FOR THE RECORD: Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein did not contribute money to pay for a Ten Commandments monument at City Hall. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that he had.
A former Bloomfield city councilor who proposed and erected a Ten Commandments monument on the front lawn of City Hall in July 2011 testified Wednesday that he raised money through two area churches to help pay for the $3,940 project.
Kevin Mauzy also said he sought legal advice from the Alliance Defending Freedom around the time he installed the 3,000-pound granite monument in an effort to avoid possible legal challenges to the project.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit, is defending the city of Bloomfield against a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which alleges the monument violates religious protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Mauzy said in the third day of testimony Wednesday in the U.S. District Court trial that he had no religious motivation for proposing the monument at an April 2007 City Council meeting, when he and three other councilors voted to approve the project.
“It was not for religious purposes,” Mauzy said of the monument. “It was for historical purposes” and to beautify the city, he said.
Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker said Wednesday that he will issue his findings after receiving additional written comment from attorneys for both sides.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Bloomfield residents who practice the Wiccan religion, which they described as an Earth-based religion that recognizes both male and female deities.
During questioning by Andrew Schultz, an Albuquerque attorney working with the ACLU, Mauzy said that his Christian faith is important to him. He also said that he raised funds for the project through his Bloomfield church, New Beginnings Fellowship Church. Additional money was raised by the First Baptist Church of Bloomfield, he said.
Earlier this week, two former city councilors who voted to approve the Ten Commandments monument testified that they had contributed money for the project.
Mauzy said he consulted with an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom in 2011 about the wording of a sign posted next to the monument. The disclaimer says that it “does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the city, but are statements from private citizens.”
Mauzy also said he had always intended the Ten Commandments to be one of several monuments with historical significance erected on the front lawn of City Hall.