by The Kiwi
So a park in Utah has a Ten Commandments display, but is refusing a monument to the Seven Aphorisms of the Summum religion (founded 1975).
The Summums are taking it to the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments today.
The justices will consider whether a public park open to some donations must accept others as well. In cases involving speeches and leaflets, the courts have generally said that public parks are public forums where the government cannot discriminate among speakers on the basis of what they propose to say. The question of how donated objects should be treated is, however, an open one.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a religious issue without hypocrisy and irony (aside from the idea that the Summum believe the Aphorisms were on the first set of tablets the lord gave to Moses, though he destroyed them because the people could not handle the rules of creation…):
The Ten Commandments monument here stands in Pioneer Park, which pays tribute to the city’s frontier heritage, one that is mostly Mormon. The two sides differ about how best to honor that heritage.
Mayor Daniels said the monument broadly reflected local history. Mr. Barnard, the Summum lawyer, said the Ten Commandments did not play a central role in the Mormon faith. “If they wanted to quote from the Book of Mormon,” he said, “that would, at least, relate to the pioneers.”
“Mormons came to Utah because of religious persecution,” Mr. Barnard added. “The pioneer heritage in Utah has to be escape from persecution.
And for the record, the Seven Aphorisms actually make much more sense than the whole Mormon backstory.
The NY Times weighed in again today with a lead editorial:
The federal appeals court reached the right result, but regrettably, it ducked the issue at the heart of the case, which turns on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The real problem is that Pleasant Grove City elevated one religion, traditional Christianity, over another, Summum. The founders regarded this sort of religious preference as so odious that they included a specific provision in the First Amendment prohibiting it. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has a bad record on Establishment Clause cases, which made it easier for all of the parties to treat the case as a simple speech case.
The Kiwi absolutely agrees and would like to start the process of applying to have a Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi monument added to the park as well. If one religion is allowed the free advertising in a public place, we deserve the opportunity to get our message across as well.
And we will not be undersold.