From today's Trib:
The Connellsville area community continues to rally in support of keeping the Ten Commandments monument on property located at Connellsville Junior High School.Of course not one mention of the millions Trib-owner Richard Mellon Scaife's given to the Heritage Foundation.
The Values Bus, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, will be rolling into Uniontown and Connellsville this weekend as part of the Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote 2012 Tour.
On Saturday, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., a Citizen’s Forum will be held at Liberty Baptist Church on 183 Oliver Road in Uniontown.
The forum will feature a question and answer session. Genevieve Wood of The Heritage Foundation and Bob Morrison of the Family Research Council, as well as local elected officials, will speak.
I want to go in a slightly different direction on this blog post. USUALLY I just quote the thirty year old Supreme Court decision and let it go at that. But this time, let's look at what the monument's supporters are actually saying - what they actually want.
Let's start here:
Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, has been leading community support to keep the monument on school property.I found this curious. Because when I checked out the Liberty Baptist Church's website, I found this (on a page tagged "What We Believe"):
He and local businessman Gary Colatch have organized several prayer meetings and have set up an account to accept funds to fight legal action and to erect a few more Ten Commandments monuments throughout the city. They also have organized the making of Ten Commandments yard signs and T-shirts for sale.
“The Family Research Council already hits on a lot of the subjects that we’re dealing with, and when they heard about our situation, they said they wanted to get involved,” Marietta said. “Their stance on the issue is that the Ten Commandments are the basis of all our laws, and they’ve dealt with some of the same issues before.”
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power. [Emphases added.]And yet they're looking to the "civil power" to instruct those public school students the proper way to view God. The fact that the numbering and the text of the monument more closely matches the Catholic "version" of the Decalogue is evidence, in fact, that indeed one ecclesiastical group is being favored by the state.
Even if it weren't paraphrasing the Roman Catholic Catechism, it would still be favoring religion over non-religion.
And that's still unconstitutional.
Let me end with a full throated defense of real religious liberty:
We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.Posting the Ten Commandments at a public high school in order to make sure that all the students there are exposed to a particular religious idea is hardly neutral.
At the same time that our Constitution prohibits state establishment of religion, it protects the free exercise of all religions. And walking this fine line requires government to be strictly neutral.
Know who made that full throated defense of government neutrality regarding faith? Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America.