Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
The Ten Commandments monument in a Pleasant Grove city park is now being criticized by the Anti-Defamation League as an example of a city showing preference to certain religious denominations.

The Anti-Defamation League announced Tuesday that it has joined in a coalition brief, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the church-state aspects of the case involving a religious group's desire to display a monument in a Pleasant Grove park.

A request by the religious group Summum asking Pleasant Grove to display a monument depicting the group's Seven Aphorisms was denied by the city, which has an existing Ten Commandments monument in the park.

In April of last year, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Utah federal judge's decision that the city must open its park to other such monuments or remove them altogether for reasons of free speech. However, the ADL strongly feels that the case has been presented incorrectly as a free-speech case only.

"The case was presented in a strange way to the Supreme Court," said Steve Freeman, ADL director of legal affairs. "It involves a religious display on public property, which should naturally raise issues of church and state separation, but up until now it has been framed as only a free-speech issue."

The brief was filed this week to the court, and rather than take sides on the issue, the brief suggests that the issue is being looked at through the wrong lens.

"We make a point in the brief that if the court looked at the issue through a church-state lens, then the law prohibits government from discriminating against minority religions," said Freeman. "In essence the city should not be taking preference on certain denominations."

The ADL, which was founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism. The ADL is also a strong advocate for church-state separation. In the coalition brief they joined with the American Jewish Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and People For the American Way Foundation.

"We hope they read it and take it into consideration; the justice system oftentimes looks at these types of briefs to aid in the case background," said Freeman. "We feel this is an extremely important aspect of the case, which is why we have taken the time to tell the court about this."

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