Jefferson Madison Center for Religions Liberty
Educating Americans about religious liberty as expressed
by founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

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Help the JM Center by sending high resolution photos of your state’s Eagles monuments
to Bob Ritter at the JM Center. Thank you.

Fraternal Order of Eagles
Ten Commandment Monuments Program

In 1947, Minnesota Judge E. J. Ruegemer sentenced a youth who had stolen the family car and hit a pedestrian to learn the Ten Commandments. From this case, Ruegemer got the idea for the Eagles Ten Commandments program.

Starting in 1951, the Fraternal Order of Eagles distributed prints of an Eagles version of the Ten Commandments to courthouses in Minnesota. The purpose was to indoctrinate youths in Judeo-Christian morality with the expectation that they would conduct their lives according to “God’s Law.” The program went national in 1953.

Movie producer Cecil B. DeMille heard of the Eagles program and called Judge Ruegemer, chairman of the Eagles Youth Guidance Commission and the architect of the Eagles Ten Commandments program. DeMille suggested that the Eagles produce bronze plaques of the Ten Commandments. Ruegemer countered with the idea of using granite like the tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The Eagles presented its first Ten Commandments monument to the City of Chicago at its 1954 Grand Convention in Chicago. The Ambridge, Pennsylvania monolith was the first Eagles monument erected on public property in 1955.

The Eagles would go on to conspire with cities and states to place more than 180 of its monoliths on public property — courthouses, city halls, parks and public schools — in violation of the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state.

The last Eagles monument was erected at the Vergennes, Vermont areie in 2010.

If you know the location of any of the 16 unidentified Eagles monuments (or others not on my Monuments by State and City list), please send me, Bob Ritter, an email with the street address or nearest intersection, city and state. Photos also appreciated.