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Bloomfield Moves Closer To Ten Commandments Monument


Associated Press
      BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield City Council is moving ahead with a Ten Commandments display on city property, despite contentions by several citizens that it would be illegal.
    The council on Monday unanimously approved a policy permitting monuments on city property that relate to the development of the law and government of the city, state or nation.
    In April, the council unanimously approved the idea of placing a granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments outside City Hall, calling it a historical and artistic display. No one spoke against it at that meeting, in which councilors and a supportive crowd of more than 50 people discussed the historical significance of such a monument for nearly half an hour before councilors approved the idea to a standing ovation.
    Supporters of the monument spoke again Monday, but the meeting also drew a handful of opponents.
    "It's not fair, it's not right, it's illegal," said Tracy Tucker, 45, a Bloomfield businesswoman. "A lot of people are afraid to speak against it."
    Tucker and Bloomfield firefighter Adana Rutter, 24, presented a petition with 47 signatures against the monument.
    "We wanted them to think about the other opinion, to make sure they know there are people who are not for it," Rutter said. "We were surprised that they'd go ahead with it."
    Councilor Lynne Raner said she appreciated opponents' point of view, but supported the monument policy.
    "The policy is so well-worded it allows the majority of the community to express itself," she said. "It doesn't close the door to other monuments."
    Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struggled in a pair of 5-4 rulings to define how much blending of church and state is constitutionally permissible. The court allowed the Ten Commandments to be displayed outside the Texas state Capitol but not inside Kentucky courthouses.
    Bloomfield's policy says pieces on city property can feature local or national figures, events or documents related to the development of law or government. A draft design must be approved by the City Council.
    The policy was drawn up with help from the conservative Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz. According to its Web site, the alliance was formed by ministries in 1994 to fight for religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and traditional family values.
    Councilor Kevin Mauzy, who proposed a 4- by 6-foot monument, said he expects to present a resolution to the council next month to build it. The monument's estimated $6,000 cost would come from donations.
    The Supreme Court's 2005 rulings — its first on the Ten Commandments since deciding in 1980 that they could not be displayed in public schools — said such displays on government property are not inherently unconstitutional.
    The court held that exhibits would be upheld if their main purpose was to honor the nation's legal, rather than religious, traditions, and if they didn't promote one religious sect over another. How long an exhibit has stood — as well as its location — also will determine its constitutionality, with wide-open lots more acceptable than schoolhouses of young students, the justices held.


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