Michael Medved, writing at TownHall.com, says that "liberals … hate the Ten Commandments."
He reaches this conclusion because civil libertarian groups like the ACLU and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty believe that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
These groups oppose the establishment of any official state religion. Medved seizes on a particular instance of this opposition and pretends that it is based on the particular content of the religious establishment, rather than on the general constitutional principle.
This is a rather bizarre conclusion. It's possible that Medved is simply being deliberately obtuse — that he's lying to score political points. It's also possible that he thinks his non-sequitur reasoning makes sense, but it would be uncharitable to presume he's that stupid.
My guess is that Medved is simply assuming that the ACLU views the world, and the First Amendment, the same way that he does. Medved does not himself see any principled reason to oppose the establishment of an official state religion. He does, however, oppose the establishment of Hinduism or Islam. His opposition to such an establishment of religion is not based on the principle of religious liberty, however, but rather is based on his disagreement with the particular content of those religions. He doesn't like Hinduism or Islam, so he opposes any state-sponsored efforts to privilege them. Thus, when Medved sees the ACLU opposing state-sponsored efforts to privilege particular forms of Christianity, he jumps to the conclusion that this must be because the ACLU does not like the particular content of that Christianity. Therefore, according to Medved's reasoning, civil libertarians must "hate the Ten Commandments."
We civil libertarians and Baptists view both the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment as necessary for the protection of religious liberty. We view these clauses as complementary. We believe that the establishment of a state-sponsored, official, privileged religion would disastrously, and unconstitutionally, prohibit the free exercise of religion.
People like Medved, however, see these two clauses as contradictory. They believe that the only way to guarantee the free exercise of their religion is to grant it official state sanction — to create an establishment of religion. Thus they view the Establishment clause as a limitation, a negation, of the Free Exercise clause. Some of Medved's allies, people like disrobed judge Roy Moore, unabashedly call for the elimination of the Establishment clause. Others take a subtler, more gradual approach, arguing as Medved does that certain broad privileges — like the posting of the Ten Commandments — should be granted to certain popular religions as a way of making the Establishment clause more elastic and less of a perceived threat to Free Exercise.That being his strategy, it's no wonder that Medved imagines the ACLU must be up to the same thing. His position is not based on principle, but on a Hobbesian struggle for religious dominance, so he can't help but imagine that everyone else must be acting on similar motives. Thus, he concludes, not only must civil libertarians "hate the Ten Commandments," but they are right to do so.
Unfortunately for Michael Medved, his TownHall column goes on to list the Ten Commandments — and this is where he gets himself in trouble. There are several different, competing sectarian formulations of the Decalogue (here's a helpful chart breaking down the variations). Medved acknowledges this diversity of opinions, and then he takes sides:
For the purposes of this discussion of these conflicts, I’ll cite translations from the original Hebrew in the excellent Stone Edition of the biblical text (Exodus 20; 2-14), and I’ll use the traditional numbering favored by Jews and Protestants. (Catholics group Commandments 1 and 2 together, and make two separate Commandments — 9 and 10 — out of the prohibition on “coveting” that Protestants and Jews identify solely as number 10.)
Medved claims he is presenting an "innocuous and generally uncontroversial … summary of universal moral precepts," but what he is actually stating is this: where Catholics differ from Protestants, he sides with the Protestants. And not with all the Protestants, since he chooses the Stone Edition rather than the King James Version preferred by KJV-only fundamentalists. Medved relegates those fundamentalists, like the Catholics, to the fringes. Their religion is secondary, inferior, wrong, false, illegitimate, unprivileged and unprotected.
Michael Medved hates Catholics. He believes that their free exercise of religion is legitimate only within limits.
Perhaps you think this is an overstatement. After all, column space is limited, so Medved had to choose one enumeration and one translation over the others. But that choice was a matter of preference, and that preference elevates one sectarian perspective over the others. And just like Medved, any courthouse wishing to display a monument to the Ten Commandments would be forced to choose: Protestant or Catholic? Mainline or fundamentalist? And to choose is to prefer, to elevate and to subjugate, to establish and to limit the free exercise of religion.
Medved's preference is clear. He hates Catholics just as much as "liberals … hate the Ten Commandments."