Officials at a Minnesota courthouse have removed a plaque featuring the Ten Commandments as the result of a letter submitted by one of the most conspicuous atheist activist organizations, which claimed that the display violated the U.S. Constitution.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently submitted a complaint to the administrator of Saint Louis County to request that the plaque, displayed at the county courthouse in Hibbing, be taken down.
The display, which was placed between two doors that lead to the courts of law, read “God’s Laws” at the top and featured each of the Ten Commandments. Underneath, it quoted from Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30-31, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The plaque had been posted at the courthouse for the past 60 years.
However, FFRF says that the display violates the Establishment Clause to the U.S. Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
“Given the placement of the plaque next to courtrooms, its ‘God’s Law’ inscription, its inclusion of a New Testament passage, and its location within a county courthouse, it is unconstitutional and cannot remain on county property,” the group’s letter, written by attorney Patrick Elliott, read.
“Ten Commandments displays within or near courtrooms are especially concerning given the religious message they impart. They affiliate the justice system with biblical prohibitions, rather than our secular laws,” it continued. “They signal that the court is not impartial.”
FFRF further asserted that the first commandmandment also poses an issue because, it said, the government “has no business” telling its inhabitants what God they should serve.
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