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Supreme Court/Ten Commandments Case

Squawker

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Here is one to watch.
Feb 26, 6:36 PM (ET)

By JIM VERTUNO
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a 6-foot granite monument on the grounds of the Texas state Capitol bearing the words "I am the Lord thy God" - and two similar displays at Kentucky courthouses - constitute unconstitutional government establishment of religion.
(Snip) Derided by some as an atheist, Van Orden says he's simply "not religious" despite growing up in the Methodist Church in East Texas and having a brief interest in the Unitarian Church as an adult.
"I have nothing against the Ten Commandments. I grew up with the Ten Commandments," he said. "I didn't sue Christianity or Judaism. I sued the government. It was filed to uphold the principles of the First Amendment."
(Snip) "What they're really advocating on the other side is a religious cleansing from our history," Shackelford said. "It should be treated with respect as our part of history, not some new form of pornography that has to be banned from our public arena."
The Fraternal Order of Eagles donated the Texas monument in 1961 and gave scores of similar monuments to towns across the United States.
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I have nothing against someone displaying religious symbols on private property, but they absolutely do not belong on public grounds supported by taxpayers money :naughty , taxpayers who might not subscribe to that particular faith.
 

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I have nothing against someone displaying religious symbols on private property, but they absolutely do not belong on public grounds supported by taxpayers money , taxpayers who might not subscribe to that particular faith.
I don't like paying liberal teachers who preach their views to our kids either, so what's your point again?
 
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shake3

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I for one think that it is a misinterpretation of the Establishment clause to say that the government can not display any religious symbols whatsoever. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" seems to me to say that Congress can't make laws pertaining to state churches. And displaying religious symbols like the Ten Commandments is a far cry from having an established state church (like the Lutheran Church in Sweden, for example, which just split with the government back in 2000).
I know that certain Supreme Court rulings contradict my views, which muddies the water a bit, but I still feel that what I said earlier was the original intent of the Establishment clause.
 
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Batman

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Blue Hobgoblin said:
I have nothing against someone displaying religious symbols on private property, but they absolutely do not belong on public grounds supported by taxpayers money :naughty , taxpayers who might not subscribe to that particular faith.
As quoted in the article:

The Fraternal Order of Eagles donated the Texas monument in 1961 and gave scores of similar monuments to towns across the United States.

Taxpayer money did not pay for this. It was a gift to the town. The town should be able to display it on it's property.
 

Schweddy

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Indeed.

Not sure I can add much, but it sure is getting old.

I am offended that your offeneded that I am offeneded that...

The constitution says nothing about being offended of one's religion.
Our country was founded on Christian principles. To deny that, is to deny the very existance of the US!!
 

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As your country has, very wisely (and unlike us here in the UK :( ) separated church and state, you presumably are a multi-faith (including those with no faith) society. So it seems to me to be a backward step having displays of Christianity on public property.


Not actually any of my business, of course, but can't resist putting my two-penneth in!
 

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I forget who originally said this, but it was posted somewhere a few months back in "Debate Politics" and hit the nail on the head........

Let's say we have a judge in the U.S. who is of Muslim ancestry, and this judge wants to display a copy of the Koran on public property?

Can you understand how most conservatives would be outraged?

Can you understand why we need to draw the line between church and state?
 

Batman

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Hoot said:
I forget who originally said this, but it was posted somewhere a few months back in "Debate Politics" and hit the nail on the head........

Let's say we have a judge in the U.S. who is of Muslim ancestry, and this judge wants to display a copy of the Koran on public property?

Can you understand how most conservatives would be outraged?

Can you understand why we need to draw the line between church and state?
Show me in the constitution where it says 'seperation of church and state.'
It doesn't. The government is not to impose religion. Having a display of commandments or reference to God is not making citizens bow down. The constitution says nothing about the church being unable to be involved with the government.
 

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Batman said:
Show me in the constitution where it says 'seperation of church and state.'
It doesn't. The government is not to impose religion. Having a display of commandments or reference to God is not making citizens bow down. The constitution says nothing about the church being unable to be involved with the government.
I think the main problems lie with the constitutions ban of sanctioning a religion. By posting Christian doctrines it, if nothing else, apperas that the government is taking sides on the religious issue and siding with Christianity.
 

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"What they're really advocating on the other side is a religious cleansing from our history," Shackelford said. "It should be treated with respect as our part of history, not some new form of pornography that has to be banned from our public arena.
I think this says it quite well. What I find so hypocritical of these atheists, is that they wish to take away the religious freedom of others, which is exactly what freedom of religion is all about.
 

shake3

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Hoot said:
Let's say we have a judge in the U.S. who is of Muslim ancestry, and this judge wants to display a copy of the Koran on public property?

Can you understand how most conservatives would be outraged?

Can you understand why we need to draw the line between church and state?
Displaying something with a religious element to it, whether the Ten Commandments or the Koran, is totally different from the government establishing a state religion, like the Church of England or the Lutheran church in Sweden. If I had any objection to displaying the Koran in a court building, it would be that it was an irrelevant item in our nation's founding, unlike the Ten Commandments. And even then it would be a minor issue.
 

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Squawker said:
What I find so hypocritical of these atheists, is that they wish to take away the religious freedom of others, which is exactly what freedom of religion is all about.
Sorry, Squawker, but I think you've got that wrong. The problem, as far as I can see, is that many religious people seem to feel they have a right to dictate how other people should live their lives. If someone has a strong faith, and chooses to live their life according to that faith, and it makes them hapy, then I think that's great. However, as an atheist I have the right to live my life as I choose, and not as someone else would choose for me.

Freedom of religion includes the right to be an atheist.
 

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However, as an atheist I have the right to live my life as I choose, and not as someone else would choose for me.
And I don't? Thank you for your generosity. You think the world should rotate on your axis? What gives you the right to deny me my constitutional right? Some activist jusdge maybe, but not the US Constitution.
 

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Squawker said:
And I don't? Thank you for your generosity. You think the world should rotate on your axis? What gives you the right to deny me my constitutional right? Some activist jusdge maybe, but not the US Constitution.
Please take the time to read other people's posts properly before you have the knee-jerk reaction!
 

shuamort

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Dagnabbit, I had a really good and long post that's been gobbled up. Alright, from square one again.

OK, in the US there has been a switch from Separationism to Accomodationism. Here's its timeline:

1788-US Constitution is ratified

1789-Bill of Rights are ratified inclusive of the First Amendment which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."

1802-Jefferson, one of the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, sent a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association stating: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

1803-Marbury v Madison. This Supreme Court decision set precedent for judicial review. When you hear about "judicial fiats" or "activist judges" this is where the ability of judges to set these precedents come from. We've had this decision around for over 200 years now which is a loooooong time and one would think that there'd be laws against it if it were so problematic. Ahem.

1947-Everson v Board of Education. This is the first case that used Jefferson's quote establishing a wall of separation between Church and State. The details of case are a bit boring (busing students to a religious school by the gov't or not). Although Jefferson's statement to Danbury was not part of the First Amendment, his intentions were well defined by the letter. As such, his beliefs were used to define the law.

1947-1988-Separationism is used in Supreme Court decisions as the sole route.

1989-County of Allegheny v ACLU. This begins the era that switches from Separationism to Accomodationism. The decision made in this case is really about two separate incedences. The first, a manger scene is placed in a Courthouse. This is deemed to be a violation of church and state. The second, a menorrah and a christmas tree is set outside a city county building, this is deemed to be legal as it is inclusive to more than one religion and as such, doesn't endorse one over the other.

2003-2004-Former Chief Justice Roy Moore further proves the decision of County of Allegheny v ACLU. Moore erects a 2.4 ton monument of the 10 Commandments in the Alabama courthouse and refuses to allow Atheists to erect their own monument there. By his decision, he's creating a space that endorses Christianity and no others. He's subsequently removed from power.

There've been a lot of things that have happened in between all of that... but that would make this post even more inflated than it needs to be.
 

Squawker

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1802-Jefferson, one of the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, sent a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association stating: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
We don’t really know the context of the opinion. He was probably speaking in reference to the religious freedom England didn’t provide, and one that New England would. The Government wasn’t to prohibit religious freedom. It wasn’t until the mid 20th century that his words had any weight at all. Activist judges decided his words meant there should be no morning prayer in the schools. The liberals/Democrats pride themselves on being “progressive”, but I fail to see how that fits in with going back to old English ways.
 

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Naughty Nurse said:
Sorry, Squawker, but I think you've got that wrong. The problem, as far as I can see, is that many religious people seem to feel they have a right to dictate how other people should live their lives. If someone has a strong faith, and chooses to live their life according to that faith, and it makes them hapy, then I think that's great. However, as an atheist I have the right to live my life as I choose, and not as someone else would choose for me.

Freedom of religion includes the right to be an atheist.
You talk as if the words YOU MUST BELIEVE AND LIVE LIKE THIS is displayed above Scripture in public places. If people feel that way maybe the words are placing conviction in them.
 

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I dropped out of history this semester - it proved to be too much.

But, I did get through the first few chapters. The puritans, pilgrams, and lutherans were the first folks that created thier own governments outside of England. The southern colonies did not have small governments - it was money they wanted. They were almost ALL Christian and it was common to be nieghbors with someone that was not of the same 'denomination'.

Therefore, I submit that Jeffererson was really trying to say that Government should not respect any specific religion over another (meaning denominations). If the government "respects" or aids baptist persons - they should respect or aide lutheran persons as well. The government should not side with any specific denomination by giving more grants or entitlements over the other. That wall is really blinder to the specifics of the religion.

?
 
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shuamort

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Squawker said:
We don’t really know the context of the opinion. He was probably speaking in reference to the religious freedom England didn’t provide, and one that New England would. The Government wasn’t to prohibit religious freedom. It wasn’t until the mid 20th century that his words had any weight at all. Activist judges decided his words meant there should be no morning prayer in the schools. The liberals/Democrats pride themselves on being “progressive”, but I fail to see how that fits in with going back to old English ways.
1) The following should give you full context of the Danbury letter and why it's relevant and declaratory to the 1947 Supreme Court Decision.
2)He was speaking to the role of the US in goverment. At the turn of the century, when these were written, the denominations of Christianity were different, and in some cases, extremely different. Danbury was concerned that a specific denomination could gain political control and thus create laws that might go against theirs. Danbury's request to Jefferson was clarification (and to some extent, reassurance) that they would not come into discrimination from their own government.
3)Jefferson's words had weight when he wrote the letter too. To say they don't is revisionist history. (Or just plain hyperbole that they had no weight at all).
4)There's no such thing as an "activist judge". Judges have had ability to interpret law since Marbury v. Madison and if there were a liberal/conservative problem with that, congress could have made a law to stop it anytime in the last 200+ years. Whinging about it now is just making lame duck excuses.
5)Prayer in public school was removed in the 1961 case of Engel v Vitale. The word I bolded is apropos to the debate and cannot be omitted because it is very germane to the discussion. That case happened in NY where a non-denominational prayer in oublic school was a routine ritual. From the decision: We think that by using its public school system to encourage recitation of the Regents' prayer, the State of New York has adopted a practice wholly incon-sistent with the Establishment Clause. There can, of course, be no doubt that New York's program of daily classroom invocation of God's blessings as prescribed in the Regents' prayer is a religious activity. It is a solemn avowal of divine faith and supplication for the blessing of the Almighty. The nature of such a prayer has always been religious, none of the respondents has denied this and the trial court expressly so found...



Danbury to Thomas Jefferson said:
Sir,

Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your Election to office, we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your Inauguration, to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief Magistracy in the United States. And though our mode of expression may be less courtly [stylish] and pompious [pompous] than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, Sir, to believe that none are more sincere.

Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty--That Religion is at all times and places a Matter between God and Individuals--That no man ought to suffer in Name, person or effects on account of his religious Opinions--That the legitimate Power of civil Government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbour.

But Sir, our [Connecticut] constitution of government is not specific. Our antient [ancient] charter, together with the Laws made coincident therewith, were adopted as the Basis of our government At the time of our revolution, and such had been our laws and usages [practices], & such still are, that religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, & therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.

It is not to be wondered at therefore, if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretence of government & Religion should reproach their fellow men--should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law, & good order because he will not, dares not assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.

Sir, we are sensible that the president of the United States is not the national Legislator, and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the Laws of each State; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial Effect already, like the radient beams of the Sun, will shine & forever prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and Tyranny be destroyed from the Earth.

Sir, when we reflect on your past services and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of State out of that good will which he bears to the Millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence & the voice of the people have called you to sustain, and support you in your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth & importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.

And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.


Signed in behalf of the Association,

Neh'[emia]h Dodge The Committee

Eph'[rai]m Robbins

Stephen S. Nelson
* * * * *


Thomas Jefferson to Att General said:
January 1, 1802

Averse to receive addresses, yet unable to prevent them, I have generally endeavored to turn them to some account, by making them the occasion, by way of answer, of sowing useful truths and principles among the people, which might germinate and become rooted among their political tenets. The Baptist address, now enclosed, admits of a condemnation of the alliance between Church and State, under the authority of the Constitution. It furnishes an occasion, too, which I have long wished to find, of saying why I do not proclaim fastings and thanksgivings, as my predecessors did. The address, to be sure does not point at this, and its introduction is awkward. But I foresee no opportunity of doing it more pertinently. I know it will give great offence to the New England clergy; but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them. Will you be so good as to examine the answer, and suggest any alterations which might prevent an ill effect or promote a good one, among the people? You understand the temper of those in the North, and can weaken it, therefore, to their stomachs; it is at present seasoned to the Southern taste only. I would ask the favor of you to return it, with the address, in the course of the day or evening. Health and affection.
Here's the full letter to Danbury:
Thomas Jefferson to Danbury said:
January 1, 1802.

GENTLEMEN,--The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.
 

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We must also take into account the context of religion at the time.

The idea that it was "a matter between a man and God" was very very new. Up until the Church of England separated, the idea that a man could talk to God directly was preposterous! Not everyone in the new world believed this.

Many of the puritans (which I think Jefferson descended from), believed that one was already chosen before birth. Actions did not matter. There was no "salvation" during this time frame. One was predestined. Therefore acting religiously was not required and of no consequence to them. So it made full sense that one could work in governmental positions without acting like a religious person.

I still concede that he was really referring to blind ignorance from the government to any specific denomination - divercity amoung the government, if you will.
 

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Batman said:
The constitution says nothing about the church being unable to be involved with the government.
Fine...let the church be involved with government, and campaign for particular candidates, just so long as they lose their tax free status, then I'm fine with it.
 

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Hoot said:
Fine...let the church be involved with government, and campaign for particular candidates, just so long as they lose their tax free status, then I'm fine with it.
Okay, apply that to the NAACP too.
But this is interesting:
On the North wall of the Lincoln Memorial the text of Lincoln's second inaugural address appears. It reads in part:

The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman"s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Now what?
 

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Fine...let the church be involved with government, and campaign for particular candidates, just so long as they lose their tax free status, then I'm fine with it.
That wasn't the problem up for debate but I would agree with them losing "some" of their tax free status. Jefferson was one man who had an opinion. Activist judges took one mans "opinion" to make it possible to pass laws forbiding the free excessive of religion, which the Congress was prohibited from doing in the Constitution.
 

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Perhaps leave it up to the individual state, just like gay marriage should be. That way you religious nuts in the deep 'red' south would get to express your odd religious beliefs, while those in the more sane NE and Pacific coast would get to express their more rational views. Let the people decide!
 
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