Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Federal judge rules Dixie County 10 Commandments monument unconstitutional

GAINESVILLE (NSF) -- A federal judge in Gainesville has ordered Dixie County to remove a six-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments with the message, “Love God and Keep His Commandments,” from the front of the county’s courthouse in Cross City, located about an hour west of Gainesville.

The Dixie County Commission authorized the monument in 2006, and the ACLU of Florida sued. U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul ruled July 15 against the county and ordered the monument removed within 30 days.

The ACLU argued the monument represented government speech, violating constitutional prohibition against government promotion of religion. Dixie County argued that it was merely providing a forum for a local citizen who made the monument – and continues to own it - to express his religious beliefs, and that the monument was therefore protected by the First Amendment.

“The monument is five-feet tall, made of six tons of granite, and sits alone at the center of the top of the steps in front of the county courthouse that houses every significant local government office,” Paul’s opinion noted. And, citing a previous precedent-setting case, Paul found that by putting it there, the county was sending “an unmistakable message that it supports and promotes the religious message that appears on it.”

Read more of this story at Florida Baptist Witness.

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