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Doves probed by Pa. school board

August 15, 2000

Doves probed by Pa. school board



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The question of whether two sculptured metal doves paid for by a Waynesboro physician are a secular representation of peace or a subliminal religious symbol surfaced again Tuesday night at a meeting of the Waynesboro School Board.

Waynesboro physician Dr. M.S. Haq paid $25,000 to have the sculpture fabricated by a Washington County metal shop. He did it, he said, to show his appreciation to the Waynesboro community for supporting him and his practice over the years. The doves signify peace, Haq said.

He said the doves are positioned to spell out the letter W to represent Waynesboro. The doves were installed in a concrete base on the front lawn of Summitview Elementary School on East Main Street. The sculpture was dedicated in a ceremony last spring.

Earlier this month, Ron Pike, 68, of South Broad Street, in a local letter to the editor, said the doves, because of the upward swing of their necks and backs, represent the crescent in the crescent and star of an Islamic religious symbol. Pike said in an interview last week that he came to that conclusion by superimposing the crescent over a photo of the doves.

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He said he would raise the same objections if the sculpture was a cross.

Pike was at Tuesday night's School Board meeting but did not speak.

Dr. James Teeter, a recently retired Waynesboro physician, told the board Tuesday that he agrees with Pike. The doves represent an Islamic symbol and should be removed from school property, Teeter said. He said it is no coincidence that a Muslim would sculpt a dove in the form of a crescent.

Dr. Haq is a Muslim. He has declined to comment on the issue saying only that the doves are meant to be a sign of peace and that people can see whatever they want in them.

Last week three board members - Leland Lemley, Steve Kulla and Hector Gomez - raised the question of what the doves really mean. The Board, in an attempt to resolve the issue, asked The Rev. Stephen D. Harris, pastor of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, to ask clergy in the 30-member Waynesboro Ministerium Association, to give their opinions in writing. Harris told the board Tuesday that only five ministers have responded so far since the letters only went out on Aug. 10. He was asked to return to the Sept. 14 board meeting with a full report on the ministers' opinions.

The board meanwhile has tabled Haq's request to install a 4- by 6-foot metal sign near the doves that says they are dedicated to the people of Waynesboro.

Haq and Carol Henicle, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce, belong to a committee that is raising money from donations to landscape the sculpture. So far, Henicle said, the committee has raised more than $1,000.

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