Unfortunately, Eternal Vigilance Really IS The Price of Liberty…

Louisiana just passed a manifestly unconstitutional law requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms. History really does repeat itself. I’ve addressed similar efforts multiple times over the years.

Here’s one from 1996.

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; 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 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.

And here are a few paragraphs from one in 1997.

A new organization based in Auburn, Indiana, called the “Christian Family Association”  argues that the Supreme Court has consistently misconstrued the First Amendment.
According to the Supreme Court (and generations of historians and legal scholars) the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights prohibits government–and only government–from sponsoring or endorsing religious beliefs. The Free Exercise clause protects religious expression from government interference. While the First Amendment originally applied only to the federal government, the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well.
The Christian Family Association claims that the refusal of government to prioritize Judeo-Christian religious views discriminates against them. In effect, they argue that their right to free exercise is violated unless there is explicit government endorsement of their religious beliefs. Most reasonable people would distinguish between government neutrality in matters of belief and acts of religious discrimination.
Some proponents argue that the Ten Commandments are not religious, but form a part of our general moral framework and should thus be viewed solely as an historic document. The text–as a clergyman friend of mine recently noted–refutes any such reading. “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,” “You shall not make for yourselves an idol…for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,” “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain..,” “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” are not generalized moral tenets.

Given the Hoosier ascendance of Christian Nationalists like Micah Beckwith, Jim Banks and Todd Rokita, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar effort mounted here once again.

There are many more. The battle is never over….


  1. Then I suppose there would be a precedent to post the manifestos of other beliefs; the Five Pillars of Islam, the precepts of Buddhism, the 613 Jewish Mitzvot, or “Festivus for the Rest Of Us”…

  2. Well considering the ten commandments were brought down by Moses, and are the basis of original judeo beliefs, I would say it’s religious, lol! There is no possible way you can construe anything else.

    But when you have a leader who is constantly and blatantly lying about anything and everything, it makes it easier to stand up there and do the same thing.

    Hypocrisy comes from the Greek word meaning theater, a person wearing a mask, a person being something other than themselves. Of course you have fanatics expressing and dealing in fallacy, and whether they truly believe everything they say, goes back to hypocrisy.

    But a hypocrite can acquire many followers, there for, that equates into power. And since the beginning of time, power is extremely alluring, to have authority over your fellow man. It really is not difficult to promote the mob mentality, and it really isn’t difficult to manipulate the dunces into brown shirts. When you are told how the deck is stacked against you, and you never had a chance because you were weak, with strength you can turn the tables. Then you have the inmates running the asylum.

    This persuasive speech that these so-called believers are espousing, is persuasive to those who really aren’t particularly lettered individuals. They are too lazy to do any research for themselves, so they are told what to believe. This is another historical trend. And it always leads to an unfortunate outcome. And yet here we are again!

  3. I listened to an NPR interview about some hack from America First Foundation saying that history and tradition test that the Supreme Court has cooked up two years ago allows this. He couldn’t or wouldn’t really answer the question about how would a non-Christian student feel about seeing these posted. I think the subtext to that answer was who cares and it’s our right because a packed Supreme Court says so and in a very non-Christian way to heck with everyone else.

  4. This one seems very simple to me! When People with Power – including both The U.S. Supreme Court and much of the Republican Party “Establishment” – agree both in part in a core belief system of: “I know what is BEST!” (e.g. for everyone) and: (basically) “I am ENTITLED to force my beliefs upon you”, as well as: “We can get away with this and will keep building our core goals as long as we (basically) succeed” – Why Not?????? The fact that it will help destroy The U.S. – as some of us at least view it – e.g. a partially “democratic” country which has certain core beliefs – is totally irrelevant. To argue with such logic with such people is a waste of time. To reach others – who Affect such outcomes is important! Doing that is the tricky part – and we all have a lot of work to do here!

  5. At a time in human history when we are facing the climate horrors of global warming due to our insatiable consumption of energy we are forced to fight these same constitutional battles all over again. It’s as if conservative Republicans had no solutions to offer in the face of the existential threat facing us, and so they offer up a slew of divisive actions sure to divert attention away from any meaningful reforms that might dip into their wealth. Greed.

  6. Which version would be on the classroom walls? Since the majority of SCOTUS is Catholic, should we assume it will be their version? If it is, will Protestants sue for their version? Maybe the Jewish-Americans will sue for their version.
    Maybe we can have a religious war to decide! The winners could then wage war against the rest of us, who believe in the separation of Church and State and all of the other religions.

    **Do I need to label this as satire?

  7. The moral statements in the Ten Commandments are already captured in our laws as crimes.

    The religious declarations in the Ten Commandments are expressly excluded from our laws because they are faith-based instead of fact-based. All humans have never agreed on a common name for a deity, so there are among us those who are belittled by public statements defining a deity that is not theirs.

    Those facts are typically hidden using a catch-all phrase, the Ten Commandments, rather than reading the Ten Declarations individually.

    This whole kerfluffel is another blatant attempt at theocracy which has the downside of never before being successful as a means of governance.

    If those behind this attempt don’t want effective governance, what do they want?

  8. Theresa,

    You summed it up perfectly here: “It’s as if conservative Republicans had no solutions to offer in the face of the existential threat facing us, and so they offer up a slew of divisive actions sure to divert attention away from any meaningful reforms that might dip into their wealth. Greed.”

    This socio-political scenario has been with humans since, probably, before written language and the recording of history – in some form or another. This constant wrestle with myths and fairy tales underscores the oft-stated thesis that humans have not advanced intellectually for 200,000 years while socially, humans try to squeeze their ancient fears – without a shred of evidence – through the keyhole of their own limitations.

    Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the Vatican came down on the side of our Constitution and told Alito, et. al., that they are absolutely wrong about trying to foist their nonsense on 350 million people?

  9. Pity those whose faith is so weak that the need the government to prop; it up

  10. Peggy, don’t forget the Islamists since they also have a version of the 10 Commandments. 🙂

    The ACLU has already begun filing a lawsuit, among other organizations, challenging this new law. The LA governor didn’t help his cause of keeping this about “morals” and “non-religious” when he said:

    “If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses,” who got the commandments from God, Landry said.

    Aren’t the 10 Commandments part of the Mosaic Laws for the Israelites to follow?

    A King ruled Egypt, so Moses was NOT the “original lawgiver” unless the Governor thinks the bible starts with Moses receiving God’s laws for the Israelites.

    Even for conservative jurists, this silly law should be easily stricken down.

  11. every item that the orgs who want change has filled up the SCOTUS with pet issues.as roberts carefully selects the needed carnage. religion being the top dog as far as petty crap and line item bible memes.taking away any human right and disposing it as some sort of mistake by this goverment. shows how religion wants the world to be. under its dry skin is the elite using this fiasco to undermind granted freedom and minding our own buisness that should be none of theirs. its a power grab. its used social media/news masters and money to thwart the lives of basically the majority of Americans. were keeping a eye and vote out for whats next over govenance. one party leads the maggots and its undeniable move to secure America for its own use. no one person can afford to make this move. after 40 years we have seen the set backs of the working class to now be knelt before some trash god and its big money powered hatred. its like a bad boss who cant get his workers in line,while he (she) continues to abuse the workers constantly while enjoying that 50 foot yacht and a few homes,while their workers never see daylight. while we look to maintain a standard of living middle class or any class, one missed paycheck and its screw me. working for the goal of some sort of lifestyle, now becomes a fight against a book of devils and popes. there is no safety net anymore, and theres no goals to be simply worked for. its a rabid fight of who gets what. and its now being designed this way. free ink has become the ignorants choice of fighting while never reading the cause or why or how they have been conned and left behind. they left themselves behind and now expect someone to wipe their ass. as i tell my fellow blue collars,you will not take me down with you. your lose is guarenteed by trump and his party of wanna be thugs. if that doesnt bring a look, just mention how millions of Americans have died to make your sorry ass free and safe, and how your kicking them to the curb for some so called glory.hypocracy at its deepest to so called defenders of the military. its authortarianism here, if we need a insight, Robet Borosage just landed a punch in the face with this weeks The Nation.
    The plot against America. Its mantions the ill gotten power minds and who you never heard of. and what cabinet they will fill when its turned over my a fanatic little hitler from NYC. getting the maggots to read is probably out of the question,but arming yourselves with names and knowlege is more pwerful.
    its not a fun game speaking in tongues to a bunch of workers intent on shutting down our democracy for a few trinkets. but its my job..thanks for the ammo. your words and ideas keep me imformed and seeing other views. i dont have other avenues like this one.I am not influenced by social medias do not use. im not educated and not of your academia. but i do respect what you have given to others,and what we might have to save together.

  12. Years ago I watched a talk show where Jerry Falwell was the guest. A member of the audience described has painful it was as a Jewish child to be subjected to daily Christian prayers every day in his public school. Not long after that, Falwell leaned back and said with his self-satisfied grin that no child has ever been hurt by prayer in school. What the audience member had describe obviously had not registered at all with Falwell.

  13. Nah, nah nah nah nah! Ha, ha, my version is better than your version!! My virgin is more virgin than your virgin! I’ll bet 20 virgins to your 15 that god likes mine better than yours, anyway! Are they better with butter?
    Pete, what they want is, very simply stated, power; power to make more money, to destroy more resources and make still more money.
    Because their god is not a golden idol, it is a golden coin!

  14. If those commandments are fundamental to our laws….why are people allowed to work on the sabbath? Why is it not illegal to sass your mother? Why is it not illegal to “blaspheme”? ETC?

  15. Why are we spending any time talking/writing about this???

    Our and world leaders are violating many of these daily. Our culture/entertainment make fun of/joyously celebrate breaking of these.

    So who really thinks posting these in schools will make any difference? Students will be looking at their phones instead.

    How about taking energy to working on real CHANGE????

  16. “When I was hungry you posted the 10 Commandments in my classroom and took away my school lunches.”

  17. Posting the Code of Hammurabi would probably be more controversial, and vigorously opposed by banks — effectively prohibiting usury.

    The Code stated maximum annual interest rates of 20% for loans of silver, and 33 1/3% for loans of grain.

  18. “Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden. I’ve got a few more things for you to carry for me while you’re at it.”

  19. “When I was thirsty, you sent me out work in the fields at 110° at minimum wage and took away my breaks.”

  20. I have often wondered, why are Christians so poor at teaching their children about their religion that they want the government to do it for them?

  21. Letter in today’s Boston Globe:

    I have a question for the Louisiana Legislature; the governor of Louisiana, Jeff Landry; and the First Liberty Institute: If you truly believe that the Ten Commandments are the “basis and foundation for the system that America was built upon” (”La. law mandates religious display,” Nation, June 20), then how do you in good conscience justify supporting a man for president who has broken the majority of the Commandments? And how can you condemn a legal system you claim is based on the Commandments for finding him guilty of breaking them? Anxious to see how you justify your stance.

  22. Given the animus I perceive in the current POTUS majority. It is on a pathway to limiting the scope and intent of the 14th and 15th amendments. The straight jacketing of equal protection. Such as allowing states to gerrymander to enforce racial equality in voting rights in one state under 15th amendment. But not under 14th amendment equal protection in another. Or in grounds for interpreting insurrectionist qualifications for the ballot by the states. If they use these machinations to interpret the establishment clause to NOT to have been expanded to the states by the 14th amendment. Then only federal institutions would be subject to bans of religious items. It is possible the aim is to weaken the republic by reducing it to the confederacy that was rejected on the battlefield!

  23. Government officials in congress and courts who try to proselytize their religion over all of Americans are overstepping their roles. They cause turmoil and foster division among Americans intentionally in their attempts to garner more power. The fundamentalists are so set in their beliefs, that many are willing to die for them. For educated, knowing officials to intentionally manipulate that aspect of constituents is wrong and leads to unprogressive loss of freedoms in their lives.
    Religion to many people is traditional and is morphing all the time in democracy. It’s optional in US and can allow people to mature and progress.
    I love the work of Joe Campbell whose life study was comparing myth and religion over many cultures and times. He stated that Judeo/Christian religion is not a western development. Those religions are based on lineage (who begat whom) and then the Christian unbroken line of anointment. These have mid-eastern origins and thoughts. Campbell also stated that the western movement is toward the universal spirit. Many organized religions oppose this movement.
    It seems some of the founding fathers realized these enlighten ways and wanted to allow for this western movement/thought to break the chains of oppression of the past. That why it’s so egregious for these sacerdotal politicians/ officials with their unctuous deceptions. i.e. speaker Johnson, Beckwith, Pence etc.

  24. Jesus gave us free will to decide faithfulness for ourselves, not by force of government or anyone else.

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