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 Project

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 project.

Starting in 1951, the Fraternal Order of Eagles distributed framed copies of an Eagles version of the Ten Commandments to courthouses and schools 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 project and called Judge Ruegemer, chairman of the Eagles’s Youth Guidance Commission and the architect of the Eagles project. DeMille suggested that the Eagles produce bronze plaques of the Ten Commandments. Ruegemer countered with the idea of using granite, like the tablets (allegedly) given to Moses on Mount Sinai. And thus was born the monument phase of the Eagles Ten Commandments project. In addition to the print and granite monument phases of the project, the Eagles would also publish and distribute in the late 1950’s 250,000 copies of On Eagle Wings – a 96-page comic book in which a priest takes a youth camping in order to teach him the Ten Commandments.

The Eagles presented their first Ten Commandments monument to the City of Chicago at its 1954 Grand Convention in Chicago. (The whereabouts of this monument remains a mystery.) The Ambridge, Pennsylvania monolith was the first Eagles monument erected on public property in 1955.

The Eagles would go on to collude with cities and states across the nation to place more than 180 of their monoliths on public property – in city parks and at state capitols, courthouses, city halls, public schools and libraries – in violation of the First Amendment mandate of religious neutrality.

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

If you know the location of any of the 5 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.