December 1, 2005

Allow One Religious Monument, Allow Any?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 8, 2005 @ 2:04 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

What is the Summum religion?

According to wikipedia:

Summum is a religion begun in 1975. The religion’s “seven great principles” are known as psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender. This group holds the belief that Moses was given both a “lower” and “higher” knowledge. The lower knowledge is embodied in the more widely known Ten Commandments, while the higher is expressed in what Summum knows as the “Seven Aphorisms”. In this aspect, Summum resembles an esoteric religious movement.

Believers in the Summum religion are suing a city in Utah because they want a religious monument on public propoerty.

The Carpetbagger writes:

The Supreme Court has said local governments kinda sorta can promote the Ten Commandments on public property, so long as the display features some diversity with other symbols and/or documents. For those who want government to intervene in religious matters, the high court's guidance is ambiguous, but helpful enough to move forward with plans to get more religious monuments erected at city halls and courthouses nationwide.

As is sometimes the case, however, these guys should be careful what they wish for.

In Pleasant Grove, Utah, for example, a Ten Commandments memorial, donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1971, sits in a secluded area of city property that is intended to honor the city's heritage. Pleasant Grove is now facing litigation about the display, not from civil libertarians, but from another religious group that wants equal treatment.

The Summum religion has sued the city of Pleasant Grove for the right to display the other set of laws they say Moses brought down the mountain.

The city has refused to allow the Salt Lake City-based religion to erect a monument enumerating the Seven Aphorisms, principles they say underlie creation and nature, with a public memorial that includes the Ten Commandments.

Summum leaders believe these were initially passed only to a select few who could understand them, but that Moses also delivered a lower set of laws, the Ten Commandments, which were more widely distributed.

I’m not an expert in the Summum, but as I understand it, the group’s aphorisms include statements such as “Summum is Mind, Thought”; “the Universe is a Mental Creation”; “Nothing rests, everything moves, everything vibrates,” and “As above, so below; as below, so above.”

I haven’t a clue what any of this means, but that’s not really the point.

These people see one religious tradition’s sacred text endorsed in a public and they’d like their beliefs to receive similar support. It’s not an unreasonable argument.

>A lot of people seem to believe America needs more religion in its “public square.” The Summum agree. The religious majority, however, have considered their requests and responded, “Uh, we didn’t mean you guys.”

This won’t do. Those who want state-sponsored religious displays shouldn't be allowed to get picky about which religions get endorsed and which get left behind. The government cannot be in a position of deciding which religions are "real" and which are "bizarre."

Want more religious monuments in front of city hall? Fine, but you better start saving room for quite a few religious groups. It's a diverse country, you know.