Ten Commandments-About the Lawsuits Regarding Displays on Public Property


 

Ten Commandments-About the Lawsuits Regarding Displays on Public Property
 


14 August 2008 at 10:11:13 AM
salon

I noticed an article that talks about a lawsuit the Red River Freethinkers brought against Fargo, ND for refusing to allow them to place their own monument next to a ten commandments monument on city property.

In 2002, Lindgren and several other residents filed a lawsuit demanding it be moved. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled three years later that the monument has religious and secular connotations and concluded it doesn't suggest that the city endorses the religious message.

I think that last decision was based on considering the lawsuit brought in Texas about a monument on the Texas Capitol grounds, Van Orden v Perry  that incorporated the 10 commandments. That lawsuit was won by the state, but on the grounds that it had been there, like, forever, and had a secular purpose as well. I don't think that's the case with the Fargo, ND. However, what the Red River Freethinkers wanted to do, and this is reasonable, is erect a *sister* monument next to the one on Fargo city property with the quote from John Adams from 1797.

The Red River Freethinkers, a group of about 100 people who believe the monument violates the constitutional separation of church and state, will continue to press commissioners to allow them to erect a new marker nearby. It would feature a quote from a 1797 treaty signed by the United States and Tripoli: "The United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."

Again, that was President John Adams that wrote that. (See this post on Somervell County Salon for more info about that treaty).

At any rate, the idea is that if city property wants to include a momunent to the 10 commandments, then it certainly ought to include other diverse religious or secular monuments, and not be exclusive to one particular religion. So the Freethinkers brought a lawsuit about it because both their initial request to remove the 10 commandments AND, later, to put up the other monument, were rejected. TodayI read that they are putting their lawsuit on hold because there is ANOTHER related suit coming to the Supreme Court in the fall.

The Red River Freethinkers say their constitutional rights were violated when the city refused to place their monument next to the Ten Commandments marker. The group filed a federal lawsuit in April.

Lawyers for both the Freethinkers and the city have asked to delay the proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a similar case from Pleasant Grove City, Utah.

I looked up what that other suit is, and it is Sunnum v Pleasant Grove City. And The Sunnum religion, whose monument is shown at left, WON the lawsuit. (Her'es the PDF to the ruling by the US Appeals Court in Denver

And here's the idea behind that, from an LA Times  article.

If a city allows a monument with the Ten Commandments to be erected in a public park, must it also allow other religions and groups to display monuments of their choosing? The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take up that question in an unusual dispute over the reach of the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech.

In the past, the court has said the free-speech rule applies in parks and officials may not discriminate against speakers or groups because of their message. In this context, freedom of speech means a freedom from government restrictions.

But last year, the U.S. appeals court in Denver extended this free-speech rule to cover the monuments, statues and displays in a public park. It ruled in favor of a religious group called Summum, which says it wants to erect its “Seven Aphorisms of Summum” next to the Ten Commandments in Pioneer Park in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Its ruling left the city with an all-or-nothing choice: Allow Summum and others to erect their own displays in the park, or remove the other monuments.

And that's what the city did. It's appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The whole thing reminds me of cities that put up religious manger displays or the like at Christmas time. I don't have any problem with a city doing that as long as the city allows other religious displays as well, so that they are not part of *establishing* a religion.


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1 - bsmith   14 Feb 2009 @ 9:31:48 AM  I don't understand why people that do not believe in God feel so threatened by the acts of Christians. If it bothers you to see the 10 comandments, then don't look at them. Not one Christian person has insisted that anyone read and view the 10 comandments. It can't be what the 10 commandments say, Don't steel, Don't commit Adultry, and so on. No matter who wrote these they are good rules to live by. In this great USA we have the right to believe how we wish, this country was built on the belief of God. People in other countrys use to envy the USA, we were strong, happy and free.And now do live here. If you who do not believe in God do not want to see or hear anything to do with God, then don't look and don't listen. With all my being I believe that this great country is failing, due to taking God out of our schools, out of our public places, and our Goverment. If you truly believed that there is no God. Then why does this bother you? Does it hurt you that the Ten Commandments is up for those to read that find comfort in these words? Like I said before don't read. But don't try to remove these from the belivers to find comfort in these words. I would not ever think of putting in your front yard, that would make this personal. Don't try to change what has always worked in this country or Im afraid that we will be denied all the blessings that has made this country so wonderful that everyone wants to live here.

2 - salon   14 Feb 2009 @ 11:40:16 AM 

The argument is not whether anyone wants to look at the Ten Commandments or not; it is that religious expressions need to stay separate from government. I completely agree with you that if you have the Ten Commandments or a Hindu statue or the above Sunnum monument in your yard, then you have the right to display it as you will and I would fight to the death for your right to display them. If a government, taxpayer entity is going to have religious monuments, etc on taxpayer funded property, then they cannot *establish* a religion by favoring one more than another. It's therefore not removing the Ten Commandments as long as other religions of whatever stripe can also put a monument or related up.


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