The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of Dr. Bruce Prescott (NorthHaven Member) and two other plaintiffs, asking the court to remove the Ten Commandments Monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The monument was placed there last year, after private donations were used to construct and place it on capitol grounds.
The suit cites that by using state resources, in this instance, land, to house this religious symbol the state is in violation of the establishment clause found in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Therefore, when the government conspires to promote religion, then they stand in violation of the establishment clause.
Proponents cite the monument does not have a religious purpose, but promotes a cultural and historical significance. Really? The Ten Commandments, honored and cherished by billions of Jews and Christians throughout history, has no religious significance? Seriously? The Ten Commandments, found in the sacred text of the Bible, has no religious overtones or purpose? Do the proponents of the monument even read it?
If they did, they would realize they were possibly breaking the first and second commandments, “(1) You shall not have any other gods before me, (2) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that is on earth beneath” (Exodus 20:3,4, NRSV). When people of faith begin to place more emphasis on our monuments rather than making certain our lives reflect biblical teachings, then we are dangerously close to breaking the very words we think we are protecting.
The Ten Commandments Monument does not belong at the Oklahoma State Capitol for several reasons. It clearly violates the First Amendment. In addition, it is extremely religious, with its first two commandments citing the importance of worshipping God and the consequences for not doing so. To say it’s not religious is a violation of another one of the commandments. We should not bear false witness either.
If the Ten Commandments does not belong at the state capitol, then where does it belong? The Ten Commandments belong in the hearts and lives of every believer, making certain they live by their religious convictions without any perversions or interferences from the government. The Ten Commandments are a sacred set of teachings by which Jews and Christians claim as their guiding principles for their faiths. Put the monuments in your synagogues, churches, and homes, but don’t ask the government to endorse them.