Thursday, June 29, 2006


A lot of reporters called yesterday to ask my opinion on the reversal of the D.C. Government’s order to remove our Ten Commandments display. It was difficult to articulate exactly how I feel.

To begin with, demanding that we get a permit for our lawn ornament, when no one else is required to do so, is an unjust application of the law. Anytime someone bows to that kind of injustice, it reinforces it. We knew from the beginning that it was wrong and unconstitutional. It amazes me that it took District lawyers almost a month to figure that out.

Second, while I’m grateful the Ten Commandments will remain on display, it’s almost like being grateful that the pickpocket gave you your wallet back. He should have never taken it in the first place! So, am I truly grateful—or just relieved? I need more time to sort it out.

Third, no one knows how the District will treat others in the future should they wish to display a different part of the Bible. In fact, no one knows how the District will treat our next door neighbors should they decide to display the Ten Commandments. The hand-delivered letter announcing the rescindment of the order states that the decision is limited to “the specific facts in this case at this time.” Tomorrow may be a different story.

At this moment we are not inclined to challenge the District any further, but perhaps we should for the good of the whole. As the axiom goes, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.” I’ll have to pray about it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I now know how David felt when the Lord gave him victory over Goliath! Yesterday, the Government of the District of Columbia hand-delivered a second letter to our front door. Mr. Lars Etzkorn of the District Department of Transportation wrote, in part:

"In view of the First Amendment interests in the installation of the Ten Commandments sculpture at 109 2nd Street, NE, and upon further consideration of the applicable law, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has concluded you need not seek a permit for the sculpture . . ."


This means that FOR NOW, the Ten Commandments stands unchallenged in the front garden of our ministry house across the street from the US Supreme Court! Our attorney, Phil Jauregui, and his back-up team from the Alliance Defense Fund, deserve great credit for their work. Phil had sent a letter to DC officials last night clarifying our defense of the Ten Commandments. At the same time, my brother Paul, our colleague, Rev. Pat Mahoney and I issued a joint statement announcing our resolve to at no time remove the monument.

Then, this morning comes the letter of surrender!

You can read the complete letter at our website: You will see that the District of Columbia government capitulated and admitted that we were right on the two most important aspects of our argument: 1) That the law under which the District Government made its demand that we submit to the permit process does not apply to our display, and 2) That our display is protected speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution!

This was a knock-out in the First Round--but Round Two is no doubt coming. An atheist group that protested our June 3 dedication service for the monument announced then they would sue if the District Government allowed the Ten Commandments to remain.

We're not naive. We know that our opponents could actually use this victory to their advantage. All they need to do is complain to a federal judge that local authorities are not properly "enforcing the law," and thereby request relief from the federal courts. Pro-aborts have done it to us in the past when local authorities respected our rights. They managed to turn those rights against us. We learned then just how clever the enemy can be.

So, we're resolved to remain vigilant. We will continue our Preserve the Ten Commandments petition campaign. And, we ask you to keep praying and to stand alongside us. We don't know what's around the corner, but we want to be ready for whatever it may be!

More to follow . . .

A Win for the Commandments?

The Washington Post is today reporting that the Government of the District of Columbia is rescinding its order for us to remove our Ten Commandments display. Post reporter Michelle Boorstein writes that Lars Etzkorn, associate director of the office of public space management administration at the Transportation Department, “sent a letter to the group rescinding the earlier warning.”

The letter stated that, "In view of the First Amendment interests reflected in the installation of the Ten Commandments sculpture . . . and upon further consideration of applicable law," the city now believes that no permits are required.

We have not yet received the letter, so we are not going to lower our guard. The District of Columbia is sadly not known for its coherence. It’s possible someone higher than Mr. Etzkorn will rescind his rescindment! So, last night I released a formal statement to the media. You can read it at

We will also keep up our petition drive. Just in case this rumored determination by the Government of the District of Columbia never materializes or is reversed, we want to be fully prepared to resume our defense. 20,000 signatures are prerequisite to that defense.
Our legal team is also continuing apace. Last night they faxed the letter they intended to send all along to Mr. Lamont Regester, the chief in charge of public space management for the Government of the District of Columbia.

We have maintained all along that this battle over our display of the Ten Commandments in our front garden is all about principle, not politics. If the Government of the District of Columbia is simply appeasing us as if we were just another political constituent group, then we say, thanks—but no thanks!

Our goal is to get on the record that placing a monument in your own front garden acknowledging God and His law is our God-given, constitutionally protected right. If that’s what comes of this, then all of can truly rejoice and—well—thank God!

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's this all about?

On June 2, 2006, one day before Faith and Action unveiled a sculpture of the Ten Commandments in our front garden across the street from the US Supreme Court, the Government of the District of Columbia hand-delivered notice to me that we must apply for a permit or face possible fines and even forced sale of our property.

They cited a law that controlled any "obstruction to travel." Since the Ten Commandments sculpture sits in our elevated front garden, we presumed the law did not apply to us. The only "travel" that occurs in our garden is done by squirrels! The other point to this is that we knew full well that other property owners on Capitol Hill are allowed to have whatever they like in their gardens--and they are not asked to apply and pay for permits. Neither are they cited for not having the permits. The only conclusion we could logically draw was that we were being singled out because of the nature of our garden ornament. That is patent "content based discrimination" and it's against the law.

So, we proceeded to unveil our monument in a dedicatory service on June 3, in spite of the order. We immediately secured a first-class legal team headed by Alabama attorney Phil Jaurgui, president of the Judicial Action Group with backing from the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious liberty law firm founded by Dr. James Dobson, Rev. D. James Kennedy and others. The American Center for Law and Justice also did some background work for us.

Several weeks went by, during which the Department of Transportation, charged with monitoring compliance to public space permits, the city administrator and a spokesperson for Mayor Anthony Williams made contradictory statements about what would happen next. Some said we're in for a long legal battle, while others said we'd get our permit.

A number of phone calls were exchanged between our lawyers and the city officials. Meanwhile, we launched a "Preserve the Commandments on Capitol Hill" petition drive with a goal of reaching 20,000 signatures by the District's arbitrary June 30 deadline.

Then, this afternoon, June 26, Washington's WTOP Radio published a report on their website ( that the DC Government had decided that our monument was an issue of free speech. Therefore, we didn't need a permit.

That was a surprise to us, since we still don't have any official confirmation of it. It amounts to third-person hearsay. An unnamed WTOP reporter is quoting an unnamed source inside the Department of Transportation who indicates that the June 2 threatening letter will be rescinded. The monument will be allowed to stand without a permit.

We don't know if this is true. The District has not communicated with us. We would welcome their formal and official determination in writing. But wait! What happened to our argument that the permit requirement never applied to us in the first place? How did we get to First Amendment claim for free speech when we should have never been cited in the first place?

We're looking to win this case on principle, not on politics. With all due respect to Mayor Anthony Williams and the members of his administration, we're not interested in finding a political solution. It's the principle that matters here. The law was unfairly applied to one group's garden ornament because apparently, someone with political clout didn't like what our ornament said and where it was located. That is itself unconstitutional. You either apply the law equally to all or to none.

I am hopeful that the Government of the District of Columbia resolves that issue first by agreeing they should have never threatened us in the first place. Having said that, they must ALSO respect our freedom of speech under the Constitution.

My colleagues and I are very happy to serve in ministry in the District. We live much of our lives in the District, maintain part-time residences in the District, do much of our spending in the District and pay taxes here. We think life improves in our capital city with every passing year. And, we know, that it would be further improved if citizens in the District are relieved of the fear that should they place an unpopular but tasteful piece of art in their front garden--no matter where they're located--there won't come that dreaded, $300-a-day, take-your-property knock on the door!

Let's see what comes next. And thank you to each one that signed our "Preserve the Ten Commandments" Petition. Your actions may have helped us win this important first round. Hallelujah!

More as it comes available . . .