Phil Dodson, writing for the Macon Telegraph, wants to know what part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution the Governor of Georgia and other governmental officials who attended a pro-Ten Commandments rally on September 29th don’t understand (click here for the article). That’s a reasonable question if Mr. Dodson had actually cited the amendment and explained it. The introductory words are clear as crystal: “Congress shall make no law. . . .” Since the Governor and the state of Georgia are not Congress, the First Amendment does not apply in the Ten Commandments case. Intellectual elites are horrified when they hear such things. Who could ever claim that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states?
The states understood the proper role of the Bill of Rights better than Mr. Dodson and most lawyers and judges. That’s why state constitutions include their own religious protections, as well as many others, independent of the U.S. Constitution. Why write these provisions into state constitutions if states were covered under the Bill of Rights? If the U.S. Constitution would pass into oblivion, would this mean that citizens of the various states would no longer have any protections? Not at all. Their state constitution carries the same protections often in expanded form. For example, in Alabama’s 1819 constitution, the following is found: “Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty” (I:8). While worded differently, it covers freedoms outlined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sections 3-7 of Article I deal with state religious freedoms that offer more protection than the First Amendment. These examples could be multiplied state by state.
There is nothing in the Georgia Constitution that prohibits the posting of the Ten Commandments in government buildings. I would direct Mr. Dodson to the Georgia General Assembly Unannotated Code at 45–13–41 provision 16 which states that the archivist is to “Encourage the study of historical documents including but not limited to those which reflect our National Motto, the Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the Constitution of the United States, and such other nationally recognized documents which contributed to the history of the State of Georgia.” It seems logical that if the Ten Commandments are to be studied along with specific governmental documents, I doubt that posting them would be a violation of any law.
Mr. Dodson brings up the U. S. Constitution and its supposed secular nature. Then why is Sunday, and only Sunday, set aside as a day or rest for the President (Art. 1, sec. 7)? And why does the Constitution read “DONE in the Year of Our Lord. . . .” just above the signature of George Washington? “Our Lord” is a specifically Christian reference.
I wonder if Mr. Dodson is aware that there are four displays of the Ten Commandments in our nation’s highest court. Moses is shown holding the tablets in two places; there is an allegorical representation in another place; and a final depiction is found on the frame of the doorway leading into the chamber.
Few people are aware that there is a huge display of the Ten Commandments hanging in the State Supreme Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It’s been there since 1927. There are also two very large murals of Jesus, one with extensive quotations from the New Testament. In addition, there is a mural quoting the following from English jurist William Blackstone:
“This Law of Nature dictated by God Himself is superior to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this, and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority mediately or immediately from this original. Upon these two foundations the Law of Nature and the Law of Revelation depend all human Law. . . . Human laws are only declaratory of and act in subordination to Divine Law.”
Mr.Dodson must not be aware of the numerous displays of religious symbols, phrases, and statements found on government buildings, founding documents, and our coins. They’ve been there, some for centuries, without any constitutional problem. He might recognize this one: “We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” The logic is straightforward: No God, no rights. I sure don’t want to depend on the government to give me any rights. By the way, the phrase comes from the Declaration of Independence.
Mr. Dodson argues that “when the government gets into the business of religion, you sometimes end up with results you might best avoid.” This claim cuts both ways. The 20th century was the bloodiest century on record, not because of religion but because of the lack of it. Led by tyrants of atheism, the authors of The Black Book of Communism estimate that 100 million lost their lives.
Mr. Dodson has muddied the waters of a very clear pool. This historical documentation is available to anyone who would take the time to look.
President, American Vision
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