LA House votes 91-0 to display 10 Commandments

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The House voted 91-0 Monday to allow a locating a monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the State Capitol.  Rep. Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport, the sponsor of House Bill 277, took less than 30 seconds to explain the bill when the House vote board lighted up green.  Williams’ bill now heads to the Senate for debate.  The bill wood [sic] not require the state to pay for the monument. Instead private organizations, especially church groups, have indicated they will raise the money for it and help finance any lawsuits that may challenge it.

This vote is not without its controversy obviously.  Those opposed to any and all public expressions of religion are no doubt on the phone with their local ACLU lawyer at this very minute.  But this action is Constitutional.  To oppose the action would be indicative of hostility toward religion, which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution.

What makes this Constitutional, you ask?  HB 277 cites Van Orden v Perry, a Supreme Court ruling of the Constitutionality of allowing such religious displays on public property.  Justice Breyer (really?) states in a separate majority opinion:

The case before us is a borderline case. It concerns a large granite monument bearing the text of the Ten Commandments located on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. On the one hand, the Commandments’ text undeniably has a religious message, invoking, indeed emphasizing, the Deity. On the other hand, focusing on the text of the Commandments alone cannot conclusively resolve this case. Rather, to determine the message that the text here conveys, we must examine how the text is used. And that inquiry requires us to consider the context of the display.

  1. The monument’s 40-year history on the Texas state grounds indicates that nonreligious aspects of the tablets’ message predominate.
  2. The group that donated the monument, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, is a private civic (and primarily secular) organization. Who, while interested in the religious aspect of the Ten Commandments, sought to highlight the Commandments’ role in shaping civic morality as part of that organization’s efforts to combat juvenile delinquency.
  3. The Eagles’ consultated with a committee composed of members of several faiths in order to find a nonsectarian text — an act which underscores the group’s ethics-based motives.
  4. The tablets, as displayed on the monument, prominently acknowledge that the Eagles donated the display.
  5. The physical setting of the monument suggests little or nothing of the sacred.
    • The monument sits in a large park containing 17 monuments and 21 historical markers, all designed to illustrate the “ideals” of those who settled in Texas and of those who have lived there since that time.
    • The setting does not readily lend itself to meditation or any other religious activity.
    • The setting does provide a context of history and moral ideals.
    • The larger display (together with the display’s inscription about its origin) communicates to visitors that the State sought to reflect moral principles, illustrating a relation between ethics and law that the State’s citizens, historically speaking, have endorsed. That is to say, the context suggests that the State intended the display’s moral message — an illustrative message reflecting the historical “ideals” of Texans — to predominate. [as cited by wikipedia]

Breyer then goes on to state:

If these factors provide a strong, but not conclusive, indication that the Commandments’ text on this monument conveys a predominantly secular message, a further factor is determinative here. As far as I can tell, 40 years passed in which the presence of this monument, legally speaking, went unchallenged (until the single legal objection raised by petitioner). And I am not aware of any evidence suggesting that this was due to a climate of intimidation. Hence, those 40 years suggest more strongly than can any set of formulaic tests that few individuals, whatever their system of beliefs, are likely to have understood the monument as amounting, in any significantly detrimental way, to a government effort to favor a particular religious sect, primarily to promote religion over nonreligion, to “engage in” any “religious practic[e],” to “compel” any “religious practic[e],” or to “work deterrence” of any “religious belief.” Schempp, 374 U. S., at 305 (Goldberg, J., concurring). Those 40 years suggest that the public visiting the capitol grounds has considered the religious aspect of the tablets’ message as part of what is a broader moral and historical message reflective of a cultural heritage. [as cited by wikipedia]

One thing to note about the Ten Commandments, you are more likely to find them displayed in a government building, than in a church.  Those offended by the measure, remember: You do not have a right to not be offended, you do not have a right to suppress religious expression because you are a bigot.  There is no freedom from religion, regardless of what the ACLU or FFRF tell you.

Comments

  1. The liberals and the ACLU seem to forget about the second half of the freedom of religion clause, that the free exercise of religion shall not be infringed upon. Everytime someone isn’t allowed to display a manger or a cross that person’s freedom of religion is violated. Somehow the constitution has been turned on its head.

    • When talking to someone about this, they asked me how I would feel about Muslim, Jewish, or some other religious monument being displayed? It doesn’t matter, as long as there is no hostility towards religion, and they are all allowed in the same manor, it doesn’t matter theyte there. I don’t have a freedom to keep their expression prohibited. They thought I’d be a bigot and not want something other than christian symbiology, but its those who oppose religious expression who are the bigots. And I’ve decided to start calling them out on it.

  2. You may be surprised to hear John, that I have see no reason to oppose the “10 Commandments” being displayed just about anywhere, but especially in front of Court buildings and legislatures.
    The commandments have an important role in the history of law, and ought not to be discounted only because they are affiliated with religion.

  3. I agree.

    How ’bout that?

    So, an atheist, a liberal and a conservative walked into a bar…

  4. This vote will only serve to show the uselessness of elected governance when the judiciary has cast off all restraint.

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