The Talking Lion

Monday, June 27, 2005

10 Commandments apparently aren't religious...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
- The Constitution, you jerks.

Ok, now that thats been said. The Supreme Court has decided to disagree (not completey, but enough to piss me off):
The Supreme Court ruled today that displaying the Ten Commandments on government property does not necessarily violate the constitutional principle that there must be a separation between church and state.

In a pair of 5-to-4 rulings, the court said the display of the Ten Commandments in a 22-acre park at the Texas State Capitol was proper, but that the displays of the Commandments in two county courthouses in Kentucky were so overtly religious as to be impermissible.

Ok, there must be a really good reason why there is a difference. Right? Lets see:
Writing for the court, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted that at the Texas Capitol in Austin, a six-foot monolith displaying the Commandments was just one of 17 sculptures. "The inclusion of the Commandments monument in this group has a dual significance, partaking of both religion and government, that cannot be said to violate the Establishment Clause," the chief justice wrote.

Ahem. What? The point is that the Commandments should not be "partaking in both religion and government." Lets continue:
"While the Commandments are religious, they have an undeniable historical meaning," Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote. "Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause."

But he added pointedly, "There are, of course, limits to the government's display of religious messages or symbols."
Umm. Of course they have a historical meaning: a foundation of a few religions. The point here is that any historical meaning is drowned out by the fact that its a religious monument on state grounds. This monument is without any disclaimer nearby explaining that its just a historic and not a religious statement. Sigh.

So why was the Kentucky courthouse 10C's monument over the line, justices?
"The reasonable observer could only think that the counties meant to emphasize and celebrate the religious message," the majority held. "The display's unstinting focus was on religious passages, showing that the counties posted the Commandments precisely because of their sectarian content."
Right, but having it at the state capitol grounds is not emphasizing and celebrating the religious messages therein? I'm not seeing a difference here (although I don't blame Kennedy from siding in favor of the 10C's on this one, I don't think he can afford more Xtians mad at him after that Schiavo mess).

We like-minded individuals should get the money together and finance a Skeptics & Unbelievers monument for the Texas Capitol. I mean how could they refuse a gift that represents a significant portion of the population and has a deep history in the founding of this country? Somehow I don't think they would display our statue no matter how glorious it would be...

Amanda has a great post on this at Pandagon.

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