Another Wisconsin Community Agrees to Remove Ten Commandments

In Response to Foundation Complaint

The city council of Monroe, Wis., voted on Wednesday, April 3, to move a Ten Commandments monument, which is currently the centerpiece of Lincoln Public Park, and donate it to the Green County Family YMCA.

Monroe is the second city in Wisconsin to agree to divest itself of the biblical edicts following pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in the wake of favorable court rulings. Last week the City of Milwaukee moved a Ten Commandments monument from the lawn of its municipal building. Milwaukee returned the tombstone-like monolith to the Fraternal Order of Eagles which donated it in 1955, kicking off a campaign to place the religious monuments on public property around the country.

On behalf of its several members in Monroe, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has sought for several years to persuade Monroe to also divest itself of the biblical marker, which was donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles 30 years ago. The decalog, the only monument in the park, stands directly by the official city park sign. Monroe will remove the Ten Commandments marker in June.

“This will put the matter at rest because the monument will be on private property and not city property,” said Monroe Mayor Bill Ross.

The U.S. Supreme Court in February let stand a ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago barring placement of a Ten Commandments monument from the statehouse grounds in Indiana. Last May, the high court similarly let stand a decision by the same appeals court against a Ten Commandments marker in front of a public building in Indiana.

Still pending is a third long-standing complaint by the Foundation about a Ten Commandments monument in a Cameron Public Park in La Crosse, Wis. The La Crosse city council on April 17 will formally take up the Foundation’s request that it remove the monument donated by the Eagles in the 1960s. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued for removal of that monument in federal court in the 1980s, and lost on a technicality, not the merits. The Foundation threatened last year to go back to court if La Crosse does not remove it.

La Crosse Mayor John Medinger, who originally opposed the Foundation’s request, wrote a column appearing in the La Crosse Tribune on Feb. 28 (“Commandment marker violates Constitution”) urging the city council to move the bible monument to private property:

“As most people know, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group, has threatened to sue the city if we don’t voluntarily remove this monument. They charge that it violates the Constitution of the United States. And surely, as they have other places, they will follow through on their threat. And, with the help of the highest courts in this country, they usually have been successful,” wrote Mayor Medinger.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an educational association of freethinkers working to keep church and state separate, became a national group in 1978, and is based in Madison, Wis.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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