An atheist group won a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania School District to remove the Ten Commandments monument. The court battle has finally met a conclusion with the New Kensington-Arnold School District paying the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest atheist group, a sum of $40,000, besides getting the monument removed.
The 6-foot monument has stood since 1957 and has been a point of controversy since 2012, when a lawsuit was first filed for its removal. The District has now promised that it would get the monument removed within a month. New Kensington-Arnold School District Superintendent John Pallone described the compromise as the District choosing to take the high road.
The issue first popped up when Marie Schaub, an atheist and mother of a student at the Valley High School, filed a case in 2012 because the monument was offensive to her. She also said that the monument was ‘strictly religious’ and had no business to be on the school grounds. In 2015, a federal judge dismissed the case on the grounds that she had withdrawn her daughter from the school and as such there was no question of her feeling offended by something that was in the school compound.
A month later, however, the case swung back into the court with a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Schaub’s withdrawal of her daughter from the school showed how the religious symbol hurt her sentiments. Now, almost a decade later, Schaub feels relieved that the case is over and thanked the Freedom From Religious Movement for their involvement in the case which she feels was a great help in winning the case. Schaub also hopes the victory will set an example and show the importance of separating Church and State to the people.
Pallone, however, believes the monument shouldn’t have hurt anyone’s religious sentiments at all because it is placed in a location that isn’t very prominent. He claims he himself never noticed it although he attended school there. He believes the monument may now find a more prominent location because a number of private property owners are interested in acquiring it.
The monument was a gift by the Fraternal Order of Eagles as part of a nationwide drive, in response to the movie ‘The Ten Commandments’ that was released in 1956.