Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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Church State Issues

10 Commandments at Arizona State Capital violates 1st Amendment & Az Constitution

Jan 1, 2009

Arizona Republic article
Location: North of House of Representatives Building
Arizona State Capital
17th Avenue & Washington
Phoenix, Arizona

The Arizona Chapter of American Atheists has formed a committee to try to have the plaque of the ten commandments removed from Wesley Bolin Plaza. We have the express support and cooperation of the Arizona Secular Humaists(ASH), Humanist Community of Tucson, and Humanist Society Of Greater Phoenix (HSGP) in this endeavor.

A Petition to the Governor requesting removal of this plaque is enclosed herewith and we ask everyone to sign it and send it directly to the Governor. Please feel free to copy it and circulate it among any friends who might be willing to sign. We need as many signed Petitions sent to the Governor as possible.

On Saturday, April 17th and on Tuesday April 20th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM there will be a protest demonstrations at the site, Wesley Bolin Plaza, Adams Street at 17th Avenue. We hope to have a radio talk show host interview us and we ask for your participation in these demonstrations. If you have ideas for the slogans to be used on our placards please send them to me. We believe that we need three things to make this effort successful. A large number of Petitions signatures sent to the Governor, a substantial turnout at the demonstrations and good media coverage. With your help we will achieve our goal.

John Pizer

P E T I T I O N

To Governor Jane Dee Hull,

We, the undersigned citizens of Arizona, herewith request that the Governor remove the plaque of the "Ten Commandments" from Wesley Bolin Plaza because it is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of Article 11, Section 12, of the Arizona State Constitution which reads in part, "No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment."

It is also a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Wesley Bolin Plaza is public property, I own it along with my fellow ciizens, and no one has a right to place their religious symbols on my property. It is illegal. Please remove it.

Signed by:

[Please fill in Name, Address, City State and EMail ]

send directly to,

Governor Jane Dee Hull,

E-mail to the governor and Monty at azgov@azgov.state.az.us mgaither@atheists.org

Tell the gov you support the petition and want the 10 commandments removed. Leave the gov your name and address so she knows your from Arizona

or mail to:

Governor Hull
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ
85007
This Petition was prepared by the Arizona Chapter of the American Atheists with the support of the Arizona Secular Humanists, the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix and the Humanist Community of Tucson.

These fine groups may be contacted at

Arizona Chapter of American Atheists
Monty Gaither
P. O. Box 64702
Phoenix, AZ 85082-4702
E-mail mgaither@atheists.org
E-mail MLGATHEIST@aol.com

Arizona Secular Humanists (ASH)
P.O. Box 3738
Scottsdale, Az
85271-3738
(602)230-5328
E-mail ashemailaztec.asu.edu
E-mail marakelts@compuserve.com

Monument at Capitol stirs debate
Church-state quandary at high court

Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 3, 2005 12:00 AM

As the U.S. Supreme Court heard impassioned arguments Wednesday on the government's right to display religious monuments, Arizona schoolchildren at Wesley Bolin Plaza ambled past a 6-foot-tall cement tablet of the Ten Commandments.

The justices and students pondered nearly identical questions:

Does the First Amendment ban the state from touting a Judeo-Christian moral code?

If government provides a forum for God's message to Moses, does that mean Muslim extremists should be able to post jihadic scripts nearby?

Cruz Sagasta, 59, a Phoenix general contractor and Vietnam veteran, munched on a hamburger and contemplated.

"I'm all for it," Sagasta concluded, nodding toward the chiseled memorial outside Arizona's Capitol. "Those who do complain, they should get a life. It's like complaining about the word 'God' in the Pledge of Allegiance."

Sagasta seemed less certain when asked whether Wesley Bolin Plaza should also feature Koranic verses or Hindu scripture.

"No," he said. "But, well, I guess there's a double standard there."

The Supreme Court, trying to unblur a fuzzy line in the separation between church and state, has yet to issue a ruling.

One case involves the posting of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse. The other features a monument in Texas that resembles the Phoenix tablet in content, size and location. A decision in the two cases may come in June.

Donated in 1964 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Arizona memorial was commissioned by Hollywood filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille to promote his movie The Ten Commandments, rather than a theological point.

Eleanor Eisenberg, executive director at the ACLU office in Phoenix, said the Texas commandments are identical to Arizona's.

"That's why we haven't sued," she added. "We were watching this case as it came up through the courts."

Eisenberg argued that it is unconstitutional for government to tout one religion to the exclusion of others. She was less definitive in criticizing a publicly owned venue that allows equal access to all faiths.

However, she said, "It's not just a question of choosing one religion over another; it's also a question of choosing any religion over no religion."

In Washington, D.C., justices appear to be seeking a middle ground that allows church symbols and messages on government grounds if they do not amount to state endorsement.

On Wednesday afternoon, the dilemma intrigued kids from Kyrene Akimel A-al, a public middle school in Phoenix. The kids, including 13-year-old Trisha Jones, blurted tenets of the First Amendment in response to a reporter's challenge: "Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech."

Asked whether that means the Supreme Court should leave the Ten Commandments tablets in place, Trisha said, "I think if they do that, they should let other people put up their religious messages, too."

Delbert Case, a 72-year-old visitor from Kansas, took a more dogmatic stand.

"I'm a born-again believer," he explained, "and I believe there is no separation of church and state."

Carol Lambert, 46, a Tempe homemaker, appeared to be praying or reading the commandments as she sat on a bench in the shade.

'A political issue'

"It's interesting that it's a political issue and the element of truth doesn't seem to matter," Lambert said. "There is one true God."

Asked to explain, she said she meant the Christian deity: "The God of truth, of righteousness, of mercy."

"These Ten Commandments are the foundation of our laws, and that's what made this a great nation," Lambert said. "If we teach our kids that we don't need them, that we can throw them away, then we're lying to our kids."

Complain about this violation of Church & State to:

Janice K. Brewer
Governor of Arizona
State Capitol, 9th Floor
1700 W. Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602) 542-1950
FAX: (602) 542-7602
smyers@az.gov