Tag Archives: 10 Commandments

Ten Commandments ban upheld by appeals court

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Appeals court ruled that putting 10 Commandments in a display with other secular items doesn’t take away the religious nature of the commandments.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A split federal appeals court upheld a ban on the Ten Commandments in a display that included multiple religious and government documents at two southern Kentucky courthouses.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Wednesday in a 2-1 vote that the permanent injunction barring McCreary and Pulaski counties from posting the display can remain in place. The ruling comes in a long-running legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

Along with the Ten Commandments, the displays, called the “Foundations of Law and Government,” included the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta and Star Spangled Banner.

Judge Eric Clay wrote that the two counties could not provide a “valid secular purpose” for the display.

Ten Commandments ban upheld by appeals court

This was a basic argument by religious right extremists. If you include the 10 Commandments in a display with other “secular” items then it doesn’t violate the 1st amendment. The court said it still violates the Constitution.

Like a friend of mine said “Star Spangled Banner? What foundation did that provide?”

Utah monument case opens door to more establishment challenges

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On Wednesday, February 25th, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling on a Utah monument case that involved the city of Pleasant Grove and religious group which tried to donate a monument to their Seven Aphorisms to be placed near an existing one with the Christian 10 Commandments. Unlike most cases like this, it was considered on Free Speech grounds rather than on religious establishment grounds. The court ruled that a government can pick and choose what gifts to receive and in doing so seemed to open them up to establishment challenges in the future.

Justice Alito, writing for the majority said:

The Free Speech Clause restricts government regulation of private speech; it does not regulate government speech. A government entity has the right to “speak for itself.” “[I]t is entitled to say what it wishes,” and to select the views that it wants to express. See Rust v. Sullivan, 500 S. 173, 194 (1991); National Endowment for Arts v. Finley, 524 U. S. 569, 598 (1998) (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment) (“It is the very business of government to favor and disfavor points of view”)…..

Just as government-commissioned and government financed monuments speak for the government, so do privately financed and donated monuments that the government accepts and displays to the public on government land. It certainly is not common for property owners to open up their property for the installation of permanent monuments that convey a message with which they do not wish to be associated. And because property owners typically do not permit the construction of such monuments on their land, persons who observe donated monuments routinely—and reasonably—interpret them as conveying some message on the property owner’s behalf. In this context, there is little chance that observers will fail to appreciate the identity of the speaker. This is true whether the monument is located on private property or on public property, such as national, state, or city park land.

Pleasant Grove City, Utah, Et Al. V. Summum

The court said that free speech doesn’t apply to government speech and it could pick and choose what speech it agrees with just like Joe the Plumber would at his house.

That’s where they opened the door to an establishment challenge in the future.

If the government can choose the speech they agree with to display and that speech is a singular sectarian religious text, then the casual observer would see that the government is endorsing that speech – therefore endorsing that religion.

If Joe the Plumber puts up the 10 Commandments – the casual observer would make the assumption that Joe is endorsing those words. Why else would he put them on his lawn?

That has been our argument for years in these types of cases. The effort to put up religious texts or symbols on government property creates an endorsement of what those words say and mean and shows favoritism to the religion that they come from. They are not generic or open to interpretation.

At the oral argument, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., told a lawyer for the small Utah city defending its policy on a Ten Commandments monument in a city park: “You’re just picking your poison, aren’t you? I mean, the more you say that the monument is government speech, to get out of the Free Speech Clause, the more it seems to me you’re walking into a trip under the Establishment Clause.”

Justice David H. Souter, the only Justice who did not join the Alito opinion, said that, from here on, if a monument accepted by the government “has some religious character, the specter of violating the Establishment Clause will behoove it to take care to avoid to avoid the appearance of a flat-out establishment of religion, in the sense of the government adoption of the tenets expressed or symbolized.”

Analysis: Sound and fury, meaning…what?

Americans United had filed a brief in the case without taking a side asking that it be considered as an establishment case.

In the effort to pull yet another excuse to limit religious monuments to Christian ones, it seems the Supremes tripped up.

One Christian Sect Wants Church Separate From Government

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On Sunday, May 6th, a group of religious zelots plan on meeting in Washington DC so they can agree to force the 10 Commandments down all our throats.

The event in Washington on Sunday is organized by the Ten Commandments Commission, a coalition of synagogues and churches. The alliance has declared the first Sunday in May as Ten Commandments Day and seeks to remind Americans how the tablets form the moral foundation of American law and inform the nation’s values.

“It is essential that the 10 Commandments remain at the forefront of our national conscience every day of the year in order to ensure that our country remains one nation under God,” states Ron Wexler, an Orthodox Jew and founder of the commission. “Ten Commandments Day serves a reminder to Americans of their obligation to the higher being who permits us to enjoy our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

Don’t set ‘thou shalts’ in public stone, Adventists say

One Christian sect disagrees. The Seventh-day Adventists handed out booklets titled “Ten Commandments Twice Removed.” on Daley Plaza in Chicago on Friday.

“God’s commandments are 10 promises of what he will empower us to do if we permit him to work in our hearts,” said Shelley Quinn, a program director for Hinsdale-based Three Angels Broadcasting, the Adventist TV network sponsoring the Arie Crown event. “It’s up to the church, not the government, to restore support for them by writing them in our hearts and putting them into practice.”

“Sometimes the 10 Commandments are used to beat people up a little bit,” said Ken Denslow, president of the Illinois Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a denomination that numbers 12,500 faithful in Illinois. “Certainly, in the debate and discussion in the U.S., it’s become a rallying call. … If we had the spirit of the law in our hearts and our lives we wouldn’t need to push so hard to make sure they are posted.”

“Seventh-day Adventists have a great respect for the 10 Commandments,” said Roger Dudley, of the Institute of Church Ministry at Andrews University in Michigan, home to the nation’s only Seventh-day Adventist seminary. “Posting the thing doesn’t mean anything. It’s keeping it that counts.”

I really wish all Christians felt that way.

Judges allow another 10 Commandments historical sham

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While surfing the net tonight I came across news – that I missed the first time – that a 3 judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court ruled on Tuesday December 20th that a 10 Commandments display in Mercer County Kentucky was not unconstitutional.

The case brought by the ACLU, concerned the Commandments viewed alongside nine other documents, including the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence at the Mercer County courthouse in Harrodsburg.

The court used the recent precedent of McCreary County, Ky., v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky that was decided by the US Supreme Court this past June.

It found that since the Mercer County display didn’t have the sectarian history that the McCreary County one did, it was legal. Basically Mercer County passed one resolution and created the display to include the 9 other historical documents and the font size was no different for any of them, the judges noted, and there was no attempt to put the religious document at a higher level.

Of course those of us who support separation of church and state could point out (and we have) that the 10 Commandments are not part of this country’s legal history. In case you haven’t heard here some info:

Thus, were the first four commandments enacted into law today, they would constitute plain constitutional violations. It is an exceedingly strange, and strained, argument that argues the primacy of the Ten Commandments as the true American source of law when the first four simply cannot be enacted into law, because they would conflict with our Constitution. The first four prove that the Commandments are religious rules, not civil law. So as a starting point, only the latter six could possibly be nominees as possible sources of our governing laws.

That leaves us with only two commandments that are somewhat accurately echoed in current law: the rule against murder, and the rule against stealing. And even the rule against murder is not exactly the same as the Commandment: We recognize exceptions, such as self-defense, that the Commandment simply does not.

Moreover, it is impossible to attribute the continuing force of these laws solely to their Ten Commandments’ origin. And that origin is not unique: There is no civilized country that has not settled upon these two principles.

The Ten Commandments and American Law

The article mentions that other historical legal documents led to our current legal system. These include the Magna Carta and British common law.

The author of the article quoted above, Marci Hamilton, also noted:

Interestingly, over the centuries, many Christians have claimed that the Ten Commandments did not govern their conduct, because they were given dispensation from the Commandments through Christ–a claim that severely undermines the notion that the Ten Commandments were always considered by Christians to be the supreme and foundational law.

Court cases involving the display of the Decalogue never seem to focus on the non-historical value of it to our legal history. If they did then religious theocrats would lose every time. Instead judges use precedent and legal tests in church vs. state cases.

One common legal test is called the Lemon Test, named for the case where it was first used Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13 (1971):

Under Lemon, government action does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause if it (1) has a secular purpose; (2) does not have the primary or principal effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and (3) does not foster an excessive governmental entanglement with religion.9 Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13 (1971). The first and second prongs have since been reformulated. After McCreary County, the first is now the predominant purpose test. McCreary County, 125 S. Ct. at 2733; id. at 2757 (Scalia, J., dissenting) (“[T]he [McCreary County majority] replaces Lemon’s requirement that the government have ‘a secular . . . purpose’ with the heightened requirement that the secular purpose ‘predominate’ over any purpose to advance religion.” (quoting Lemon, 403 U.S. at 612)). The second, the so-called “endorsement” test, asks whether the government action has the purpose or effect of endorsing religion.10 Adland v. Russ, 307 F.3d 471, 479 (6th Cir. 2002); Granzeier v. Middleton, 173 F.3d 568, 573 (6th Cir. 1999).

ACLU of Kentucky, et al. v. Mercer County, Kentucky, et al. (2005) p. 10

In summary, a government action (law, regulation, policy) is judged to see if it pass the 3 “prongs” of the test. An action can be unconstitutional even if it fails just one “prong” as the Dover, PA Intelligent Design case did.

The questions asked are: What was the intent? Does it advance or prohibit a religion? Does it cause excessive entanglement?

As noted in the quote above, the Lemon Test has been modified where the first “prong” now looks at the “predominate” purpose. That means what purpose was “to be the greater or greatest in importance”. The courts view is that this is a heightened requirement but what it is is a watered down “prong”.

If a government says they want to post the Decalogue to restore religious spirit then that would fail the “prong” but if they say the positing is to honor our history then it would seem to pass. Previously any religious purpose would be cause for it being illegal. Now we get actions that happen to have a religious purpose but it isn’t the primary purpose so courts have said it is ok.

People call it “accommodating”, that is changing the rules to fit the situation and we see a slow chipping away of the wall of separation of church and state. As more and more actions are squeezed under the modified Lemon Test the more government sponsored religious acknowledgement we will be forced to endure.

The 10 Commandments are a direct quote from the Bible but that isn’t enough to cause a government posting it to cross the constitution on its face. That’s why future cases should attack the historical argument in addition to finding a predominate religious purpose. If the historical basis is destroyed then all that is left is its religious purpose and that is the only reason theocrats have for posting it in the first place. Historical context in these cases is always a sham.

Such an argument would solve these cases in our favor.

*Side Note*

The ACLU took some lumps in the decision handed down in the Mercer case on December 20th. The judge giving the decision, Judge Richard Suhrheinrich, was not kind at all. He said:

Our concern is that of the reasonable person. And the ACLU, an organization whose mission is “to ensure that . . . the government [is kept] out of the religion business,” does not embody the reasonable person.

The ACLU’s argument contains three fundamental flaws. First, the ACLU makes repeated reference to “the separation of church and state.” This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.

Second, the ACLU focuses on the religiousness of the Ten Commandments. No reasonable person would dispute their sectarian nature, but they also have a secular nature that the ACLU does not address. That they are religious merely begs the question whether this display is religious; it does not answer it.

Third, the ACLU erroneously–though perhaps intentionally–equates recognition with endorsement. To endorse is necessarily to recognize, but the converse does not follow.

ACLU of Kentucky, et al. v. Mercer County, Kentucky, et al. pp 13-14

Now I could do as my religious conservative friends do and scream about judicial activism etc…. but I won’t. The judges in this case are simply wrong. They used false premises to reach a false conclusion.

The ACLU could never meet the “reasonable person” requirement that Judge Suhrheinrich suggests because it is an organization and not a person. It wasn’t the ACLU complaining about the display, it was the person(s) it was representing. The courts complaint is simply unfair and biased. If their “standard” was common then the ACLU would never be able to defend people’s rights and our history would be altered for the worse.

The court is correct that a reasonable person would see the Mercer display and not automatically see it as a religious display. They would assume it was a historical display. That’s why if the ACLU had attacked the historical claim then it would show such a reasonable person to share a wrong assumption. Is it the purpose of government to advance a falsehood?

As for the court’s claim that endorsement doesn’t equal recognition all one has to do is point out that one sect is being recognized over all others. Where are examples of other religious laws in the display, like the Talmud or Shia? Logically, for it not to be an endorsement of Christianity then all religious laws have to be displayed.

The panel of judges in this case also make the false assumption that there is no “separation of church and state.” Previous courts, including the US Supreme Court in the McCreary County, Ky case and others used to decide this case, create a definite line between church and state. Their rulings always decide if that line is crossed. There is a line even if you don’t call it a wall. If there was in fact no “separation of church and state” then the line wouldn’t exist and there would be no need for the court to decide these types of cases.

Finally, it seems this court requires that a government action involving religion must fail all three “prongs” of the Lemon Test. Previous cases, including the recent Dover case, never had that requirement. The simple reason is that an action could pass muster under one or more the “prongs” and still be unconstitutional because it would fail one of the remaining “prongs.” The usual requirement is that an action must pass all three parts of the test and not the reverse.

The Mercer decision is just another example of accommodating religion in government for no other reason than to help Christians feel good about themselves. I hope the ACLU appeals because the court made some serious errors in applying previous case law in their decision.

William Raspberry misses the point

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Columnist William Raspberry wrote a piece this week concerning the recent Supreme Court rulings involving the 10 Commandments titled “Nation needs tolerance, especially of religious ideas”.

I tried to find a link that could be used so you could read his column before reading my comments but I couldn’t find one. It was published in my local paper on July 11th but you have to pay to read it. It was not on the Washington Post website, so please view the column on this special page if you want to read the column without my comments first.

Raspberry, not known to be a religious conservative, none the less presents the common myth that removing the Decalogue from government buildings and property is the same as removing religion from the public sphere and that it is anti-religious.

He talks with Kevin Hasson of the “The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty”.

Raspberry writes:

The trouble with the Kentucky display of the Ten Commandments, said the Supreme Court, while approving a similar display in Texas, is that it was motivated by a “predominately religious purpose.”

The trouble with the court’s confusing – some say absurd – rulings, says Kevin “Seamus” Hasson of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is that they proceed from an impossible premise.

“The ‘predominately religious’ test suggests that anything not predominately secular must be religious. It in fact has strong anti-religious overtones.”

Hasson has it wrong. The test he refers to is what is used anytime a question about the state involving religion comes up. What is the purpose of the action? In the Kentucky cases it was quite clear that the county officials created the display to favor the Christian perspective while in Texas the monument was among other historical monuments.

Intent is always a factor in judicial reviews and has been since the court began and not just for religious issues.

The column continues:

Hasson, whose organization is devoted to defending the free expression of all religious traditions, believes the court – and many of America’s intellectuals and civil libertarians – are missing the fact that expunging religion from public life is neither possible nor desirable.

That isn’t the goal of any efforts that I know of. Common sense tells us that expunging religion from public life is not possible. This is a straw man argument – created by Raspberry in order to knock it down.

Hasson said:

“There’s nothing in common sense – and certainly nothing in the First Amendment – that requires government hostility to publicly expressed religion, which is where the requirement that government be ‘secular’ takes you,” he says. “I think it’s better to say ‘temporal’ rather than secular. Temporal means the here and now, without reference to the hereafter. Our government was designed to be temporal, but you have only to look at the words and actions of the founders to understand that they had no interest in the sort of secularity the court now seeks to enforce.”

That is a plain lie and used a lot by the religious right to justify their arguments.

History shows us that the founders were very weary of mixing religion and government and went so far as adopting the language that became the First Amendment. The language makes clear that the government is to be neutral in religious matters. The founders expressly left out the word “God” from the constitution, specifically prohibited a religious test to hold office, and many of the founders were deists – people who believe in a personal private God who has nothing to do with how the world runs after the creation of the bible. God had nothing to do with the formation of the country. It was the work of the founders.

There is also the unasked question. Why do people like Hasson believe that the government must acknowledge their religious beliefs with official acts or public displays?

As conservative commentator Cal Thomas wrote in 2000 concerning a court case against prayer at high school football games:

The Supreme Court said nothing at all about that far more powerful and effective type of prayer. But in our culture, which highly values what the world values (filled stadiums, television appearances and other visible expressions of “success”), things done out of public view don’t count for much. In fact, the only kind of faith that actually does work is that which is first practiced. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with the statement: “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.”

The behavior the Court did not and cannot proscribe is the kind that will make a far greater impression than teenagers praying at high-school football games. It is the behavior that begins with the discipline of deeds, including prayer for one’s enemies, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and caring for widows and orphans.

Conservative Christians ought to stop looking to the state for permission and validation and start looking to God for their commission and marching orders. With this kind of faith, they won’t have to petition government. Government will petition them to find out why what they’re doing works.

If and when they do, they will find they are exerting real influence. They will stop believing that public displays of their faith are changing anything, from the outcome of football games to the transformation of culture.

From: Court, Jesus agree on public prayer by Cal Thomas of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Jun 22, 2000

Hasson said:

But it’s not just in impossibly arcane Supreme Court decisions that “secular” plays us false, says Hasson. “It gets us in needless trouble internationally as well. The Arabic word for secular is ‘almehni’, meaning godless. So when Muslim fundamentalists hear us talk about secular government, they think we mean, quite literally, a godless government. Temporal translates into another Arabic word entirely, ‘dunyawi’, or worldly.”

Hasson misunderstands Islam. Anything not Islamic is evil according to Islam. He can play word games to justify his agenda if he wants but using “temporal” is not going to cause Osama to give up or would have prevented the London bombings.

Raspberry writes:

Hasson, who has described himself as a Catholic conservative, recalls in his book several appearances on al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite network noted for its broadcasts of al-Qaida propaganda.

“Why did they take me seriously? I had already put my money where my mouth was. I had successfully defended the right of two Newark police officers, who were Sunni Muslims, to grow their beards. I get invited to Hasidic Jewish weddings (because I have) demonstrated respect for their consciences by successfully defending their rights.

“Writ large, that is the solution to the culture war: Respect for others’ consciences, even when we’re sure they’re wrong, is contagious. Not because it’s nice. Rather, it’s contagious because it conveys an important idea:

“Whether it’s a tradition as old and venerable as Buddhism or as new and flaky as parking-barrier worship doesn’t matter. Because of how we’re made, we are each free – within broad limits – to follow what we believe to be true in the manner our consciences say we must.

Hasson is right on one point. Religious beliefs and practices are an individual matter and almost no act or law can interfere, BUT it is a different matter when the STATE (aka the government) expresses or supports a particular religious view point through official acts or displays.

That is the point that people like Raspberry and Hasson totally ignore in their zeal to cram Christianity into the government. According to the Bible it is also un-Christian as Cal Thomas wrote in his column:

Jesus has this advice on prayer: “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. . . And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. . . But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matt. 6:1 and following).

Split ruling on 10 Commandments

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Yesterday (June 27th) the US Supreme Court handed down two decisions about government displays of the sectarian 10 Commandments. In one case, McCreary County, Ky., v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the court ruled 5-4 that the county display was not permissible as it had a clearly sectarian bent. The two counties in question posted the Decalogue along with other historical religious texts such as Lincoln’s 1863 Day of Prayer proclamation.

The second case, Van Orden v. Perry, involved a stone monument displaying the Decalogue on the grounds of the Texas state capitol. In the case the court ruled 5-4 that the display, among other historical items, didn’t cross the line and was permissible.

While the rulings didn’t decide much – other than leaving challenges of these displays to the lower courts to rule on a case by case basis – it does highlight the divergent thought and some weird logic used to decide the cases.

First and foremost the Kentucky ruling reaffirmed state neutrality in religious matters. It can’t endorse religion nor can it harm religion.

Justice O’Conner wrote in her concurring opinion:

But the goal of the Clauses is clear: to carry out the Founders’ plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent possible in a pluralistic society. By enforcing the Clauses, we have kept religion a matter for the individual conscience, not for the prosecutor or bureaucrat…. [Goverment] may not prefer one religion over another or promote religion over nonbelief…. It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.

What was also interesting was the court reaffirming that the 10 Commandments are an “instrument of religion”. Justice Souter wrote for the court:

Stone stressed the significance of integrating the Commandments into a secular scheme to forestall the broadcast of an otherwise clearly religious message, 449 U. S., at 42, and for good reason, the Commandments being a central point of reference in the religious and moral history of Jews and Christians. They proclaim the existence of a monotheistic god (no other gods), regulate details of religious obligation (no graven images, sabbath breaking, or vain oath swearing), and unmistakably rest even the universally accepted prohibitions (as against murder, theft, etc.) on the sanction of the divinity proclaimed at the text’s beginning. Displaying that text is thus different from symbolic representation, like tablets with 10 roman numerals, which could be seen as alluding to a general notion of law, not a sectarian conception of faith. Where the text is set out, the insistence of the religious message is hard to avoid in the absence of a context plausibly suggesting a message going beyond an excuse to promote the religious point of view. The display in Stone had no such context, and the Counties’ solo exhibit here did nothing more to counter the sectarian implication than the Stone postings. The reasonable observer could only think that the Counties meant to emphasize and celebrate the Commandments’ religious message.

It is always the stated reason for posting such obvious religious documents that the government is only acknowledging the historical influence of the 10 Commandments on the US legal system. The ruling in the Texas case used that logic to allow the monument to remain since it also was among other “historical” markers on the lawn. The majority in the Texas case assumed that the 10 Commandments had some influence but the historical record shows otherwise.

Our government system and laws are based not on some sectarian Decalogue but on the traditions and history of the Roman, Greek, and British law and the philosophy of people like John Locke. The first known written law was founded first in the Code of Hammurabi, the sixth ruler of the First Dynasty of Babylon, who ruled from 1792.1750 B.C. The Magna Carta had greater influence on our Constitution and legal system than the Ten Commandments.

In fact, if there were laws based on the first three of the Ten Commandments they would most likely be ruled unconstitutional if challenged in our courts. They would bump up against the most important fundamental right in the Constitution: the absolute right to believe whatever one chooses that derives from the First Amendment’s free exercise and free speech clauses.

James Madison, leader of the Constitutional Convention and drafter of the First Amendment, explained it as follows: “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.”

Thomas Jefferson spoke out against attempts to claim that the law incorporated the Ten Commandments when he criticized judges for “lay [ing] the yoke of their own opinions on the necks of others by declaring that [the Ten Commandments] make a part of the law of the land.” John Adams also questioned the influence of the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount on the legal system.

The only relationship that can be connected between the 10 Commandments and the US legal system, besides the prohibitions against murder and stealing, is that both are laws. Nothing more.

Justice Scalia in his dissent in the Kentucky case blathered on about how the decision was inconsistent with the Founding Fathers’ own views and “ratchets up this court’s hostility to religion.”

As noted earlier and in Justice O’Conner’s opinion, the intent of the Founding Fathers was quite clear and opposite to the thinking of Scalia. Again the historical records bear this out.

As for hostility to religion, one has to ask what is meant by that. If the Bill of Rights are there to protect the person from the abuse of government, how then can enforcing religious neutrality be hostile to religion. We wouldn’t enjoy such a diverse community of religions (including the non-religious) if Scalia is correct. The rulings don’t force Christians, Jews, or other sects that use the 10 Commandments in their faiths to give up the 10 Commandments or their faith.

The ruling on the Texas case found a common myth that even a learned jurist such as Justice Breyer expressed in his concurring opinion:

“This [Texas] display has stood apparently uncontested for nearly two generations. That experience helps us understand that as a practical matter of degree this display is unlikely to prove divisive,”

The common myth is that because no one said anything for 40 years that it proves the monument is not divisive. That kind of weak argument is being used even today for other old religious monuments that are now being challenged. One has to point out that many things in this country have been done that turns out to be wrong and has been corrected. “Separate but equal” wasn’t challenged for 34 years but was eventually found illegal when it was challenged. Just because no one had challenged it didn’t mean it was right.

So, in conclusion, while the rulings were a split decision, it seems the court is applying the same guidelines it applied in testing the legality of Christmas Nativity scenes placed on public property. It is all about the context and intent.

It was also noted today (June 28th) that court refused to consider two Ohio cases in which displays of the Ten Commandments on public property were found unconstitutional.

In one case, a Richland County judge displayed the commandments in his courtroom. In the other, the commandments were displayed on stone monuments in front of Adams County school buildings.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said both were illegal.

McCreary County, Ky., v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky

Van Orden v. Perry