SANDPOINT, Idaho — Approximately 300 to 500 Idaho residents recently rallied to show their support for a Ten Commandments monument displayed in a public park, and to oppose atheist efforts to have the monument removed.
Residents of Sandpoint, Idaho state that they are outraged that city officials are being swayed by an atheist activist organization to remove a Ten Commandments monument from Fannin Park. The hundreds that attended a rally last Thursday in support of the display held signs and participated in a petition calling for officials to allow the monument to remain.
“I don’t like this at all,” resident Gladys Larson told the Bonner County Daily Bee. “There’s no way someone can come into our town and dictate what goes on here.”
“Why are people from not around here, [that] don’t live here, coming here and saying they want something removed that the Fraternal Order of Eagles put down in here 40 years ago?” an anonymous resident asked. “I mean, it’s ridiculous.”
The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) had mailed a letter in November to Sandpoint officials after allegedly receiving three to four complaints from citizens and non-residents about the presence of the Ten Commandments monument. The organization contended that the display cannot lawfully remain on public property.
“Ten Commandments displays continue to cause distress and divisiveness and continue to be challenged around the country,” the letter asserted. “The best approach is to remedy the liability by moving the monument now.”
In a status recently posted to the Sandpoint Police Department’s Facebook page, it was revealed that Mayor Carrie Logan had asked that alternate locations for the monument be discussed in order to eliminate city liability in the issue.
“Being concerned about reducing exposure to litigation and the associated costs, the mayor has instructed the parks director to talk with the Eagles and develop a plan to return the monument,” the status read. “Currently, there is no immediate plan in place for the removal of the monument. The Eagles are looking into alternative locations for its relocation and placement.”
“No disrespect is meant to the faith community,” it continued, “Rather, the decision was a business one to protect the financial interests of the City in these litigious times.”
But residents remained disturbed about the matter and scheduled a rally last week to speak out. As a city council meeting was also held last night to discuss the issue, residents packed the hearing to express their views, with the vast majority speaking in favor of the monument.
“I just wanted to come out today and be able to say that the monument is a historical document and it represents a foundation for many people’s beliefs here,” resident Mike Clark told local television station KXLY. “The community wants to see that kind of thing. It reminds us of right and wrong, things that are good. I feel it’s more beneficial for us as a people just to have it where we can see it going by the public park there.”
While no decision has yet been reached in the matter, the Texas-based Liberty Institute has offered to assist the city with legal representation pro bono should FFRF file suit.