In a monumental victory for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Ten Commandments outside of Valley High School in New Kenningston, PA, were finally removed after years of deliberation and stonewalling by the school district.
The outcome of the lawsuit was inevitable given that US District Judge Thomas McVerry had ruled that a similar monument in nearby Connellsville was in violation of the separation of church and state way back in 2015. Despite precedence, the New Ken School District refuse to budge, resulting in a bill of $163, 500 to the school district as a result of losing the case.
One has to ask, what message does it send to the students that the law can be ignored, even if the insurance will cover the misdeeds of the administration?
Remarkably, the District Superintendent John Pallone still does not accept responsibility, stating in the Tribune-Review:
“It’s an unfortunate circumstance that these opportunists forced the district into a situation where we had to make this decision. These plaintiffs and their lawyers basically made a mockery of the judicial system.”
Mockery? What mockery? The Ten Commandments outside the school were not some historic relic, but instead made in 1956 for the promotion of the Hollywood movie, but the same name, staring Charlton Heston.
A mockery was ignoring the multiple court rulings on the separation of church and state, especially with regard to schools. For example, when a 1995 Supreme Court decision (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Orden_v._Perry) allowed the Ten Commandments to remain on lawn of the Texas Capitol Grounds, Justice Breyer stated the exception was granted as they were part of a larger display, not near the front entrance, and that
“This case, moreover, is distinguishable from instances where the Court has found Ten Commandments displays impermissible. The display is not on the grounds of a public school, where, given the impressionability of the young, government must exercise particular care in separating church and state.”
Superintendent Pallone was never going to win the case and to this day still does not accept the ruling. He apparently went so far as to donate it for free to a local Catholic school up the street. Their plan is to make into part of a garish electronic display costing $75,000 to construct, according to their Go Fund Me page. The Go Fund Me plea goes on to state that the adding the electronic display is the first priority and more important than either repairing the roof or assisting needed families in the district:
We ask you to support our efforts to proclaim that the Ten Commandments are an inspiration to live by and are not offensive in our community. A digital reader board will feature one of the Ten Commandments each day as well as relevant announcements. Any additional funds that we receive over our goal will be welcome and helpful and will be used to help replace the school’s roof, renovate the gymnasium and provide tuition assistance to qualifying families.
You have to wonder what lessons in civics are being taught in the public or parochial schools in the New Kenningston, PA. I fear for future generations that are being taught to be martyrs, rather than citizens of a multicultural society, which includes a growing number of non-religious folks.