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Support still strong for Ten Commandments monument in Connellsville

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 10:41 p.m.
Bill Etling buys a yard sign from Janice Huey during a rally in support of keeping the Ten Commandments monument at its present location. The rally was held Wednesday at the Connellsville Eagles. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier

On Wednesday, more than 100 people attended a rally held at the Connellsville Eagles to show their support for keeping the Ten Commandments monument at its current location at Connellsville Junior High School.

This was the first rally held since the Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with an anonymous parent and student, filed a civil suit against the Connellsville Area School District after it did not remove the monument from the district's property.

Audie Raubaugh of Connellsville came to show support for the cause.

“I believe in what they're doing and even if we don't win, at least we're going to show them that these people are going to stand up for what we believe in,” she said.

Pastor Mark Van Bibber with the New Life Fellowship Church in Connellsville addressed the crowd saying he believes the majority of the people in the community want to enjoy the free exercise of religion.

“Let's put this issue to a vote,” he said. “If the majority say they want it to stay and are for the freedom of any other religious expressions, then so be it.”

The rally was organized by Connellsville resident Gary Colatch and Pastor Ewing Marietta of Liberty Baptist Church.

Colatch said he was glad to see the support.

“Some people may think this is a trivial issue but you need to understand one thing — your freedom is under attack,” he said. “The Constitution was written to protect your rights, not the rights of the government.”

A fundraising campaign is currently being conducted to help with legal costs.

Colatch said 25 donations have been received to date. The account has almost $2,000.

A second monument fund was set up. There is currently $600 in that account.

Colatch said the monument fund would help to pay for any costs associated with moving the Ten Commandments if the courts determine it must be moved. The money will also be used to build another monument that would be located somewhere in Connellsville.

Marietta read a piece of scripture at the rally on Wednesday and told the story of David and Goliath.

“David decided it was time to take a stand and I couldn't have been more proud than when Connellsville took a stand at the school board meeting,” he said. “Yes we're facing a Goliath, but we will say the battle is ours and we will stand and fight and let God be God.”

Marietta said before David even faced Goliath he had to put up with verbal abuse from the Philistines.

“He won, but he had to stand first,” Marietta said. “This could drag out for five years, but I think we can do this. We need to stand in God's love towards others.”

Marietta said he and Colatch have met with a team of seven attorneys who are “making wise decisions.”

Marietta encouraged individuals to attend the next school board meetings, which will be held Monday and Wednesday. He also encouraged residents to write letters to the editor to local papers.

Marietta said anyone wishing to make a donation to the legal fund or the monument fund should send them to P.O. Box 410, Connellsville, PA 15425. He asked that individuals stipulate which fund the donation is to go to.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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