Officials defend Decalogue
August 27, 2003
An unidentified person walks past the Ten Commandments outside the Curry County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. A Ten Commandments monument was removed from a courthouse Wednesday in Alabama. Photo by Eric Kluth.
A Ten Commandments monument was removed from an Alabama courthouse on Wednesday, but Clovis officials said they’ve not heard any discussion about removing a similar monument from the Curry County Courthouse lawn.
The Clovis display, which stands 6-foot tall with two Stars of David at each bottom corner and miniature stone tablets with Hebrew lettering at the top of the English version of the Mosaic law code, sits on the grassy lawn at Seventh and Main streets.
The monument, erected on July 15, 1967, was presented to “the city of Clovis” by the State Council of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
“No, I’m not aware of any challenge to it,” 9th Judicial District Judge Ted Hartley said. “I would trust that issue would not be brought into this community. There are no winners in that kind of situation.”
County Manager Geneva Cooper said she isn’t aware of any threats or challenges to the local display.
“I checked, and according to my understanding, there is no prohibition against the Ten Commandments being on courthouse property,” she said.
If there should be such a challenge, Cooper said she would encourage the county to seek its protection as a public site.
“If it became necessary, we would look for other avenues to protect the spot on which it sits,” she said. “I personally would encourage the county to fight any challenge to it although I can’t speak for the commissioners. I would hope that a majority of them would feel the same way I do.
“Personally, I feel that’s what’s wrong with our country today, that we haven’t been free to express our religious freedoms,” she said. “Our country is based on religious freedoms. There are certain rights that were set down by our forefathers, and certain groups are trying to destroy that foundational heritage. I hope we don’t allow that to happen in our community.”
The Rev. Joel Horne, pastor of First Baptist Church of Clovis, said he would be shocked if or when any challenges came against the local monument.
“I don’t understand how having the Ten Commandments on display is a church-and-state issue because there’s no sign that says the state demands you obey these commandments by its presence,” he said. “If someone says the implication is that you must comply with them, then I wonder if the presence of a Coke machine in a courthouse would imply the state demands you drink one.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.