Ten Commandments monument to be dedicated in Dunbar
Connellsville businessman Gary Colatch had no idea when he stood up in a school board meeting more than a year ago and publicly announced he was willing to donate money to Connellsville Area School District, how far the community would go to try keeping the Ten Commandments monument on the district's property.
About a year later, at least a dozen new stone monuments of the Ten Commandments have been erected on church and other private properties, in addition to thousands of Ten Commandments placards that dot yards all over the Fay-West area.
“I think the people of this area are more religious and have a little more spunk,” Colatch said. “They don't take kindly to big groups trying to tell them what to do and take away their freedoms.
“Connellsville's turning into the little town that could,” he said. “It's truly an absolutely amazing breath of fresh air. It gives me hope that the country will turn back around and realize their roots, their morals and where we came from.”
The efforts of the Thou Shall Not Move group began after the Connellsville Area School District was threatened to be sued if it did not remove the Ten Commandments monument near the district's junior high school.
The Connellsville Eagles had donated a monument more than 50 years ago to the Connellsville Area School District. It is located near Connellsville Junior High School. That monument is the center of a court battle between the school district and the Freedom from Religion organization. The Freedom from Religion organization is representing an atheist and student who want the monument removed from the school grounds. The Thou Shall Not Move group was formed to help the district with its battle. Then, the monuments program started.
The monuments are being funded by the selling of cardboard Ten Commandments yard signs, although some churches have opted to make donations to the group or to purchase the monuments outright.
Thou Shall Not Move formed to raise funds for any legal costs that might be incurred by the district if a legal battle ensued for not removing the monument. The second purpose of the group was to raise funds to erect as many Ten Commandments monuments in the area as they could.
The Rev. Ewing Marietta, one of the founders of the organization, said more than 5,100 yard signs of the Ten Commandments have been sold, raising around $23,800. This is for the express purpose of erecting stone monuments of the Ten Commandments at area churches and other properties all over the area.
On Sunday, the group will hold a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. in Dunbar along Main Street for the unveiling of the sixth stone monument of the Ten Commandments.
The seventh unveiling will be Oct. 5 in Normalville at 5 p.m. and the eighth unveiling and dedication ceremony will be Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. along the main street, South Pittsburgh Street, in South Connellsville.
“God has been very gracious working on individual hearts to keep this going,” Marietta said. “I think there's still an interest because the lawsuit is still ongoing and people want to keep a close eye on it and be a part of it.”
He added that about four or five years ago, he began praying for revival — that God would do something great in this area.
“I think this is that answer, and it's tremendously exciting,” Marietta said. “It has taken off and I'm just holding on for the ride.”
Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.