Thursday, August 19, 2010

Western Civilization by David Barton

The issue in this case was the passive use of a portion of the Bible: specifically, the display of the Ten Commandments on the walls of schools in Kentucky. The posters of the Commandments were like the other numerous pictures and posters which adorned the school walls: they were passive displays. Students would look at them only if they wanted to and read them only if they were individually willing to take the time. The Ten Commandments had been posted in the schools because the Kentucky legislature believed it beneficial to expose students to the historical code which had formed the basis of civil laws in the western world for over two thousand years. Reflective of this, at the bottom of each poster was printed: “The secular application of the Ten Commandments is clearly seen in its adoption as the fundamental legal code of Western Civilization and the Common Law of the United States.”

Despite both the passive and non-coercive nature of the poster, a legal challenge was lodged. When the Supreme Court heard the Kentucky legislature’s assertion that the Ten Commandments had secular importance, the Court erupted in a surprising outburst of religious prejudice:

The preeminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact. When considering the Court’s claim that the purpose for posting the Ten Commandments was “plainly religious in nature,” one wonders if the Court had forgotten that depictions of the Ten Commandments appear in two different locations within the Supreme Court. As Chief Justice Warren Burger noted in Lynch v. Donnelly:

The very chamber in which oral arguments on this case were heard is decorated with a notable and permanent not seasonal symbol of religion: Moses with the Ten Commandments. Perhaps the Court had also forgotten that it is often easier to find the Ten Commandments displayed in government rather than in religious structures, and that our civil prohibitions against theft, murder, perjury, etc. are drawn from the Ten Commandments. There was much evidence and much professional opinion which disputed the Court’s assertion that the display of the Commandments was “plainly religious in nature.” In fact, Justices Marshall, Brennan, and Stevens three liberal Justices noted in Allegheny v. ACLU:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.