What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 31, 2013

News For This Easter

They're still fighting the good fight in Connellsville over the unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument.
The Rev. Ewing Marietta, a leader for the “Save the Ten Commandments” group in Connellsville, called the battle “ground zero” and said it is time to take a stand.

Marietta made the statement during a meeting Wednesday at the Connellsville Eagles.

Marietta said the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the group that filed a lawsuit to have the Ten Commandments monument removed from the grounds of the Connellsville Junior High, is “trying to destroy our country.”
For those few of you not up to speed on this story, there's a decades old monument in at the Connellsville Junior High School.  It was a gift from the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957 and it was a PR tie-in to the Cecil B. DeMille epic, The Ten Commandments.

It's also unconstitutional.  I can't stress that enough.  According to the US Supreme Court in 1980, posting the Ten Commandments on public school grounds "has no secular legislative purpose" and is therefore Unconstitutional.  The decision went on to say that:
The pre-eminent purpose of posting the Ten Commandments, which do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, is plainly religious in nature, and the posting serves no constitutional educational function.
So let's take a look at what the good Reverend has had to say about why the Commandments needs to stay on public school grounds in Connellsville:
“Our liberties cannot be taken away. They are a gift from God,” Marietta said. “The Ten Commandments are the basis of our laws. If we don't teach our children about the Ten Commandments, someday they will ask why they have to follow the laws of God and our nation.”
Each one of those statements has a problem.
  • Liberties are taken away all the time (whether "gifts" from God or not).  Ask anyone who's in jail.  Or in prison.  You can even extend the argument (albeit it's on a much smaller scale) to anyone boarding a plane or a few decades ago anyone drafted into the Armed Forces.
  • According to the Constitution (which fails to mention God at all), the Constitution itself is the Supreme Law of the Land.  If anyone can explain how the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" or the commandment "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images." or any of the others has anything to do with the Separation of Powers, or the First Amendment's prohibition (even at it's most narrowly drawn) of a State Religion, please let me know.
  • It's this last sentence that's the most trouble for the Marietta.  To see why, just flip his argument over: The posting of the Ten Commandments will enable them to understand that they have to follow the laws of God.  How is that possible in a society governed, in part, by this sentence:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Unless he was taken out of context (and there's no reason to think this), the Reverend Ewing Marietta wants the Connellsville school district to impose one particular religious idea onto the entire student body.

This is surprising to me (as I've written before) as his own church's website, on a page titled "What We Believe", in a section describing "Religious Liberty" we read:
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.
The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work.
And yet, this is precisely what Marietta wants.  He's free to preach all he wants about the value of the Commandments but he's not free to use the civil authorities to amplify his message to anyone else.

1 comment:

Paula Johnston OSM/VISTA said...

Love this blog! I live in Connellsville and have met the Reverend and protested against his ideas and have heard him preach--I still shiver and shake. I have my own FB page in support of Church/State separation following this very issue and I have faith in the law. Thanks for witty and insightful commentary!