Religious Plaque in a Courthouse?


We received a complaint about a religious
plaque in a county courthouse in Minnesota. In St. Louis county, in one of their courthouses
in Hibbing, Minnesota, so this is the northern part of the state, right outside the district
courtrooms there is a plaque. This religious plaque says, “God’s Laws.” A list of the Ten Commandments, or an abridged
version of the Ten Commandments, and then as well had a New Testament Bible verse on
it. After we looked at photos of the display,
we decided to take action. We ultimately wrote the St. Louis county,
requesting that the plaque be removed from the courthouse. There are a number of cases where religious
plaques, especially Ten Commandments plaques, in courthouses specifically have been ruled
unconstitutional. I think that makes perfect sense because this
is where we have a secular function, people are in courtrooms, having issues resolved. Putting a religious plaque right outside that
environment indicates that secular law is not going to be applied. And so it is certainly a problem, and we sought
to have that addressed. Initially we received a response from the
county, the county’s attorneys that they would be looking into this. Which I think is an appropriate response,
for them to really look into the facts as well as the law. And then thankfully they did decide, the county
administrator decided to remove the plaque. Although it had been up for a number of years,
recently it was removed, just this year. And now I believe in its place is just the
seal of the county. A much more appropriate display for a county
courthouse. Ultimately this was a great result. We have two chapters in Northern Minnesota
so our members in fact get the benefit of this. As well as everybody else in the community. So the fact that a constitutional violation
could be addressed in this way I think is really telling. That we were able to get it addressed and
now the county and the county residents, you know, have a secular government. And the government has recognized that fact. I think that benefits everybody.




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