The Giles County School Board of southwestern Virginia will be reissuing posters of the 10 Commandments in all of the county’s schools. This decision comes after parents and locals expressed frustration with the earlier decision to remove the 4-foot tall framed posters.
A member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained to Superintendent Terry Arbogast, who was then advised by the school board attorney to remove the 10 Commandments from all county schools. The 10 Commandments were replaced with the Declaration of Independence. The school board’s decision leaves some questioning whether or not the move was unconstitutional.
What I find the most interesting in this situation is that the document replacing the 10 Commandments—the Declaration of Independence—makes specific references to God as our Creator and the endower of our rights and liberties. If the Freedom From Religion Foundation really wanted to be free from religion, shouldn’t they protest any reference of God?
A very sympathetic view, but wrong one, is that displaying religious documents in a public place implies the government—whether federal, state, or local—is adopting a particular religion. Another misstep is in assuming that removing religious symbolism or documents will keep us free from religion and in accord with the 1st Amendment.
By removing everything religious we do away with the 1st Amendment and adopt only atheism. Atheism is most certainly religious. Atheists not only take on the structures of belief that other religions do, but they also denounce other beliefs not in accord with the way the see the world. They take a particular stance on the cause of the universe, nature, and our purpose, as the definition of religion explains.
Unless a sound case is made for how displaying religious text at the request of the public is the same as the Congress making a law establishing a religion then we will continue to suffer under an atheistic tyranny devoid of any constitutional grounding.
The First Amendment does not say the public will be free of religion. It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” I am well aware that appellate courts and the Supreme Court have ruled differently since, but I don’t understand why. The Giles County School Board was not making a congressional law establishing a religion.
This goes back to the age-old fallacy that our country was to separate church and state. By not establishing a particular religion the government was able to keep the Church from enforcing morality and the government from creating it. From the beginning it was clear that morality must be legislated (we punish people for crimes and prevent them whenever we can), and politics and religion would always be entwined. How could they not? If this was not the case, then there is no moral basis for outlawing slavery or giving women a right to vote. Without a moral basis rooted in religion, the morality-inspired law can change as quickly as the ruling party. The Constitution ensures the free exercise of religion to prevent that moral basis from being eliminated.
John Adams wrote, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is no force of law in public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘thou shall not covet’ and ‘thou shall not steal’ are not commandments of heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”
If we strip religion out of schools and other public places, where do we ground ourselves morally? Our country was founded on principles of freedom. But where did those principles come from? The founders of this country came for religious freedom because they were being snuffed out and ostracized in Europe. The same is happening to us when the 10 Commandments—the least objectionable and most basic all Judeo-Christian ethics—is dismissed by those wishing to free our culture from the religion our Constitution recognizes is our right to exercise freely.