The U.S. Supreme Court this week agreed to hear a case concerning the right of a religious group to place its "Seven Aphorisms" alongside the Ten Commandments in a public park in Pleasant Grove City, Utah.
The Salt Lake City-based religious group, known as Summum, which claims to represent both the "inner workings of Nature" and "the sum total of all creation," has argued consistently in local courts that the display of the Ten Commandments in public parks must not exclude the viewpoints of other religious groups.
Most notably, according to Summum, is the belief that their "Seven Aphorisms" represent the complete version of the Ten Commandments.
"When Moses received stone tablets on Mount Sinai inscribed with writings made by a divine being, he actually received two separate sets of tablets," Summum claims on its website.
"The first set of stone tablets was not inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Rather, they contained aphorisms of a Higher Law that held very profound and deep meanings," the group adds. "Moses had been initiated into an understanding of the inner, esoteric source of these aphorisms - aphorisms that outlined principles underlying Creation and all of nature."
Summum's attorney, Brian Barnard of the Utah Legal Clinic, described the efforts by Summum to place its Seven Aphorisms alongside the Ten Commandments as "a matter of simple fairness."
"Summum says, 'Our Seven Aphorisms are comparable and complementary to the Ten Commandments, so please let us put ours up,"' he said, according to Deseret Morning News.
The City of Pleasant Grove, however, has argued that the Ten Commandments do not represent any government endorsement of any particular religious viewpoint – the Ten Commandments were privately donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles over 40 years ago – and should not be obligated to act as a public venue for all religious viewpoints, a potentially bad precedent, the city claims.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the law firm representing Pleasant Grove City, spoke to The Associated Press about the weight and importance of any Supreme Court ruling.
"The Supreme Court is faced with a dramatic opportunity: preserve sound precedent involving the well-established distinction between government speech and private speech – or permit a twisted interpretation of the Constitution to create havoc in cities and localities across America," he said.
The Summum group first began in 1975 after founder Claude "Corky" Nowell had a claimed encounter with advanced "Summa Individuals" who showed him the answers to "the matrix of Creation's formulations."
According to its website, the Seven Aphorisms of Summum are the principles of psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender..
The group claims to have over 250,000 members worldwide.