NM City Owes ACLU $700,000 After Not Taking Advice on Ten Commandments Monument February 15, 2018

NM City Owes ACLU $700,000 After Not Taking Advice on Ten Commandments Monument

There’s a common refrain from conservative Christians that they shouldn’t let “bullies” like the attorneys at the Freedom From Religion Foundation stop them from (illegally) promoting their faith in public schools or local government. Why? Because there are Christian attorneys who will represent you free of charge.

That’s always the argument. I’ve heard government officials make it. I’ve heard conservative commentators make it. Fight the atheists because it won’t cost you a dime.

That’s why a recent case involving a Ten Commandments monument outside a municipal building in Bloomfield, New Mexico should be an eye-opener for anyone who falls for that Christian lie.


Here’s the short version of the story: The monument was put up for religious reasons in 2011 and was ruled unconstitutional by multiple courts. City officials later surrounded it with secular displays to deemphasize the whole Christianity thing, but that didn’t erase the fact that it was originally erected to promote a Christian worldview. Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Supreme Court to take up this case… and last October, the Court said no. So it’s all over. The monument must come down.

(You can read a more detailed version of the backstory here.)

What does this have to do with payment?

Now that the city of Bloomfield has lost the case, they’re on the hook for $700,000 to pay the ACLU’s attorneys’ fees. (The ACLU warned the city it would lose the case. City officials didn’t listen. That’s why it’s the city’s job to cover the ACLU’s legal bills for wasting their time.)

Alliance Defending Freedom, of course, is nowhere to be found. They provided free legal help during the process, but now that the case is lost, they’re not about to open their pocketbooks to help the city out. They’re too busy fundraising off the fact that they fought a Ten Commandments case.

City Manager Eric Strahl said Bloomfield [has] until June 30, 2021, to pay the $700,000 that it owes for the ACLU’s legal fees. He said the city can choose to pay in installments or pay the entire amount in 2021. The city will not have to pay interest if it waits.

Strahl said he has been evaluating different online fundraising sites and may establish an account up to “see if there are like-minded people who supported the city’s position” who may be willing to help pay.

Strahl said if the city is unable to raise money through donations to pay the $700,000, it will have to pay the sum out of its general fund.

They’re seriously trying to GoFundMe their way out of the mess ADF left them in.

Let this be a lesson to every school district and city council: When a church/state separation group tells you you’re doing something wrong, listen to them, make the appropriate changes, and move on. Because if it goes to court, those groups know what they’re talking about, and they don’t begin lawsuits they don’t believe they’ll win.

Conservative Christians will tell you to fight, that they have your back, but that’s never really the case. They take on these battles, not because case law is on their side, but because it’s a great way to fundraise for themselves. When the school district or city eventually loses the case, it’s the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill.

The city of Bloomfield is finally learning that lesson the hard way because its representatives are buffoons who wouldn’t listen to the ACLU when they had the chance.

(via Religion Clause. Thanks to Scott for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)

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