Atheists Appeal Ruling After Court Finds Teen Not ‘Harmed’ By Ten Commandments Monument

Ten Commandments Monument-compressed
Photo Credit: FFRF

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — A prominent group of professing atheists has appealed a court ruling finding that a Pennsylvania teenager did not and her mother did not have standing to challenge the presence of a Ten Commandments monument because the teen hadn’t had been near the display enough to claim that it harmed her.

As previously reported, in late July, U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry ruled that the girl and her mother “failed to establish that they were forced to come into ‘direct, regular, and unwelcome contact’ with the Ten Commandments monument…”

The statue, which was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the 1950’s and sits on the grounds of Valley High School in New Kensington, includes the figure of an eagle along with an American flag, two stars of David and an inscription of the Ten Commandments. The organization gifted similar monuments to a number of school districts across the country in hopes that they would “provide troubled youth with a common code of conduct to govern their actions.”

In 2012, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit against the display on behalf of local resident Marie Schaub and her daughter, who complained that they were disturbed by the monument’s presence.

McVerry outlined in his ruling that Schaub had only seen the monument two or three times. Her daughter—whose name has not been released—also testified that she didn’t pay much attention to the display while on campus. The girl also no longer attends Valley High School.

Therefore, McVerry declared that Schaub and her daughter had no standing in the lawsuit and dismissed the case. He said that the need for a lawsuit “seems to have manifested itself only after FFRF became involved in this dispute…”

“Regardless of how she might feel now, if she did not feel that way when she actually encountered the monument, then she is no different from someone who has never come in contact with the monument,” he ruled.

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FFRF has now appealed the ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, contending that the student indeed had “direct contact” with the monument.

“Doe 1 passed directly by the monument on a frequent basis over the course of three years when Doe 1’s day care program traveled to VHS to use the swimming pool. Doe 1 also attended a karate event at the VHS gymnasium,” it wrote in its appeal brief.

“Schaub passed directly by the monument while attending Doe 1’s karate event, and on one or two other occasions, Schaub also viewed the monument from the VHS parking lot while dropping off her sister so that her sister could take of necessary business at the school,” the group continued. “The monument is also visible from the adjacent road.”

FFRF claims that the girl experienced harm because her mother enrolled her in a different school district so she wouldn’t have to pass by the Ten Commandments display.

“Marie Schaub and her child have endured direct injury due to this illegal endorsement of religion by their school district. Not only is the student compelled to attend another school, at inconvenience and disruption, to avoid the religious monument, but the family has been subjected to communitywide opprobrium,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement. “The district essentially has turned them into targets and outsiders in their own school district.”

A decision is expected early next year.


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  • Reason2012

    Stand up and be heard and stop a fraction of a fraction of a percent of Americans forcing their anti-God view on the rest of this Christian nation. It’s no coincidence that the more we allow God to be removed from our country the worse things get.

  • Nidalap

    “FFRF claims that the girl experienced harm because her mother enrolled her in a different school district so she wouldn’t have to pass by the Ten Commandments display.”

    Oh, come ON now! THIS is what we’re supposed to believe? 🙂

    • The Last Trump

      I think it’ time the FFRF was sued for causing damages and harm to all of the citizens in America who’s civil rights are continually threatened and violated by this transparent God loathing hate group. Who’s chief “virtue” seems to be deceit. What a disgrace.

      • Ambulance Chaser

        What law has FFRF violated?

        • afchief

          The 1st amendment!!! Read it!!! Or do I have to translate it for you!!!

      • lizk

        It shouldn’t be damaging to anyone they can just ignore it and walk by it. It’s their guilty conscious that is bothering them and maybe reminds them they are accountable to God that bothers them.

    • Josey

      for real…aha

  • Emmanuel

    They lefties, you hate the ten commandments so much but yet you live by them. Why?

  • violetteal

    FFRF is a terrorist organization

  • Josey

    What a crock! Are people this stupid to be offended by the smallest of things? I don’t believe so, if someone doesn’t want to look at something then they don’t have to, it’s that simple but of course that isn’t the agenda of FFRF, they think foolishly that God can be removed. You can’t remove God, He never changes and is never moved, the thousand cattle on the hillside are His, the earth and the fulness thereof are His. You may think you are removing Him but He laughs at your plans, FFRF and other organizations with same like aspirations, you are deceived and delusional to think He will be removed!

    Psalm 2:1-5 vs1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Jesus Christ is Lord, Saviour and King over all! All glory, honor and power to Him!

  • Robert Taylor

    Atheists are so stupid and irrational!

  • 201821208 :)

    “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” Psalm 14:1
    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they” Psalm 53:1
    “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” John 8:47
    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14
    “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” John 8:45-47

  • Becky

    These people are insaneuuhhh!

  • BarkingDawg

    I predict that this ruling will be overturned.

  • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

    Poor FFRF. Their witness was insufficiently coached. That’s grounds for appeal, surely!