ten-commandments1Where does ‘free speech’ and/or ‘government speech’ end and ‘establishment of religion’ begin? That’s the question before the Supreme Court this week.  Asking the question is Summum, a ‘non-profit organization’ that may or may not be a ‘religion’.

Mormons settled the town of Pleasant Grove City, Utah, in 1850. Since 1971, the town’s “Pioneer Park” has featured the usual assortment of gardens, trees, and other historical relics, which sit alongside a massive permanent monument to the Ten Commandments—one of many such monuments donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles (working to reduce juvenile delinquency) and Cecil B. DeMille (working to promote his Charlton Heston movie The Ten Commandments). In 2003, Summum’s founder, Summum “Corky” Ra, requested permission to donate a monument to the park celebrating the Seven Aphorisms upon which their beliefs are based. (The Seven Aphorisms are, in brief: the principles of psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender.) Summum holds that these aphorisms were revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai, but he demurred because his people were not yet ready for them. The Decalogue was the rewrite.

The Pleasant Grove City Council denied Summum’s request to erect a monument. Summum sued, alleging that their free speech rights had been violated because the city could not display the Ten Commandments while denying the Seven Aphorisms.

via The Supreme Court grapples with the primordial ooze of the Summum case. – By Dahlia Lithwick – Slate Magazine