“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” That is what President Barack Obama said on Sept. 26, 2012 in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly. The comment was a reaction to nothing in particular and seemed to many observers to come out of nowhere.
Obama addressed the same august body today, a little over a year later. This is what he had to say about a genuine act of religious desecration in the city he temporarily calls home: [Insert sound of crickets chirping.]
Over the weekend, The Washington Times reports, vandals toppled a monument to the Ten Commandments. The stone slab, which measures three feet square, sits across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court, in front of the headquarters of the evangelical Christian group Faith and Action.
To summarize: The prophet of Islam, 1, the religions of Moses and Jesus Christ, 0.
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Rev. Rob Schenck, leader of Faith and Action, did have a response, telling the press:
We’re confounded, absolutely mystified, how a collection of people could get away with this kind of damage. The Ten Commandments is something that unites people. It’s disappointing to say the least. Heartbreaking — that’s the word I used with my staff.
The organization’s headquarters reside on a block that is protected by U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. police, and a guard house near the Supreme Court building that is staffed around the clock. How the vandals managed the feat of toppling the 850-pound block of solid granite without drawing attention. Schenck told reporters he spoke with the monument’s engineer, who said it would have taken leverage and a “Herculean amount of strength” to wrench the stone off its base and bend a steel reinforcing rod so the monument could fall forward.
“We made sure it exceeded code requirements,” Schenck said of the monument’s construction. “It’s a very heavy piece of stone and we didn’t want anyone injured by it. We’ve done everything possible to make sure it’s very secure.” In fact, he notes, when the monument was first erected in 2006, it took an eight-man crew, a truck, and heavy lifting equipment to position the stone.
The fallen monument was discovered Saturday when a neighboring minister walked past the site. A contractor has been called in to estimate the cost of repairing and restoring stone.
The sculpture originally stood outside a high school in Adams County, Ohio. It was ordered removed in June 2002 by a federal court following a lawsuit by secularists who claimed the symbol violated the establishment clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Faith and Action group won the sculpture at a charity auction. When it initially arrived in D.C. was place behind the building, out of public view, while the organization worked to secure a permit to display it on the front lawn.
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