Utah Cities Must Allow Commandments Alternative

If local governments in Utah allow displays of the Ten Commandments, displays from other faiths cannot be denied, a federal appeals court has held.

In mid-April, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued two rulings in favor of a relatively new religious group, called Summum, to place its Seven Aphorisms alongside Command­ments monuments on public property in Duchesne City and Pleasant Grove City.

Summum was formed in 1975. The group’s Web site lists “seven great Summum Principles,” which are: psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect and gender.

For more than a decade, the group has fought various Utah cities to force displays with its Seven Aphorisms into public parks alongside Commandments monuments. On April 17, the 10th Circuit in two different rulings advanced the group’s efforts.

In Summum v. Pleasant Grove City, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the religious organization, saying public parks are a “traditional public forum” and the city showed no compelling interest in denying Summum its request to showcase its religious views in the park.

In a separate case, Summum v. Duchesne City, the 10th Circuit held that a portion of a public park that was sold twice to private entities continued to be a public forum and that the city did not show a compelling interest in denying a similar portion of land to Summum for a display of the Seven Aphorisms.