Mo. monument undisputed

Ten Commandments tablet at statehouse draws little attention.
Sunday, August 31, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:35 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 7, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — While a dispute has roared in Alabama about the removal of a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state courthouse, a similar stone tablet in the Missouri statehouse’s backyard remains in a quiet calm.

The Ten Commandments monument has stood on the Missouri River side of the Capitol for 45 years without generating any objections. And state officials indicate little concern of any arising.

Civil liberties advocates voice almost no interest in having the monument removed.

“Neither I nor the ACLU have, at this point, committed to taking any specific action regarding the issue,” said Dan Viets, an ACLU counselor and Columbia attorney.

Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office said he has received no lawsuits over the issue.

The Missouri State Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles donated the monument to the Missouri Capitol in 1958. It was dedicated in Jefferson City on June 28 of that year, with then Lt. Gov. Edward V. Long (later a U.S. senator) presiding over the ceremony.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international humanitarian organization, began donating the monuments in 1951, with the release of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments.”

The Ten Commandments monument movement grew and the FOE has since donated hundreds of Ten Commandments monuments to state, county and city governments around the United States, according to an FOE Web site.

Disputes over monuments put up by the FOE and other citizens have been raised in many states. Several have been removed from the government sites or the public’s sight.

The most recent incident was the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from public view at Alabama’s state courthouse.

Other cases of their removal occurred in Missouri’s neighbor states, Kansas and Iowa.

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