It isn't uncommon for religious displays to serve as primary targets for atheists and church-state separatist groups. Case in point: last week, the American Civil Liberties Union New Mexico (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jane Felix and B.N. Coone, residents who are offended by the presence of a Ten Commandments display that is on the front lawn of the Bloomfield, New Mexico City Hall.
(Related: Atheists Demand NC Town Remove Ten Commandments From Town Hall)
The residents who oppose the display, which was privately donated to the government and placed on the lawn back in July 2011, believe that it is a violation of the separation of church and state. In the filing with the U.S. District Court of New Mexico, the ACLU called the display "an excessive government entanglement with religion" and ordered the monument to be "immediately removed from the real property owned by the City of Bloomfield, New Mexico." You can read the full complaint here.
Below, watch a portion of the monument's July 4, 2011 dedication ceremony:
Here's more of the religiously-themed celebration surrounding the display last summer:
ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson says that he and his organization have no opposition to private citizens and organizations posting the Ten Commandments. But he contends that the government's endorsement (i.e. the location) of the religious monument is unacceptable.
"Individuals, religious communities, and religious associations should be free to post the Ten Commandments as they wish, and the ACLU will defend their right to do so," Simonson said. "But the government should not decide which religious doctrines it favors and then post them on government property."
"In putting up those religious beliefs, the government sends a signal, the city of Bloomfield sends a signal that those are the ones it favors and disregards all others," he also said in an interview with KRQE-TV.
Dr. Billy McCormack, though, who serves on the Christian Coalition of America board of directors told The Christian Post that the ACLU lawsuit was merely another example of the organization's "continuation of its crusade against Christianity and its place in American society."
That being said, McCormack has little confidence that the courts will agree with Bloomfield, as he believes many judges have "a bias against Judeo-Christian religion."
The Ten Commandments have a complicated history in the U.S., as some courts have allowed displays while others have demanded they be removed. Some cases, however, have led to compromises (atheist groups have been able to post their monuments next to the displays).