Two Similar Cases

Van Orden v. Berry is one of the two cases before the Court this term challenging the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. Van Orden involves a display on the Texas State Capitol grounds–which consist of 22 acres and contain a wide array of monuments, plaques and seals–depicting the secular and religious history of Texas. It was a gift given by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1961. At that time, the Ten Commandments were still widely thought of as foundational principles and the basis of our criminal laws. The purpose of the donation was “to promote youth morality and to help stop the alarming increase in delinquency.”

The display was placed, appropriately, between the Supreme Court and the State Capitol. The monument was temporarily removed in 1990 during renovations; but when it was returned to its position, it now faced the State Capitol to reflect the role of the Commandments in making law. This was apparently too much for some who want God removed from public life. Neither the lower federal court nor the U.S. Court of Appeals believed the display violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; however, the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. This case, along with McCreary County Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky, the other Ten Commandments case, are two of the most important cases before the Supreme Court this term.

– Mark L. Chance.

I do wonder though, if we ask atheist defendants to swear on the Bible, does that demean the Bible? If their promise is worth nothing?
Also, if we live in a multicultural society, shouldn’t we equally respect other faiths and beliefs? Or just Christian ones?

[quote=FightingFat]I do wonder though, if we ask atheist defendants to swear on the Bible, does that demean the Bible? If their promise is worth nothing?

Also, if we live in a multicultural society, shouldn’t we equally respect other faiths and beliefs? Or just Christian ones?
[/quote]

It’s curious. What do any of the above questions have to do with either court case? Not a thing.

– Mark L. Chance.

Sorry Mark, I thought you were saying

[quote=mlchance]Van Orden v. Berry is one of the two cases before the Court this term challenging the display of the Ten Commandments on public property.
[/quote]

So they’re challenging the display of Christian symbolism on public property, ergo the topic you are discussiong is secularisation of the USA.

[quote=mlchance]McCreary County Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky, the other Ten Commandments case, are two of the most important cases before the Supreme Court this term.
[/quote]

No detail on this one but it relates back to the other so I assumed it was about the same thing. Am I way off?

[quote=FightingFat]So they’re challenging the display of Christian symbolism on public property, ergo the topic you are discussiong is secularisation of the USA.
[/quote]

The Ten Commandments are not “Christian symbolism.” They are central tenets to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Their moral precepts (i.e., thou shalt not steal) are central tenets to every major world religion as well as any sensible, nontheistic philosophy.

In what is surely an irony, should these cases appear before the Supreme Court of the United States, both sides will walk past a display of the Ten Commandments on the way into court. They will hear these words spoken before the Supreme Court hears the cases: “The Honorable, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God Save the United States and this Honorable Court!”

There are many ideas at work brought by the plaintiffs of these cases:

  1. No form of religious expression has any place in the public sphere.

  2. The First Amendment prohibits all forms of religious expression in the public sphere.

  3. The U.S. government must be wholly secular.

Not a single one of these ideas is true, and all three are contrary to the intent of the Constitution.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=mlchance]The Ten Commandments are not “Christian symbolism.” They are central tenets to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Their moral precepts (i.e., thou shalt not steal) are central tenets to every major world religion as well as any sensible, nontheistic philosophy.
[/quote]

So you were criticising my post based on semantics. Oh I see!

[quote=FightingFat]I do wonder though, if we ask atheist defendants to swear on the Bible, does that demean the Bible? If their promise is worth nothing?
Also, if we live in a multicultural society, shouldn’t we equally respect other faiths and beliefs? Or just Christian ones?
[/quote]

In the American federal courts, and probably in every state court, witnesses have the option of affirming that they will tell the truth (this does not involve the Bible) rather than swearing on a Bible.

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