The Freedom From Religion Foundation is at it again, and this time it’s in the Pittsburgh region. Connellsville has been taken to task over a monument with the Ten Commandments on it, that was placed on school property in 1957. Billy Hallowell at “the Blaze” covered a great deal about this story, including the latest issue – the fact that FFRF will not be satisfied with the monument being moved to a neighboring property that belongs to a church. Perhaps their next move will be to start legal action against religious organizations that happen to own property next to governmental properties.
To place this in perspective, the FFRF considers itself a secularist organization, and enters into legal actions against various communities across the country with the basic goal of stripping all religious references from historic landmarks on public lands. First, one must remember that the organization is perpetually under the misguided notion that the First Amendment guarantees a completely secular society. That is not the case. The amendment does read “freedom of religion”, not freedom from it, as the organization has named itself. While it has enjoyed some degree of success in the courts, that shouldn’t be an indication that the organization is right. The organization has been seeking to expand the definition of governmental endorsement of a given faith, so that it is easier for them to force communities to do what they want.
In the case of Connellsville, just because an old monument with the Ten Commandments is sitting on the front lawn, does not mean that the school district endorses Judeo-Christian faiths. It costs money to remove it – money better spent on textbooks and other supplies needed for the students. If the FFRF had proof that teachers were forcing students to do anything in the course of the instructional day that involved that monument, maybe that would be proof of the District endorsing a given faith – but, those activities would have to have something to do with the content written on the monument. If it was a history assignment, including local history during the 1950’s, then perhaps it would be considered a secular activity.
Obviously, the primary individuals FFRF represents are atheists, and that brings up yet another issue with the very existence of this organization in the first place. Contrary to what they may want to think or believe, atheism is not a religion. It is the absence of religious faith. Atheists do not believe in deities, and theoretically, should not honestly care what anyone that happens to believe in gods do. Consider it this way – many people do not believe in Santa Claus. During the holiday season, we do not see protests against the department stores having a Santa Claus for children to visit, and we don’t see people demanding that pictures or statues of Santa be torn down. But, put up any reference to a religious observation of the holidays, and be prepared for the FFRF and others like them to come out complaining about poor atheists being forced to endure seeing items that refer to the worship of deities those atheists don’t believe exist. The real question should be “why are these people so concerned with something they don’t believe in anyway?”
FFRF bullies people, communities, and courts into thinking that any reference to religion on any public property is absolutely unacceptable. The mere presence of a monument implies that the government is endorsing a religion. That simply is not the case. They are absolutely right in their contention, if a government entity is spending money to make something like that today – a new item, not placing an historic item in a new building that is replacing an old one. As for the monument pictured here, it was near the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, as of 2007. If it has been removed in the intervening years, that was a waste of taxpayers’ dollars, since that stone obviously wasn’t very large, and didn’t have a great deal of promotion or visibility in a city full of monuments. Contrary to what FFRF would like to make people think, these monuments do have a value other than promoting a given faith. They are a part of our history. In all honesty, it would probably be a good idea for all communities to do what is necessary to have any religious monuments on public land declared “historic landmarks” – assuming, of course, that they are old enough to get such a distinction. That is definitely the case in Connellsville. As for the argument that even seeing a monument to the Ten Commandments is somehow harming the child of an atheist, perhaps the court needs to request a psychological examination of the plaintiffs. After all, they are getting upset about something they don’t believe exists in the first place – that must be some form of delusional behavior.