Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Summum Case Back in Court

The Supreme Court last year ruled against Summum in its attempts to get a monument to its Seven Aphorisms put up next to a Ten Commandments monument, but the court only ruled on the free speech issue. It left open the possibility that the Establishment Clause required acceptance of the Summum monument since the city had already accepted a Ten Commandments monument.

So it’s back to federal district court on that question, where the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the city of Pleasant Grove wants the case dismissed.

Pleasant Grove on Friday asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit by a Salt Lake City religious group seeking equal space for its own marker in a city park that has a Ten Commandments monument.

But Summum, a small sect based on Gnostic Christianity, asked U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball to keep the suit alive and for permission to erect a display of its Seven Aphorisms while the matter is pending.

At the center of the dispute are the Establishment Clauses in the state and federal constitutions, which prohibit the promotion of one religion over another.

Geoffrey Surtees, a lawyer for Pleasant Grove, argued that the Ten Commandments display in the city’s Pioneer Park conveys a secular historical message, which the U.S. Supreme Court has said is permissible.

But Summun’s attorney, Brian Barnard, contended that the monument advances religion and that Pleasant Grove must give other religious messages equal consideration.

“They are a mandate from God, the Judeo-Christian God,” Barnard said of the Ten Commandments.

This argument that the Ten Commandments just conveys a secular message is monumentally idiotic. They are alleged to be direct commands from God, for crying out loud. If that can be called “secular” then language simply has no meaning anymore at all.