Ten Commandments To Stay On City of Yuma Property

Jul 6, 2017

A week ago, a man rammed his car into a Ten Commandments display outside the Arkansas State Capitol. 

Similar religious displays on public space in different parts of the nation have long sparked debate.

But in the decades since a Ten Commandments monument was erected on City of Yuma property, there have been few complaints.

KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez reports.

The Ten Commandments monument stands at the edge of Heritage Library Park in Yuma.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international non-profit organization known for distributing Ten Commandments monoliths across the nation, donated the display to the City of Yuma about 40 years ago.

Not much objection has been made against the piece over the years, but recently an unidentified local resident filed a complaint with The Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The organization sent a letter in October 2016 to the City of Yuma stating the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and asked for the display to be removed.

Organization fellow Andrew Nellis said the monument conveys a religious message.

"Obviously the 10 commandments aren’t going to offend everyone," Nellis said. "But everyone has the right to equal treatment by the government without the government endorsing a particular religion."

The City Attorney’s office replied by letter in January saying it didn’t agree with the organization’s assessment.

The letter said the display serves a secular purpose and the city has received only two complaints in the monuments 40 plus year history.

Nellis said that’s irrelevant.

"The question isn’t whether certain number of people have complained," Nellis said. "The question is whether having this monument on city property sends an improper message that the city is endorsing a particular religious faith and particular religious belief by having a monument of the 10 commandments."

The city attorney’s letter said it has no plans to remove the monument. The City of Yuma declined further comment when contacted by KAWC. 

Click below for the complaint and city attorney's response.