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Historic Victory for Ten Commandments on Capitol Hill -- Washington, D.C. Backs Off Assault on the First Amendment and Religious Expression in the Public Square

Contact: Dane Rose, Faith and Action, 202-546-8329, extension 106; Rev. Rob Schenck is available today for on-site interviews.


WASHINGTON, June 28 /Christian Newswire/ -- In a stunning reversal, the Government of the District of Columbia has reversed its order to remove the Ten Commandments from the front garden of the Faith and Action ministry house across the street from the US Supreme Court. Failure to comply subjected Faith and Action to $300 a day fines and possible forced sale of the property.

 

Rev. Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK), an occupant of Faith and Action's clergy residence at 109 2nd St., NE, in Washington, DC said, "We were shocked at how quickly the DC Government agreed to our position on our Ten Commandments display.  Our lawyers had just faxed a response to the District Government's order to remove our sculpture. The letter rescinding the order was hand-delivered the next morning."

 

Another part-time resident of the ministry house, the Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, said, "We are thankful the city of Washington, D.C. has ended its assault on the First Amendment and expressions of faith in the public square and will allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed across the street from the Supreme Court. We hope our refusal to remove the Ten Commandments, in spite of the threat of thousands of dollars in fines and loss of property, will serve as clear reminder that we must resist religious bigotry and discrimination on every level. This is a victory not only for the faith community but for all Americans who cherish free speech and religious liberty."

 

Faith and Action's legal team, led by Alabama attorney Phil Jauregui of the Judicial Action Group with backing by the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious liberty public interest law firm, demonstrated to DC officials that the sculpture did not require a permit to "obstruct travel," and that it was protected speech under the First Amendment. DC officials agreed to both claims. (See letter from Lars Etzkorn of the Government of the District of Columbia, District Department of Transportation.)

 

“The District’s written admission vindicates Faith and Action’s position throughout this dispute: there is no legal support for the District’s prior attempt to regulate the Ten Commandments garden display.  Faith and Action acted appropriately in not only placing the Ten Commandments display in its garden but in having the courage to stand behind it.  We hope that this will end the matter; if anything further develops we stand ready to defend Faith and Action.” Phillip L. Jauregui, Judicial Action Group, 800-439-8867

 

The 3' x 3' granite sculpture faces the private entrance to the US Supreme Court where the justices arrive and leave each day. Many US senators and their senior level staff members walk past the display on their way to and from nearby US Senate office buildings. Kansas senator Sam Brownback keeps his Capitol Hill residence a few doors away.

 

A group called "The Beltway Atheists" had previously announced they would file a civil lawsuit if DC officials allowed the Ten Commandments to remain in what DC law deems "public space."

 

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See letter from Lars Etzkorn of the Government of the District of Columbia, District Department of Transportation

 

Rev. Rob Schenck is available today for on-site interviews. Contact Dane Rose at 202-546-8329, extension 106.