Boise is a community just like many others. It is the center of the Treasure Valley – a group of cities in the Southwest corner of Idaho that makes up most of Idaho’s economic and cultural influence. Boise is the capitol of Idaho and home to companies that lead the technology industry. Situated minutes from some of the world’s best hiking, biking, and skiing, it is also a support system for the state’s agricultural prowess. Just like so many other cities of our day, the secular, anti-God influence has seemed to get stronger and stronger. There’s a church on just about every street corner, but strangely enough, God and His Lordship in the lives of Boise residents seem to be missing.
In January, 2004, Boise joined many communities in becoming a statistic – a statistic of revisionist history and secular influence – as the Mayor and City Council voted to remove a Ten Commandments monument that had stood in the public park for over 40 years. Just a few months earlier, some local Christians had celebrated the fact that the Ten Commandments were standing in the public square of our community. This caught the attention of Fred Phelps, a “pastor” from Kansas who wanted to put up a hate monument in Boise and some neighboring communities. When denied at each city, Mr. Phelps said he would sue on the grounds that Boise was allowing one religious monument and not another, thus discriminating against him.
Boise leaders had a choice to make. Would they follow the lead of its neighboring communities and stand for the public display of God’s Word? Or would they take advantage of this situation and remove God’s Word? Unfortunately, the city officials did not follow the lead of their smaller-budgeted neighbors and chose to do the latter. In their arrogance, they did not involve any of the citizens and taxpayers of Boise in this decision. They bowed to another god and removed the one, true God from His rightful place.
Soon after the decision was made and before the monument was removed, some Godly citizens decided to take a stand. Many gathered for 70 days and nights in the cold and wind and kept a reverent, protective vigil. They were resolved that God’s Word would not be easily displaced. Eventually in March of 2004 the monument was removed as thirteen citizens who prayerfully knelt and prayed were arrested and hundreds of others prayed, sang, and wept as they watched.
With the commandments removed, these citizens, who had formed themselves into the Keep the Commandments Coalition (KCC), asked: What can we do now? With the advice and guidance of some national advisors and much prayer, the KCC struck out on a very innovative and never before traveled road.
KCC decided to let each citizen vote on the issue of the public display of the Ten Commandments. Almost every Ten Commandments case in the US gets tied up in court and a few elite judges make the decision while ignoring the overwhelming support for the public display of the Ten Commandments among the citizenry. In fact, in Boise 72% of the citizens opposed the removal of the monument. It was finally time for the citizens to speak!
The task was daunting as over 8,300 signatures were needed to certify an initiative for a city-wide election. God showed the KCC much favor and in less than 90 days over 19,000 signatures were collected. These signatures were appropriately turned into the city. But the city council refused to accept the signatures and announced that they would not allow the initiative on the ballot for a new monument to be installed in the park.
KCC recognized that each signer of the petition was being disenfranchised. The most basic right of each citizen to vote, after having gone through the proper petition process, was being disregarded. Our Constitution clearly gives every citizen the right to petition their government for redress of grievances. The city of Boise was turning a deaf ear to this most essential right.
Eventually the issue made it to the Idaho State Supreme Court. Finally, two years after the 19,000 signatures were originally turned in, they reached a decision. The Idaho Supreme Court made history by being the first to allow the citizens to vote on the public display of God’s Word. And this November 7, 2006, Boise is going to make history as the first community in the United States to ever vote on the public display of the Ten Commandments.
This is a key victory because it is a step towards stemming the moral erosion of our society. It is important that we acknowledge the Christian foundations of our country – and our rights – and recognize God as Sovereign Lord over every area of our society and culture. Allowing the citizens to vote and speak on this issue also guards and protects our freedoms and liberties. As Edmund Burke said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Truer words were never spoken. Through this process of returning the Ten Commandments to the park, our liberties and rights have been exercised – and protected.
There is still a lot of work to be done and November 7th will yield the harvest. However, we recognize that in many ways the victory has already been won. Boise has been used by the LORD to lead the way in protecting the rights of the citizens to vote on the public proclamation of truth. We know many eyes are watching to see what will happen. Several communities throughout the nation are preparing to follow our lead if there is a victory. We know the result is in the hand of the LORD. As we faithfully acknowledge and embrace His Sovereignty, His purposes will be worked out.
KCC covets your prayers and support as we seek to see God’s Word returned to its rightful place – publicly displayed and acknowledged. You can stay up to date on this issue by visiting www.keepthecommandmentsidaho.com or contacting KCC at [email protected] or 208-338-7878.