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South Connellsville VFD social hall site of lastest Ten Commandments monument

| Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 5:54 p.m.
Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
From left, Pastor Ewing Marietta; Neil Reddington, youth leader for United Mountain Christian Fellowship; the Rev. Mike Brown and Rob Bock, singer with gospel group Free Spirit, pray over fireman T.J. Hibbs, first aid captain of the South Connellsville Volunteer Fire Department, for the safety of all firemen.
Rachel Basinger | For the Daiy Courier
Alexis Morgan, 8, daughter of Lisa and Brett Morgan of Bullskin Township, along with other children look over the newly unveiled monument of the Ten Commandments in front of the South Connellsville Volunteer Fire Department social hall.

South Connellsville resident Robert Ward believes a lawsuit brought against the Connellsville Area School District demanding a Ten Commandments monument be moved from the grounds of the Connellsville Junior High School is just “nonsense.”

Ward, who is a member of South Connellsville Borough Council and a member of the South Connellsville Volunteer Fire Department, stood among a crowd on Saturday evening as the Thou Shall Not Move group dedicated its eighth Ten Commandments monument at the South Connellsville Volunteer Fire Department social hall.

“I think this is in a good spot,” said Ward, who has lived in the borough since 1938. “They (borough council) were worried about putting it at the honor roll, but the fire department is not tied to the government, so I think this worked out well.”

Thou Shall Not Move organizers had approached borough council several months ago and asked if it would approve putting a Ten Commandments monument at the honor roll. Under recommendation from its solicitor, council opted not to approve the request.

The efforts of the Thou Shall Not Move group began after the Connellsville Area School District was threatened with a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation if a Ten Commandments monument near the district's junior high school was not moved. The monument has been at the school since the Eagles donated it to the district more than 50 years ago. It currently remains at the site, covered.

The Freedom from Religion organization is representing an atheist and student who want the monument removed from the school grounds.

The matter remains in the courts at this time.

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 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.

Pastor Mark Sholtis of the Normalville United Methodist Church, who attended Saturday's dedication at South Connellsville, said that every dedication is important.

“As citizens of a free country and the Kingdom of Heaven, this is so important,” he said.

Perry Russell of Dunbar Township, who has played music at several of the dedication ceremonies, said he thinks we all should stand up for what's right.

“I'm a Navy veteran and veterans served this country to defend our rights,” he said.

Army veteran Neil Reddington served in Iraq in 2003 and said that while he loves his country, he loves God more.

“We must love God more, because it is God that gives value to our country and family,” he said. “It is the Holy Bible that gives the Constitution its value and strength. If we are not internally controlled by God through Jesus Christ, we will be externally controlled by man through government.”

The Rev. Mike Brown from Liberty Baptist Church in Uniontown said that people need to depend on God and not the government.

Local businessman Gary Colatch said it's the community's duty to stand and fight for what it believes in.

“We need to do this so our children and grandchildren have these same rights,” he said. “We're fighting for a lot more than religion. We're fighting for freedom. We're fighting to take our country back.”

The Rev. Ewing Marietta, who has been organizing the different monument dedication ceremonies, said he hopes people want to continue to have morals and values in this country. He said the local organization is not backing down.

The next Ten Commandments monument dedication ceremony is slated for Oct. 26 in White at the Church of God of Prophecy and following that is one on Nov. 2 at Paradise United Methodist Church. Both are at 5 p.m.

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.

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