Thou Shalt Not Display Commandments in Court

Finally.

A federal judge has ordered Dixie County officials to remove a 5-foot tall monument to the Ten Commandments from the front of a courthouse in Florida. The 6-ton granite waste of taxpayer money must be removed from the courthouse in 30 days, which will ultimately waste another heap of cash in an already financially strapped state. The ACLU of Florida sued the county back in 2007, citing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

For the Evangelicals reading this, the Establishment Clause prohibits the government from not only establishing religion, but based on case law, also prevents it from promoting or sponsoring a specific religion. This clause, as well as writings from Thomas Jefferson, is where the idea of separation of church and state in America has originated. So don’t believe everything your pastor tells you. This is not a “Christian nation.” It’s just a nation made up of a lot of Christians, who like to proclaim just how righteous they are.

The unfortunate observation in his case is that it took over 4 years for something that is blatantly unconstitutional to make its way through the courts and get decided upon. Items like this should be so black and white that such a decision should be handed down as soon as the papers are filed (exaggerating of course).

Despite the lag of the judicial system, kudos to the Florida ACLU! Hopefully this will be a springboard to remove other religious symbolism and sponsorship from government buildings and institutions.

About Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, and the author of Understanding an Atheist: A Practical Guide to Relating to Nonbelievers, a book aimed at improving relationships between the religious and their atheist loved ones. Kevin is also the Executive Director of Young Skeptics, an elementary-level after-school program for kids focused on critical thinking. Guest bloggers are welcome at SecularVoices. Please email submissions to contact@secularvoices.org.

  • http://gravatar.com/kotfrank Frank

    Yes very much Kudos to the Florida UCLA. NOW on the other hand, on the other coast, the Northern California ACLU is supporting gagging the voters of San Francisco by preventing them to voice their thoughts on male circumcision in San Francisco. And in doing so, this ACLU_NORCAL (twitter) thus also supports continuing the existing sexism the initiative SFmgmbill.org seeks to overcome. ACLU NC thus supports religious forced scarification, forced sacrificial of body parts, and using only boys’ bodies as billboards to advertize religion.

    South African Medical Association’s Human Rights, Law & Ethics Committee stated that it was unethical and illegal to perform circumcision on infant boys. The Committee expressed serious concern not enough scientifically-based evidence was available to confirm circumcisions prevented HIV contraction and the public at large was influenced by incorrect and misrepresented information.

    The Royal Dutch Medical Association (46,000 members)
    The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications.

    While banning abortion takes away a women’s choice, banning infant circumcision gives a man his; if he should so choose to have a circumcision done when he reaches the age of consent and sexual maturity, he can get one, unlike the millions of men who think with regret on the loss of sensitization in their penis due to lack of foreskin as an adult but find there is little they can do about it because others made the choice for them. Pro-choice legislation regarding abortion is not framed around the rights of parents to decide for their daughters whether or not they will have an abortion based on their personal beliefs, and neither should legislation regarding male circumcision.

    KOTFrank on twitter (Frank McGinness)
    Those who got #SFMGM on the ballot followed all the rules. Now these state legislators want to change rules in the middle of the game! #i2

    (check out HR2400 POPVOX) (California AB768)

    • http://dividedundergod.wordpress.com Divided Under God

      Wow. Not sure where I stand on this one. I do know that if a man waits until maturity to get circumcised, it’s a much different and painful procedure. I’m not sure I would have gone through that as an adult if I hadn’t been circumcised as a baby. But I’m personally glad my parents opted for it. That’s why I opted for it for my son when he was born.

      I respect your opinion and your passion for the topic. It’s obviously a very personal matter to you, and I wish you luck in your efforts!

  • James R. Olson

    @ divided under God, You know it’s much different how? An infant boy’s body is mutilated, without his consent, for zero health benefits, and with a documented change in sensitivity, and a documented risk of complications. This is a religious ritual done on infants specifically because they have no say in the matter. It is on it’s face a barbaric procedure, and by your own admission would not have happened had you been a free agent. Your admission of this fact completely undercuts your conclusion I believe.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    As always, the religious reich is going to scream “persecution” because they have been prevented from persecuting others and are required to obey the law.

    When you don;t get special privileges all the time, it’s not persecution, it’s fairness.

    Most of the problems of the world have been caused by religion. Think of the crusades, the inquisition, the dark ages, the witch burnings, the restrictions on learning, free speech, instilling guilt and shame into children, and the wars fought in the name of religion.

    More recently, think of family planning clinic bombings, oppression of gays and non-believers, murders of doctors and homosexuals, imposition of religious beliefs by force of law, and illegal use of public funds to promote particular religions.

    Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.

    • http://dividedundergod.com Kevin Davis

      Great comment, James. I agree 100%. The religious are blind to the laws they break in the name of promoting religion, and claim persecution when they are forced to follow them. Another perfect example is the challenging or revocation of tax exempt status for churches that engage in political activity. Unfortunately in most cases, the IRS fails to enforce these rules on religious institutions and the churches know it, which is why they are so eager to break the law.

      • http://slrman.wordpress.com slrman

        As an interesting sidelight, if religions paid taxes like any other business, it would mean $71 billion dollars a years to the USA alone. That would pay for a lot of healthcare, education and a few mars lander missions. Any of which would do a lot more for mankind than any religion.

        Of course, it would mean more “persecution” because they would have to follow the same laws as anyone else.

        • http://dividedundergod.com Kevin Davis

          They’d also claim that paying taxes would inhibit their ability to “do good works” like feed the poor, etc. I can tell you this though. In my youth, I worked as a cashier in a large grocery store chain. I saw tax-exempt status abused by clergy members every day, buying their own personal groceries and then flashing church papers to get sales tax removed from the bill. Small as that abuse may be, it shows how willing they were to abuse the privilege on a larger scale. I’m in full support of the dropping of tax exemption for this reason and the ones you’ve mentioned. The problem is, politicians won’t go for it because they’ll be vilified as anti-god or anti-religion. Their opponents will have a field day.

      • http://slrman.wordpress.com slrman

        “Do good works?” Better than providing health care like every other civilized nation in the world (see http://s1181.beta.photobucket.com/user/slrman/media/HealthCare.mp4.html) or educational benefits for all? No religion or all of them combined even come close to this.