BLOOMFIELD — A Ten Commandments monument will stand in front of the Bloomfield City Hall in a matter of weeks, and it seems the councilors who approved it have the support of their town.

Some locals have been waiting for the day.

"If you don't like it, you don't have to look at it," said Bloomfield's Louie Lasiter, who showed up at a general meeting Monday evening to support the monument's placement.

The effort to erect the monument began about four years ago, when former city councilor Kevin Mauzy spearheaded a policy for monuments on the City Hall lawn. The policy, passed in July 2007, allows any organization to donate a monument that relates to, but is not limited to, content rooted in the development and history of United States law.

In his effort, he hoped too for the acceptance of a nearly six-foot granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments, the Bible's revered delineation of how one should and should not conduct oneself.

Now, four years since the policy passed, Mauzy has his wish.

Though councilors did not pass any items to approve the monument's placement, they acknowledged that they were moving forward with the project Monday evening.

Only one person showed to contest the monument.

"There're definitely not any laws that encourage the worship of any God before any other God," said Flora Vista's Ron Lashley, who was offended that the Bible's first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me," would be placed on government property.

Such statements should not be expressed by government entities, Lashley said.

Yet his protests were apparently unwelcome, evidenced by the hostile murmurings of the audience.

"Is his time up yet?" Bloomfield's Oral Hardin said during Lasiter's speech, slotted for three minutes. "Time's up."

Though most locals present readily accepted the monument, the town waded into contentious waters.

For decades, communities and their governing bodies have battled over the constitutionality of government entities supporting commonly religious symbols. Though the phrase "separation of church and state" is nowhere to be found in the United States Constitution, it certainly is ubiquitous in such matters.

The phrase, used in a letter by founding father Thomas Jefferson, is instead echoed in the Constitution's First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Its brevity perhaps left too much to be interpreted, seeing as how neither the people nor the Supreme Court can agree on whether the Ten Commandments, much less Christmas trees, deserve a place in government institutions.

"Really, the best answer is to respect the separation of church and state," said Rob Boston, a senior policy analyst at Americans United in Washington, D.C. "There's no need for government to wade into theological controversy."

Boston, whose organization strives to preserve the Constitution's separation of church and state, said the discussion of a Ten Commandments monument on government property is commonly brought to the organization's attention. Policies such as Bloomfield's, ones that allow any organization to donate a monument, only work for so long, he said.

"That sounds nice in theory, but that can be problematic. They can easily find themselves in court," Boston said.

The issues surface when other proposed monuments, specifically ones of non-Christian affiliation, are later turned away.

"The general principle of an open forum is fine — until someone wants to use the forum," Boston said.

But proponents of Bloomfield's monument maintain that the front-lawn addition is not about religion, but instead about history.

"Our laws are based on abstaining from lying, stealing and cheating," Mauzy said, alluding to some of the basic prohibitions listed in the 10 biblical rules.

The council and audience Monday agreed, as councilors unanimously acknowledged support for the monument.

No city funds went to, or will go to, the project.

The cost of the monument will be "several thousand" dollars, Mauzy said, though he did not know the precise amount. The individual amounts donated will also not be shared, he said.

The monument's installation, which was delayed by lack of funds and by the lengthy delivery time, will be within weeks. Family Craft Memorial, based in Farmington and Durango, built the piece, which will have the commandments engraved in the granite.

"This is a historical marker," Mauzy said, assured that the monument is a testament to the very document others feel it violates.

Jenny Kane:

jkane@daily-times.com