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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F.O.E. Ten Commandment Look-A-Like Monuments (6)
  • Bloomfield, New Mexico
  • Duchesne City, Utah
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Mount Vernon, Indiana
  • Nita Uma, Mississippi
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Bloomfield, New Mexico
Bloomfield, New Mexico
Bloomfield Municipal Complex
Screenshot: Google Maps street view April 2012
Bloomfield, New Mexico
Photo by James Orndorf/VINnews.com available at
http://www.vosizneias.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Bloomfield-10-Commandments-monument.jpg

Donated by: Private citizens.

Dedicated on: July 4, 2011

Location: Bloomfield Municipal Complex, to the left of City Hall, 915 N. 1st St. (Public property.)

Scroll: “Presented To The People Of San Juan County / By Private Citizens / Recognizing The Significance Of / These Laws In Our Nations History / July 4, 2011”

Below the Scroll: “Any Message Hereon Is Of The Donors / And Not The City Of Bloomfield”

Litigation: The ACLU of New Mexico, representing Jane Felix and B. N. Coone, filed a complaint (Feb. 8, 2012) against the City of Bloomfield and others seeking the removal of a privately donated Ten Commandments monument in front of City Hall. In Felix v. City of Bloomfield , 36 F.Supp.3d 1233 (D. N.M., August 7, 2014), a U.S. District Court held that the display of the monument on public property violated the Establishment Clause, saying in part:
The Ten Commandments monument is government speech regulated by the Establishment Clause because the Ten Commandments monument is a permanent object located on government property and it is not part of a designated public forum open to all on equal terms. (Page 1255)

The case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Comment: The Bloomfield Ten Commandments monument does not have anything to do with the Eagles Ten Commandments program. Kevin Mauzy, a former City Counselor, “was a primary instigator behind the installation of the Ten Commandments monument on the lawn of the City Municipal Complex.” (Complaint, p. 5) The monument is similar to Eagles monuments in that there is an eagle at the top, the mid-section contains an English version of the Ten Commandments and there is a scroll at the bottom identifying the donors (as “Private Citizens”) with a dedication date. The scroll falsely indentifies the Ten Commandments as a significant contributor to “laws in our nation’s history”. In addition, the disassociation statement at the bottom is clearly intended to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 (2009).



Duchesne City, Utah
Duchesne City, Utah
Donated by: The donation to Duschesne City was made in the name and memory of Irvin Cole, a long time resident of the community. (Circa 1979.)

Current Location: Duchesne City Cemetery, 700 US-191. (Public property.)

Original Location: Roy Park.

Scroll: (Cannot be determined from the photo on the left)

Litigation: (1) “In 2003, the ACLU complained to city officials. In response, on August 15, 2003, the City transferred the plot of land containing the monolith to the Duchesne City Lion’s Club. ... Although this development seems to have pacified the ACLU, it had the opposite effect on Summum.” Summum v. Duchesne City, 340 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1224 (D. Utah, 2004)

(2) On September 9, 2003, Summum sent a letter to Duchesne City requesting a similar plot of land as that transferred to the Lion&squo;s Club in order to place a monument of its Seven Aphorisms in Roy Park. The city rejected Summum’ on October 27, 2003. Summum then filed a lawsuit on November 26, 2003. The lawsuit worked its way up to the Supreme Court along with Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 (2009). That case held that permanent monuments on public property were “government speech” which is not subject to First Amendment prohibitions. However, the Supreme Court did say that governments are still subject to Establishment Clause prohibitions. Duchesne City subseqently decided to move its Ten Commaandments monument to the City Cemetery in the spring of 2009 to avoid further litigation expense. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball dismissed Summum’s lawsuit in July 2009.



Little Rock, Arkansas
Mount Vernon, Indiana
Monument currently in storage
Photo available at Google Images

Donated by: The American History and Heritage Foundation

Location: In storage.

Scroll: “Presented To The / People Of Arkansas / By The American History / And / Heritage Foundation”

Notes: On April 8, 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly passed SB939 -- The Ten Commandments Monument Act -- and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the bill into law becoming ACT 1231. The law states the “placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol would help the people of the United States and of the State of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law.” The act also states “The placement of the monument under this section shall not be construed to mean that the State of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over others” and requires that monument be paid for by private donations.

The law requires Secretary of State Mark Martin to consult the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission before approving the design and site for the monument. The law has prompted other groups to demand the state allow competing monuments, including a satanic statue.

JM Center Comment: Just because the statute says so doesn’t make it true. The Ten Commandments are not the moral foundation of the United States and Arkansas, if it places the monument on its Capitol grounds, would definitely be endorsing Christianity.



Mount Vernon, Indiana
Mount Vernon, Indiana
Photo (cropped) by J. Stephen Conn available at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstephenconn/3195080985/in/photolist-5SkCgc
Mount Vernon, Indiana
Posey County Courthouse
Google Maps street view April 2012

Donated by: Unknown

Location: Posey County Courthouse, 300 Main St, at the intersection of Main St. and Indiana-62.

Scroll: (None)

Comment: In March 2005, a vandal broke original 1956 Eagles monument at the Posey County Courthouse into three pieces. Posey Aerie No. 1717 took possession of the monument, restored and rededicated it – placing the monument on its front lawn at 109 W. Water St.



Nitta Uma, Mississippi
Nitta Uma, Mississippi
Google Maps street view June 2014
Nitta Uma, Mississippi
Photo by Janie is available at http://southernlagniappe.blogspot.com/2009/10/highway-61-glimpse-back-in-time.html

Donated by: Ellen Phelps Crump

Location: at a church in Sharkey County on Sago Rd. between US 61 and Nitta Yuma Road. (Private property.)

Scroll: “Erected By / Ellen Phelps Crump / July 21, 1873 [space separating dates] Nov. 9, 1958”

Comment: Altho there is a striking similarity between the “Crump” monument and Eagles monuments, the JM Center is not aware of any connection between Ellen Phelps Crump and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.



Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Image available at https://localtvkfor.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/image11.jpg
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State Capitol

Donated by: Rep. Mike Ritze, a member of the Oklahoma legislature, and his family.

Current Location: Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), 1401 N Lincoln Blvd. (Private property.)

Original Location: Oklahoma State Capitol

Scroll: “Presented To The / People Of Oklahoma / By Dr. Mike And Connie / Ritze And Children / Amity, Heidi And Jamey /”

Story/Litigation: The Ten Commandments monument was donated to the State of Oklahoma by Rep. Mike Ritze, a member of the Oklahoma legislature. Ritze intended the monument to look identical to the Eagles monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol hoping that the courts would find it to fall under the umbrella of Van Orden v. Perry (2005). American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit. An Oklahoma state trial court dismissed an Establishment Clause challenge to the Ten Commandments monument. The court in Prescott v. Capitol Preservation Commission, (OK Cnty. Dist. Ct., Sept. 19, 2014), noting that there are 51 other monuments on the Capitol grounds, held that “the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is constitutional because of its historical value.” On appeal, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed. Prescott v. Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, 2015 OK 54, __ P.3d __, (Okla., June 30, 2015) (Per Curiam) holding that the display of the Ten Commandments monument at the State Capitol violated the Oklahoma Constitution. In denying Oklahoma’s request for a rehearing (July 27, 2015), Justice Edmondson, concurring, stated: &ldquo:We have no embracing historical and secular context here. This isolated monument stating religious principles with religious symbols, without any other statements of secular historical relevance, and no proximate presentation with a common secular theme, compels my conclusion that it violates the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 2 § 5. The monumnet was subsequently moved to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.