Ten Commandments at Public Library Protested

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the Cambridge Public Library, Massachusetts, to remove an eye-poppingly ostentatious Ten Commandments engraving and other religious verbiage on prominent display in the first floor of the main library. "A public library simply has no business saying it was 'built in gratitude to God, to his son Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Ghost,' or to warn patrons, including children, that 'if you obey these commandments you will be happy. If you disobey them sorrow will come upon you,' " the Foundation wrote Cambridge Public Library Director Susan Flannery. The city of Cambridge agreed in 1889 to post the Ten Commandments and additional religious proclamations (see photograph) in exchange for obtaining the building from a religious benefactor. Although it posted a "disclaimer" following a 1995 complaint, explaining that it considers the engravings to be "historic," the Foundation said the disclaimer "does not mitigate the effect of these religious orders, threats, and injunctions." The city, which signed an agreement with the Massachusetts Historical Commission in 1985 to ensure preservation of the architectural and historical integrity of the library building, has taken no action on the Foundation's February complaint. Mayor Michael Sullivan's response to the Cambridge Chronicle was to ask: "Does this mean bibles should be removed from public libraries?" "What civil power could the Cambridge Public Library invoke, which would supersede the dictates of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?" wrote Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation staff member, in the letter of complaint. "Mere financial gain or advantage cannot justify a union between religion and a public library." Now is an ideal time to rectify the violation since the Main Library will soon be renovated. Ask the Cambridge Public Library to remove the religious displays. Write: Ms Susan Flannery, Director Cambridge Public Library 449 Broadway Cambridge MA 02138 Send a copy of your letter to: Mayor Michael Sullivan City of Cambridge Office of the Mayor City Hall Cambridge MA 02139

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