Supreme Court to hear Ten Commandments companion monument case
Nick Cargo
Published: Tuesday November 11, 2008

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This week, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case of a federally recognized church, called a "cult" by opponents, whose followers have come under fire for the desire to have their Seven Aphorisms put alongside the Ten Commandments in public places.

Summum was founded in 1975 by Summum Bonum Amon Ra (or Corky Ra), née Claude "Corky" Nowell, after an encounter with "Summa Individuals" said to have introduced him to concepts regarding the nature of creation which are said to be reintroduced to humanity throughout time by advanced beings. Summum's teachings combine Gnostic Christianity with New Age philosophy and mummification rituals, with no particular recognized deity aside from, perhaps, the collective mind of the universe.

Summum is also Utah's first federally bonded winery, due to authorities' insistence that the organization's spirituous nectars, which it produces as a meditative aid, qualify as wine.

The Supreme Court, in hearing Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, will address whether or not the municipality of Pleasant Grove, Utah is required to allow Summum's Seven Aphorisms statue to be placed alongside a privately donated Ten Commandments monument in the city's Pioneer Park, as Summum requested in 2003. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Summum in April 2007, saying that Summum was denied its right to free speech and had been subject to discrimination. Several Utah municipalities removed their Ten Commandments monuments entirely in response.

Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver told OneNewsNow that Summum was a "cult that has some kind of Egyptian religion associated with it." Staver contended that al-Qaeda would be allowed to erect a companion monument to the donated 9/11 memorial, or a "statue of tyranny" to stand alongside the Statue of Liberty. "It would require, for example, if someone donates to the Vietnam Memorial, which in fact has been made by private funds, that someone else could come and donate something that is contrary to the theme of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC."

The Seven Aphorisms, per Summum's teachings, are companion to the Ten Commandments. According to Summum, Moses first descended Mount Sinai with the "higher law," the Seven Aphorisms, but they were ultimately only shared with those advanced enough to understand them. The Ten Commandments were Moses' second set of stone tablets, according to the teachings, the "lower law" that was easier for common people to understand.

Oral arguments are set to begin Wednesday.