I suppose it was only a matter of time until Indiana became embroiled in one of the more recent church-state controversies: the movement to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of courtrooms and government buildings throughout the country.
I suppose it was only a matter of time until Indiana became embroiled in one of the more recent church-state controversies: the movement to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of courtrooms and government buildings throughout the country. It began in Alabama with a judge who defied clear Supreme Court rulings (nothing like a judge who decides that in his courtroom, laws he doesn’t like just won’t be followed). The governor of Alabama has taken an Orville Faubus approach to two Federal Court rulings requiring the judge to follow the law and remove the Commandments, and a few months ago there was a memorable rally in favor of the judge’s position which was enlivened by the presence of several hundred "bikers for Christ."
Here in Indiana, the Hendricks County and Grant County Commissioners have voted to post the Commandments in their respective county courthouses. The officials are clearly aware that their actions are illegal, since the Resolution passed by each of them begins with a defiant declaration that the Supreme Court is wrong about separation of church and state.
Proponents of posting the Commandments offer a number of reasons: America needs to return to God; the Commandments aren’t really religious, but moral (no conflict between those positions!); and separation of church and state isn’t really in the Bill of Rights, but was invented by the satanic ACLU. Easily the most straightforward explanation was the one offered by J.D.Clampitt ( I am not making his name up), a Hendricks County Commissioner. "When Christians were in the minority," Mr. Clampitt explained, "we were thrown to the lions. Now that we are the majority, it is time for us to be the lions."
Mr. Clampitt makes explicit what most other members of the religious political extreme would deny: that the persistent attempts to eviscerate the First Amendment are part and parcel of an agenda that is far more menacing than the right wing’s most lurid fabrications about the "gay agenda."
Of course, a gay agenda does exist, just as a religious right agenda does. It may be instructive to compare them.
Gays want the right to be treated like everyone else. Gays and Lesbians want their job security to depend upon job performance rather than sexual identity; they want to marry and establish families that are recognized by government as such. They want to file taxes and receive government benefits on the same basis as everybody else.
The political religious extremists, however, want to be treated UNequally. Ironically, they are the ones demanding "special rights"– the right to have their beliefs endorsed by government, to have their religious tenets imposed by law (one need look no further than their insistence that their position on abortion and their disapproval of homosexuality be the law of the land). In Orwell’s famous phrase, they want to be "more equal" than others.
They want–as Clampitt readily admitted–to be the lions.