Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The 10 Commandments Kerfuffle

Well, the Connellsville school district is getting sued over a 10 commandments monument in front of the junior high.

Full disclosure: I never knew a 10 commandments monument was in front of the junior high.

The plaintiffs in the suit are unidentified and the wording is ambiguous initially--I thought they weren't even residents, but they are.

On a very basic level, they have a point. We separate church and state in this country (as I think we very well should) and there's a religious monument and atheists/nonreligious people don't like it.

But here's where they lose me.
Schneider also wants a judge to block the district from having the monument moved to the Connellsville Church of God, which borders the district’s senior high school and one of its athletic fields.
The suit contends that the monument would be lighted and prominently displayed “for viewing by district students should the district move it there.” Schneider noted that the district rents and uses an athletic field from the church. 
Um. Okay, I guess the reasoning here is that the church borders the high school and so it's close or something so the kids can see it. It's Fayette County's religious equivalent to Sarah Palin being able to see Russia from her house. But it's a church. Asking a judge to block a religious monument from being moved to a religious institution is stupid, no matter which way you slice it. So what if the students can see it? They can see the church, too. Should we move the church? Is being able to see the monument--that wouldn't be on school grounds, mind you--really going to harm or offend them? There's such a thing as exercising your freedom of religion and the freedom from religion argument that goes with it, and then there's such a thing as taking things too far.

In fact, the following quote suggests the problem with the monument may not be separation of church and state, freedom from religion, etc. at all--it may actually be that students can see the monument. The horror!
“Upon information and belief, these proposed arrangements are intended by the district to continue to bring district students in contact with the Ten Commandments monument,” Schneider wrote. “Doe 4 will attend Connellsville Area Senior High School upon completion of her studies at the junior high. If the monument is moved to the athletic fields, it is assured that she will continue to view the monument.”
This ain't a dirty novel or a nudey magazine, dudes (but if it was, I'd care even less--happy Banned Books Week!) The monument being in eyesight isn't forcing anyone to believe anything or do anything. If seeing the monument is the problem, ignoring it should be the solution.

The suit indicated the monument is within view of students who are boarding or exiting school buses and taking outdoor gym classes.
How many of those kids are really paying attention, then? You know what I was doing when I was getting off the bus? Wishing I was still in bed. You know what I was doing when I was getting on the bus? Running so I didn't get left behind or harassed by upperclassmen. You know what I was doing during outdoor gym classes? Trying to stay alive.

“To the plaintiffs, the monument excludes them and others, both members of the community and visitors to the district, who do not follow the particular religion or god that the monument endorses,” Schneider wrote.
They'd have a point if they didn't also disagree with a church displaying them. Come on, now!

A rally was held in support of keeping the monument, and Fr. Bob especially has been very vocal about it. Then again, he's the only priest I'm Facebook friends with. They've tried covered it, but that's not really working since the monument apparently has lots of fans--which shouldn't be surprising. Fayette County leans more conservatively in these issues, and at least we stand up for what we believe in.

Covering it isn't good enough anyway.

“The indefinite covering of the highly conspicuous Ten Commandments monument has neither remedied the impermissible coercion that plaintiffs previously endured nor has it had the effect of squelching the message of religious endorsement that the district continues to send,” Schneider wrote. “Arrangements to move the Ten Commandments monument to the Connellsville Church of God so that it is in direct view of district students, including students who cannot avoid its when playing on athletic fields, would have the primary effect of advancing religion.”
I don't understand how moving it will remedy "impermissible coercion [...] previously endured" if covering it hasn't. Besides, a monument you can't even see or read through a cover isn't really endorsing much of anything, is it?

If all else fails, just move it to Geibel. Other than some of the stupidity around this and Fr. Bob's anger, everyone will win.

1 comment:

  1. In case your readers are unfamiliar with the word "kerfuffle," which you used in the title of your blog post:

    New Words: Kerfuffle & Gyre

    Carolyn Cornell Holland