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UPDATED: Bloomfield Unveils Ten Commandments Monument

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Bloomfield marked the Fourth of July with the public unveiling of a granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments at the city’s municipal complex, drawing a crowd of at least 200 people for a 30-minute ceremony that mixed patriotic and religious themes, according to The Daily Times.

The monument’s public debut drew enthusiastic support despite opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups supporting the separation of church and state, The Daily Times said.

Bloomfield police provided security at the event along with the Farmington Police Department bomb squad and the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, but there were no reports of incidents or protests, the paper reported.

“It’s great that we’re able to express the liberties we’re always talking about, especially on the Fourth of July,” said Roger Garcia, a deacon at St. Mary’s Church in Farmington.

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7:05am 6/23/11 — ACLU Seeks Records on Bloomfield’s 10 Commandments Plan

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico on Wednesday filed a public records request with the city of Bloomfield seeking any records regarding the city’s planned Ten Commandments monument, The Daily Times reported.

The records being sought will likely date back to 2007 when the city initially approved the monument to be erected in front of city hall, The Daily Times said.

The ACLU-NM spoke with the city attorney in 2007 and advised against erecting the monument, then thought the discussion was over when no word of the monument reached the group, the paper reported.

That is, until last week, when the Bloomfield City Council renewed the discussion during a council meeting, according to The Daily Times.

“Honestly, we thought the issue had gone away,” ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson told The Daily Times. “It’s highly disappointing.”

City Manager David Fuqua and Mayor Scott Eckstein did not return the paper’s phone calls for comment on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the ACLU-NM said in a news release Wednesday that its public records request is aimed at finding out whether the city chose to erect the monument for a religious purpose.

“Religious freedom thrives when the government stays out of religion and does not endorse one faith over another,” Simonson said in the news release. “Matters of religious belief should be left to individuals, families and faith communities, not to governments or political majorities.”

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7:25am 6/14/11 — Bloomfield Moving Ahead With Ten Commandments Display

A Ten Commandments monument will stand in front of Bloomfield City Hall in a matter of weeks, pushing ahead on a project that began four years ago, and city councilors heard mostly support from residents who attended a general meeting Monday, The Daily Times reported.

“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to look at it,” Bloomfield resident Louie Lasiter told councilors.

Just one person spoke against the proposed display, Ron Lashley of Flora Vista, who said he was offended that the first commandment — “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” — would be placed on government property, The Daily Times said.

The effort to erect such a monument began nearly four years ago, when former Councilor Kevin Mauzy pushed a policy for monuments on the City Hall lawn, allowing any organization to donate a monument that related to the “development of the law and government of the city, state or United States,” according to a policy approved in July 2007.

Mauzy had sought acceptance of a nearly 6-foot-tall granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments, The Daily Times said.

Councilors on Monday unanimously acknowledged support for the monument, whose installation was said to be just weeks away, the paper reported.

No city funds have been or will be used in the project, which has been delayed by a lack of funds, and Mauzy has said that individual donors will help defray the cost of “several thousand dollars,” according to The Daily Times.

The monument is being built by Family Craft Memorial of Farmington and Durango, The Daily Times said.

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