HOBBS, N.M. – Some civil liberties advocates are concerned about a Ten Commandments monument in a New Mexico city hall and the city’s sponsorship of last month’s Martin Luther King Jr. event because of religious overtones.
Members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the monument and the King event in Hobbs violate the separation of church and state, the Hobbs News-Sun report s.
City Attorney Mike Stone says Hobbs will evaluate the complaints.
During a recent meeting, Hobbs resident and foundation member Jeremy Wood asked the Hobbs City Commission to remove the Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall. Wood pointed to court cases forcing city governments to remove similar monuments.
“Politicians in towns like Hobbs have used public resources to promote their own religious beliefs and, in doing so, have denied their most vulnerable constituents their 1st and 14th Amendment rights,” Wood said.
He said the city must decide whether it will be a “safe haven for ethnic and religious nationalists, which puts the religion of its majority population above the law.”
Foundation lawyer Christopher Line also sent a complaint to the city over the King event on Jan. 15 because it involved religious music performed by a gospel group and numerous speakers who made reference to God and Jesus.
“It is laudable that the city is celebrating Dr. King and promoting unity within the community,” Line wrote. “However, including gospel music and religious messages in the celebration is inappropriate.”
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a lower court that ordered the city of Bloomfield, New Mexico, to remove a Ten Commandments monument outside its City Hall.