at a downtown sports arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 3,000 people
attended a 10 Commandment rally that had the fervor of an old-fashioned
tent revival. The participants prayed, waved American flags,
and poured thousands of dollars into collection buckets as they declared
themselves Christian soldiers in a war against evil.
conservatives became energized by the spiritual revival brought on
by the September 11 terrorist attacks, this carefully crafted campaign
to post the Ten Commandments in public buildings throughout the country
has been played out across America. Church attendance increased 25 percent immediately
after the terrorist attacks as many Americans turned to religion.
However, according to a poll by Barna Research Group, which
analyzes cultural trends and the Christian Church, by early November,
attendance had returned to normal levels of about 48 percent.
In a long-standing
battle to erase the line separating church and state which has been
wrongly and unconstitutionally thrust upon this nation by judicial
activists of the Supreme Court, the Biblical laws, (which some Christians
insist should be established as American doctrine) have become a weapon.
For the soul
of America, Christian conservatives have declared war on civil libertarians
in what some experts say is developing into one of the biggest First
Amendment challenges in decades.
In recent months,
with dozens of efforts underway defying the U.S. Supreme Court rulings,
prohibiting school prayer and the placement of religious symbols in
public buildings, the grass root movements that started three years
ago in the South have intensified.
To raise money
and garner support for local officials who have voted to erect Ten
Commandments, plaques, and monuments in city halls, county buildings,
and courthouses, the rallies blend patriotism and religion.
president of Ten Commandments Tennessee, the advocacy ad fundraising
group that sponsored the Chattanooga rally said, “September 11 was
a point of demarcation for a renewed interest in this movement.
There is a defiance and an unwillingness on the part of God’s
people to be ruled by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU). Everyone is tired of their feeble arguments,
including the courts, and we’re not listening to them anymore.”
are leading student assemblies in prayer, schools are requiring a
moment of prayer and government meetings are opening with religious
devotionals across the nation. However,
for erecting the Ten Commandments in public venue several
local Chattanooga Tennessee
governments face lawsuits.
the Ten Commandments in county buildings and two courthouses, Hamilton
County Commissioners in Chattanooga voted to do so on September 11,
2001. Recently, officials placed in city hall in
Ringgold, Georgia, a town near the Tennessee border with a population
of 2,000 the Ten Commandments,
the Lord’s Prayer and an empty frame with the engraving, “This is
for those of other beliefs.”
to halt the posting of the Ten Commandments in courthouses, the ACLU
has sued four counties. For
the defense, advocates have raised more than $200,000 and hope the
case will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1963, prayer
was ordered to be removed from public schools by the Supreme Court. The court ruled in 1980, that the constitutional
prohibition against government established religion was violated by
the posting of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky classrooms. It upheld a city-sponsored Nativity scene in
that it was placed among other religious symbols nine years later.
A federal appeals
court ruling ordering Elkhart, Indiana to remove a six-foot tall pillar
engraved with the Commandments off its town hall lawn was upheld in
May by the Supreme Court. In
a public statement, implying that the lower court had erred, three
of the court’s conservative justices strongly objected.
For many devout Christians however, the Ten Commandment movement
is about reasserting Christianity as America’s dominant religion,
not just about saving souls or the First Amendment. By some of the nation’s most prominent evangelists, this measure
is being preached.
executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and
State said, “Too many people are promoting the idea that patriotism
and religion are identical. If you raise an objection to some unlawful
religious practice in a public place, the people who complain are
not only labeled anti-religion, but anti-American.
You would think we learned from September 11 that the merger
of government and religion is a dangerous thing.”
were dismissed that the doctrines are divisive and may offend non-Christians
by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, the target of two federal
lawsuits for placing a floor foot-tall granite monument inscribed
with the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the state judicial building
the keynote speaker at the rally said, “This is not a nation established
on the principles of Buddha or Hinduism.
Our faith is not Islam. What
we follow is not the Koran but the Bible.
This is a Christian nation.”
An American Voice Viewpoint on the following
so many that oppose religious freedom in the public arena use the
argument of separation between church and state. Yet the phrase is nowhere to be found in the
Constitution. Thomas Jefferson
used the phrase “Thus building a wall of separation between church
and State” in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association
occasion on which the Court declared a separation of church and state
in the First Amendment was the Supreme Court announcement in the 1947
case Everson v. Board of Education. By reversing long-standing national traditions
the Court started to unraveling the fabric of American life following
the 1947 announcement.
said earlier, ” The merger of government and religion is a dangerous
thing.” However prior to 1947, Americans feared God, abortion was
illegal, children had respect for their parents, illegitimacy and
divorce were low, weekly church attendance was a regular habit, husbands
and wives respected each other, and criminal activity and improper
business activity was less common than it is today.
Contrary to what Mr. Lynn and his supporters say, America was
a better nation when God was part of our daily life.
of the United States does protect people of faith to express their
right of religious freedom. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly states,” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof .” Each time the Supreme Court takes this right
away from Americans such as student-led prayer at football games,
the free expression of religious freedom is violated, and these individuals’
constitutional rights are usurped by the Supreme Court.
Glanton, “Crusading for a Christian nation.
Groups across the country are defying the courts and invoking
patriotism as they fight for displays of the 10 Commandments and school
prayer,” The Chicago Tribune, December 10, 2001)
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