Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Seven Aphorisms Monuments

Seven aphorisms? Ed, don’t you mean the ten commandments? Nope. The seven aphorisms of the Summum religion, a group that preaches and practices “mummification and transference.” The 10th Circuit is currently handling two cases where Summum wanted to place monuments to the seven aphorisms in public parks where there were already monuments to the ten commandments on display. Predictably, the cities where they wished to do so refused to allow their monument, prompting lawsuits. The 10th Circuit appeals court ruled in favor of Summum in both cases. I’ll let Howard Friedman explain the rulings in the two cases below the fold:

In Summum v. Pleasant Grove City, (10th Cir., April 17, 2007), the court of appeals held that Summum was entitled to a preliminary injunction permitting it to erect its monument in a city park that already featured a number of displays relating to the city’s pioneer history as well as a 10 Commandments monument donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Holding that a park is a traditional public forum, the court rejected the city’s attempt to restrict park monuments on the basis of their historical relevance to the city, saying that the city offered no reason why this was a “compelling” interest that would permit content based restrictions on monuments. While the city might create content-neutral restrictions on aesthetic grounds, it has not done so here.

The second case, Summum v. Duchesne City, (10th Cir., April 17, 2007), was more complicated. Here, apparently the only display already in the city’s park was a 10 Commandments monument, and the city attempted to avoid Summum’s request by transferring the land under the Ten Commandments display to a private party. Initially the land was transferred to the Lion’s Club, and– after questions were raised about the propriety of that transfer– the land was re-transferred to private individuals. Also a fence was put up around the Ten Commandments with a sign saying that the land did not belong to the city. Summum requested transfer to it of a similar size piece of land in the park.

Here’s what jumps out at me about the two cases: the lengths both cities were willing to go to in making sure that only their own religion had access to public property and could put up a public display of the tenets of their religion. Duchesne City repeatedly tried to find some loophole around the constitution in order to preserve exclusive access for their own religion. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

Congratulations to Howard, by the way, for the 2 year anniversary of his blog, Religion Clause. His blog is one of the very first I visit every day because he chronicles virtually every church/state case going on in the country at all times. Very valuable source of information. Keep up the great work, Howard.

Comments

  1. #1 John Wilkins
    April 19, 2007

    Can we now expect a rash of other religions doing the same? The Four Noble Truths? The Four Pillars of Wisdom? The 764 Basic Rules of Pastafarianism, done in alphabet noodles?

  2. #2 Scott Simmons
    April 19, 2007

    Wait–Pastafarianism has rules? 764 of them?!.

    That’s it. I’m converting to Fundamentalist Agnosticism.

  3. #3 Thony C.
    April 19, 2007

    “The 764 Basic Rules of Pastafarianism, done in alphabet noodles?”

    They really satisfy your hunger for knowledge!

  4. #4 Dave
    April 19, 2007

    Personally I tend towards evangelical atheism.

    Dave

  5. #5 kehrsam
    April 19, 2007

    The 764 Basic Rules of Pastafarianism, done in alphabet noodles?

    It’s just the Code of Federal Regulations section on wheat products, nothing to get excited about.

  6. #6 Fastlane
    April 19, 2007

    This is great. I’ll have to read the briefs later, but was the ACLU involved in either of these cases?

    Cheers.

  7. #7 ZacharySmith
    April 19, 2007

    I wonder if this will give these christians a new appreciation of the Establishment Clause.

    Of course, any appreciation they might acquire will quickly evaporate next time they want to put up another christian display on public grounds.

  8. #8 Ginger Yellow
    April 19, 2007

    Cases like these rather put the lie to the oft-heard whine that “the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion”. They clearly don’t believe in freedom of religion either.

  9. #9 Disgusted Beyond Belief
    April 19, 2007

    “Can we now expect a rash of other religions doing the same? The Four Noble Truths? The Four Pillars of Wisdom? The 764 Basic Rules of Pastafarianism, done in alphabet noodles?”

    That’s a GREAT idea! I’m all for a monument with all 286 Ferengi Rules of Acquisition!

  10. #10 Stuart Coleman
    April 19, 2007

    This is a great job by these Summum guys. I’ve never heard of them before, but I’d love to see tenets of a religion no one’s heard of next to the commandments.

  11. #11 W. Kevin Vicklund
    April 19, 2007

    I’ve run across a number of cases started by the Summums. Loads of fun, and exposes the hypocrisy of the evangelicals.

  12. #12 Dr X
    April 19, 2007

    I wonder if this will give these christians a new appreciation of the Establishment Clause.,/i

    No. I say this as a Christian who knows that blindness and hypocrisy are the coin of the realm for Christians who’ve got a boner for Christianized government.

  13. #13 Murray Bowles
    April 19, 2007

    This is great! I think Catholics and Lutherans should demand a monument of the Commandments using their numbering in places where there is a Judeo-Calvanist-numbered monument, and vice-versa.

  14. #14 Stegve
    April 19, 2007

    Here’s what jumps out at me about the two cases: the lengths both cities were willing to go to in making sure that only their own religion had access to public property and could put up a public display of the tenets of their religion. Duchesne City repeatedly tried to find some loophole around the constitution in order to preserve exclusive access for their own religion. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

    They’re just going to say that the U.S. is based on Judeo-Christian principles and other religious monuments have no historical basis to be there.

  15. #15 James
    April 20, 2007

    How about the 1 commandment of Atheism?

    1) Don’t believe in any gods.

    DBB – I’d vote for the Rules of Acquisition as well :)

  16. #16 John B
    April 20, 2007

    The Church of Satan still has tax-exempt status in the states, right? This could get ugly…

  17. #17 Wesley R. Elsberry
    April 21, 2007

    I wonder if this will give these christians a new appreciation of the Establishment Clause.

    Of course, any appreciation they might acquire will quickly evaporate next time they want to put up another christian display on public grounds.

    Hmm. I already appreciate the Establishment Clause, and I don’t see that evaporating anytime soon.

  18. #18 Shadow
    April 21, 2007

    I do know the Summum group somewhat and as I understand they are not at all in favor of removing the Ten Commandments.Rather an equal voice.But it does seem to follow that eventually such displays will be eliminated entirely from public places as others may (and seems most likely will) want in on the act if the doors are open for them so to do.Why shouldn’t they?To display MY truth in public parks is not really all that important to me anyway.All of my life the Ten Commandments were displayed in parks and I can’t honestly think of anyone who was so moved after reading them to follow them.Besides all Christians should know already that it is impossible for any
    man to keep.That was after all the idea was it not?That is to reveal something of our inability that we should know and not trust in ourselves solely.

  19. #19 Randy Ziraldo
    July 3, 2007

    There is no hypocrisy in believing in one God. We will all be enlightened when the time comes!!