Back in June, 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 was soon taken to the Flathead County Detention Center.
But why that monument? What was Weimer’s motivation?
We didn’t know it at the time, but the answer has everything to do with the monument’s history, which explains why, unlike other similar monuments, it was essentially tucked away in a place few would see it. 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. One council member said, “It’s a nice gesture, and it’s a nice thought, but ultimately I don’t think it’s worth the trouble.”
It turns out that’s why Weimer was angry. He said in court that he wanted the monument in a more prominent location:
“It represents law and to me it’s hidden,” he said. “I also believe the government placing the Ten Commandments on its property is offensive to God.”
His desires didn’t help his case, though. This week, Weimer was found guilty of felony criminal mischief after a one-day trial:
Weimer initially was jailed on June 27 on $10,000 bail. He was released after posting the bond. His maximum sentence is 10 years in prison with a $50,000 fine.
[The judge] scheduled a pre-sentence investigation and set Weimer’s sentencing date for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.
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.
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 Marcus for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)