One could say that it’s an American version of “reasonable agreements.” The leaders of the Summum sect Utah could formulate their request in such words.
This winter, the Supreme Court will have to make short work of a ticklish problem. Summum, a sect founded in 1975, mixes new age, Judaism and antique Egyptian cults, has claimed the right to set up in a public park a stele enumerating its “seven aphorisms.”
Religious monuments are forbidden in public places in the United States, but Salt Lake City gave permission in 1971 to erect a stele dedicated to the Ten Commandments. Summum claims the right to erect a stele of the same size.
The sect counts around 250,000 members who usually meet in a metal pyramid where, surrounded by stuffed animals, they meditate while drinking an alcoholic “nectar." The local authorities consider this beverage similar to wine, making Summum the oldest vineyard of the state.
The founder of the sect, Claude Nowell, died in 2008, at the age of 64, having changed his name to “Summum Annum Ra.” He claimed that he had received the seven aphorisms from the hands of more “evolved” beings. In his opinion, the aphorisms had been written for the first time on the tables containing the Laws of Moses, which he broke in an outburst of passion when he found out about the Hebrews worshipping the Golden Calf. Mr Nowell made strange comparisons between the Ten Commandments and his seven aphorisms. He considered, for example, that the sentence “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” was the equivalent to his third aphorism: “Nothing’s immobile, everything moves, everything vibrates.”
Would such a pursuit be possible in Canada? “No,definitely not” the eminent lawyer and a specialist in Human Rights, Julius Grey says. In the United States, there is a constitutional separation between the State and Religion. However, there have been some breaches of this principle, creating a precedent, just like the Ten Commandments stele. In Canada, the Constitution states that religion can not be subject to discrimination. If there is a crucifix, as the symbol of a common culture in a public establishment, a minority group cannot claim as much space.
Mr. Grey opposes the disappearing of the Christmas tree, and more generally speaking, multiculturalism: “Multiculturalism leads to a lack of culture, to the extinction of a common culture. In Québec, even Jews and Muslims live in a Christian culture, simply because they learn French or read books by Péguy (French writer, poet and novelist, 1873-1914), whose main works are about the Chartres Cathedral. In Lebanon, the Christians live in a Muslim culture and so read the Koran at school. What is most important is not to confuse culture and religion.”
Edited by Louis Standish