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Posted by Rick · August 31st, 2003 · 3 Comments

Looks like there are a few news people out there who understand that the dog-and-pony show is not what the fuss over the Ten Commandments is about. It’s about the Law of the United States of America. It’s about the Constitution.

Spitting matches like the fight over the Ten Commandments come and go. But the federal courts are forever. Federal judges, often alone, stand between order and lawlessness; between the rule of law and mob rule. They are, as the Constitution’s drafters intended them to be, the minority’s bulwark against the tyranny of the majority. – CBSNews.com, “The Legal Battle Over ‘Roy’s Rock’“, August 29, 2003.

The story points out several things:

  1. The law on the issue is quite settled; the case was a loser from the start.
  2. Religious folk who talk about the government’s misguided attempts to kill off religion are themselves misguided. The law allows displays of religious monuments under certain conditions.
  3. Judge Moore knew of those conditions and was given an opportunity to meet them. He refused.

As to that last point, the requirement was that the monument serve “a secular purpose.” As some have noted, the Supreme Court and some other courts have displays of the Ten Commandments. The question arises, “Why there? Why not here?”

The reason is that pesky Establishment Clause laid down by our Founding Fathers. As I noted before, they were a religious bunch. Yet they insisted on the idea that government has no place funding religious activities. Or, as they put it

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. – U.S. Constitution, from the Bill of Rights, First Amendment, First Clause, a.k.a., “The Establishment Clause.” [Emphasis mine.]

Judge Moore’s problem was that he refused to meet the criteria which would have allowed the Ten Commandments to remain in the rotunda because he was insistent that the one and only purpose of the monument was to be “to acknowledge G-d.” He was absolutely insistent upon using government funds and government property not so that he could teach about the historical foundations of the law, but so that he could acknowledge his G-d.

The Founding Fathers, courts of the United States throughout our history and even the extremely conservative Supreme Court of the United States of 2003 have all stated with one voice their stance regarding such government support for religion: Thou Shalt Not.


Categories: The Rule of Law


3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 joe // Sep 1, 2003 at 8:22 pm

    You must love it when the major commentators agree with your position….

  • 2 Winkola // Sep 1, 2003 at 10:10 pm

    Well, this is a pretty cut-and-dry situation. There’s a lot of smoke being blown lately in order to make some people feel better and make other people a little more newsworthy than they already are. That’s pretty much the bottom line. But when this is done, mostly, smoke gets in your eyes. It blinds and it burns. It can set one’s head to spinning even in the mis-named “No Spin Zone.”

    Tonight, on O’Reilly (Fox News), he was making a big to-do about how the reason the monument had to be removed is because “liberals” don’t want to hear the word “G-d”; they’re sick of it and they’re going to do everything they can to stop it from being spoken. He used a single letter from someone who’d written to him as proof. That person, according to O’Reilly, speaks for all liberals (millions of ’em; funny how I didn’t recognize his name). The words he spoke are the whole reason—the sole reason—for the supposedly new (meaning since the writing of the First Amendment, I guess) push for separation of Church and State, if you believe O’Reilly.

    There is, of course, no spinning of the facts there, either—blatant rejection of the facts, perhaps, but no SPIN.

    The facts are as I stated them in my numerous writings on this topic the last couple of weeks. I didn’t spin anything; I didn’t need to. The Founding Fathers were, without a doubt, deeply religious people for the most part, at least in their words. (I have no personal knowledge of their actual beliefs; there is evidence that cuts both ways on that issue.) Giving them the benefit of the doubt, as I did, they were devout in their beliefs.

    And yet—to a man—none of them said anything to indicate they believed the government should become involved in providing any public support, funding, or acknowledgements of G-d. Nearly ALL of them made acknowledgements of their OWN concerning G-d, but deliberately kept “religious talk” to an absolute minimum in the final draft of the official documents upon which this nation was founded. (Not once, for example, do the words “G-d” or “Creator” show up in the Constitution of the United States; each appears once only in the Declaration of Independence. What references are in there are not explicitly christian. Kind of odd that it should get such short shrift, don’t you think, considering the claims of certain modern christians who insist this country was founded upon christian beliefs?)

    Additionally, all the Founding Fathers relied heavily upon the work of John Locke. (Locke is influential to this day in such areas of law including Property.) Most people don’t know that Locke wrote a treatise called “The Reasonableness of Christianity,” for which he was labeled a “Socinian.”

    Socinianism was “based upon tenets or doctrines of Faustus Socinus, an Italian theologian of the sixteenth century, who denied the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the personality of the Devil, the native and total depravity of man, the vicarious atonement, and the eternity of future punishment. His theory was, that Christ was a man divinely commissioned, who had no existence before he was conceived by the Virgin Mary; that human sin was the imitation of Adam’s sin, and that human salvation was the imitation and adoption of Christ’s virtue; that the Bible was to be interpreted by human reason; and that its language was metaphorical, and not to be taken literally.” [Definition taken from the BrainyDictionary at http://www.brainydictionary.com/words/so/socinianism221267.html .] Locke—and apparently also Jefferson, among the Founding Fathers—believed the christian idea of the Triune G-d, or “Trinity,” was an abomination. The jews had, in his mind, the only true MONOTHEISTIC religion.

    This imputation of Socinianism also fits with the talk of our Founding Fathers as being “deists.”

    So there’s a real question whether the Founding Fathers would approve of the version of christianity Moore and those like him continually attempt to inject into government, even if they WERE okay with the idea of government sponsorship of religious talk!

    Incidentally, in Schieffer’s article, he noted that “[s]omeone once said that any religion that needs the help of the state is not a very powerful religion.” That someone was, as I noted in my article, “Thou Shalt Not Revolt” (http://www.winkola.com/archives/2003_08.html ), Benjamin Franklin. His exact words were “When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors [that is, those who “profess” religion] are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

    Finally, O’Reilly disingenuously stated tonight, “That monument wasn’t ESTABLISHING a religion!” (These are perhaps not his exact words—I didn’t record it—but I believe that is how he put it.) Firstly, the correct phrase from the so-called “Establishment Clause” of the Bill of Rights is “RESPECTING an establishment of religion.” This can be read multiple ways (e.g., with the emphasis on paying respect to an already established religion or else reading “respecting” as meaning “regarding”). The Supreme Court and most of our other courts since the beginning of our history have read it to indicate that government may not appear to be “supporting” (which essentially means providing some kind of government imprimatur, however weak) a religious point of view.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (O’Reilly—want to use MY quote on your program?): There is nothing wrong with acknowledging G-d. There’s nothing wrong with outright worship of G-d. The issue is that there IS something wrong with using government funds and/or government space to do so. Period.

    End of Story.

  • 3 joe // Sep 2, 2003 at 12:36 pm


    I have tried three times to write a response but have been interupted so I will be as brief as I can…….

    We agree on this topic, however, I believe for differing reasons.

    I cringe when I read about government (or politics) and religion mixing because when they do, everyone loses.

    The media tries to crystalize an event down to a sixty second spot, or a witty headline, or limited column inches, and that’s all the ‘average’ person may learn about an issue. In that ‘crystal second’ a mind gets a partial story and often that leads to a complete decision. Many of those decisions are decision to be biased. The honest term to be used here is prejudice.

    I have had to answer too many questions by people outside of my faith on the actions and behaviors of Christians in politics. Even though I express to them that these people are on the fringe of what Christianity means, they still leave in wonderment as to how these people can say these things (like praying for a Supreme Court Justice to die, and don’t get me started about Clovis…).

    The next dealing this person has with a Christian will likely be more suspicious, like waiting for the other shoe to drop, or for ‘true’ colors to be seen. In short, can this person be trusted? What agenda does this person really want?

    And this cycle repeats and repeats effecting all religions in all communities.

    I seriously doubt that any adult of any religion has not had an experience like that.

    Please let me be clear here. My opinion is NOT PRO Christian, it is simply an example of my experience. This affects ALL of us.

    My opinion really boils down to this:

    Religion + Government = Prejudice.

    Religion (all religions, not just Christianity) do great good but that is not newsworthy.

    Government also does great good that is not newsworthy.

    But when the two come together you have a lose/ lose situation. One side or the other will get blamed for being the cause and reputations suffer. Government is perceived as being stuck, motionless in bueracracy. Religion is percieved as one group trying to impose its will on all groups. Different events but the same outcome.

    You could save all of your writings for use in the next time religion and politics mix, the outcome is preordained.

    My wish that government and religion co exist in neutral corners just won’t happen. From the day the Pilgrims left Europe for religious freedom, our government has been intertwined with religion.

    Despite the Pilgrims establishing a place of religious ‘freedom’ they still saw fit to throw Roger Williams out of the colony, based on his beliefs.

    I think it would be especially refreshing if there was a ‘clear and balanced’ place on the web where people could get the information they need to untie the knot that has become government and religion in this country.

    Thanks for letting me vent. I hope this made sense because I had to get this done very quickly!


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