North Idaho

Community members pack Sandpoint council chambers over 10 Commandments memorial

Community members pack Sandpoint council chambers over 10 Commandments memorial

SANDPOINT, Idaho - Almost every chair in Sandpoint's Council Chamber was filled Wednesday night for the discussion of the Ten Commandment Monument in Farmin Park.

"I just wanted to come out today and be able to say that the monument is a historical document and it represents a foundation for many people's beliefs here," Mike Clark said.

The four-decade-old gift from the Fraternal Order of Eagles is stirring controversy due to its placement on public property. In November, the City received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit based out of Wisconsin that advocates for separation between church and state. Their message: move the monument out of the park or face legal consequences. Now, the City is looking at what the majority wants, and so far it looks like they want it to stay.

"The community wants to see that kind of thing," Clark said. "It reminds right and wrong, things that are good. I feel it's more beneficial for us as a people just to have it where we can see it going by the public park there."

One of the few people in attendance who opposed the monument's location was Aiden Millheim.

"I tried to represent our position as best I could," Millheim said. "Specifically that it's not about offense and it's not about freedom of religion, that we're specifically taking exception to the fact that it's on public land and that's a issue of separation."

The purpose of the item was to brief the council on similar cases before it is put on the agenda for future decision. Liberty Institute, a legal organization out of Texas was confident the City's case would stand in court and offered their legal services for free. Wednesday's item was information only, no decision was made.