Church Organization Leader: Would Have Taken ‘Four Adult Males’ to Vandalize 10 Commandments Monument
The Rev. Rob Schenck told Breitbart News that it would have taken at least four grown men to topple the 10 Commandments monument in the front garden of his organization’s Capitol Hill offices. Schenck, the president and lead missionary of trans-denominational Christianity group Faith and Action, said the reason why that is the case is because the 850-pound stone tablet bearing the 10 Commandments is bolted with a steel rod into the a cement block underneath the ground.
“I talked to the people who installed it in 2006, and they said it would take at least four adult males to bend that hardened steel rod. It goes through more than half of the monument,” Schenck said in an interview outside the building on Monday. “Somebody had suggested maybe somebody came by a little rowdy and kicked it over. There is no kicking that over. It took a herculean effort. It’s 850 pounds of granite, and has a reinforced bar holding it together. It’s a foot and a half of reinforced bar and it goes that deep into concrete underneath.”
Schenck said that the manufacturer told him that “oh my goodness, they must have had a team.”
“That would take a lot of effort to push that forward and down as far as it is,” Schenck said. “He said maybe a couple guys could get it an inch or two, but to get it all the way down to the ground that was a feat of strength.”
Through the center of the tablet, a steel rod is inserted and it goes about a foot and a half deep into the tablet to secure it into an underground cement block that is about three feet deep, about the same size above ground as the tablet, underground. That steel rod extends about a foot and a half into the underground cement as well.
Over the weekend, vandals toppled the monument that is placed across the street from the Supreme Court. The incident happened sometime between when workers at Faith and Action left on Friday and Saturday evening around 9 p.m., when a friend called the group’s Chief of Program Peggy Nienaber to notify her of the vandalism. The area of Capitol Hill is within eye line of several security cameras, and three nonstop patrolled police jurisdictions. A Supreme Court Police guard post, which is manned 24 hours a day seven days a week, is less than 30 yards away right across the street, and two outposts where uniformed Capitol Hill police officers are stationed within 50 yards each way.
“So we really have three police jurisdictions right here,” Schenck said. “We have Metropolitan, Capitol Hill, and our closest neighbors, the Supreme Court police.”
On a street light pole five yards from the Supreme Court guard station are two security cameras. “We are going to formally request to see their security footage from last Friday and last Saturday night,” Schenck said. “But we haven’t requested that yet.”
An organization next door, the National Center for State Courts, Schenck notes, “has two cameras, one here and one on the lower level. We’re going to ask to see their footage, their video, too.”
Faith and Action worked for at least five years to get the correct permits approved to allow them to erect the monument. More than a decade ago, Faith and Action began working to get approval from local, city and federal government, officials to get preemptive approval to erect the monument. “We started with a permit application at the Department of Regulatory Affairs,” a District of Columbia regulatory body, Schenck said. That was in 2001. “They gave us provisional approval of the plan but told us we would have to secure a permit from the U.S. Commission on Fine Art, which approves all monuments in the District of Columbia including the largest. That’s the federal government.”
The group went through the ringer between city, federal and local neighborhood government for years. “I knew I had visited 11 offices by the time we reached the hearing at the Area Neighborhood Commission (ANC), which is the most local expression of government there is here,” Schenck said. “And they denied us twice. We gave up after that. I went back to Regulatory Affairs and they said ‘if your ANC won’t give you approval, we’re never going to give you approval.’”
At that point, Schenck said, the tablet was “temporarily situated in our walled-in rear garden, where it was not visible to the public.”
“So we debated what to do over the course of five years,” Schenck said. “It sat in our back yard for five years, from 2001 until 2006 [when the monument was erected].”
Even though his group owns the house, and could have put anything it wanted up in the front yard including a 10 Commandments monument, they sought approval from various regulatory bodies because “we just thought we would play it safe.”
“We knew it’s large, it’s heavy,” Schenck said. “And we just thought we’ll exceed expectations.”
Schenck said there are three reasons the group erected the monument. “One, because it indicates there is a transcendent moral law,” he said. “A law that is higher than earthly law and of course the keepers of our highest earthly law in this country are right across the street [in the Supreme Court]. So we actually set it at an angle we thought during rush hour all the cars are not [parked] here [on the side of the road], and that’s when the Justices move in and out of their building.”
When the Supreme Court Justices, or anyone else who parks in the underground structure underneath the court’s building, drive out and turn left on Second Street Northeast in D.C., they see the 10 Commandments tablet right there. “And we always laugh and say ‘most of the Justices turn left,’” Schenck joked, noting recent liberal court decisions. “That’s just a little humor. But in any case, we wanted it fully visible to them. And we set it at an angle for maximum view-ability for them across the street at the Supreme Court.”
Another reason, he said, is because “the 10 Commandments is the only place where Jews, Christians and even Muslims do not quibble about origin or importance.”
“All the major monotheistic religions agree that these are words from God,” he said. “So it’s a good meeting place. Virtually all other religions, with the exception of one we’re aware of, at least consider the 10 Commandments to be auspicious. We polled Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, all major religions, and they said ‘of course we endorse the 10 Commandments.’ They’re the epitome of moral law, of duty to God and to fellow human beings. The only one we found on record as opposing the 10 Commandments is the literal Church of Satan, Incorporated, in San Francisco. I don’t know how serious to take them, but they exist and they are on record opposing the 10 Commandments.”
The third reason to erect the monument, Schenck said, is because “it’s an expression of free speech and it’s freedom of religious practice. So, it’s a religious exercise to put up a monument like that.”
Schenck said the group has only had two incidents of vandalism before this. “The only two incidents we have had, you know we erect a nativity scene here in the garden during Christmas season?” he said. “We had the Baby Jesus stolen once and an attempted abduction of Mary by a parade of feminist activists who were coming by and they tried to nab her but she was tethered to the ground with an electric cord so they couldn’t grab her and they dropped her. And that was the only two incidents that we’ve had.”
No one has ever tried to deface the 10 Commandments monument or paint over it or anything, Schenck said. “And we always assumed we were probably insulated, protected from that, by the Capitol Hill Police, the security presence here,” he said. “I mean we have Supreme Court Police right here, diametrically opposite of our door. We have Capitol Hill Police on either end of the block in constant circulation.”