New Kensington School in Trouble

Religious indoctrination has no part in public schools and yet students attending Valley High School in New Kensington, PA (15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh) are greeted every morning by a large granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments, right outside the front door of their school.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) notified the school yesterday that the monument needs to be removed.  Staff attorney Patrick C. Elliott argues in the letter, which you can read in its entirety, that the permanent display of the Ten Commandments in front of a New Kensington-Arnold school clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  For example, in Stone v. Graham (1980), he notes that the Supreme Court wrote:

The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature … The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters … rather, the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord’s name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day.

In Van Orden v Perry (2005), Justice Breyer reiterated that the Ten Commandments are not appropriate on

the grounds of a public school, where, given the impressionability of the young, government must exercise particular care in separating church and state.

The Valley High School case is particularly egregious. The Ten Commandments stand alone at a main entrance on a permanent, 6-foot tall monument, screaming out in very odd capitalization: “I AM the LORD thy God”. To make matters worse, the version posted on the stone is not even the typical generic version, but one that is specifically Roman Catholic, thus alienating Protestant, as well as non-Christian and non-believing students, parents, and staff members. As the letter states, it is unfortunate that some educators feel it is their place to instruct other people’s children on religious edicts.

Let’s hope that Jon Banko, Prinicipal of Valley High School, and George Batterson, Superintendent, have learned from the Cranston West fiasco and will come to a quick resolution.  It is time to stop the proselytizing on public school grounds.  It is time to remove the Ten Commandments.


About SamStone

A Steel City Skeptic who thinks science and reason is the light that we should follow to find our way in this world.
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9 Responses to New Kensington School in Trouble

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  5. Russ Painter says:

    According to this article from a local paper, the monument has been there for over 10 years.

    • Strange and Away says:

      It seems to get a little older in every article. Now they are saying “It was given to the district in 1957 by the New Kensington Eagles club”.

      It doesn’t really matter. It is still illegal.

      • Sk8eycat says:

        Not only is it illegal, it’s UGLY. Looks like a giant 18th century grave marker. “Who died and made you god?” sort of thing.

        What is it about xian monuments and BAD Taste? Reminds me of that big plastic Jesus next to the ski run in Montana…has all the charm of the plastic statuettes I used to see on the dashboards of taxicabs in Mexico City back in the late 1950s. Enough to gag a goat.

  6. Pingback: Valley High School’s Ten Commandments Monument Needs to Be Removed | Friendly Atheist

  7. Sk8eycat says:

    How long has that obscenity been on the school grounds? Will the school try to get away with claiming that it’s a “historical monument” (as in the Cranston, RI, prayer banner case)?

    I think American public school administrators need to be taught that even Moses and the exodus are not historical Expert archaeologists have been searching the Sinai Desert for decades, and have not found one scrap of evidence of a mass migration from Egypt to Palestine…ever.

    Some quotations from fiction might be suitable, even welcoming, at the entrance of a public school, but not any version of the Decalogue.

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