Educating Americans about religious liberty as expressed
by founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
Kentucky Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Canada Locations Unknown Look-A-Likes
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 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 program and called Judge Ruegemer, chairman of the Eagles’s Youth Guidance Commission and the architect of the Eagles program. 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 program. (In addition to the print and granite monument phases of the program, the Eagles would also publish and distribute in the late 1950’s 250,000 copies of On Eagle Wings – a 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 11 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.
© Robert V. Ritter, Founder, Jefferson Madison Center for Religious Liberty