Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Decalogue

On Monday the Supreme Court ruled that the monument infront of the Texas Capital was constitutional because its context was secular and they ruled that the framed 10 commandments in a Kentucky courtroom were not constitutional because they promoted a religion.

Typical argument against the 10 commandments being on public property:

Having the 10 commandments on public property violates the "separation of church and state" and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

Typical arguments for the 10 commandments being on public property:

(a) "Separation of church and state" isn't in our constitution.
(b) Our government was based around judeo-christian philosophy and, thus, the Ten Commandments are of historical relevance.

This is why I think the typical argument against having the 10 commandments on public property doesn't work:

I can't see how anyone can argue that having religious monuments on public property is unconstitutional. The words "separation of church and state" are not in our constitution and I don't think that having a religious monument on public property violates the first amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." No law is being made... congress is not even involved... and this in no way prohibits the free exercise of religion.

This is why I think that the arguments for having the 10 commandments on public property don't work:

(a) People are correct when they say that "separation of church and state" is not in our constitution. However, I ask those people-- Do you think that our country would be better if church and state were not separated? I think we have seen enough historical evidence to show that the separation of church and state is, overall, benificial to society.

I think Sandra Day O'Conner said well it in her opinion on this case "Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"

(b) As for the historical relevance of the 10 commandments-- I have yet to see any evidence that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy... Yes, it was probably founded by Christian people who may have followed Judeo-Christian philosophy-- but I have not seen what effect that had on our government. Many people claim that the founding fathers were deists (I haven't seen any strong evidence to support this claim)-- however, it doesn't matter if they were Christians or Deists or Wiccan-- what we do know is that they specifically wrote into the constitution that they wanted free exercise of religion and that they didn't want to have a state religion. It seems to me that the personal religious beliefs of the founding fathers are of very little historical relevance.

Plus, only 3 of the 10 commandments relate to our government at all:
I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
V. Honour thy father and thy mother.
(VI. Thou shalt not kill.) -- relates only because we have laws against murder
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
(VIII. Thou shalt not steal.) -- relates only because we have laws against theft
(IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.) -- relates only because we have laws against perjury.
X. Thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Just because we have laws saying we shouldn't murder, steal, or perjure-- and the bible also says not to do these things-- that doesn't automatically make the 10 commandments historically relevant to our government. We have to look at why we have those laws-- is it because the bible says we shouldn't do those things? or could it be that it is just common sense that these things should not be done because they are harmful to society?

My argument:

I don't think that the ten commandments have any place being on public property. This is why:

1. Just because something is constitutional doesn't mean it should be done. It may be constitutional to put a monument with the tenants of national socialism on public property-- but I don't think it has any business being there.
2. I think separation of church and state is a good idea.
3. I don't think the 10 commandments are historically relevant enough to our government to be put on display.
4. I constantly have to look at or hear Christian messages from evangelists, T-shirts, bumper stickers, AIM profiles and presidential speeches-- and I don't want to have to look at them on public property.


Blogger ThrO192 said...

I believe that it goes against what our founding fathers had in mind when someone in any way forces their own personal moral standard on any other individual.

You may not like my religion. You may not like the way that I practice my religion but as long as I am not infringing upon your freedoms you have no right to say anything. Putting the Ten Commandments in a Government building dedicated to the preservation of the law is tantamount to declaring a national religion. To be equal, they should either be removed or the equivalent for every other religion in the land should have its own spot beside them.

Because that would be impractical I think that the Christian extremists should just remove them and get over the fact that not everyone is christian, that would be boring.

5:15 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yeah, it seems like an excuse when I hear people say that the ten commandments are of "historical relevance"-- I really doubt the person whose idea it was to make that monument though "man, the ten commandments are really historically imporant we should make a monument"-- I bet it was more like "I'm a Christian and I agree with the 10 commandments and I think everyone should follow them-- lets make a monument to spread the word."

6:47 PM  

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