New Mexico City Continues Fight to Defend Ten Commandments Monument Declared Unconstitutional

MonumentBLOOMFIELD, N.M. — Officials with a city in New Mexico are continuing their fight to defend a Ten Commandments monument displayed on the grounds of city hall, which has thus far been declared unconstitutional by both a federal district court and an appeals court.

On Monday, the Bloomfield City Council voted in favor of city attorney Ryan Lane’s recommendation that Bloomfield seek a review from the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, known as an en banc session. The vote was unanimous, minus the presence of one council member.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, many residents in the small 7,000-member city have supported the monument, placing Ten Commandments yard signs in their lawns. A prayer gathering was also held last month around the Decalogue.

“We need to stand up for God, and then he will bless us,” Anne Frost of Farmington, just outside of Bloomfield, said at a recent city hall meeting. “We need to eliminate this silliness of Church versus State.”

As previously reported, the monument at issue had been erected in 2011 following a resolution allowing private citizens to place historical displays at Bloomfield City Hall. A former city council member had proposed the monument four years prior, which was then approved by city council but paid for with private money.

“Presented to the people of San Juan County by private citizens recognizing the significance of these laws on our nation’s history,” the monument read, which was unveiled during a special ceremony on Independence Day 2011.

But Wiccans Jane Felix and Buford Coone of the Order of the Cauldron of the Sage felt offended by the monument and contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for assistance.

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“Our clients who are not Christians, they took issue with this and it made them feel alienated from their community,” Alexandra Smith, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, told local television station KRQE.

The organization filed a lawsuit against the city in 2012, asserting that the monument’s presence on government property amounts to the government endorsement of religion. While the city argued before the court that the monument was historical in nature, the ACLU contended that the content of the Commandments themselves is blatantly religious.

“One of the commandments is thou shalt put no gods before me. This is clearly not a historical document, but is in fact religious doctrine,” Smith stated.

In August 2014, U.S. District Judge James Parker, nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, sided with the Wiccans, declaring that the Decalogue violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“In view of the circumstances surrounding the context, history, and purpose of the Ten Commandments monument, it is clear that the City of Bloomfield has violated the Establishment Clause because its conduct in authorizing the continued display of the monument on City property has had the primary or principal effect of endorsing religion,” he wrote.

The city appealed, and last month, the 10th Circuit upheld Parker’s ruling, stating that the addition of historical monuments adjacent to the Ten Commandments did not fix the constitutional infirmities.

“[I]t was especially inadequate here because of the plain religious motivations apparent from the approval (approved alone), financing (sponsored entirely by churches), and unveiling (ceremony rife with Christian allusions) of the Monument,” the three-judge panel wrote.

“In light of those considerations, and the situational context of the Ten Commandments on the lawn, the City would have to do more than merely add a few secular monuments in order to signal to objective observers a ‘principal or primary’ message of neutrality,” it concluded. “Because we find an impermissible effect of endorsement that is insufficiently mitigated by curative efforts, we affirm.”

As previously reported, the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Van Orden v. Perry, which upheld a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol, noted that Decalogue displays are “common throughout America.”

“We need only look within our own courtroom,” the justices wrote. “Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze.”

“Similar acknowledgments can be seen throughout a visitor’s tour of our nation’s capital. For example, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building since 1897,” the decision continued. “And the Jefferson Building’s Great Reading Room contains a sculpture of a woman beside the Ten Commandments with a quote above her from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8).”

“A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the national archives,” the court outlined. “Inside the Department of Justice, a statue entitled “The Spirit of Law” has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building is another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments.”

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  • Emmanuel

    To avoid further problems, place an empty piece of cement next to this one. make a little plaque that reads “to those that believe in nothing” End of discussion and everyone is represented.

    • Tangent002

      I’d prefer a monument of the Bill of Rights placed directly in front of the Ten Commandments monument. How does your suggestion satisfy Hindus?

      • Bezukhov

        Along with the caveat that the 1st Amendment allows one to break the 2nd Commandment, and probably others.

      • Emmanuel

        The more, the merrier. Hindus can do their thing too.

    • james blue

      Would you be happy with the satanic Goatman being place alongside?

      • Emmanuel

        If will prevent from the Ten Commandments from coming down, sure. Like I said, add an empty slab for those that don’t believe in anything too. All these will be covered in one. The people will decide what morals or standards to follow when they see the monuments.

        • james blue

          Why do you say they don’t believe in anything? Just because they don’t believe in a God doesn’t mean they don’t believe in anything or have any ethics.
          If you are unable to know right from wrong without a God telling you it’s not faith/religion you need, it’s empathy

          • Emmanuel

            Ok, under our law, infidelity is not illegal. So, its right under our law and not by bible standard. So what do you think? is it right or not? you will be ok if your spouse goes out and does it? or you go out an cheat and it’s ok?
            I’m just being a smart a$$ but I hope you get the point.

          • Tangent002

            Well, some couples have ‘open marriages’ where infidelity is not a big deal.

            U.S. law (in theory) does not enforce morality, it protects rights. There are some exceptions, such as ‘blue laws’, but those are slowly going away.

          • Emmanuel

            I agree with you and that was my point. Infidelity is OK under the law. But, the church gets ripped for speaking out about infidelity, homosexuality, fornication and other sins. So, if it’s only a biblical issue then why do nonbelievers believe the biblical standard? why do they care?

          • james blue

            And you need God to know that?

          • Emmanuel

            Why is it bad if your spouse cheats on you?

          • james blue

            Because I believe in loyalty. If you want to have more than one partner don’t get married. Do you need God to know that?

          • Emmanuel

            loyalty has nothing to do with anything. I’m loyal to the Dallas Cowboys. But, i can change that if they don’t win the super bowl. Why can’t I marry more than one person? I want to be loyal to the Cowboys, Raiders and Vikings. Why should I be stopped? There should be no law to stop me. I know it’s a silly comparison but go with it.
            But in the church, the bible is clear. One wife and one husband only. It’s a commitment blessed by God.
            Let me be clear about this, I don’t see a problem with any two, three, four or however many people want to get married under the law. Just don’t bring that stuff to the church and try to call it blessed and holy marriage.

  • bowie1

    One would think that squatters rights prevail by now since many of these monuments have probably been around for many years and now have a historic value.

    • Tangent002

      There’s a difference between ‘historic value’ and inertia.

      This monument has only been there since 2011.

  • tatoo

    The city will lose the lawsuit and will have to pay big bucks. If you break the law, you pay.

    • bowie1

      The taxpayers will have to pay if they lose or win.

    • Tangent002

      Wasting taxpayer dollars

  • TobyJMoore

    I would love to believe that the citizens of Bloomfield, N.M. are protesting the removal of this monument to promote Yahweh and his perfect Law, but more often than not the Christians defending Decalogue displays on government property are the same ones who recoil at the thought of legislation that actually uses Bible Law as its foundation. In fact, most self-professing Christians don’t love their heavenly Father as much as the founding fathers and the biblically seditious Constitution that they ratified. If they did, they would be protesting the unjust, anti-Christian laws that the Constitution permits rather than the removal of stone tablets containing Yahweh’s Law, which should rightfully be the supreme law of the land in any nation, but whose authority they deny by their fidelity to a flawed, imperfect, Godless document.

  • These anti-social meddlesome neighbors will feel unwelcome and alienated from any community they find themselves in. The form of religion they have chosen and their offense taken tells you this. The best thing for them is to form a community of their own and invite everyone who is like minded to join them, and then they can gladly tear themselves and their new friends apart to no-one’s loss.

    • johndoe

      We dont live in a theocracy. The only way you would know an atheist from a christian would be to ask them. If you want a society with only like minded people, either create one or move to the middle east. You obviously dont understand the concept of separation of church and state. Read up on it.

      • zeddicuskotor

        Well, to be fair, if you saw a gang of KKK thugs wearing their dresses, you would be correct in guessing they were christians.

      • You, for example, feel unwelcome and alienated wherever you go, on account of being anti-social and meddlesome. Maybe you’re only like that when you’re on the internet. Go back to the real world where you came from, and don’t be a complete anti-social jerk.

        • johndoe

          Not sure where you get your info but I’ve never felt alienated and unwelcome and am as far from being anti social as you can get. I’m not the one calling for the execution of those who practice sodomy. Get a grip on reality.

  • james blue

    It seems there is plenty of private land available to house the monument.

  • Trilemma

    Why are Christians so obsessed with erecting graven images to ancient Jewish laws that Jesus abolished?

    • Amos Moses

      he did not abolish them ……. and He said ……..

      He did not come to abolish the law …. but to fulfill them …..

      • Guest254

        He came to fulfill what the prophets and the law spoke of Him. Just shall live by faith

      • Trilemma

        Eph 2:14-15 – NASB – For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

        He abolished the commandments of the Law by fulfilling the prophecies of the Law.

        • Amos Moses

          nope ….. but nice try ……… you should really read what comes before and after to understand what the meaning is ………..

          2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
          2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
          2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
          2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
          2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
          2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
          2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
          2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
          2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
          2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
          2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
          2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    USA needs the Ten Commandments. It’s her lifeline and the very basis of America’s lawfulness.

    • Trilemma

      So you believe every person in the USA should abstain from work, travel, and cooking on Saturday under penalty of death?

      • Amos Moses

        yeah …. not in the 10 ………………. try reading them ……….

        • Trilemma

          Exodus 20:8-10 – NIV – Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.

          Exodus 31:15 says the punishment for doing work on the Sabbath is death.

          • Amos Moses

            12:4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
            12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
            12:6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
            12:7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
            12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
            12:9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
            12:10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
            12:11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
            12:12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
            12:13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
            12:14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

          • Trilemma

            Do you keep the Sabbath as commanded by the 10 Commandments and abstain from work, cooking, and traveling?

          • Amos Moses

            as this passage clearly states …. from Christs own lips …. He is the sabbath ….. so i am not even sure what your question has to do with it ………… you are selectively reading things you do not understand ……. nor want to understand ……….

          • Trilemma

            In this passage Jesus did not say he is the Sabbath, he said that he is the Lord of the Sabbath. That means he has the authority to abolish it so you don’t have to keep all the Old Testament requirements for keeping the Sabbath.

            Are you required to keep the Sabbath as commanded in the 10 Commandments and abstain from work, cooking, and traveling on Saturday?

          • Amos Moses

            Christ is the fulfillment of the sabbath law ….. as He said He would do ….. He was here not to abolish the law but to fulfill it ……… and He did ….. the sabbath was a topological Christ in the OT ….. so no …….

            The Sabbath was a symbol of Jesus and now it is a New Testament reality. We can trust in the finished work of Christ and rest continually in this. We don’t have to set aside one day a week to cease striving; our entire lives as believers dwell in this place. When Jesus hung on the cross he said, “it is finished” (John 19:30). He had fulfilled everything in the Law and provided the righteousness of the law to us as a free gift. We do not need to add one thing to it, Jesus provided the way, and by trusting in this provision we rest from trying to do it on our own. This is the true Sabbath rest that God desires for His people.

            2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
            2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
            2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
            2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
            2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
            2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
            2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
            2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Read the entire Biblical text. Essential works for human life were permitted on the Sabbath. People were executed for putting millions at stake by committing direct treasons; that’s what happened and today most nations do the same. Read the surrounding verses when you read a Scripture passage. If USA closes all its stores on Sunday like she did before, all Americans would be much happier without worshiping money. Everyone takes one day off from work. Why do you think companies give you days off from work? God’s commands are scientific, too.

      • Darlene

        The Ten Commandments don’t even mention a death penalty.
        Once more, atheists display their total ignorance of the Bible.

        The Commandments are in Exodus 20. Since you obviously don’t own a Bible, it’s available online.

        • Trilemma

          The punishments for breaking any of the Ten Commandments are given throughout the Bible. The death penalty for breaking the Sabbath command is given in Exodus 31:15.