Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Supremes to Pass Judgement on 10 Commandments

Most people probably saw this coming:

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider whether the Ten Commandments may be displayed on government property, ending a 25-year silence on a church-state issue that has prompted bitter legal fights around the country.

Ten Commandments displays are common in town squares and courthouses and on other government-owned land, including the Supreme Court. A wall carving of Moses holding the tablets is in the courtroom where justices will hear arguments in the case.

Many people have remarked on the irony of that last point. But what bothers me about this whole campaign is, what happens if we win?
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas complained in 2001 when the court refused to rule on the constitutionality of a display in front of the Elkhart, Ind., Municipal Building. They said the city sought to reflect the cultural, historical and legal significance of the commandments.
If we are allowed to display the Ten Commandments, but only on the understanding that it represents a cultural and historical legacy and not a morally binding acknowledgment of God's sovereignty, what kind of message are we sending? Isn't that just further establishing the strangle-hold that secularism has over the American consciousness?

It is worth remembering that the Commandments were originally given as a seal of the covenant that had already been established with Israel after Moses led them out of Egypt. Their public display is a battle we really can't afford to lose, of course, but we will not win the war in the courts.

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