I think I saw this statue once and didn’t know what was on it. I guess I thought it was a WWII memorial, like others I’d seen with lists of names on it. I didn’t know it was the Ten Commandments.
Google Maps view of monument from
It’s in a part of town that I rarely visit. It’s not on main street or in a place where any business or residential traffic goes past. It’s just off the highway where people are going 55 mph. And even then it’s behind some trees. In spite of the angle of the picture in the article above, the statue isn’t that big, about 3 feet tall. The only people that would see it are those that have business at city hall.
The monument “family” in front of city
Now to be fair, this statue was not paid for with tax money. It was commissioned and erected by private individuals. City statute allows private ‘gifting’ of historical statues, with approval from city council. A councilman preceded over the dedication ceremony. (There are four other ‘tablets’ that can be seen in this picture to the right. They are the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address. The Ten Commandments is right by the door. Another will be added on July 4, 2014 – The Bill of Rights.)
Link to ACLU statement from 2012:
ACLU Sues Bloomfield for Display of 10 Commandments
In my opinion, the only purpose this monument serves is to lead people to believe that city government is based on Judaic/Christian law. Especially given that it’s right by the front door and people would walk past it from the parking lot to whatever business they might have inside.
I know that many will argue that the Ten Commandments are the basis of most laws in the United States and are therefore ‘historical’. But the truth is, there are other ‘ancient’ law codes, some older than the time of Moses, that are nearly identical and some historians may even believe to be the basis of the Mosaic code (the code of Hammurabi, for example.)
One group seems to be behind the erecting of these tablets. The Four Corners Historical Monument Project. I am not sure what their motivation is behind all of this, right in front of a small town city hall, but they are doing. I suspect that the others were erected to ‘validate’ the Ten Commandment tablet, but that’s just my speculation.
And now we get to my thoughts. *These are just my opinions and not those of anyone connected to this project or the lawsuit.
Why the heck is so much time, money, and effort being spent on a tiny little grassy area in front of a building that few people spend any appreciable amount of time at? If these monuments are so important to the city, why not put them in a park? Or in front of the library? Or in the center of main street on the island? Why on a tiny grassy area just off the highway?
And, ok, so these are historical documents. The Declaration of Independence? Great. The Gettysburg Address? Fabulous. The Bill of Rights? Fantastic. But why the Ten Commandments? Show me one thing, one letter, one scrap of paper from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or any single one of the founding fathers that shows a direct correlation between the Ten Commandments, or any other part of the Bible, and the Founding Documents. Anything. Anything at all.
The only purpose of the Ten Commandments monument in front of City Hall, and right by the main entrance, is to imply that the city government of Bloomfield New Mexico is primarily guided by the Ten Commandments. I don’t care what other justification anyone else comes up with, that is the only logical explanation of the existence and placement of that hunk of rock in front of city hall.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am a Christian. I love and appreciate the Ten Commandments. But, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, I hate public displays of them. Hate them with a passion. Same goes for Nativity scenes on public land (in front of a church, great, in a public park, not so much), or crosses and crucifixes on publicly funded land. Or Stars of David, or atheist symbols, or anything related to religious (or anti-religious) belief on public land. In a cemetery where you’ve paid for the plot, or on church land or in front of your own house, great. First amendment. Go for it. Put up whatever you want. Put up a giant penis. It’s your place and your rights.
On public land? No. No no no no no. The founding documents, great. Statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, fantastic. Those are history. Those are important events in AMERICAN history. And while it can be argued that some of the so-called Founding Fathers were, indeed, religious men, there is absolutely no direct connection to what they believed religiously and what they wrote and ratified in the founding of this nation. In fact, it seems they went out of their way to promote religious freedom. They wanted to be clear that they were not endorsing, supporting, or in any other way trying to justify one belief over another. There is absolutely no proof of any direct connection between the “Big Ten” and the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or anything else. At all.
And if we are talking about history, if we really want to claim that the founding fathers were Christians and everything they wrote was based on their faith in Christ, then we need to look at what Christ said about ‘the law’:
Matthew 22:37-40 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
If we are promoting the idea that the founding fathers were Christians, then this is what we should be posting instead of the Ten Commandments. The monuments should simply say “Love you neighbor as yourself”. That’s it and that’s all. Why is no one making big rock tablets that say that?
The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelite people while they were being led by Moses to the Promised land. They were meant to guide and direct them so long as they existed as a nation. That was the original covenant, given to the Israelites. Jesus brought us the New Covenant. (Old Testament and New Testament mean, literally, Old and New Covenant). If we, as Christians, are under the New Covenant, then the Old Covenant, while historical, no longer applies. And even then, the New Covenant only applies to those who choose to believe and follow it, it should not be FORCED on anyone. It should not be shoved in people’s faced and imposed upon them in any sort of legislative manner and not ever EVER on public land.
I am glad that the case has been brought against the monument in front of my city hall. It sends the wrong message to everyone that visits the building, especially in an area of the country where, while there are many religious people that follow a Judeo/Christian tradition, there are many other diverse beliefs in this area. Not the least of which is the traditional Navajo (or, more correctly Dine’) religion. By and large the Dine’ people are the dominant ‘race’ in this area. The Ten Commandment are almost a slap in the face to some of the elderly among them that were forced into religious schools where they faced ridicule and abuse. So are the founding documents, for that matter, but since Bloomfield is on US land I can’t really argue much more against them.
I guess what really burns my butt is the blending of religion and patriotism. Love God and Love your Country. As if you can’t do that latter unless you do the former. It’s like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are on the backside of the Cross with Jesus. You can’t have one without the other.
There are atheists and agnostics and many other ‘non-Jesus believing’ people that have done great things for this country. They have fought and bled and died for this nation. For the principles in the Constitution, not the Bible. Their sacrifice is dishonored if we are going to insist that religion is intrinsically tied to patriotism.
I hope the ACLU and those they represent win this case in my hometown and the monument is taken down. But I also hope that the group behind the monuments keeps the others up. I kind of like them, even if that little bit of grass is kind of getting crowded. (I would really like to see them at one of the public parks. Like Salmon Park, which is in the middle of town and is a nice area to spread a picnic blanket. It could use some public art.)
Update: On August 9, 2014, our local station reported that the district court has ordered the monument to be removed within the month. See the story here.