50 gather to spare New-Kensington Arnold monument
By Mary Ann Thomas
Published: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 9:58 a.m.
About 50 people showed their support for keeping the Ten Commandments monument at Valley High School, attending a “Save our Stone” rally on Saturday in New Kensington.
One attendee was the last one person most would have expected to be there.
Marie Schaub, one of the New Kensington-Arnold School District parents who has filed a federal lawsuit to have the monument removed, stopped by near the end of the rally.
“I just wanted to hear what they are saying,” Schaub said. “I find it amazing that people gather in support of breaking the law.”
Mike Hresko, 59, of New Kensington organized the rally in Memorial Park to counter the lawsuit filed by Schaub and Freedom From Religion Foundation of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs believe the monument's presence at a public school violates the First Amendment's prohibition on government establishing a religion.
“We want to show the school district that the community wants that monument to stay there,” Hresko said just before the rally kicked off on a crisp, sun-filled morning in the park. “Those Ten Commandments are part of our history.”
Speaking later from the park's bandstand, Hresko fired up the crowd with comments like “We don't want it removed — this is part of our community. ... They'll lock up the churches and we'll be just like a communist country.”
Saturday's event was the second public gathering in support of keeping the monument at Valley since the Freedom From Religion Foundation first asked for its removal in March. About 50 people attended a prayer vigil in March.
At one point during Saturday's rally, the audience broke into a rousing rendition of “God Bless America.”
For Barbara Madeja, 65, of Arnold, the monument has religious and historical meanings. She's dismayed it has become a big issue.
“I don't think something like this should have been raised,” she said. “It was there for 50 years and some kids don't know it's there. No one is forcing anyone to look at it.”
Madeja said she heard that the monument may be moved to property owned by a church.
“I can't see paying money for attorneys when we can move it,” she said.
A number of residents took the stage to decry the possible removal of the monument and encouraged people to stand up for their rights.
“Don't let intolerant people shut you up,” said Matt Wehrle of Apollo, a former New Kensington resident and a member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.
State Rep. Eli Evankovich spoke briefly and criticized the foundation for trying to remove the granite block.
“This group came here searching for a problem,” the Murrysville Republican said. “We live here — is there a problem?”
The Rev. Mitch Nickols of Bibleway Christian Fellowship Church in New Kensington said there are petitions with at least 400 signatures, “making sure your voices are heard,” which will be submitted to the school district in the future.
“This is America and we do have religious rights,” Nickols said.
The monument was donated in 1957 by the New Kensington aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The national organization donated many such monuments throughout the country in conjunction with the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments.”
The foundation has also sued the Connellsville Area School District in Fayette County asking for the removal of its Ten Commandments monument from near Connellsville Junior High.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- Kovacevic: Still waiting on Malkin, Crosby
- BVA senior takes Relay for Life personal
- LaBar: Did WWE referee know finish to Undertaker match?
- Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
- Manorville man gives children gift of fishing
- Rossi: Lack of together time showing for Penguins’ defense
- Local runners set for Boston
- Landslides put Baldwin firefighters in financial peril
- Kittanning man part of wrestling show benefitting Ford City Summerfest