Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Ten Commandments monument was a gift to Pleasant Grove and Utah County.

PLEASANT GROVE — Pleasant Grove continues to defend its display of the Ten Commandments in a city park.

In documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Pleasant Grove attorneys argue against claims by a religion called Summum that the Ten Commandments monument violates freedom of expression and the establishment clause in the U.S. and Utah constitutions.

In early August, the Utah County city was sued because its officials denied a request to display a monument of Seven Aphorisms of Summum.

The president of the Salt Lake-based religion requested permission to erect a monument in a Pleasant Grove park near 100 North and 100 East. The park features a display of the Ten Commandments that was erected by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

City officials denied the Summum request because they felt it did not directly relate to the history of Pleasant Grove and was not being donated by a group with longstanding ties to the community, according to court documents.

In 1997 and 2002 the Summum religion successfully sued Salt Lake County and the city of Ogden in similar suits seeking to allow the Aphorisms to be shown alongside public displays of the Ten Commandments.

Although Summum prevailed both times, the municipalities chose to bring down the monuments rather than allow Summum to display its Aphorisms.

Summum is being represented by attorneys Brian Barnard and James Harris, who have already won an appeal against Pleasant Grove in a different Ten Commandments case.

Barnard did not return a call from the Deseret Morning News on Thursday.

Nearly the same time as the Summum suit was filed, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver reversed a lower court decision that had affirmed Pleasant Grove's Ten Commandments display. The city was sued by the Society of Separationists, who sought removal of the religious reference.

Now the case will be heard again in the lower court in Salt Lake City.


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