freedom from Religion organization. The Freedom from Religion organization is representing an atheist and student who want a half-century [old] monument removed from the school grounds of Connellsville Junior High, explained the Rev. Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church of Uniontown and a Connellsville resident who is an organizer with Thou Shall Not Move.
There’s more of them on the way, too. The people behind the “Thou Shall Not Move” organization intend this to be the first in a much broader campaign to irrevocably festoon the area with large expensive reminders of laws we really don’t follow anymore.
And what better way to do it than with granite?
“In God we trust,” added David Show of the Fayette Patriots. “We want to have monuments like this one all over Fayette County. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution assures us freedom of religion — not from religion.”
It’s both. I’ve said before that the Constitution protects them the same way it protects us and people of every other faith. The government can’t punish you for worshiping your god, nor can they force you to worship theirs. Normally that sounds like a fair deal, except Christianity has become so hopelessly institutionalized in this country that doing things like taking down pictures of Jesus or passages from the bible is interpreted as an act of oppression.
Show said it is his hope that motorists traveling along busy Morgantown Street will see the monument and think about what the Ten Commandments mean to the United States, which was founded on Christian principles.
That’s a tough claim to back up considering the mutual exclusivity of the First Commandment and the First Amendment. As for the legality of graven images, blasphemy, keeping the Sabbath, honoring your parents, and coveting everything your neighbor has (which is the foundation of modern advertising), I think it’s pretty safe to say that the monument will only stand as a memorial to a way of life of a people long dead, from a time long past, in a place half a world away. And if David and his friends consider the prohibition against perjury, murder, and theft an exclusively Christian idea, then he’s even further into the weeds than I thought.
“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. […] 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.”
First, of course you’re offended. There’s no law that protects you from that, so get used to it. This is what it means to live in a pluralistic, secular society during a time when people are beginning to see to it that the de facto religion plays by the same rules as the everyone else. That’s something else you need to keep in mind: this isn’t about atheists “telling you what to do”. It’s about making sure the state is in compliance with the US Constitution. Tradition and privilege have overlooked Christianity with things like this for a long time. You’re on the wrong side of the fight by supporting Connellsville School District, and in this case the local government, at least, will be told what to do.
Second, of course no one’s going to move the stupid stone, but that has less to do with your defiance and more to do with the face that it’s on your goddamned lawn. It’s private property. You’re making it sound as if it’s the equivalent of putting it on the steps of a courthouse in some act of protest, but it’s really not. Instead, the whole move ends up looking kind of silly. In the end, I really don’t think any non-believer is going to care one way or the other, as long as you do it all from the privacy of your front yard.