Federal Judge: Commandments Must Go

Residents in a small north Florida county are outraged. A federal judge has ordered county officials to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the county courthouse. Officials have less than a month to find a new location for the commandments.

Eighteen hundred people call Cross City, Florida home. There are more churches in the town than gas stations and at the entrance of the Dixie County Courthouse, engraved in stone, are the Ten Commandments.

Darcy Patterson says the commandments belong at the courthouse, but a federal judge disagrees. The judge ruled last week the commandments had to go because they violated the separation of church and state laid out in the US Constitution. "It has nothing to do with the courthouse. It’s our God, our Maker.”

Dixie County residents are furious.

Nancy Lupo “If they are going to take it down we should all picket.”

Bo Patterson “Federal judge he doesn’t come down here everyday and see this.”

Georgia Jerrells “It should stay it’s not hurting anything.”

The court battle to remove the statue began in 2007, after the ACLU filed suit.

This is actually owned by a private citizen, that’s the case Dixie County made in court. They also posted a plaque saying the views and opinions expressed in this area aren’t necessarily the views of the county, but it wasn't enough to appease the judge.

Now officials have until August 14th to get rid of the statue. Lifelong Dixie County residents Richard and Sissy Elton are sad to see it go.

Richard and Sissy Elton /
Richard: If people don’t want to look at it, they don’t want to see it there, then turn their head.
Sissy: Come in the backdoor.
Richard: Come in the backdoor.

Residents are asking the owner to place the commandments on private property as close to the courthouse as possible.

We tried to talk to Dixie County officials to see if they planned to move the statue or appeal the decision, but they denied our request for an interview. The ACLU of Florida issued this statement about the judge’s decision.

"We hope that Dixie County officials will find a permanent place for it at a church or other house of worship, which is the appropriate place for religious monuments. Removing the monument is the right thing to do. It is not the business of government to promote religious messages about monotheism, idolatry, taking the Lord's name in vain or honoring the Sabbath," said Howard Simon the Executive Director of the ACLUFL.

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