PERSPECTIVE: Foundational law
Last week the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal by Haskell County to maintain a monument engraved with the Ten Commandments on the courthouse lawn with private funds. This leaves in place the decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared the monument in violation of the establishment clause in the U.S. Constitution. It appears the monument must be removed from county property.
This decision by the Supreme Court leaves much confusion regarding monuments and other items deemed to have religious significance. For example, the state of Texas has been able to leave its copy of the Ten Commandments on its capitol grounds. Confused? You are not alone.
It would seem that anything that has any connection with Judeo-Christian principles and teachings is dangerous to society. It is as if the display of the Ten Commandments is a subversive approach by Christians to convert people to the faith.
The Ten Commandments hung on the wall of my grade school foyer. They were seen as a clear guide to building strong character and giving respect and fair treatment to others. They were posted because the Ten Commandments are implicitly, if not explicitly, a foundation for our American system of law. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe having the commandments on the wall for all to see can be construed as lethal injections of religion.
It would not be surprising for someone soon to suggest that all traces of religious expression be removed from our federal buildings and monuments in Washington D.C. It does not take long when touring our nation’s capital to recognize the workmen would need to deface multiple monuments and buildings to remove references to God and quotes from the Bible.
There seems to be a continued effort to remove every hint of influence and explicit expression of the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation. Certainly government should not ignore or impose religion on people who have a different faith or no faith at all. At the same time, history is what it is. Our nation does have Judeo-Christian roots. Display of religious items in keeping with our history and heritage should not be prohibited.
These kinds of issues will not go away anytime soon. Our culture is daily becoming more hostile and intolerant of anything that hints of the Christian faith. Many would prefer for those of us who hold to faith to remove ourselves from the public arena. They are willing to rewrite the history of our nation if it is required in order to diminish appreciation of the contribution of Judeo-Christian principles and Scriptures. But remember—truth is not erased just, for example, because the president of Iran declares the holocaust did not happen. Neither will the contribution of the Christian faith and the Bible be eradicated from history.
This decision saddens me. Yet the influence of the Ten Commandments will remain foundational—a part of the fabric of American law—whether or not a monument stands on county, state or national property. It behooves us to teach our children of the Judeo-Christian influence on the founding of our nation and its laws.
By the way, God is still on His throne.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.