Skip to comments.White House Plugs 10 Commandments Displays
Posted on 12/08/2004 5:08:56 PM PST by nypokerface
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to allow Ten Commandments displays on government property, adding a federal view on a major church-state case that justices will deal with early next year.
The government has weighed in before in religion cases at the high court, including one earlier this year that challenged the words "under God" in the classroom recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The government supported a California school district in that case. Now, it is backing two Kentucky counties that had framed copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued McCreary and Pulaski counties, claiming the displays were an unconstitutional promotion of religion. The group won.
Justices will hear arguments, probably in February, in the counties' appeal and in a second case involving a Texas homeless man who wants a 6-foot granite monument removed from the state Capitol grounds.
The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, Paul Clement, told justices in Wednesday's filing that Ten Commandments displays are common around the nation and in the court's own building, the Capitol and national monuments.
"Reproductions and representations of the Ten Commandments have been commonly employed across the country to symbolize both the rule of law itself, as well as the role of religion in the development of American law," Clement wrote.
Clement said the displays are important in educating people "about the nation's history and celebrating its heritage."
The Supreme Court banned the posting of Ten Commandments in public schools in 1980.
Clement argued that courthouses are different from schools and often have "historic symbols of law."
Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University law professor and former legal counsel to President Reagan and the first President Bush, said that the government had been expected to file arguments in the case. "It would have been politically untenable and legally timid if the government's chief court litigator had not done so," he said.
The case is McCreary County v. ACLU, 03-1693.
Bump for later.
The 10 commandments should be displayed as a matter of law and history, not religion.
The 10 Commandments have no place in public facilities. The "under God" in the pledge of allegiance leaves room for anyone to interpret the phrase in their own way, including viewing "God" as a metaphor for some unknown force that is responsible for the existence of the universe. The 10 Commandments, on the other hand, are very specific and a direct affront to many people's beliefs. The Old Testament's God being given space in courthouses and public schools, to demand that people have no other gods before him, is hardly steering clear of government establishment of religion.
Franklin's Advice to Thomas Paine Regarding the Age of Reason 1785, If men are so wicked with religion,what would they be if without it?
Peruse this Freedom, Democide, War: Home Page and you will understand what Franklin meant.
More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
Written Statement of the Honorable Roy S. Moore, House Committee on the Judiciary,Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual PropertyHearing on the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 (H.R. 3799) September 13, 2004
I am here today to discuss how the federal courts have strayed from the Constitution on an issue that I believe strikes at the core of who we are a nation: the acknowledgment of God. For over fifty years, the federal courts have steadily eroded our first freedom, the freedom of conscience, and have attempted to replace the Godly foundation upon which this country was built with a foundation that espouses the philosophy of secular humanism, demanding peoples ultimate allegiance to the state rather than to God. Couched in the innocuous language of "neutrality toward religion," the federal courts deceive those unfamiliar with our history into believing that the First Amendments prohibition against "establishment[s] of religion" requires the complete removal of God from the public square. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet our courts continue unchecked ordering the cessation of any act or mention by a public official acknowledging God, spurred on by a coterie of anti-religious zealots led by the ACLU. Indeed, just this past June the entire country took a collective breath while the fate of the phrase "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance depended upon the opinions of eight justices who seriously considered whether those words violate the First Amendment. This should not be! We dodged that bullet, but only on a technicality, and it is quite possible that the next time1 we will not be so fortunate and the Court will do what its current precedent (as distinguished from the law) demands by declaring the Pledge unconstitutional.2 We are at a point where Alexander Hamiltons now infamous statement labeling the federal courts as "the least dangerous" branch of government3 isviewed as laughable and naive in todays lawsuit-happy age in which a person who feels offended can erase over two hundred years of history simply by appealing to what is rapidly becoming "the despotic branch."
But this is America, and we are not without recourse against the federal courts efforts to ensure that this country turns from God. If Congress would exercise the power it has under Article III of the United States Constitution, the unlawful usurpation of jurisdiction by the federal courts would cease and no longer would they run roughshod over the will of the American people. I implore you to act! But in order to gain a proper perspective of how far we have strayed from the Constitution, let us examine a few legal and historical facts.
I. The Acknowledgment of God
A) God and Religion
In the case of Glassroth v. Moore,4 I refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments or stop the acknowledgment of God even though an unlawful order from a federal district judge commanded me to do so. Because of that refusal, the monument was removed to a locked closet and I was removed from office. The federal district court that ruled the monument to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment concluded that I had "placed a slightly over two-and-a-half ton granite monumentengraved with the Ten Commandments and other references to Godin the Alabama Judicial Build with the specific purpose and effect . . . of acknowledging the Judeo-Christian God as the moral foundation of our laws." Glassroth v. Moore.5 As if to leave no doubt as to why the district court felt the monument was unconstitutional, the court ended its opinion with an even more explicit explanation of the "wrong" I had committed:
"If all Chief Justice Moore had done were to emphasize the Ten Commandments historical and educational importance (for the evidence shows that they have been one of the sources of our secular laws) or their importance as a model code for good citizenship (for we all want our children to honor their parents, not to kill, not to steal, and so forth), this court would have a much different case before it. But the Chief Justice did not limit himself to this; he went far, far beyond. He installed a twoand- a-half ton monument in the most prominent place in a government building . . . with the specific purpose and effect of establishing a permanent recognition of the sovereignty of God, the Judeo-Christian God, over all citizens of this country, regardless of each taxpaying citizens individual personal beliefs or lack thereof. To this, the Establishment Clause says no."
Id. at 1318 (emphasis added).
Despite the district courts stern conclusion, the Establishment Clause says no such thing. In fact, with respect to this issue the First Amendment simply provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."6 Putting aside for purposes of this hearing the obvious fact that the monument I put on public display in no way shape or form resembles a "law," and foregoing any discussion of the plain truth that the monument does not constitute an "establishment" under any generally understood definition of that term, the point that must be emphasized is that the monument does not represent "religion." As the term "religion" was understood at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted, it did not constitute the general acknowledgment of God. A religion, as understood by the founding generation, dictates both the duties we owe to our Creator and the manner in which we discharge, or carry out, those duties. This definition of the word "religion" was used in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776,7 James Madisons Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments of 1785,8 and the North Carolina (1788), Rhode Island (1790), and Virginia (1788) Ratifying Conventions proposed amendments to the United States Constitution. Under this widely accepted definition, a "religion" dictates not only that a person is to worship God, but also how he or she is to do so. In contrast, an acknowledgment of God recognizes Gods existence, place, and influence in our society. 9
B) Historical Precedents
There have been acknowledgments of God throughout our history that, until the modern Supreme Court decided otherwise, were never considered to be government establishments of religion. In fact, our Nation was founded upon a document that explicitly acknowledges God: the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration intones that "all men" are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," that we were entitled to independence based on "the Laws of Nature and Natures God," and it invokes "a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence" for the act of declaring independence.
Benjamin Franklin, during a particularly contentious debate in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, "beg[ged] leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service."10 While Franklins request was voted down due to the pressing business in the Convention (the delegates believed they would have to find and pay a church pastor to perform the prayer), his proposal was a direct precursor to action taken by the First Congress, which nine days after it convened with a quorum, on April 9, 1789, appointed two chaplains of different denominations to serve in the House and Senate respectively, paying them a salary of $500 each for their services.11
Immediately following the approval of the Bill of Rights (including the First Amendment) by Congress on September 25, 1789, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the President of the United States "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer."12 President Washington heartily agreed with the Congressional recommendation and declared:
"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection."13
Most of the Presidents of the United States have followed Washingtons example by calling upon the American people to pause for national thanksgiving and prayer in times of crisis. Starting with Abraham Lincoln in November 1863, Presidents for the next 75 years annually declared a day of national thank sgiving until Congress permanently established a national holiday of thanksgiving in 1941.
Since the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789, federal judicial officers have been required to take an oath of office swearing to support the United States Constitution that concludes with the phrase, "So help me God." That requirement remains unchanged to this day. 14
Due to an outpouring of pleas from people across the country during the Civil War, then Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase by letter instructed James Pollack, Director of the U.S. Mint at Philadelphia, on November 20, 1861, to prepare a motto incorporating God to be placed on U.S. coins.
"Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.
"You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition."15
After various suggestions were considered, "In God We Trust" was selected as the message and Congress enacted legislation on April 22, 1864 authorizing the mint to place the motto on one and two-cent coins.16 The motto has appeared on all U.S. coins since 1938 and on all currency since 1964.17
On June 14, 1954, Congress added the words "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, which is codified at 4 U.S.C. § 4. The House Report that accompanied the legislation observed that, "[f]rom the time of our earliest history our peoples and our institutions have reflected the traditional concept that our Nation was founded on a fundamental belief in God."18 President Eisenhower, in commenting on this addition to the Pledge, stated that by adding the words "Under God" "we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in Americas heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our countrys most powerful resource in peace and war."19
In short, public acknowledgments of God are replete throughout our history and in no way violate the constitutional prohibition on establishments of religion because they do not dictate the duties which we owe to our Creator or the manner in which we are to carry out those duties. A display of the Ten Commandments, for instance, does not dictate a persons form of worship or articles of faith. Thus, acknowledgments of God do not coerce belief or behavior, whereas, a particular religion, such as Protestantism, Catholicism, or Judaism, requires a person to believe certain tenets and act or refrain from acting in certain ways. The monument of the Ten Commandments that I placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building was simply one more example of our countrys substantial tradition of acknowledging God.
C) Straying from the Path
Despite this tradition, the United States Supreme Courtand lower federal courts following its leadpay no attention to the words of the First Amendment and instead have concocted an elaborate array of tests from which these federal courts pick and choose in determining whether a particular public reference to God is unconstitutional. The original test, known as the Lemon test because it was introduced in Lemon v. Kurtzman,20 is a three-prong test that is supposed to articulate the Supreme Courts definitive standard for whether a government action violates the Establishment Clause. However, the Lemon test has been criticized so often21 that members of the Court have felt free to try their hands at coming up with their own legal tests, much the way a cook experiments with a recipe. These newer tests, such as the "Endorsement" test invented in 198422 and the "Coercion" test invented in 1992,23 purport to ensure that government remains "neutral" toward religion. However, far from achieving this theoretical neutrality, 24 in practice these tests encourage and often demand hostility toward religion, especially the Christian religion. 25 They do so by punishing the very religion that is interwoven into Americas historical fabric: if a particular display or act can be perceived by a "reasonable observer" as "endorsing" a religion or if it can be said to "coerce" a non-believerwhere "coercion" somehow means that the non-believer simply feels offended by the display or actthen the federal courts declare the display or act to be unconstitutional. Obviously, because so many of this countrys laws and traditions have been directly influenced by Christianity, the "reasonable observer" will see the Christian religion everywhere and non-believers may feel offended by this pervasive influence. The result is the removal of anything from the public square that shows even the slightest hint of stemming from Christianity, including all acknowledgments of God despite the fact that they do not constitute "religion." In sum, as American Enterprise Institute Fellow Vincent Phillip Muñoz has aptly put it:
"The Constitutions text prohibits laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. It says nothing about government endorsement of religion. Justice OConner effectively has replaced the text and original meaning of the First Amendment with her own words and ideas. Justice Kennedys psychological coercion test is also far off the mark. The Founders understood religious coercion to mean being fined, imprisoned, or deprived of a civil right on account of ones religion. Coercion to them did not include feeling uncomfortable when other people mention God."
"The modern Court has lost sight of the fact that the framers of the First Amendment meant to protect religious freedom, not to banish religion from the public square. The free exercise of religion is the primary end of the First Amendment; no-establishment is a means toward achieving that end."26
Not only have the federal courts strayed far from the text of the Constitution that is supposed to be their guide, but their approach has resulted in making a mess of the law on the issue in question. One would think that having the federal courts as the sole arbiter of constitutional meaning and having the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional questionsas principally and historically incorrect as that iswould at least provide consistency and stability to constitutional decision-making. Sadly, again nothing could be further from the truth, particularly in cases allegedly implicating the principle of separation of church and state. In my case, the method of decision-making used by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals was typical of federal courts in these cases: "Establishment Clause challenges," the Court asserted, "are not decided by brightline rules, but on a case-by-case basis with the result turning on the specific facts."27 This means that little certainty exists as to which displays or actions will pass constitutional muster according to the federal courts and which will fail.28 Indeed, as one federal district court expressed recently in deciding that a public display of the Bible is unconstitutional, while the Lemon test is supposed to be the standard for Establishment Clause violations, "[u]nfortunately, it is difficult to find coherent guidance from the Supreme Courts later opinions applying the Lemon v. Kurtzman analysis."29 "Coherent guidance," the one thing that ought to be expected from a Court that declares itself "supreme" in all things related to the Constitution, is the one thing it has failed to provide in Establishment Clause jurisprudence.
There is one point in these cases, however, on which the federal courts are quite clear, and the point is demonstrated by a contrast between my case and another recent case involving a Ten Commandments monument. While the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the decision that the granite monument of the Ten Commandments that I placed in the Alabama Judicial Building was unconstitutional, just last year the Fifth Circuit in Van Orden v. Perry,30 ruled that a granite monument of the Ten Commandments erected on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol was constitutionally permissible. The primary difference that ostensibly made the Texas monument permissible but the Alabama one impermissible was that the Texas monument was one of a number of monuments erected on the capitol grounds, while the Alabama monument was what the courts label a "standalone" Ten Commandments monument. While this may seem to be a distinction without a differenceboth monuments display the Ten Commandmentsthe distinction makes all the difference in the world to the federal courts. If a display of the Ten Commandments is surrounded by historical documents, if it is included as just one of many displays on public property, if special attention is not drawn to Gods law, then the federal courts generally will extend the imprimatur of constitutionality on the given display. However, if, like the Alabama monument, the Ten Commandments are displayed more prominently or stand alone, and therefore draw attention to the God who wrote those commandments rather than relegating the Ten Commandments to a mere historical influence on our laws that carry no current relevance, the federal courts cannot countenance it and will order the removal of the display. In other words, the one clear rule in Establishment Clause cases is that if the display or action in question acknowledges God, it will be declared unconstitutional, but if the display or action relegates God to a footnote in history, then it will be tolerated.31 Thus, the one thing that should without question be constitutional because it does not constitute "religion" under the First Amendmentthe acknowledgment of Godis the one thing that the federal courts and especially the Supreme Court will not allow.
This conclusion is simply absurd. The First Amendment was never intended to exclude acknowledgments of God. As the Senate Judiciary Committee observed during a time when some were questioning the constitutionality of the Congressional chaplaincy:
"[The Founders] had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people; they did not intend to prohibit a just expression of religious devotion by the legislators of the nation, even in their public character as legislators; they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revo lting spectacle of atheistical apathy."32
Unless action is taken by Congress, "atheistical apathy" or worse is exactly where we are headed courtesy of the federal judiciary.
II. The Way Back: The CRA
A) Restricting Jurisdiction
Obviously, given the current landscape in which federal judges feel no compunction about removing God from the public square regardless of the will of the People or what the Constitution dictates, action must be taken to curb the overreaching of those judges. A convenient and cons titutional solution can be found in the proposed Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 (CRA), H.R. 3799,33 which this subcommittee has convened to discuss today. Simply put, the major thrust of the CRA is to employ Congresss Article III, § 2 power to restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts, preventing them from hearing "any matter" that concerns a federal or state officials "acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."34 Enactment of the CRA would mean that the federal courts could no longer hear legal challenges to such things as public displays of the Ten Commandments, our national motto "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," invocations of prayer at public functions by public officials, and the like.
Some have questioned whether Congress has the authority under Article III, § 2 to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts on issues such as the CRA proposes. The pertinent constitutional language provides:
"In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party, the supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.35
This passage plainly provides that in all cases in which the Supreme Court does not have original jurisdiction Congress is free to limit or deprive altogether the Supreme Courtsjurisdiction over those cases. Establishment Clause cases are not among those over which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction. Because the lower federal courts are creatures of statute according to the Constitution, 36 the result is that Congress possesses the authority to deprive both the Supreme Court and lower federal courts of cases implicating the public acknowledgment of God.
That the Constitution grants Congress plenary power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts is, by far, the view accepted by most constitutional law scholars.37 While a handful of scholars have taken issue with this reading of the Constitution, 38 these alternative views have been widely criticized as illogical and policy-driven rather than being faithful to the constitutional text.39 Moreover, the Supreme Court has approved congressional regulation of the federal courts jurisdiction based on the Constitutions text since at least 1799, and Congress has employed this power recently in a number of legislative enactments, including as recently as last year.40 Certainly a large number of those in Congress, and at least 13 members of this subcommittee, believe that it possesses this power as they have recently supported bills calling for removing the federal courts jurisdiction in the areas of marriage 41 and the Pledge of Allegiance.42 Thus, there can be no doubt of Congresss power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts in the fashion proposed by the CRA.
Not only is preventing the federal courts from hearing cases concerning the public acknowledgment of God authorized under the Constitution, it is also the principled thing to do. As I have already explained, there have been numerous examples of acknowledgements of God throughout the history of our nation that, until the modern Supreme Court took them under consideration, were never considered to be violations of the First Amendment. No ones right to worship (or not worship) God according to the dictates of his conscience is infringed through public acknowledgments of God.43 No one is forced to believe in God because of the words in the Pledge; no one is forced to become a Christian or a Jew because the Ten Commandments are displayed in a government building; no member of this body is forced to join in when the chaplain ofthe House of Representatives, Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, offers a prayer before a legislative session of Congress. Public acknowledgments of God profess Gods role in the past and present development of our country, recognizing the first principle upon which this nation was founded: liberty under law, Gods law. They do not violate the conscience of any individual and thus removal of jurisdiction from the federal courts to decide cases concerning such acknowledgments renders no legal harm to any individual. Moreover, cases concerning actual violations of the Establishment Clause may still be heard in the federal courts and cases involving the acknowledgment of God may still be reviewed in the state court systems, so the CRA does not foreclose an individuals right to legal redress of an actual harm.
Even though the action proposed in the CRA is constitutional and principled, some still question whether it is necessary. To answer, one need only look to the number of actual and threatened lawsuits occurring each year concerning "religious" displays and practices in the public square. This past year alone we have seen challenges to the Pledge,44 the decisions of the City of Redlands and of Los Angeles County in California to remove depictions of crosses from their seals because of the threat of a lawsuit from the ACLU, the filing of a lawsuit to remove the display of a Bible in front of a courthouse,45 a principal whose job is in jeopardy for speaking out about God,46 and, of course, several more cases involving displays of the Ten Commandments.47 There can be no doubt that as long as the federal courts continue to entertain complaints from "special interest litigators who are professionally hostile toward religion" 48 such as the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the right to publicly acknowledge God will continue to be in jeopardy.
B) The Supreme Law of the Land
Article VI of the Constitution provides that "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land,"49 and it requires that all "judicial Officers . . . shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution. 50 Thus, the Constitution is the governing law and federal judges are required to rule in accordance with it because it is from the Constitution that federal judges derive their authority. Unfortunately, federal judges, even some of those on the United States Supreme Court, appear to be forgetting that oath as they have increasingly begun to look to international lawrather than the text of the Constitutionfor guidance in their decision-making. This trend began in Atkins v. Virginia51 in which the Court struck down state laws applying the death penalty to convicted murderers who are mentally retarded, and the trend continued in Grutter v. Bollinger52 in which the Court concluded that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify using race as a factor in university admissions without violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
However, the reality that the Court is starting to substitute rulings of international law in place of the authority of the U.S. Constitution is best demonstrated in Lawrence v. Texas53 in which the Court struck down state laws criminalizing homosexual sodomy. Over fifteen years before Lawrence, the Supreme Court declared in Bowers v. Hardwick54 that the Constitution does not confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy.55 In Lawrence, the Court boldly proclaimed that "[homosexuals] right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in [sodomy] without intervention of the government."56 In overruling Bowers, the Court stated:
"To the extent Bowers relied on values we share with a wider civilization, it should be noted that the reasoning and holding in Bowers have been rejected elsewhere. The European Court of Human Rights has followed not Bowers but its own decision in Dudgeon v. United Kingdom. Other nations, too, have taken action consistent with an affirmation of the protected right of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct. The right the petitioners seek in this case has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom in many other countries. There has been no showing that in this country the governmental interest in circumscribing personal choice is somehow more legitimate or urgent."57
Thus, the United States Supreme Court relied in part on foreign law to declare several states laws unconstitutional even though in 1986 it declared that such laws did not violate the Constitution.
Such reliance on foreign law for constitutional decision-making directly contradicts Article VIs declaration that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it is a manifest breach of the judicial oath of office. So, as a secondary but related measure, the CRA prohibits federal courts from relying upon any source of foreign law other than the common law of England in interpreting the United States Constitution. Violation of this provision by a federal judge is an impeachable offense. The problems attendant with applying international law in our judicial decisions range from those of legitimacy to the failure to take cultural differences into account,58 but the specter of using foreign law to warp our fundamental principles, such as religious freedom, makes passing of the CRA all the more imperative. One need only look at France, where earlier this year all religious articles and symbols were banned in its state schools, to see the dangers attendant with following international precedents. France, like several of its European counterparts, is already a highly secularized society devoid of almost any references to God or even religion in ge neral. We also appear headed down such a path, but reliance upon foreign law as authority for constitutional decisions would only serve to speed up that journey toward destruction. Thus, in a very real way this provision of the CRA also helps protect the right to publicly acknowledge God that holds such a vital place in this nations history and continued survival.
I have attempted here to provide an adequate explanation of why the CRA is constitutionally permissible, practically viable, and socially vital for the protection of our right to publicly acknowledge God. The CRA would cover not only the issue of the Pledge, but also so many other issues that are dealt with by the federal judiciary under the guise of Establishment Clause jurisprudence. The members of this committee should be inspired to support this important piece of legislation and I hope you all will endeavor to convince your fellow Congressmen to do likewise. The bottom line is that CRA will halt the federal courts distortion of the law of the Constitution in this area. The courts have been given ample opportunities to answer the call for returning to the objective standard of the Constitution as the rule of law for religious expressions in the public square. They have failed and in so doing have shirked their responsibility as expositors of the law. It is therefore up to Congress to make use of its responsibility as the law-making branch. I urge the Congress to answer the call to this responsibility on behalf of the People so that the fundamental right to publicly acknowledge God may be pulled back from the precipice of extinction it has been pushed to by the federal judiciary.
There is no logical way to successfully separate 'religion' from 'law and history' in the context of the Founders' Original Intent. That's why there is a First Amendment - to prevent a state-imposed theocracy. It does not negate the fact that their Original Intent for The Republic was driven in large part by their belief and acknowledgement of a Divine Authority over Man. It is part and parcel of our framework and our culture. To attempt to clinically dissect it, or view it with the politically correct implication that the concept of a guiding Higher Power might be some esoteric quirk in the minds of the men who drafted the purpose for this nation's existence, merely diminishes the value of everything we have spilled our blood to preserve.
"there is a very good reason to separate church and state"
There is reason to not compel a particular viewpoint, either religious or secular. The 1st amendment provides for "Freedom to worship".
Just as long as it is clear and understood that ten commandment displays on school grounds, courthouses etc. in NO WAY violates the Constitution. It imposes on NOBODY and compels NOTHING. It is not an establishment of any sect or religion.
If making a statue or remembrance of something is a religious imposition, then our town are idol worshippers of Cesar Chavez, MLK jr, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
What's your point? Maybe Utah courthouses and public schools should be plastered with pronouncements from past and current prophets of the Mormon Church, because the majority of Utahns are Mormons. The heck with all the other Utahns, many of whom hold beliefs in stark opposition to those of the Mormon Church.
It is an establishment, when the 10 Commandments are given space in these public places, while other religions and agnosticism and atheism do not have the same opportunity to post their key beliefs in those places. And personally, I wouldn't be too happy to see "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet" sprouting in our courthouses and public schools, no matter how many other religions and belief systems got to have their say alongside it.
The 1A originally was a restraint on the feds, not the states. Several of the states had estabished religions as late as the 1830's.
The point, though belabored, is over your pitiful head.
The absence of religion in the public square would seem to accrue to the benefit of atheists, agnostics and secularists.
Why doesn't my "right not to be offended" obtain?
Picking a version of the Word of God and posting it in courthouses certainly sounds like state-imposed theocracy to me.
Read- if you can-- the Senate Judiciary Committee Report,
1853 Second session.(On the establishment clause) Then read,
the House Judiciary Committee Report (same subject)1854
First Session.Then if you are still a dunderhead you can read the First Federal Congress(COngressional Debates:religious amendments,1789) Got my copy form Members.tripod.com/~candst/1stdebat.htm downloaded11/182001
Might also read Joseph Story"Afamiliar exposition of the
Constitution of the United States.,and David Bartons'
Original Intent; David Brewer,"The United States:A Christian
Nation;and/or The Church of the Holy Trinity v. the United States,143 U.S.457,1892 decided.
When the First Amendment was debated in Congress,1789 a
certain my Sylvster worried the amendment "might be thought
to abolish religion altogether."Mr.Huntington said the words "might be taken in such latitude as to be extremely
hurtful to the cause of religion.. .. He hoped therefore, the amendment would be made in such a way as to secure the
rights of conscience, and the free exercise of rleigion,but not to patronize those who profess no religion at all."
An atheist is just someone too lazy-- or to bitter --blaming God-or anything but himself fo rhis own shortcomings/The tyranny of the minority is not what our
Constitution was drafted to secure.
And insert their "key beliefs" alongside "In God We Trust" on our coinage?? And alongside "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance?? Or perhaps just remove "In God We Trust"??
This nation was founded as a nation under God. And it is going to remain that way.
There is no church of The United States of America.
We have seperated church and state. The ACLU want to do away with God. Period. They have lit on the seperation of church and state for one reason and one reason only. They want a secular country.
How so? What religion is established? What is the criminal sanction for violating one of the commandments you find less than universal?
Are images of the Code of Hammurabi likewise establishing religion?
Um... you are aware that Hammurabi was king of Babylon from 1728-1686 BC, not a religious figure, right?
I don't think so. You need to read my posts more. :)
Thanks. This is why I love FR. Most of the posters here are intelligent, logical, and conservative.
Moral Absolutes Ping.
Looks as though we'll be hearing more about eradication versus preservation of the 10 Commandments in the near future.
Just for the record, I think they should be allowed in schools as well. Does anyone really think that it would harm children and high school students to read things like "Thou shalt not steal?"
Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.
P.S. I am no scholar (I know some of you are gasping in shock at this admission) and so all the little teensy details of constitutional this and that are all above my head. Some if you may remember the long and contentious threads about Judge Moore and his granite monument that got removed. I weighed in on some of those threads.
"No man is a good citizen unless he so acts as to show that he
actually uses the Ten Commandments, and translates the Golden
Rule into his life conduct." --Theodore Roosevelt
"If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments." --G. K. Chesterton
"The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." Noah Webster, compiler of the American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.
Um... you have never read the preamble to the Code, right?
Since I can't say it any better - DITTO to what you said.
What law did Congress make in regard to this "establishment"?
Where did I say there has to be an absence of religion? I'm quite supportive of retaining "under God" in public usage of the pledge of allegiance, since with it's lack of specificity, it isn't likely to offend any reasonable person. But highly specific religious texts and pronouncements, especially those that explicitly denigrate or declare superiority over differing belief systems, make reasonable people uncomfortable, when they are promulgated in public institutions -- particularly in courts, where people may reasonably feel that they are not getting impartial treatment if their professed belief system differs from the one publicly promoted at the courthouse.
My understanding of the seperation of church and state was so that churches (the Catholic Church, in particular) was not allowed the levity in politics to start making laws...not so that we could get God out of every aspect of our government.
The Ten Commandments are a symbol of religion, not just history, and anyone wanting to display should have that right. Whether it be for historical reasons or religious ones.
There are criminal sanctions on the books in many states, and in the military, for adultery, based on this religious injunction. Many people's belief systems accommodate and even encourage "open" marriage. I know several happily married couples who fall into this category, including a career naval officer who is married to a college friend of mine. Despite the fact that neither one of them has ever wanted their marriage to conform to the biblical standard on adultery, they are subject to a legal system which threatens to penalize them (especially him, as a military officer) for living according to their own beliefs.
The White House has finally jumped in. The tide must be moving strongly now.
Get over it, Christians built this country with blood sweat and tears and we are still the supermajority of this population. If that offends you so much, MOVE.
ACLU, try removing these religious symbols...
I believe it is the "Reasonable people" who understand that
any display is just that. Any acknowledgement of religon
ought not be construed as a government endorsement of a
religion. but seems precisely what the Soviet Communists
and atheists of the ACLU desire-contrary to what was
the intent. (see 1853-1854 Congressional reports on the
Establishment clause.)The State ought be allowed to display
what they will- IF the Supremes will not intervene when the activist and errant Court of Mass. oversteps its'
constitutional bounds to declare homosexual marriage legal
there- then the States ought be allowed any religious displays,as originally intended. In close.I alone determine
how I feel -I hav eno compassion for those unreasonable few
who insist their godless feelings are hurt by what I believe.
"It is an establishment, when the 10 Commandments are given space in these public places, while other religions and agnosticism and atheism do not have the same opportunity to post their key beliefs in those places."
So we have established the religion of MLK Jr worship by giving him a statue? Of course not. Your statement does not make sense. You are falling for the ACLU's illogic.
It does NOT COMPEL any belief and is not inherent exclusive nor coercive to have a display ... it is simply a public testimonial.
"And personally, I wouldn't be too happy to see "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet" sprouting in our courthouses and public schools, ..."
well, Mohammed's been put into public displays on U.S. property - at the Supreme Court. Get over it.
I am FAR FAR more offended by Cesar Chavez street that ANY of these 'scaremongering scenarios' including putting any scriptural plaque on courthouse grounds ... and yet our town spends tens of thousands of dollars to change signs.
We also have a statue to Barbara Jordan at our airport.
Such worship of Liberal Icons is a form of Idolatry according to your standards... where is the ACLU when you need them???
"We have seperated church and state. The ACLU want to do away with God. Period. They have lit on the seperation of church and state for one reason and one reason only. They want a secular country."
That about right ... there are 3 choices:
1. Established sectarian church defined by the State.
2. Freedom of worship and religious liberty.
3. Established secularism.
ACLU does *not* want #2 - they want #3.
"What's your point? Maybe Utah courthouses and public schools should be plastered with pronouncements from past and current prophets of the Mormon Church, because the majority of Utahns are Mormons. The heck with all the other Utahns, many of whom hold beliefs in stark opposition to those of the Mormon Church."
What's your point?
Our local elementary school is plastered with environmental gobbledegook-speak, to heck with the feelings and beliefs of those of us who don't live eco-evangelization shoved down our kids throats... (oh that's right, reason #8 why our kids are not AT those schools!)
So, the point is that only *secularist* ideologoies are acceptable to be dictated to young 'uns? As church lady would say, how conveeeenient.
Nice to see some positive action being attempted.
"Picking a version of the Word of God and posting it in courthouses certainly sounds like state-imposed theocracy to me."
'sounds like' but "is not".
Sounds like you buy into the sloppy thinking of our modern age, The historical issue of theocracy revolved around the coercion of beliefs - this involved NONE of that. At it is contradictory to what religious freedom really meant to Americans prior to 1963.
There really *was* religious freedom for more Americans than can be found with today's imposed secularism; where is the 'freedom of worship when public expressions of religious sentiment are BANNED? IS THAT NOT A VIOLATION OF FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE? Think about it!
"Um... you are aware that Hammurabi was king of Babylon from 1728-1686 BC, not a religious figure, right?"
I worship Hammurabi... He's a God to me.
Does that change your mind about the appropriateness of putting a statue of his Code on display?
" ... since with it's lack of specificity, it isn't likely to offend any reasonable person."
Ahem, the only people offended by ANY of this, which merely reflects the historical and current beliefs of most Americans, are UNREASONABLE people.
"But highly specific religious texts and pronouncements, especially those that explicitly denigrate or declare superiority over differing belief systems"
Dear me... so stating what you belive in "denigrates"
other belief systems. What relativist/modernist claptrap!
And since when is "offending people" the moral rule to follow? I AM OFFENDED BY THAT RULE!
And since you "MUST Not Offend" you must discard that rule!
Please stop posting now - your posting is inherently offensive to logical people!
"particularly in courts, where people may reasonably feel that they are not getting impartial treatment if their professed belief system differs from the one publicly promoted at the courthouse."
I am sure that the "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness" could be offensive to a number of witnesses... but I wonder if that is such a bad thing. btw, it's not the 'belief' or felling of impartiality that is important, its the fact of impartiality. That has to do with the Judges behavior, not with the displays.
What do you find offensive with the 10 Commandments?
Hopefully my tagline says it all.