The Ten Commandments Controversy

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Is anyone else of the opinion that we would do well to return to the text of the constitution and examine what it says rather than continue in our merry way of ignorance. Today the Supreme Court will hear two cases regarding the display of the 10 commandments and whether that violates the so-called "separation of Church and State."

The text of the first amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Explicitly it is congress that shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It seems very clear that this text refers explilcitly to congress requiring any group of people to worship in a way contrary to their conscience.

Note that the first amendment does not in any way preclude congress from festooning their chambers with texts from the Bible, statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, or paitning cherubs on the ceiling. It does not say what may happen within the individual states (though I will accept that it is logical and reasonable to assume that the several states would also not make laws regarding the establishment of religion.)

However, what the consitution DOES NOT prohibit is any display of religious identity at all. There is no word regarding opening prayers, or art, or speeches, or any other aspect of religion. It does not say that Congress shall keep the law completely separate from religion and shall not be influenced thereby.

Our modern doctrine is an egregious misrepresentation of what the Constitution says. There is nothring whatsoever about an individual's display of the Ten Commandments, nor even about the government's dispaly thereof. One of the argument for the removal of all relgious articfacts is that it makes an "uncomfortable" environment for those who do not worship as the majority does. We are to preserve a space of comfort for the minority opinion. But my question continues to be, why must the majority be put out to accommodate the minority in ever case. I would derive a great deal of comfort from the thought that the law was derived from and seasoned by the Law of God.

This is one of those cases in which the most appropriate response to whatever the ruling may be is Andrew Jackson's famous, "Mr. Marshall has made his law, now let him enforce it." Because, in fact, while congress has made no such laws, the Courts has inundated us with restrictions and hedgings to such an extent that it is not possible in some schools to read and report on the Bible. If this isn't a "law" restricting religion, I don't know what it constitutes. And it did not come from congress, but from the courts.

It is really long past time that we should take back what is our own from the courts. We have had too much taken from us and I would encourage Texans to petition their governor, regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court's rulings on this case to keep the monument on the Statehouse lawn. It is ridiculous that our lives have become overrun by an oligarchy that seems bent upon recreating society in its own image. In the sixty years of the Roosevelt dominated courts, the tone of society has so far degraded that we look nothing like what we once did. In some ways these changes have been very good. It is good to see that people of color are more accepted than was once the case. (There's always the exceptions.) However, for the most part the insistence upon extreme secularization of society has been a detrimental influence on society and on individual behavior. It is time as a society to tell the Supremes to get off their high horse and get back on track. They are not the law of the land, nor were they ever intended to be. They were to interpret that law, not formulate new law. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in a great many years and we all suffer for it.

May God be merciful unto us though we do not deserve it and may He spare us from further depradations of the Court.

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I think that one of the amendments introduced at the end of the civil war (14th?) has language that prohibits states from making or enforcing certain laws that "abridge" the "privileges or immunities" of US citizens, so the 1st amendment also prohibits the states from yada yada yada.

That doesn't mean I disagree with your overall message; it's just a point about why we can't simply look at the original text of the first amendment alone. Lots of people think it abridges their freedom of religion if some state or local government posts the ten commandments. I think they're nuts, but that's what's behind it.

Dear Jack,

The provisions of the 14th amendment were made with particular reference to slavery.

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

No matter how one construes this clause displaying the Ten Commandments is NOT making a law, which is my point. You don't want to see the 10 commandments--don't look. It is an abridgement of my 1st amendment rights to make me take it down from a place where I work if that place happens to be owned by the government.

The abridgement of religious rights continues unabated, and this is simply another example. Nothing in the constitution prohibits the display of religious articles in any place. Perhaps the tone of the workplace might make it more or less objectionable; however, that becomes a different matter which can and should be regulated by the employer, NOT by the Supreme Court.

That is my fundamental issue--there is no constitutional issue and no matter what the Supremes decide it is outside of their jurisdiction entirely. It is only by deliberate misconstruction that the Supreme Court even gets jurisdiction.



Dear Jack,

By means of clarification--

The above clauses may prohibit the state governments from REQUIRING that the ten commandments be displayed in any public place; however, they do not imply that they may not be displayed in any given space including governmental spaces. The Constitution does not prohibit either endorsement or encouragement to religion outside of legislation. That is a matter for the workplace, and not for the concern of our Courts.

Once again, if the majority endorses a display of the ten commandments, then a minority should not be able to abridge that freedom of expression. If the minority does not like it, as with many things, they must overlook it. I don't particularly care for KKK rallies or NeoNazi groups; however, nothing in the law allows me to prohibit them from writing, posting, or airing their viewpoint in any public arena. Hopefully lack of popular support will encourage them to keep to themselves, but they do have the right to make their viewpoint known. By current law, you could post an invitation to a KKK rally on a public bulletin board in a Government office, but you could not post an invitation to a Bible Study or before-work prayer group. Now, is that equal protection under the law?

(By the way, I recognize that you do not necessarily support the positions I am speaking against here--you only happened to provide fuel for the fire by quoting the commonly misconstrued provisions of the Constitution.)



"They are bit the law of the land, nor were they ever intended to be." Bit?

Dear Mr. Core,

Wasn't able to answer or fix yesterday due to technical glitch. Thank you. Obviously that should say "not." One of the problems with using a spell-checker and being in a hurry. Will fix soonest.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 2, 2005 8:06 AM.

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