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The Ten Commandments Can Stay On Public Lands!

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To the chagrin of some, the SCOTUS got one right. The Ten Commandments can remain on public properties. They do not inhibit anyone from worshipping as they please. Nor do they comprise a special privilege for those who embrace Christianity. These monuments and plaques simply provide a record of this countrys legislative history. Unfortunately, they are becoming more and more quaint to some. (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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Tis funny, they can't be on a courthouse, but they can be placed ona Capital/Capitol Building. What ever happened to Jefferson and the Doctrine for Religious Freedom and Seperation of Church and State? Looks like the Supreme Court is contradicting itself.

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The Ten Commandments can remain on public properties.


In some cases, depending on what other symbols are on display. See:




The headline and subheadline of that article are:


"Split rulings on Ten Commandments displays


"Supreme Court: Courthouse exhibits crossed line, but outdoor tablet OK"


I have not been able to find a copy of the actual decision online yet, but based on the article, it appears the Supreme Court (or more precisely, the swing voter, Justice O'Connor) has in effect established a "test" whereby displays of the Ten Commandments will be looked at on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the nature and setting of the particular display goes so far as to "endorse religion." If it does, the display is unconstitutional. In other words, they can be displayed if their religious significance is covered up under a bunch of other displays that are of a historical, non-religious origin. Or, as Rooster states (correctly, in the case of the Texas display that was ruled constitutional):


These monuments and plaques simply provide a record of this countrys legislative history.


However, I have to wonder whether someone who is a deeply devout believer in the divine origins of the Ten Commandments would see that as a victory. My observation of this issue over the years has been that most people who want the Ten Commandments placed in public buildings want them there precisely because of their religious significance. But now the Supreme Court is saying that, if the context indicates that they are there because of their religious significance, it is unconstitutional. This may be an instance of "be careful what you wish for, you might get it."


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And to the chagrin of others, the population of nonbelivers continues to grow in the US, in spite of heavy-handed efforts by him and his ilk to have the government push his religious views.


And if the shift in public sentiment regarding religion happens to go all the way to the government erecting stone monuments quoting Thomas Paine when he said "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church", there will be no recourse, as Paine certainly had an influence on this country's founding, and that's obviously the intent behind erecting such stone monuments, right? (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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So, perhaps our public schools should then follow the advice of your Thomas Paine...


Thomas Paine on "The Study of God"

Delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, in a

Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists


"It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.


When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . .


The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal."



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Semper, I hesitate to participate in turning this thread into a debate over the beliefs of Thomas Paine, but if you are going to quote that part of his essay/speech, it might also be relevant that the same piece contains the following:


"The Universe is the bible of a true Theophilanthropist. It is there that he reads of God. It is there that the proofs of his existence are to be sought and to be found. As to written or printed books, by whatever name they are called, they are the works of man's hands, and carry no evidence in themselves that God is the author of any of them. It must be in something that man could not make that we must seek evidence for our belief, and that something is the universe, the true Bible, -- the inimitable work of God."


As indicated by this passage, Paine did not believe in any version of the Bible, which would suggest (to get back to the actual subject of the thread) that he did not believe that the Ten Commandments were the Word of God either. The entire piece, with some commentary, can be found at:




And to directly answer your question, if a public school had a course or unit in comparative religion or comparative philosophy, I don't think there would be anything unconstitutional in including ALL of Paine's "Discourse..." I emphasize all, because of the impact of "selective editing" (which we have just seen.)

Paine was a Deist. His references to God as an "Author" are not accidental. He believed in a creator-God as opposed to a controller-God, a "personal" God, a God that writes Bibles or a God that judges humankind. Including his work in a public school course that also included other beliefs would show students that a person can believe in God without believing in organized religion and many of the things that go along with it, including the Bible. It would be a useful thing for students to know, because I don't think most of them learn it at home or in their place of worship.

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Actually, the SCOTUS really muddled things up. Not allowed on courthouses except when it's historic???? But allowed on other government buildings???


Sounds like the SCOTUS doesn't want to remove the fresco in their chambers! That's a good thing regardless of the reason!


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Yeah you are correct! I'm not a very artsy guy! But still, there is more open for interpretation than their was before!


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10 (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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So...is the term 'ilk' intended to insult the person to whom it is applied? If I referred to someone as Jewish or Christian ilk (assuming that they actually are Jewish or Christian), would that person likely be offended? What about KKK or nazi ilk? Or in the baseball context, Yankee or Braves ilk? Knowing the context of its use, this often seems to be the case. But I think the insult is in the context and not the term. Am I wrong?

Wait a minute...do the Braves still play baseball? ;)

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I think the Supreme Court got this one right. Think about it. The arguments for and against (at least by sane people) was that religion should not be promoted by the US Government (con) but also that the ten commandments are part of our Judeo-Christian heritage and the basis of our laws (pro). So the crux of the decision is that display by the "state" as a historical reference is okay, as a religious symbol is not.

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I think the reasoning in the decison was a carefully crafted compromise which will mollify both sides but satisfy no one.


However, this particular monument was a poor choice for the SCOTUS case, IMHO, and was lucky to be grandfathered. It is one of only two of 17 monuments on the grounds of the Capitol that have nothing directly to do with Texas history, and the ONLY one that has nothing to do with US history. I think it was a shaky argument. FYI, the others are:


Heroes of the Alamo,

Confederate Soldiers,

Hood's Texas Brigade,

Spanish-American Texas soldiers,

36th Texas Infantry,

WWI Texas military,

Pearl Harbor Texas military,

Korean War Texas military,

Texas Rangers (not the BB team),

Texas pioneer women,

Texas children,

Texas police,

disabled Texas veterans,

Texas cowboys (not the FB team),

Texas volunteer firemen,

Statue of Liberty (erected by Boy Scouts in 1951),

the Ten Commandments.

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