The month of May found the Ten Commandments in the news again.† I donít think theyíve received such consistent publicity since Moses let his temper get the best of them and destroyed the first set and had to go back up the mountain and request set number two from an extremely irritated Deity.† In fact, when seeing those to whom he was bringing the Commandments praying to a calf, Mosesí act in a fit of pique cost him his opportunity to see the Promised Land.†
Well, the Commandments are back in the news again, as the United States Supreme Court in a six to three vote refused to hear a case involving displaying the Ten Commandments right in front of a city building in Elkhart, Indiana.† By not taking the case, the lower courtís ruling that the display violated the separation of church and state requirement will stand.†
In dissent, Justice Rehnquist somewhat disingenuously in my opinion, attempted to uphold the display of the Ten Commandments, by indicating that the City of Elkhartís display had a secular purpose.† Chief Justice Rehnquist indicated that since the Commandments were being displayed outside the building which houses both the courts and the prosecutors, that this reflected the ďcultural, historical, and legal significance of the Ten Commandments.Ē†
Well, I guess Iíll give him points for being creative, but what a bunch of, I guess Iíll say, bunk.† Justice Stevens, writing for the majority of six Justices, stated that itís hard to argue the secularness of the Commandments, when the first two lines on this monument say, ďThe Ten Commandments Ė I am the Lord thy God.Ē† I agree with Justice Stevens, as this does not sound particularly secular to me.†
I am clearly with the majority on this one.† While I am a fan of the Ten Commandments, and I think that they are the best way I know of to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, they belong in our temples, churches, and ashrams, not in front of any city buildings.† By their very nature, the Ten Commandments cannot help but put forth a point of view that stems from oneís religious god.† No matter how highly I view them, I donít believe they belong in a secular environment.† Something can be good, actually, something can be wonderful, and still not be appropriately placed.† The issue here is not of oneís view of the Ten Commandments, but whether or not one should be forced to view them when taking care of secular business.†
As fond as I am of the Ten Commandments, I do not wish to impose my pro-Commandments view on anyone, and I think that the City of Elkhart took this a little too far.