NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. — To Shawn Teamann, posting a sign of the Ten Commandments in the front yard of his North Huntingdon home is an affirmation of his faith and his stance against what he sees as an erosion of religious freedom in America.
“It’s just standing up for what you believe in. We feel religious freedom is being taken away,” said Teamann, a member of the Immaculate Conception Church of Irwin.
Immaculate Conception has joined with the two Roman Catholic churches in North Huntingdon — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Agnes — in distributing about 1,000 signs to members of the three parishes this month.
“These are the Ten Commandments that we try to live by. We realize that when people put the signs up, that we are all sinners,” said the Rev. John Moineau, pastor of Immaculate Conception and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Having a sign in his Herold Street yard is a reaction to the removal of the Ten Commandments from publicly owned buildings, Teamann said.
Moineau, who came up with the idea of distributing the signs to parishioners, said it was done in conjunction with articles he has written in the church bulletin to show how “those commandments can be lived out in today’s world.” Moineau said his initiative had the blessing of Monsignor V. Paul Fitzmaurice, pastor at St. Agnes. Fitzmaurice could not be reached for comment.
Moineau, a Lower Burrell native, said he was prompted to get Ten Commandments signs for parishioners because officials at Valley Junior-Senior High School in New Kensington this year removed a monument etched with the Ten Commandments. The monument on school grounds was removed under the terms of an out-of-court settlement in February with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis. An atheist had filed a lawsuit in 2012, claiming the school district violated the constitutionally required separation of church and state.
In a highly-publicized case, a monument with the Ten Commandments was moved in October 2015 from outside Connellsville Area Junior High to the Connellsville Church of God, which is adjacent to the entrance of Connellsville Area Senior High School.
The monument was boarded up in 2012 after the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of a student in the district. That battle over the monument’s location spawned a Thou Shall Not Move organization that opposed moving the monument from where it had been since 1957.
By putting the Ten Commandments at the homes of parishioners, however, no one can be forced to remove it, Moineau said.
“Why should something like this be offensive to someone? We’re not trying to stick it down people’s throats,” Moineau said.
Ginger Flynn of North Huntingdon said she placed one of the signs in her front yard because, “I like to think about the Ten Commandments.”
Moineau said he would like to see the signs remain on display until Christmas.
“I’m hoping there won’t be much vandalism to them,” Moineau said.
Information from: Tribune-Review, http://triblive.com