Tuesday, September 15, 2009

10 Commandments on City Hall Property Is Problematic

A new molded concrete depiction of the Ten Commandments has gone up on the city-owned Veterans Plaza next to the city building in Baker, Louisiana. According to the Baton Rouge (LA)Advocate last week, both this monument and an identical one nearby on the grounds of the Baker First Baptist Church face the Baker High School campus across the street. The monument on city property, as well as installation costs, were paid for personally by former city councilman A.T. Furr. Mayor Harold Rideau did not consult with the city attorney first, and city council never formally approved the installation. Instead it was approved informally "by word of mouth." Rideau said: "We’re a Christian-based community." Former councilman Furr says the monument is constitutionally acceptable because it is in a park that pays tribute to veterans, but City Attorney Ron Hall says that if it was put up with knowledge of city officials, it is probably illegal. [Thanks to Bob Ritter for the lead.]