The Alabama dispute is by now well known to the public. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore had a 2.5-ton Ten Commandments monument erected in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. After much legal wrangling, including a rejected request that the U.S. Supreme Court rule on whether the placement of the monument was legal, a lower federal court ordered the monument removed.
But Christian groups have continued the struggle on Moore's behalf ever since.
Gary DeMar, president of the American Vision, a Christian educational and communications organization, said the U.S. Supreme Court building contains several references and depictions of Moses and the Ten Commandments. A summary of DeMar's upcoming book, America's Christian Heritage, promises to "deliver all the facts you need to defend the Ten Commandments as a public display and to preserve your rights as a Christian American.""
As a part of larger sculptural clusters, Moses is shown with tablets in the Great Hall, The East Pediment, and the North Courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court, DeMar said. There is also an image of the Ten Commandments that is engraved on the frame of the bronze gates separating the courtroom from the aisle.
Also, above where the chief justice sits, a banner reads, "Justice, the Guardian of Liberty." Centered above the banner is a depiction of Moses seated and holding the Ten Commandments, DeMar added.
The U.S. Supreme Court website states that, "Over time, the use of two tablets has become a symbol for the Commandments, and more generally, ancient laws. Tablets signify the permanence of the law when written in stone."
Joseph Loconte, a religious expert from The Heritage Foundation, said it's clear America's Founding Fathers intended to create a secular constitution for the young nation.
But while the "the body of the Constitution is a secular text," Loconte said, "it was perfectly natural to them to have the religious roots of the republic represented in symbol form to remind people of those religious roots and connections."
Today's liberal left, Loconte asserted, believes that the Constitution gives them the right never to hear religious speech they find offensive. "That is not at all at what the First Amendment protects...the First Amendment protects the right of all individuals, religious or non-religious, to express their views.
"This idea that you have a constitutional right never to hear religious speech that you find offensive is madness, absolute madness," Loconte said.
But Robert Boston, assistant communications director with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, believes the figures of Moses and the Ten Commandments at the Supreme Court are merely there in a historical context, along with many other depictions.
Boston said he believes many people are confused and are making invalid assumptions.
"According to the Supreme Court's website, the artist who designed the East Pediment frieze (sculptured band), said that the tablet was designed to represent the Bill of Rights and not the Ten Commandments," Boston said. "That makes sense because it is a single tablet, not two tablets. Some people are just confused and believe that anything resembling a tablet or has one to ten written on them must be representative of the Ten Commandments."
Despite the many claims he has heard, that the Ten Commandments serve as the foundation for American law, Boston said, at best, there are only three commandments reflected in secular law: Thou Shall Not Kill, Thou Shall Not Steal, and Thou Shall Not Lie.
"These common sense laws have existed in every society. The government isn't supposed to endorse religion. Do it like the Supreme Court does -- have an educational display that includes the Ten Commandments among many other sources," Boston said.
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