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Ali-bama–Foreign Country

Here’s an update in today’s New York Times on the controversy surrounding the 5,280 lb. monument of the Ten Commandents that was placed in Alabama’s State Supreme Court.

This whole issue is one that really just makes my blood boil. First of all, there should never be cause to use “Ten Commandments” and “State Supreme Court” in the same sentence, as I did above. Unbelievable that this even came to be! The article notes in the first paragraph that Chief Justice Roy Moore actually had to SECRETLY install this mammoth monument one night. Why secretly? Because he knew darned well he was completely wrong in even thinking he could get away with something so in opposition to the principle of separation of church and state. Otherwise why not make a big production of it, have a little ceremony, and do it in full daylight. Don’t tell me he didn’t know he was wrong about this.

Has no one heard of separation of Church and State? Some try to legitimize this atrocity by claiming that the 10 Commandents are the “moral foundation” of American law. Well, hmm, I can buy into that–partially. Sure, I think it’s a good idea that we “shalt not kill.” But it does not change the fact that the Ten Commandments are based in religion. There is NO getting around that. Period. There is religion involved here, folks. I could not keep a straight face if you tried to tell me a tablet of the 10 Commandments was not a religious symbol.

Here is a direct quote from Chief Justice Moore: “This is not about a monument. It’s not about religion, or politics. It’s about the acknowledgment of God.” What??????? I’m sorry, but an acknowledgement of God, any God, is an acknowledgement of religion.

And who’s God is he trying to acknowledge anyway? Which version of the 10 Commandments are on that monument? You know, I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not the Jewish version. Seems like the Chief Justice took it upon himself to promote his own particular version of God’s law.

Whether I personally believe in God is completely irrelevant to this discussion. I have to admit, however, I do usually have a big issue with any public display, including the words “under God” in the pledge, of religion. This is solely because we do not know what beliefs others may hold. The whole idea is to let people worship their own god or gods, or not, depending, as they see fit. Don’t push this issue in my, or anyone else’s face. Let me worship in my own way and I’ll let you do whatever you want in your own churches or synagogues or ashrams or wherever. Just not in the states’ supreme courts, thank you.

All in all, however, this whole issue just makes me really, really glad I don’t live in Ali-bama, Foreign Country.

5 comments to Ali-bama–Foreign Country

  • Morgan

    Before I make my comment, I’d like to say that I am far from religious. I have not been inside a place of worship for over three years. I try to be decent to everyone I meet, but it is not from a fear or guilt of a higher power.

    When the 10 Commandments were created, the land for the most part was in turmoil. The 10 Commandments laid down some basic guidelines for the beginning of civilization. I’m not saying that there wasn’t civilization before the 10 Commandments, but it was mostly obtained from one warlord wiping out all of the other warlords. Warlords became pharoahs or emperors that ruled large pieces of land until they were overthrown by a larger army or assasinated. Why did the 10 Commandments change this? I don’t think it was because that the populace feared the consequence of an unforgiving power. I believe everyone thought it was a good idea to live by some set standards for a change.

    In most democratic societies, modern law can be traced back to the 10 Commandments. Each civilization that came after the Commandments expanded on these 10 rules. The Magna Carter(http://www.cs.indiana.edu/statecraft/magna-carta.html) was crafted by people with heavily religious backgrounds. And when our founding fathers created the Constitution (http://memory.loc.gov/const/bor.html), they were heavily influenced by the Magna Carta.

    To have a plaque of the 10 Commandments is to show the direct roots of our law and what they were meant to do. To lose sight of why these rules were established is to lose sight of the reasons why our founding father’s established our civilization.

    Yes, the 10 Commandments is a religious symbol. To deny that would be stupid. However, to say that we have to get rid of every historical item that has any religious implications is also completely moronic. Are we going to burn the Declaration of Independence because it states that our rights are endowned by our Creator? Should we burn the Constitution because it has the phrase, “blessings of Liberty”? Our founding fathers wanted to keep a separation of church and state to keep us from being a theocracy as well as to protect religion from government. However, they were not afraid to invoke religion to demonstrate basic truths. We should not be afraid of our history even if it is religious.

    Morgan

  • Aggie

    I was certainly not advocating “getting rid” of the 10 Commandments. That would be inane. I am not a book burner. Even if it’s a stone book. I happen to like objects of historical significance. I think they’re cute. And I think it’s a damn shame when the world loses them (think of the recent looting in Iraqi museums.) I am all for full sharing of knowledge, information, history, education, and views different from my own. I just don’t want other people telling me what to do or think or believe, no matter how subtly they think they’re being. What’s subtle to them is blatant to me. What I am doing is advocating the removal of religious symbols, historical or no, in government buidlings when they blatantly endorse one religion (or god) over another. That is exactly what is happening in Alabama. If you listen to the frightening Chief Justice Moore speak, you will hear that is exactly what he is doing. His god is apparently the one and only god for all of Alabama. And I’m sure if you asked Roy, he’d tell you his god is the one and only god for the rest of the world. I find that offensive.

    Here’s an example of the use of the 10 Commandments (sort of) in a government building that I do not find offensive. The frieze in the courtroom of the US Supreme Court. The frieze that is displayed behind the justices portrays many different philosophers, lawyers, leaders, etc. of historical significance. The figures portrayed include Moses, Confucius, Hammurabi, Solomon, Mohammed, Augustus, and St. Louis. There are many more. Moses is holding a tablet. The reason I said “sort of” above is that technically what’s printed on the tablets is “Early Laws” and not the actual 10 Commandments. I won’t argue that they are probably referring to the good ole’ commandments though. I’m not in the mood to nit-pick. This sort of display, though, I find completely inoffensive. No one historical figure is given any more importance than the next. It is, in fact, a true celebration of the rich historical and cultural differences found throughout human history. And a very pretty piece of art to boot.

  • Morgan

    I agree that holding one religion over another should not be tolerated in our government. I also agree that putting a stone tablet in the middle of a courthouse in the middle of the night was pretty shady. My point was the Christian religion has had a profound influence in the creation of this country. To deny this influence would be to deny our country’s history. Take out any bill or coin and you will see the phrase, “In God we Trust”. Does that mean that every unit of money is saying, “Get out of our country, you unrighteous heathens”? No, it means that our government understands that there is a creator and that our liberty is derived from that creator. BTW, this was suggested to Congress by James Pollock of Pennsylvania in 1864 who was appointed by Abraham Lincoln.

    What I am getting at is that there is a need to feel that something has to remind our government of our freedom in this country. If our government completely ignores religion, I believe it will eventually lose its moral compass and deny us our basic freedoms. We need our symbols to remind us of the truths that created this country. The main truth being that humanity is fundamentally free. These historical and religious symbols will serve as a reminder of this freedom.

  • First thing’s first: that backwards-ass Chief Justice needs to get fired ASAP. Isn’t it the primary job of a judge to uphold the law? He’s allowing his RELIGIOUS beliefs to get in the way of his job performance in that respect. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and do what you’re told. Yes, you can make the argument that his religious beliefs are inextricably entwined with his ethics, but since this has become an issue about church and state, we all know that it’s about his church.

    I’m going to get in trouble about this later, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s silly to make the case that if you have one religion represented in a government building, all religions have to be represented. Soon you’ll have Lutherans getting mad at the Catholics, Muslims pissed at the Confucians, and don’t get me started on those pesky Sufis and Jains. It’ll never end, and someone will always feel left out.

    I think it’s fine, however, to publicly exhibit objets d’art that have a religious theme in government buildings as long as they’re placed in an historical or artistic context. The problem is that in this country, any expression of religious belief at all makes too many people too angry. I’m not going to go into why this is the case, but we all have to admit that it’s true.

    And yes, religion does provide a great many people with comfort and a moral compass that they would not otherwise have. Europe is becoming less and less religious, and it’s obvious what’s happening there: moral, economic, and social decay. Is a heapin’ helpin’ of Jesus going to pull France out of the downward spiral it’s swirling? No. But you know, it wouldn’t hurt for someone there to believe in SOMETHING, for Buddha’s sake. Some of our Founding Fathers were Christians. Others Deists. All were brilliant, moral men. They realized the importance of religion in a moral society predicated on the notion that human beings must be free.

    I say: fire the judge, and make him carry his frickin’ Commandments home with him. Everyone’s had their time on TV, and it’s now time for regular court business to continue again. No truss for you, Roy. I hope you’ve been working out.

  • Mike

    I quote….”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” We can certainly argue for hours, days, weeks, years, etc. about the worth of religion to a nation’s moral compass. However, there really is no discussion as to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution that we hold so near and dear to our little hearts. They were deeply religious men of varying faiths and definitely though that religion had a very important place in mens lives. The 1st Amendment wasn’t a hastily developed idea that was just thrown into the Con for good measure. The Bill of Rights were debated ad nauseum and finally instituted some 3-4 years AFTER the original seven articles of the Con. Taking a logical and objective view of the 1st and one should only come to the conclusion that the framers meant men had the freedom OF religion NOT freedom FROM religion. Thank you, that is all…for now.