On Saturday afternoon, a 30-year-old man hooked a chain up to a Ten Commandments monument outside the courthouse grounds in Kalispell, Montana and tore it down.
The local police said they “quickly located” the vehicle and arrested Anthony Weimer, who’s currently being held at the Flathead County Detention Center.
It’s not clear what his motivation was (or if he’s an atheist).
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 2014, self-described “born again Christian” and “Jesus Freak” Michael Tate Reed drove into the same monument in Oklahoma. Reed did it again in Arkansas in 2017. Reed had previously said he suffered from mental illness and was not taking his medication.
Why the Kalispell monument, though? Unlike some of the other monuments we’ve seen, this one’s almost tucked away in a place few would see. In 2011, the Kalispell City Council was asked to take formal possession of the Christian monument along with the other, smaller monuments making up the “cornerstone of law” display — with the hope that if they controlled it, they could move it to a more prominent location — but the council members declined.
The council… decided that accepting the statue could lead to legal problems involving separation of church and state.
“It’s a nice gesture, and it’s a nice thought, but ultimately I don’t think it’s worth the trouble,” said Councilor Randy Kenyon.
As it stands, The monument is currently under possession of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, which placed it there in 1950. (They put up a number of similar monuments across the country in the 1950s, many of which have led to legal battles. Some of them were part of a promotion for The Ten Commandments movie.)
It should go without saying that vandalizing these monuments is a horrible idea. As the Freedom From Religion Foundation has said in the past, “There is no need to resort to criminal behavior to uphold the Constitution… We are a nation governed by the rule of law. That not only means vandalism will not be tolerated, but it also means that we take our disputes to court.”
There’s no need to give conservatives’ Christian Persecution Complex a workout. The same moral justification people have been using to take down Confederate statues doesn’t quite apply to these relics.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)