Thou Shalt Not Show the Ten Commandments     Study No. 235



t’s hard to say which was the greater miscarriage of justice in the U.S. justice system this week — the federal court order that a granite monument containing the Ten Commandments be removed from the Alabama State Judicial Building, or the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to have anything to do with the case.


On the one hand we have a handful of federal judges ordering Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove the monument from state property because it offended the sensi­tivities of several lawyers, who then filed suit to have it removed. As chief justice, Mr. Moore was within his legal and official rights to install the monument, which bears not only the Ten Commandments but also quotes from the nation’s founding fathers.

Judging by the reaction of Alabama’s outraged citizens — many of whom voted him chief justice based on his stand in another case in which he refused to back down on public display of the Ten Commandments — they feel the federal courts are interfering with their religious freedom. If the lawyers were that easily offended, they say, why couldn’t they just ignore it and look the other way? After all, law-abiding citizens are expected to ignore public displays of nudity, profanity, and every kind of obscenity im­aginable. Why couldn’t the lawyers?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is quite clear: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As former presidential candidate Alan Keyes rightly asked at a rally in support of the chief justice, “If Judge Moore is breaking the law, I’d like to know which law it is. . . . Where, I ask them, is the law that is being broken? Where is the Constitutional provision that is being defied?”

The Tenth Amendment is also explicit: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the states, are reserved to the states respec­tively, or to the people.” Since Congress is expressly forbidden to interfere with citizens’ religious freedom, and has passed no laws forbidding display of the Ten Command­ments, this is clearly a state matter to be decided by the citizens and officials of the state of Alabama.

The heart of the problem, Dr. Keyes noted, is that federal courts are increasingly “imposing a uniform national regime of disbelief and atheism on the people of this country. They are doing exactly what the Constitution of the United States forbids.”

Judging by the majority of recent court decisions, it would be hard to argue with that conclusion.

Which brings us to the second travesty of justice this week, the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case.

Isn’t it ironic that only a few weeks ago the Supreme Court somehow discerned in the U.S. Constitution the legal right for homo­sexuals to commit deviant sexual acts — acts that, incidentally, are the most effective way to spread the AIDS virus and impose a death sentence on one’s sex partner — but the public role of the Ten Command­ments aren’t worthy of their consideration?

What does this say about the priorities of the United States’ judicial system?

It’s especially hypocritical that the Su­preme Court justices would let stand the lower court ruling that the Ten Command­ments display must be removed from the Alabama State Judicial Building, when the east entrance of their own Supreme Court building showcases a massive sculpture of Moses bearing two tablets on which the Ten Commandments are inscribed.

And that’s not all. Moses appears again (holding two tablets) in the south courtroom of their building, and two tablets bearing the Roman numerals 1 through 10 — a clear symbol of the Ten Commandments — are carved onto the oak doors separating the courtroom from the building’s main hallway.

Allusions to, or quotations from the Bible and God, can be found throughout many of Washington’s federal buildings and monu­ments. At some point will we see the day when they are chiseled away and carted off in ignominy?

The founding fathers of the United States were God-fearing, believing men who established the new nation on a biblical foundation. John Adams, a member of the Continental Congress and second president of the United States, said of the U.S. Constitution, that it “was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States and son of the second president, said in 1821 that “the highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Chris­tianity.”

Now we are seeing those bonds between morality, religion, and government officially dissolved by the highest courts in the land. They are increasingly making it clear that God has no place in American public life. “Thou shalt not show the Ten Command­ments,” they have told one American state and its highest judicial official.

Where will these sickening trends — the elevation of perversion and the debasement of God’s Word — lead? Thomas Jefferson gave the answer two centuries ago:

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

If only America’s courts, and its citizens, would heed.

— by Scott Ashley, Good News managing editor.  Reprinted with permission. © 2003 by United Church of God, an International Association, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027.  This article is not to be sold. It is a free educational service in the public interest. Visit the United Church of God on the Internet at     Ω

Note: Here is another commentary on this issue:

The Ten Commandments display was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court building.  There was a good reason for the move.  You can’t post Thou Shalt Not Steal, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, and Thou Shalt Not Lie in a building full of lawyers and politicians without creating a hostile work environment.

                      — Bill O’Reilly, Fox News  Ω