Pleasant Grove can’t play religious favorites

Pleasant Grove and Summum, a religious group that was founded locally, are embroiled in a lawsuit over an item Summum would like to donate and display in a Pleasant Grove public park.

After many appeals and months in court, the lawsuit has made its way to the United States Supreme Court, and could, depending on the outcome, set new precedents concerning this matter.

Summum beliefs range from mummification to meditation. According to the group’s official Web site, founder Claude “Corky” Rex Nowell, “began to have a series of encounters with highly intelligent beings who he now refers to as the Summa Individuals. He describes them as beings who untiringly work the pathways of spiritual evolution.”

The group wants to donate a representation of its Seven Aphorisms, seven principles on which Summum philosophy is based, and is supplemented with, according to Summum, “The lower law of the Ten Commandments.”

Pleasant Grove contends that it has the right to deny Summum because, as stated in a March 31 Supreme Court statement, “Petitioner Pleasant Grove City owns and displays a number of monuments, memorials and other objects in a municipal park.” And, without getting into strict standards and lesser standards of the law, the other monuments are owned by the government and are therefore not matters of free speech.

But to allow one group the right to display its beliefs and deny another is unfair. Either all groups should have access to display their views, no matter how radical they might seem to some, or none should. The irony of this whole matter is that Pleasant Grove and Utah County have a high population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose beliefs are considered unorthodox by some. Of all religious groups that might demonstrate tolerance and support for another’s beliefs, one would think the LDS Church would be first in line.

Instead, Christian groups are holding a double standard and the city is going along for the ride. Any government, whether on the national, state or city level, should avoid playing religious favorites.

Religious beliefs are sacred to everyone, and if government is going to allow one religious group a right, then it must allow all the same right. This is a clear-cut case of discrimination no matter which way you look at it.

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Zach Edmunds