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 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS: YEAR 2001

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Read about events from the year 2000 or 2002

During 2001-AUG, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court had a 5,280 pound granite installed in the Justice building. Subsequent developments are covered in a separate essay

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Legal challenges and court decisions:

bullet 2001-JAN-2: Kentucky: Harlan County reposts the Ten Commandments: According to DayWatch: The Harlan County Board of Education reposted the Ten Commandments, as one element in a mosaic of historical documents. The displays will be posted in the school district's administrative offices, and in each of the 14 schools. 1
bullet 2001-MAY-14: Oregon: Senate rejects Ten Commandments bill: According to ReligionToday: The Oregon senate defeated a bill by a vote of 16 to 14. They would have given public schools the option of posting the Ten Commandments along side the U.S. Constitution and similar documents. Both the legislative counsel and the Attorney General had pronounced the bill unconstitutional. Voting appears to have gone largely along party lines. "Backers of the measure said the right to display the commandments is an issue of religious freedom and that Christianity is inseparable from the fabric of American history and culture." Some comments:
bullet Sen. Charles Starr (R) said: "I donít deny that itís a religious document. At the same time we can all see that it played a large part in our countryís founding."
bullet Sen. Frank Shields (D) is a Methodist minister. He said: "I believe that they are the divinely inspired word of God. I can't vote for this because we are in the middle of a pluralistic society.
bullet Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R) felt that the bill was constitutional because the displays had a "legitimate secular purpose." It would teach students ethics. He continued: "In the 21st century we need all the help we can get.
bullet Sen. Rick Metsger (D) commented: "Values will never be taught by displaying them on the wall of some government building."
bullet The Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, an association of 17 Christian denominations, had urged lawmakers not to pass the bill. 
bullet Sen. Verne Duncan, (R) said: "I think itís going to create more chaos." 2
bullet 2001-MAY-29: Indiana: U.S. Supreme Court allows ruling against Decalogue to stand:  The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the City of Elkhart. This means that the decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals stands. The granite monument must go. In the words of the American Atheists, this decision "...has unleashed a new wave of legal challenges across the country for civil liberties and separationist organizations, who now want the religious monuments taken down from government plazas,  buildings and other public venues.  The Commandments belong in churches, private homes ...  anyplace other than the tax-supported public square."
bullet 2001-JUL-19: North Carolina: State Senate approved a Ten Commandments bill: The North Carolina senate passed a bill that allows public schools to post the Ten Commandments in the classroom, as part of a larger cultural display. The vote was 94 to 18. An amendment to the bill added the Justinian Code, the Magna Carta and the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence as examples of documents that could be displayed beside the Ten Commandments. The bill is problematic for a number of reasons: The Mecklenburg Declaration may be a hoax; no original copy survives. Also, by only including only one religious document, schools would be promoting Judeo-Christianity as superior to other religions. That would be a violation of the principle of separation of church and state. The House approved the bill later, on JUL-26, by a wide margin.
bullet Representative Paul Luebke, (D-Durham) commented: "This is like apple pie. Very few people want to vote against apple pie rather than explain that the apple pie is actually sour...This [bill] is not constitutional."
bullet Representative  Bob Hensley (D-Raleigh) noted that the bill is increasingly inappropriate in a state which has encouraged diversity by promoting high-tech industries and its educational system.  One of the Commandments declares, "You shall have no other gods before me." He said that his Hindu friends worship multiple gods. "When you say you can't bow to them and serve them, that doesn't bother me, but it does bother a lot of our citizens"
bullet Representative Art Pope (R-Wake) said:  "We are a nation of liberty. But that doesn't mean we disavow or cannot acknowledge God." 3
bullet 2001-AUG-1: Alabama: Chief Justice unveils 10 Commandments monument: Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court had a 5,280 pound granite monument installed in the Alabama Supreme Court building. It displays two tablets with the Decalogue (10 Commandments) engraved on them. 4More details
bullet 2001-AUG-3: Arizona: ACLU seeking removal of Decalogue monument: The Arizona Civil Liberties Union is proposing a bill at the Arizona legislature that would remove the Decalogue monument in the Wesley Bolin Plaza, which is located across the street from the state Capitol building in Phoenix. If that is unsuccessful, the ACLU will initiate a lawsuit to force removal of the monument. Ann Sophy, ACLU spokesperson, said: "I would never try to predict what the courts would say. All I know is that when it comes to the Ten Commandments on state property, the majority has been in our favor." 5
bullet 2001-AUG-3: Colorado: City officials posting disclaimer: City officials in Grand Junction, CO added a disclaimer to a Decalogue monument outside the City Hall. It informs people that the display "is not meant to endorse any particular style of religious belief." They hope that this may ward off any attempts in the court to have the monument removed. Monty Gaither of American Atheists feels that the disclaimer is insufficient. He wants the 6-foot high granite marker removed. It was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1964. 5
bullet 2001-AUG-23: USA: House bill to legalize display of Ten Commandments: Representative Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL) is allegedly planning to re-introduce a bill "Ten Commandments Defense Act" in early September. It would allow the posting of the Ten Commandments in all public buildings. It would also bar citizens from raising lawsuits to challenge the religious displays. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United said: "I've got a commandment for Bob Aderholt: Thou shalt not play politics with religion. The Ten Commandments have done pretty well for themselves for centuries; they don't need help from members of Congress. Perhaps if politicians started following the Commandments, and stopped using them for crass political purposes, we'd be better off....The Aderholt scheme is indefensible. It should be quickly rejected by anyone who takes the Constitution seriously." Aderholt had unsuccessfully tried to pass an earlier version of this bill in 1998. 6
bullet 2001-SEP-25: Georgia: Municipal government in Ringgold posts Decalogue: In a move that is bound to offend non-Judeo-Christians, the town of Ringgold has posted the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and an empty picture frame. Councilman Bill McMillon explained that the blank frame "is for those who believe in nothing." He hopes that the display will bring back "good Christian values.'' He is not concerned about offending non-Christians "because we don't have any of them here.'' The measure passed the town council unanimously. 7
bullet 2001-NOV-8: Kentucky: ACLU is suing three Kentucky counties: The American Civil Liberties Union is suing three counties in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The counties have placed historical displays on their courthouse walls. They consist of the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower Compact, and the national motto "In God We Trust." Liberty Counsel is defending the counties. The courts have already declared the displays unconstitutional. 8
bullet 2001-NOV-20: Tennessee: County rejects display of Ten Commandments: After Williamson County Attorney Jeff Moseley said "There is no doubt in my mind that the posting of the Ten Commandments in a school or public courthouse is unconstitutional," county commissioners voted against the proposal 16 to 3; four abstained. Commissioner Peggy Romano had proposed a motion that called on ''the God in Heaven to preserve the peace ... extended to us by our ancient acknowledgment of the Ten Commandments.'' She said: "I don't think it's promoting one religion or another, but there are no better morals for anybody other than the Ten Commandments." She said she would continue to push for the measure.

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Related essays on this site

bullet A detailed analysis of the Ten Commandments
bullet Recent U.S. court rulings on separation of church and state
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1995-1996
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment: 1997-1999
bullet Prayer in the public schools

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Continue with events from the year 2002

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References:

  1. "Kentucky school board reposts Ten Commandments" at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/00b/20010102b.htm 
  2. Laurence Cruz, "Commandments bill defeated: Schools will not be allowed to display the biblical doctrine," Statesman Journal, at: http://news.statesmanjournal.com/article.cfm?i=24194
  3. Rachel Kovner, "Ten Commandments in schools OK's in Senate," The Charlotte Observer, 2001-JUL-18.
  4. Mark Niesse, "Chief Justice unveils Ten Commandments in [Alabama] Supreme Court building," Associated Press, at: http://news.findlaw.com/ap_stories/l 
  5. American Atheists, newsletter, 2001-AUG-3
  6. "Alabama congressman prepares to introduce patently unconstitutional 'Ten Commandments Defense Act," Americans United news release, 2001-AUG-23
  7. "Ga. Town Posts Ten Commandments," Assocaited Press, 2001-SEP-25, at: http://news.findlaw.com/ap_stories/other/
  8. Charles R. MiVille, "Counties Sued Over Commandments," at: http://family.org/cforum/fnif/news

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Site navigation: Home page > Religious LawsTen Commandments > here

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Copyright © 200, 2001 & 2004, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JUL
Latest update: 2004-AUG-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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