Wyoming City Votes To Move Religious Display

A Wyoming city council has voted to move a Ten Commandments display from a public park after a virulently anti-gay religious group sought to have a monument celebrating the murder of a gay college student erected nearby.

In late October, the Casper City Council was approached by the Rev. Fred Phelps, pastor of a Topeka, Kan., church, with a request to put up a granite monument declaring that a slain University of Wyoming student had entered hell for being gay. The preacher said the city cannot legally deny his religious display because it has allowed the Commandments display.

In fall 1998, two young men repeatedly bashed Matthew Shepard's head before tying him to a fence post in Laramie, Wyo., where he was found 18 hours later. Five days later he died in a coma. His assailants were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The city council unanimously rejected Phelps' request and then voted to move the Ten Commandments monument to a plaza that will contain an array of historic documents. City Manager Tom Forslund said Phelps' request "repulsed" the council and that he knew of "no one that wants the Phelps' hate message placed here."