ACLU instigated trial to begin on Bible-themed monument
By Albuquerque Journal (NM) March 11, 2014 12:25 pm
A federal judge this week will consider whether a 3,000-pound monument inscribed with the
Ten Commandments on the front lawn of Bloomfield City Hall violates the religious freedoms
of two of the city’s residents.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against the city on behalf of two plaintiffs
who practice the Wiccan religion and says the monument conveys the message that the city
endorses a particular religious belief.
“In my opinion, it says that anybody who doesn’t agree with this monument on city grounds
is an outsider,” Jane Felix, the spiritual leader of a Wiccan group in the Bloomfield area,
testified during the first day of trial in U.S. District Court of New Mexico. “It has no place on
City Hall property.”
Felix described Wicca as an Earth-based religion that recognizes both male and female deities.
Attorneys for the city of Bloomfield contend that “private parties” erected and paid for the
monument under a 2007 city resolution that allows members of the public “to erect historical
monuments of their choosing.”
Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit Christian
conservative group, is defending the city of Bloomfield and said city councilors approved
the policy to allow citizens to erect historical monuments on a designated site at City Hall.
On its website, the Alliance Defending Freedom describes itself as a “legal ministry” of U.S.
attorneys that advocates for the constitutional protec- tion of religious freedom.
Since the Ten Commandments monument was dedicated on July 4, 2011, two other stone
monuments have been erected nearby memorializing the Declaration of Independence and
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Scruggs said.
“We see that private parties are the driving force here,” Scruggs told Senior U.S. District
Judge James A. Parker during opening arguments on Monday. Bloomfield had a “secular
purpose” of allowing private speech by erecting historical monuments, he said.
The 6-foot-tall gray granite monument, inscribed with the Ten Commandments from the
King James Version of the Bible, occupies a prominent site next to the front entrance of
The ACLU contends that the monument is visible to anyone who visits City Hall and
amounts to government endorsement of Christianity, violating religious protections
guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Andrew Schultz, an Albuquerque attorney working with the ACLU, contends that
Bloomfield leaders drove the effort to erect the monument. The project was proposed
in 2007 by Kevin Mauzy, a member of the Bloomfield City Council from 2006 to 2010,
and approved unanimously by the four-member council.
“This is not a free speech case,” Schultz said during opening arguments. “It is a case of
Schultz told Parker that most of the money for the monument came from Mauzy and
three other former Bloomfield city councilors who approved Mauzy’s plan to put the
monument in a prominent location in front of City Hall. No other monuments had
previously existed at the site, he said.
“The fact that the monument was privately financed makes no difference,” he said.
Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein and two former city councilors each testified on
Monday that they had contributed money to build the monument.
A key element in the case is a city resolution approved by the Bloomfield City Council
in July 2007, about four months after the council’s approval of Mauzy’sproposal to
erect the monument.
The resolution created a “public forum” at City Hall that allows private groups to
erect historical monuments on the front lawn. Attorneys for the city contend that
the policy provides “equal access” to any group that wants a monument at City Hall
relevant to the “history or heritage” of Bloomfield.
ACLU attorneys contend the policy is an attempt to provide the city with a legal
justification for having a monument with a clear religious message.
Felix, who lives within two miles of City Hall, testified that she signed a petition in
2007 objecting to plans to build the monument. Felix also said she sent a letter to
Bloomfield city leaders protesting the move but received no reply.
Buford Coone, a second plaintiff in the lawsuit, said he lives about half a mile
from City Hall and sees the Ten Commandments monument each month when
he pays a water bill.
“It sends the message that Bloomfield is now a Christian community and all
others need not be bothered by it,” said Coone, who is a member of the
Wiccan group led by Felix.
(c)2014 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
I saw a woman forced to take down a cross she had placed in memory of a
loved one. She had filed for and received permission to put the cross there. Still
she had to remove it.
In Maryland there is a large memorial cross that has been in place for 90 years
and two atheists find it objectionable and want it taken down.
I think that it is time to hold open season on atheists. They have no religion,
thus, have no right to hinder our first amendment right to freedom of religion
and the display of related edifices that we erect in order to remember people
or events important to us to which we have placed religious significance.
How long will it be before all of the national architecture in Washington, D.C.
has to be defaced because every national monument contains inscriptions
and/or statuary related to Christians. Our Framers were
Christians and our Constitution was written using Christian principles.
Will you go along with removing headstones from the graves of your dearly
departed that include Christian markings and verse? Our government’s drive
to be politically correct is tearing away at the roots of our society. Those roots
are deep and heavily enshrouded in religion. I do not want this destroyed or
altered. Do you?
Time to stand up and be counted. Time to stand with those that are being
beleaguered and fight off those that only want to get their names in the news.
I can hear them now after every cross that they have destroyed. “Ha Ha Ha, the
dumb idiots just stood there with their thumbs up their asses and
didn’t raise a finger to protect their religious symbols. How stupid can you get?”
The battle over the display of a “cross” in memory of a loved one and/or in
memory of those that gave their lives in defense of America and our Constitution
is ridiculous. We each have the right to freely exercise the religion of our choice.
The free exercise of my religion recognizes the display of a cross to represent our
beliefs in our Creator and the importance of worship to us. I do not believe a
few people having no religion (their choice) can deny me and those like me
(a majority of U.S. citizens) our rights because the sight of cross gives them
an upset stomach and mental grief.
This is pure bullshit and has to stop. The rights of the many overshadow the
rights of the few. Should the majority want to have a cross erected in remembrance
of someone dear to them then so be it. Should the minority (who is quite free
to express their grief and disdain) become the majority then they can petition
to have their belief and freedom become that law of the land.
As far as I am concerned, being forced to take down religions symbols erected
to demonstrate how we feel about some that have departed this Earth is a
blatant violation of our First Amendment rights.
No way do I believe that a couple of dweebs trying to make names for
themselves and money for some wacko organizations like the ACLU or the
Southern Baptist Coalition.
Stand UP and Be Counted. Scream out HELL NO to all of your representatives
over and over again until they finally get the idea that its time for Political
Correctness to come to an abrupt end NOW.
This whole deal is part of Obama’s agenda to destroy religion and morals
in America and it must not be allowed to happen. Remember, atheist
have no religion so their First Amendment rights will not be violated if
they are told to go to hell when they try to exact their minority view upon
the rest of us.