A federal judge on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit by a Salt Lake City religious group seeking equal space for its own marker in a Pleasant Grove city park that has a Ten Commandments monument.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Pleasant Grove has displayed the Ten Commandments monument “for reasons of history, not religion.” And there is no evidence city officials were aware of Summum‘s religious beliefs and, therefore, were not favoring one religion over another when they refused its request to put up its Seven Aphorisms monument, he said.
The decision did leave a door open for Summum, a small sect based on Gnostic Christianity. The judge threw out its claim on the merits for equal space under the federal Constitution but dismissed a Utah constitutional claim without prejudice, meaning the suit could be refiled in state court.
Brian Barnard, a Salt Lake City attorney for Summum, said the group is considering that option.
Summum — which was founded in 1975 and is headquartered in a pyramid-shaped temple — encourages some Egyptian practices, such as mummification. The religion’s aphorisms involve psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender.
A public park, over the years, can provide a soapbox for a very large number of orators—often, for all who want to speak—but it is hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression.