Separation of Church and State May be on the Line

 

The State of Louisiana, with the help of a Republican majority legislature, is in the process of approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in K-12 and public college classrooms. As often happens, critics are claiming that this action violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution:

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law ‘respecting an establishment of religion.’ This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

For many years, anti-religion critics have said that actions like this one from Louisiana represent the establishment of religion. The fact is, nothing related to posting the Ten Commandments warrants this label. The governor has explained why the posting should be acceptable in schools:

GOP state Sen. Jay Morris said Tuesday that ‘the purpose is not solely religious to have the Ten Commandments displayed in our schools, but rather its historical significance.’ He went on to say that the Ten Commandments is ‘simply one of many documents that display the history of our country and the foundation for our legal system.’

The law also ‘authorizes’ — but does not require — the display of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance in K-12 public schools.

One lawmaker stated that there were many more “historical documents” that could have been used. But his comment misses the point that the Ten Commandments are one of the most significant documents in the founding of our country. The sponsor of the bill, Dodie Horton, explained her proposal this way:

‘This is not preaching a Christian religion. It’s not preaching any religion. It’s teaching a moral code,’ Horton said during a committee hearing in April. Last year, the lawmaker sponsored another law that requires all schools to display the national motto ‘In God We Trust’ in public classrooms.

Our religious heritage is represented in several places in our nation’s Capitol, including “In God We Trust,” which is displayed prominently in the House of Representatives and Senate Chambers.

In 1980, there was a similar case from Kentucky at the Supreme Court, Stone v. Graham. For this case, the Lemon test was applied:

In Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the Supreme Court held that (a) a ‘statute must have a secular legislative purpose’; (b) ‘its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion’; and (c) the statute cannot promote ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion.’ If any of the points are violated, the statute must be ruled unconstitutional.

More recently, however, the Supreme Court decided that a Washington state school violated the First Amendment rights of their football coach, Joe Kennedy, when he recited prayers at games. Justice Gorsuch made the following statement:

‘Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic – whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head,’ Gorsuch wrote.

Effectively, the Lemon test has been put aside. With the results of the Kennedy case, future SCOTUS cases may have the following outcomes:

So, in the future, the Court will consider whether the Framers of the Constitution would have regarded the state actions as an establishment of religion.

Now, with the Lemon test officially rejected, it’s fair to ask whether, under this alternative test based on ‘historical practices and understandings,’ a state could require a culturally and historically significant document, like the Ten Commandments, to be posted in public school classrooms.

I am especially encouraged to think that Louisiana’s action will inspire a movement to clarify “separation of church and state,” once and for all. Also, please note this statement: It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion. Do you think the secular atheists have gone too far?

If Governor Morris signs this law, it will be a victory for freedom.

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  1. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    The country began its steep descent into immorality beginning with prohibitions against The Ten Commandments, as well as harsh dictates against Christmas and Easter celebrations in public schools in what used to be considered a moral and Christian nation.

    The hypocrisy of the latter prohibitions has been in full display here in Calif, where no one in the SF Bay area can sing “Silent Night” at a holiday pageant, unless said child is  a student inside a large hispanic school district. Then the school district actually pays for the Christmas trees and other celebratory items, as “these are part of the Catholic culture of the school children.”

    The same newspapers that urged the public to give up the right to celebrate Christmas then publish stories about how wonderful it is that the latino population is so loyal to traditional Christmas traditions! (Can’t we ever have consistency?)

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    The country began its steep descent into immorality beginning with prohibitions against The Ten Commandments, as well as harsh dictates against Christmas and Easter celebrations in public schools in what used to be considered a moral and Christian nation.

    The hypocrisy of the latter prohibitions has been in full display here in Calif, where no one in the SF Bay area can sing “Silent Night” at a holiday pageant, unless said child is a student inside a large hispanic school district. Then the school district actually pays for the Christmas trees and other celebratory items, as “these are part of the Catholic culture of the school children.”

    The same newspapers that urged the public to give up the right to celebrate Christmas then publish stories about how wonderful it is that the latino population is so loyal to traditional Christmas traditions! (Can’t we ever have consistency?)

     we ever have consistency?)

    My guess? Not in CA.

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    The problem the courts have not yet definitively recognized is that material secularism is also a religion. So when you tear down and prohibit the state from “religious acknowledgement” you are “establishing” a replacement — material secularism. It isn’t immediately obvious because the working assumption is that eventually material secularism will explain everything. It is only within the last couple of decades that the progress toward “solution” has actually identified stranger and stranger phenomena in the structure of the cosmos. That means at the base of material secularism is more “faith” than previously thought — hence a religion.  The current Court seems to have caught the scent and is trying to craft more neutrality than the past supremacy of material secularism.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    The current Court seems to have caught the scent and is trying to craft more neutrality than the past supremacy of material secularism.

    It’s clear that we’ve all been victimized by the secular materialists, who have been violating the Establishment clause. I don’t know that we can convince them that material secularism is a religion, but instead, they have been preferring non-religion over religion. I mentioned this in the OP. That’s why I hope they move forward in Louisiana, and establish once and for all that this display is appropriate. And it certainly is not an effort to establish a state religion.

    • #4
  5. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Just to be clear, the separation of church and state establishment clause is NOT on the line as there is no proposal to establish an official religion for Louisiana, right?  

    I am concerned about the anti-Christian 6 stripe rainbow flag in some schools.   I do believe that symbols that are specific against a particular religion are illegal. 

     

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    Just to be clear, the separation of church and state establishment clause is NOT on the line as there is no proposal to establish an official religion for Louisiana, right?

    I am concerned about the anti-Christian 6 stripe rainbow flag in some schools. I do believe that symbols that are specific against a particular religion are illegal.

    By “on the line,” I mean the correct understanding is emerging and the faulty one is dying. So you are right, and I’ve highlighted your sentence which reflects it. For too long we’ve allowed others to act against religion. I hope we’ve got momentum to stop that.

    • #6
  7. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    the left has been after the 10 commandments for the last 100 years as it underpins Western Civilization. 

    think about it – they attacked G*d throughout that time.

    they attacked honoring the parent in the 60s

    they attacked marriage in the 70s (coveting they neighbors wife)

    Now in California and other blue states, thou shall not steal is getting attacked (if it is under $1,000.00) 

     

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    the left has been after the 10 commandments for the last 100 years as it underpins Western Civilization.

    think about it – they attacked G*d throughout that time.

    they attacked honoring the parent in the 60s

    they attacked marriage in the 70s (coveting they neighbors wife)

    Now in California and other blue states, thou shall not steal is getting attacked (if it is under $1,000.00)

     

    All good points, Glenn. They are relentless!

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    This is a little off-topic, but I’d love to see one state declare, in one fell swoop, that henceforth, all public schools will become private schools, and a voucher system will be used for funding.  This would eliminate the public vs. private debate, and maybe, just maybe, get rid of teachers’ unions . . .

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Stad (View Comment):

    This is a little off-topic, but I’d love to see one state declare, in one fell swoop, that henceforth, all public schools will become private schools, and a voucher system will be used for funding. This would eliminate the public vs. private debate, and maybe, just maybe, get rid of teachers’ unions . . .

    Wouldn’t that be glorious?!

    • #10
  11. Chuck Coolidge
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    This is a little off-topic, but I’d love to see one state declare, in one fell swoop, that henceforth, all public schools will become private schools, and a voucher system will be used for funding. This would eliminate the public vs. private debate, and maybe, just maybe, get rid of teachers’ unions . . .

    Wouldn’t that be glorious?!

    Probably not true – I never checked – but in Florida, about 1970, I was told by a public school administrator that more kids were in private schools than public.  I suppose it might have been true in some counties…

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Chuck (View Comment):
    Probably not true – I never checked – but in Florida, about 1970, I was told by a public school administrator that more kids were in private schools than public.  I suppose it might have been true in some counties…

    Can’t believe that’s possible. That sounds like propaganda to me.

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Leftist ideology is a religion. A false religion, like any false belief, cannot tolerate any other. Hmm, isn’t that familiar.

    • #13
  14. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    It is endlessly fascinating how religious people so often clamor for the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.  You’d think that they would be more careful.  Someday, some other religion will demand to replace the sponsorship with their brand of religion, and you may not like that version one bit.  

    Do you really want Michigan to start subsidizing minarets?

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Skyler (View Comment):
    It is endlessly fascinating how religious people so often clamor for the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    No one asked the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Someday, some other religion will demand to replace the sponsorship with their brand of religion, and you may not like that version one bit.  

    Oh well.

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Susan Quinn:

    The State of Louisiana, with the help of a Republican majority legislature, is in the process of approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in K-12 and public college classrooms.

     

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    No one asked the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    Very first sentence, Susan.  Your very first sentence.

    Followed by a lot of unpersuasive denials that this first sentence says what it says.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    The State of Louisiana, with the help of a Republican majority legislature, is in the process of approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in K-12 and public college classrooms.

     

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    No one asked the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    Very first sentence, Susan. Your very first sentence.

    Followed by a lot of unpersuasive denials that this first sentence says what it says.

    I see you’re in the mood for an argument. Don’t put words in my mouth. Putting up a poster is not sponsoring a religion. What if they put up a picture of a Buddha? Is that sponsoring Buddhism? 

    • #17
  18. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    The State of Louisiana, with the help of a Republican majority legislature, is in the process of approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in K-12 and public college classrooms.

     

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    No one asked the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    Very first sentence, Susan. Your very first sentence.

    Followed by a lot of unpersuasive denials that this first sentence says what it says.

    I see you’re in the mood for an argument. Don’t put words in my mouth. Putting up a poster is not sponsoring a religion. What if they put up a picture of a Buddha? Is that sponsoring Buddhism?

    I didn’t put words in your mouth.  I quoted you.

    Yes, it would be.  Putting up a poster is indeed sponsoring a religion.  You can’t get just a little pregnant.  I’m as much against the Ten Commandments as I am Buddhas and minarets, or anything even more distasteful.  

    Remember the city that was forced to allow the local busy bodies put up satanic goat-devils because they had a nativity?  That’s what you’d eventually get.  Someday when your religion gets disfavored, you’ll have to put up with that.  That’s how it works.  But if you support freedom of religion, that requires that your government stay out of religion.  

    • #18
  19. Chuck Coolidge
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    The State of Louisiana, with the help of a Republican majority legislature, is in the process of approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in K-12 and public college classrooms.

     

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    No one asked the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    Very first sentence, Susan. Your very first sentence.

    Followed by a lot of unpersuasive denials that this first sentence says what it says.

    I see you’re in the mood for an argument. Don’t put words in my mouth. Putting up a poster is not sponsoring a religion. What if they put up a picture of a Buddha? Is that sponsoring Buddhism?

    I didn’t put words in your mouth. I quoted you.

    Yes, it would be. Putting up a poster is indeed sponsoring a religion. You can’t get just a little pregnant. I’m as much against the Ten Commandments as I am Buddhas and minarets, or anything even more distasteful.

    Remember the city that was forced to allow the local busy bodies put up satanic goat-devils because they had a nativity? That’s what you’d eventually get. Someday when your religion gets disfavored, you’ll have to put up with that. That’s how it works. But if you support freedom of religion, that requires that your government stay out of religion.

    Paraphrasing a former Pastor of mine (because I can no longer exactly quote him), I have no problem with satanic goat-devils, or Buddhas, or minarets, or the Ten Commandments, because I know the One that is going to win.

    • #19
  20. Jim Kearney Member
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Whatever the Islamic eqivalent of the 10 Commandments is, would you want it posted in all the public schools of Michigan should Moslems attain a majority of that state’s population?

    I say no to both. And to “woke” crap in the schools, too.

    Surely conservatives must realize that the present composition of the Supreme Court will not last forever.

    How soon will it be reversed is partly up to conservatives. Try to slip laws like this past the goalies and you will accelerate the urgency of the not only the Left, but also liberals, moderates, and pro-choice conservatives, too, for replacing the present majority on social issues.

    SCOTUS nomination hearings in the Senate are about to evolve from absurdist, tabloid farce into meaningful high stakes drama.

    Ever wonder if the Big Dodger in the Sky doesn’t have a rooting interest in these earthly skirmishes after all? Maybe She’s thinking “leave Me out of this!”

     

    • #20
  21. Jim Kearney Member
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Way to go Louisiana, make “Christian Nationalism” a legitimate issue in a national election year.

    Political smarts, couyon style.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    Way to go Louisiana, make “Christian Nationalism” a legitimate issue in a national election year.

    Political smarts, couyon style.

    You sound like a nervous Republican, afraid of offending the Left. If you read the OP, you know the move is grounded in our history. Did you read all the places that show examples of our Judeo-Christian background? Show me examples in the US for any other religion. I’m tired of worrying about offending people.

    • #22
  23. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Skyler (View Comment):

    It is endlessly fascinating how religious people so often clamor for the government to sponsor their religious beliefs. You’d think that they would be more careful. Someday, some other religion will demand to replace the sponsorship with their brand of religion, and you may not like that version one bit.

    Do you really want Michigan to start subsidizing minarets?

    Shoot, most states already sponsor the LGBTEIEIO religion and the rest worship Gaia. 

    The 10 commandments is positively tame (not to mention more profound) compared to that. 

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    It is endlessly fascinating how religious people so often clamor for the government to sponsor their religious beliefs. You’d think that they would be more careful. Someday, some other religion will demand to replace the sponsorship with their brand of religion, and you may not like that version one bit.

    Do you really want Michigan to start subsidizing minarets?

    Shoot, most states already sponsor the LGBTEIEIO religion and the rest worship Gaia.

    The 10 commandments is positively tame (not to mention more profound) compared to that.

    Thanks, Instugator.

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    The State of Louisiana, with the help of a Republican majority legislature, is in the process of approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in K-12 and public college classrooms.

     

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    No one asked the government to sponsor their religious beliefs.

    Very first sentence, Susan. Your very first sentence.

    Followed by a lot of unpersuasive denials that this first sentence says what it says.

    I see you’re in the mood for an argument. Don’t put words in my mouth. Putting up a poster is not sponsoring a religion. What if they put up a picture of a Buddha? Is that sponsoring Buddhism?

    I didn’t put words in your mouth. I quoted you.

    Yes, it would be. Putting up a poster is indeed sponsoring a religion. You can’t get just a little pregnant. I’m as much against the Ten Commandments as I am Buddhas and minarets, or anything even more distasteful.

    Remember the city that was forced to allow the local busy bodies put up satanic goat-devils because they had a nativity? That’s what you’d eventually get. Someday when your religion gets disfavored, you’ll have to put up with that. That’s how it works. But if you support freedom of religion, that requires that your government stay out of religion.

    I agree with you on the policy issue, but oppose you on the constitutional issue.  Posting the teachings of one religion can be done without getting the government involved in an establishment of religion.  Separation of church and state does not mean religion can or should be separated from politics.  

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    If Louisiana schools are going to have the ten commandments posted on classroom walls, the least they could do is get the numbering system right. 

    • #26
  27. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    It is endlessly fascinating how religious people so often clamor for the government to sponsor their religious beliefs. You’d think that they would be more careful. Someday, some other religion will demand to replace the sponsorship with their brand of religion, and you may not like that version one bit.

    Do you really want Michigan to start subsidizing minarets?

    Shoot, most states already sponsor the LGBTEIEIO religion and the rest worship Gaia.

    The 10 commandments is positively tame (not to mention more profound) compared to that.

    That’s a really good point.  That religion ought to be unsupported as well.  The government is into way too much of our lives.

    • #27
  28. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I agree with you on the policy issue, but oppose you on the constitutional issue.  Posting the teachings of one religion can be done without getting the government involved in an establishment of religion.  Separation of church and state does not mean religion can or should be separated from politics.  

    Well, it is Louisiana and they’ve recently taken to wearing shoes.  Counting is a challenge because they have to use one finger to point at the other nine.  :)  

    • #28
  29. Chuck Coolidge
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    If Louisiana schools are going to have the ten commandments posted on classroom walls, the least they could do is get the numbering system right.

    Nine?

    • #29
  30. Michael G. Gallagher Coolidge
    Michael G. Gallagher
    @MichaelGallagher

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Leftist ideology is a religion. A false religion, like any false belief, cannot tolerate any other. Hmm, isn’t that familiar.

    Dear@barfly,

    I suggest you recheck your history. Christian sects have often behaved badly toward each other. Look what the Catholic Church did to the Cathars in the 1100s, and what French Catholics did to their Protestant Huguenots compatriots in the 17th century. John Calvin’s Geneva wasn’t very tolerant of dissent, either. And then there’s the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) which had more than one massacre by Catholics or Protestants against each other. In England, in 1688, the Catholic King James II was kicked off his throne in large part because his queen unexpectedly gave birth to a son, which meant the next King of England would have been a Catholic.

    In 17th century colonial Virginia, the dominant mainline Chruch of England types drove Quakers and Puritans out of the colony. This intolerance helped cement slavery in the colony, with had most unfortunate results farther up the timeline in 1861.

    Now which Christian sect was more Christian than the others?

    • #30
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