Brunswick Removes Religious Signage City Hall Won't Show Ten Commandments

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- A framed copy of the Ten Commandments at City Hall has come down after a threatened lawsuit.

Mayor Brad Brown said the copy was taken down yesterday but will be replaced soon with a historic display on the foundations of American laws including copies of the Magna Carta, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Ten Commandments had hung beside the elevator on the first floor of the leased building where they had been left by Ben Slade, an owner of the former bank. The city rented the building and moved in last April during the renovations of its City Hall, which sits just across an intersection from the temporary headquarters.

The lease agreement forbids any alterations to the building without the permission of the owner, and Slade had said that covered moving of the Ten Commandments.

But Brown said even in rented space the city had to follow the law.

Although Brown said he favored leaving the copy in place, it was clear that it could pass legal muster only if it were part of a historic display as federal courts have ruled.

"Unfortunately, like so many things in this world, one person causes a lot of trouble for the masses," Brown said.

Brunswick resident Frederick J. Dufel confirmed yesterday that he had sent a letter last month asking that the Ten Commandments be removed.

"I said I thought they ought to take them down and I mentioned I had been in contact with [legal] counsel," Dufel said. "I said in my letter I thought the founding fathers of our country were pretty smart."

The founding fathers, as Duffel called the framers of the U.S. Constitution, had forbidden the establishment of a state religion, and the hanging of the Ten Commandments crosses that line, he said. …


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