Both items were moved from city property on the downtown square to property owned by Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on the west side of Wooster Avenue.
The Ten Commandments were moved from city-owned green space on the southwest corner of Wooster and Third Street to a location that had previously held the Grace Evangelical sign. The granite piece was moved about 100 feet, according to Service Director David Douglas.
A letter from Law Director Douglas O'Meara said the city disagreed with the foundation's assertions that the items were improperly placed on public property. But he noted that a court case would cost the city money.
"In these days of extremely tight budgets and close watching of civic purse strings, council and the mayor elected the route that extinguished that exposure," O'Meara wrote in the April 3 letter to a foundation representative.
O'Meara also said the city would paint over something the foundation identified as a Latin cross that was part of a choir display that remains on the green next to City Hall. O'Meara said that it might not have been a cross, but a window.
Christopher Line, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told Mayor Richard Homrighausen in a Jan. 26 letter that the cross, being a Christian symbol, constituted an unconstitutional endorsement of religion when placed on public property.
"Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism," wrote Line, the foundation's Patrick O'Reiley Legal Fellow.
"A concerned area resident has reported that each year during the holiday season the City of Dover displays a nativity scene and a scene featuring a large Latin cross on city property," Line wrote. "We also understand that there is a Ten Commandments monument located near Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church that appears to be on city property.
He wrote that it was unlawful for the city to have a holiday display that consisted solely of a nativity scene because it showed a preference for, and endorsed, one religion.
About the Ten Commandments, Line wrote, "There are ample private and church grounds where religious displays may be freely placed. Once the government enters into the religion business, conferring endorsement and preference for one religion over others, it strikes a blow at religious liberty, forcing taxpayers of all faiths and of no religion to support a particular expression of worship."
O'Meara's response to the foundation said that the city believed case law would allow the creche to be legally permitted as part of a diverse seasonal display. Similarly, he said the Ten Commandments monument could have stayed on the public square because it was similar to a Texas display the U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional because it represented historical value and not purely religious value.
O'Meara wrote that the granite stone containing the Ten Commandments had been on city property several feet from the boundary with the church. It was donated to Dover by Eagles Aerie No. 515 in 1963.