Ten Commandment supporters: Don’t move it
A unified group of religious members filled the Hobbs City Commission Chambers for Tuesday’s Hobbs City Commission.
Their mission was simple: Don’t remove the Ten Commandments located at the Hobbs City Hall.
Of the 236 people who attended the meeting, 16 came before the commission to express their support on keeping the monument in its current location.
“I was raised (in Hobbs) all my life,” said Cassandra Lawson, “and I stand before you to say that the Ten Commandments is the decalog upon which our nation is founded. We stand upon our beliefs and as a body of Christ, we stand unified in one mind and one accord and we will not bow. I just pray that the monument stays standing where it is at.”
The origins of the movement came from Hobbs resident Pam Acevedo who started the social media page, “Freedom For Religion.” The move came after Acevedo heard the remarks of Hobbs resident Jeremy Wood, who during the Jan. 16 city commission meeting, asked the commission to removed the monument. The social media page grew and as its first act held a prayer walk on Feb. 12, where 60 residents participated outside of city hall as the commission held a closed meeting regarding pending items including the issue of the removal request.
Acevedo said in just over a week’s time since the social media page opened, it has grown to more than 1,700 members. She said Tuesday that she felt humbled by the response and turnout at the meeting.
“I just kept seeing people coming in and coming in and I thought to myself, ‘my gosh, the Lord did speak to these people and they are here.’ And I am very proud to be among them.”
Acevedo stood before the commission with Rev. Rodney Warren, pastor of Life Temple United Penecostal Church in Hobbs, who spoke about the history of the monument and the city of Hobbs.
“The historical monument, the Ten Commandments in question, has been a significant part of the Hobbs community for over 50 years,” Warren said. “It represents our local history and the principal of our founding fathers who built this country upon. The presence of our monument does not make a expression of religious preference, but rather is a decalog established through the very fabrics of which this nation is born, govern by, past and present today.”
Warren expressed thanks on behalf of the group for the donation of the monument from the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
“The concerned citizens of our community are here tonight with one voice to encourage the council that this historic monument must not be taken down,” Warren continued. “We deeply express our voice that this historical monument continue to be a part of our heritage and our community.”
Reverend Ernest Hodge called the request to remove the monument an “attack against Christianity.”
“I think that even though I am not a pagan, I have learned to live with the fact that our calendar starts in homage to a pagan god, Janis. So we call it January,” he said. “We go through to Juno, and we called it June. We accept that. It’s not that we are worshiping those pagan gods, but its culture. But I think the Christian culture is being forced out of the impact that it has been on our culture. I think we are being singled out. This attack is not against religion, but it’s against Christianity particular.”
But what happens if the monument is forced to move? Several residents offered their land or other places where the monument can reside.
“If we end up having to move our Ten Commandments, I live on Navajo and I get over 4,000 cars a day going back and forth on the street,” said Michael Means. “I would be glad to put it on my property.”
Patty Clardy offered land across the street from New Mexico Junior College where the Southeastern Baptists Association is located.
“We need a monument with three crosses that can be seen from one end of Lea County to the other,” she said. “We need flags on there, the American flag, the Christian flag and the New Mexico flag. We need the Ten Commandments that will pull our people back to the morale values that God and our forefathers intended for this country to display and to have.
“I would like to say to you (the commission) and our citizens, they make take away the outward symbols on public property, they cannot do that on private property. I would like to challenge each and every one of you to put some symbol on your own front yard and show forth the strength of the Americans who are not happy with the direction this country has taken as we have moved away from the original meaning of our constitution.”
Linda Rodriguez, pastor of Rock Church, said this issue has brought unity to the city of Hobbs. However, it doesn’t make it OK for the monument to be moved.
“We are under God and our Ten Commandments are under God,” Rodriguez said. “(The commission has) heard others say that they are willing to put (the monument) on their plots. But just because they’ve already said it is OK to do that doesn’t mean that we can still take them down. It just says that there are other options. I am not for the taking down of the Ten Commandments. It is for us.”
Several followed Rodriguez’s stance that this issue has brought the religious community of Hobbs together.
“Someone said that if you don’t stand for something then you won’t stand for anything,” said Lilly Mae Patton. “So we’re standing on God’s word.”
The City Commission offered no response to the remarks made. Hobbs City Attorney Mike Stone said Wednesday that there has been no lawsuit brought forth to the City of Hobbs for the monument’s removal. The city did issue a statement regarding the issue.
“The Ten Commandments monument has been a significant part of the Hobbs community for almost 50 years,” it stated. “It represents the local history and the principles our country was built on. We believe its presence is not an expression of religious preference, but secular in nature and an integral part of our history.”