In a pair of 5-to-4 rulings, the court said the display of the Ten Commandments in a 22-acre park at the Texas State Capitol was proper, but that the displays of the Commandments in two county courthouses in Kentucky were so overtly religious as to be impermissible.As a purely spiritual matter, I believe that the display of the Ten Commandments on public property may be:
The rulings, the first by the court in a quarter-century on the emotional issue of the proper place of the Commandments in American life, conveyed the message that disputes over such religious displays must be decided case by case, and that the specific facts are all important.
(1) Contrary to God's will;
(2) Destructive of a positive witness for Christ.
The cause to which every Christian is called to be committed--sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection and their power to give new life to all who follow Him--is not something that we are to "farm out" to the government. Each follower of Christ is to embrace this as part of their personal mission.
For we Christians to insist that tax dollars be used in what often is an act of proselytization not only violates constitutional principles, but Biblical ones as well. It smacks of coercion, of using one's status in a community to force our views on others. Scour the Bible from cover to cover and you won't find God ever sanctioning the coercive imposition of our faith on others. In fact, we're called upon to share our faith with compassion, with humility, and with respect for those with whom we differ.
I emphatically disagree with those who feel that these rulings prohibit the free expression of faith in Christ. I'm still saying that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the Ten Commandments are a terrific summary of God's will for the human race.
These rulings, it should be noted, allow for government entities to acknowledge the significance of the Ten Commandments as part of the common heritage of America, as the court apparently felt was true of the display in Texas in favor of which they ruled.
But they disallow the use of public monies and public properties to uphold a specific religious perspective (for example, Jewish or Christian) out of deference to the establishment clause, the provisions of which they deemed violated by the Kentucky displays.
This is why I feel these rulings should be welcomed by Christians. The government entity which today can give preferential treatment to Christians can, quite conceivably, give preference to other religions in the future. Better a society in which all are given equal opportunity for expression than one which sides with a specific religion or sect.
In a free interchange of ideas, devoid of preferential treatment, I am convinced that the Savior Jesus will win people's hearts and wills every time. We Christians don't need coercion to win others to Christ. We have two powerful weapons without governmental endorsement: common sense (because I believe that the Good News of Jesus makes plain sense) and the Holy Spirit (the great, loving persuader of the skeptical).
[For further reading on related topics, you might want to check out:
Trusting What You Can't See
Three Attributes I Hope Always to Be Part of Christians' Sharing of Faith
The Ten Commandments Controversy]
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman, moderate blogger, has linked to this post and provides some other interesting links on the subject.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Althouse, law professor at the University of Wisconsin, evaluates Justice O'Connor's reasons for voting against publicly-sanctioned displays of the Ten Commandments in both cases.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has linked to this post. Thanks, Glenn.
STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Elephant in Exile, a site of which I hadn't previously been aware, linked to this post with a really funny comment. Thanks!
HAVE ANOTHER UPDATE: Cafe Oregano, one of the best names for a blog around, also links to this post. Thanks!
ONE MORE: Instafilter has also linked to this piece as part of a general round-up of Supreme Court ruling analyses, reporting, and ranting. Thank you!
HERE'S ANOTHER: Balloon Juice links to this piece and declares, "the sweet and tasty savor of sanity." Just as a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut, I guess a preacher periodically says something that makes sense to people. Thanks for the link!
I CAN'T FORGET CHIP: Chip Taylor links to this piece and adds an interesting observation.
CHECK THIS ONE OUT: Short Attention Span links to this piece amid a really good analytical post on the rulings.