A religious sect called Summum wanted to erect a display of its Seven Aphorisms in the park where the Ten Commandments monument stands.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Pleasant Grove did not violate the U.S. Constitution by accepting a Ten Commandments monument in a city park and denying a Summum monument. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing an official religion or favoring one religion over another.
Kimball says the city displayed the monument for historical purposes, not religious, and did not use Summum’s beliefs when denying the group.
“There is no evidence that anyone in Pleasant Grove government had any idea what Summum’s religious beliefs were,” Kimball wrote in his decision.
Summum, a Latin word meaning highest or greatest, is rooted in Gnostic Christianity. The group believes Moses received the Seven Aphorisms along with the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. According to the group, Moses destroyed the tablet containing the aphorisms because he saw the Israelites weren’t ready for them.
The Ten Commandments marker has stood in the Pleasant Grove park for nearly 50 years. It was erected by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
The lawsuit was previously taken to the U.S. Supreme Court on a Free Speech Clause argument. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pleasant Grove, and the U.S. District Court in Utah gave Summum leave to amend its original complaint.
Summum asked the court to grant a preliminary injunction in the case, requiring Pleasant Grove to accept the monument while the case was pending, but that motion became moot when Kimball dismissed the case on Thursday.
Summum attorney Brian Barnard said the group is considering its options to appeal.
“It’s a matter, basically, of simple fairness,” he said.