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Voters refuse to return Ten Commandments to city park

By The Associated Press
11.08.06

BOISE, Idaho — City voters have rejected a proposal to return a Ten Commandments monument to a public park in a referendum on religious displays on public property.

With 99% of precincts counted, the vote was 37,568 to 33,747, about 53% to 47% against moving the monument back to city property.

Other cities across the nation have also debated whether to display religious monuments on public grounds.

Boise's debate began in March 2004 after Mayor Dave Bieter and the City Council agreed to move a 40-year-old granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments from Julia Davis Park to an Episcopal church across the street from the Statehouse.

They did so to avoid a lawsuit from the Rev. Fred Phelps of Kansas, who sought to erect an anti-gay monument in the same park. Moving the Ten Commandments monument left him without First Amendment grounds to sue, and backers of the change said it also made the monument more visible.

A group called Keep the Commandments Coalition protested and gathered thousands of signatures in support of putting the decision to a public vote that year, but the city refused, claiming its decision was administrative and not subject to reversal by initiative.

The coalition went to court, and the Idaho Supreme Court put the matter on the ballot this year while deferring a ruling on the validity of the referendum until after the election.


Previous
Idaho high court rules commandments initiative should go to voters
Boise City Council had argued that measure concerns issue that isn't subject to initiative process, but justices say measure's validity can be debated if it passes. 08.15.06

Related

Minister: City must allow anti-gay monument in park

Citing two 10th Circuit rulings, Fred Phelps says Casper, Wyo., officials must permit other monuments because they already display Ten Commandments. 10.16.03

Minister offers to buy city land for anti-gay monument in Idaho
Fred Phelps says he got the idea after learning that Rupert's American Legion post was seeking to purchase the land for a Ten Commandments monument. 11.02.03

Mont. town to reinstall Ten Commandments in city park
ACLU official expresses disappointment with Bozeman officials' decision, saying group will review recording of meeting, then decide whether to pursue legal action. 12.18.06

Ten Commandments, other displays & mottos

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