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The Ten Commandmants in the courtroom...(32 posts)

The Ten Commandmants in the courtroom...ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 11:24 AM
If any of yall keep up, a recent case involving Alabama 's( I live in Alabama) Judge Roy Moore and his Ten Commandmants was decided. Federal court said that JRM had to remove his monument with them listed on it as it violated Church and State provisions...okay...then how come almost every courtroom or courthouse has a depictation of that woman holding the scales of justice in them? Why are they not removed? Why should they be removed you ask? The woman in those statues is Themis, the goddess of justice and law..Whoooo..did I say Goddess? Yes I did! She is Themis in Greek and Justitia in Roman....
Yes, a Goddess..so, the same federal court that rules that JRM cant have his monument has religious artifacts all over their court house..hey ACLU..where are you on this one???? Gotta be consistent!
Do people still worship Themis?mohair_chair
Aug 6, 2003 11:53 AM
I doubt you'll find anyone who worships Themis or Justitia, even in Alabama, so implying religious affiliation is quite a stretch. It is mythology. Themis was chosen because her mythological backstory provides a convenient representation to show that the scales of justice are blind. I'll bet in almost every case, the statues are not of Themis (in other words, not labeled as such), and therefore just statues of a blindfolded woman holding a scale, which has no religious content whatsoever.

The Ten Commandments has undeniable and direct religious affiliation. There is no one who can argue otherwise. Therefore it has no place in a government setting. How this judge can keep his job with his obvious religious bias is beyond me. Do your bible thumping at home, not at work.
Do people still worship Themis?ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 12:00 PM
I am not bible thumping. I just believe in consistency. I cannot speak for the judge in question. HOw can the Supreme Court rule on such cases when they have a chaplin say a prayer before each session?

Further, whether there any Themis or Justitia worshippers about is irrelevant. These statues are religous icons..either you allow them in the courthouse/courtroom or you dont...
Do people still worship Themis?mohair_chair
Aug 6, 2003 12:09 PM
The bible thumping remark was directed towards the judge, not you.

It would be very hard to claim some sort of religious persecution or offense if there are no worshipers, because without worshipers, there is no actual religion involved. Claims like this are quickly deemed absurd.

Furthermore, a statue can be a religious icon without actually being religious. After all, people have worshipped the sun and moon, and no one is complaining that something should be done about that. No one seems bothered by pyramids in Egypt or Central America either.
Shintoism sees gods in practically every object in nature. (nm)czardonic
Aug 6, 2003 12:11 PM
ah, mohair...ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 12:12 PM
are those pyramids in the courtroom? No! Not saying you cant have religouis icons, but there should be consistency in application in the state owned buildings, in this case, the courthouses....
so...mohair_chair
Aug 6, 2003 12:18 PM
If this judge had built a pyramid in his courtroom, clearly intended as a religious icon, would you have a problem with it?
so...ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 12:28 PM
I would be consistent if in power to make a decision..to be honest, I would probably say NO to all religious icons, including Themis....and I do recognize the religion is a part of this country, that separation of church and state does not mean that state cannot recognize religion...now, mohair, here is one for you to bite off on...does allowing Churches to be nonprofit and thus avoid paying many taxes not technically violate the intent of separation of church and state? If a church doesnt pay property taxes for the land they are on, why should the city/county/etc provide them services such as police/fire/etc? Is that not a state spending money on an established religion? Should churches be required to reimburse any costs for such services since they are exempt from the taxes that pay for such services and by not making them you have defacto state sponsored religion?
so...mohair_chair
Aug 6, 2003 12:42 PM
Not paying taxes does not exclude you from recieving aid from public safety organizations. It doesn't matter if you refuse to pay taxes, cheat on your taxes, or are tax-exempt because you qualify under some provision of the law.

In your example, the state is not spending money on religion, it is spending it in on public safety.

I have no children, and yet my tax money helps pay for other people's kids to go to school. What's the difference?
so...ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 12:45 PM
one could make the argument that one who uses the services should pay for them..as a former resident of UTAH and childless, I paid a huge special state tax for education. As you had more children you got to deduct a portion of that tax. So, you had the people who used the service paying the less or none of the tax while childless people payed a lions share of the money.
reductio au absurdumjtolleson
Aug 6, 2003 12:26 PM
The courts have ALWAYS distinguished between symbols that may have some religious history and those which are EXPRESSLY religious. Your plea for consistency would reduce the design of public buildings to a debate on the esoterica of ancient history. Is the dove inherently Christian, etc. That's why courts have allowed some secularized Christmas displays but not overtly religious ones.

I do not find your argument the least bit persuasive. Failing to understand the content difference between the Ten Commandments and the use of a female holding the scales of justice merely makes me think you have borrowed her blindfold.
reductio au absurdumPdxMark
Aug 6, 2003 3:20 PM
Thank you. I'm not versed well enough to play in these religious baiting games. You summed up what I wanted to say, but didn't have the words, when I saw the initial message in the thread sitting there without a reply.
The pyramids are there for medical reasonsKristin
Aug 6, 2003 12:47 PM
They possess healing properties and promote the well being of everyone in the courtroom. Don't you know anything?
No comparison.czardonic
Aug 6, 2003 12:04 PM
Themis, god or not, represents abstract concepts. Her presence does not represent the establishment of Greek Polytheism by the Federal Government.

The Ten Commandments represents a religious edict regarding the specific application of those concepts, some of which are contrary to the principles on which this country was founded. Their presence in this judges courtroom likely represent not an abstract concept, but the judges allegiance to their actual dictates.

Put another way, we don't have a bunch of knuckleheads running around this country talking about how this country was founded on the principles of Ancient Greece, and is thus a Helenic country. When the 10 Commandments are reduced to a mere historical symbol, this will no longer be an issue.
to be exact in this case....ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 12:06 PM
the monument with the 10 commandments is not in the courtroom, but the lobby of the courthouse...
That's even worse. . .czardonic
Aug 6, 2003 12:09 PM
. . .that not only hints at this particular judge's questionable allegiances, but implies an even more strident endorsement of the 10 Commandments by the Justice System in general.
No comparison.Duane Gran
Aug 7, 2003 8:48 AM
The Ten Commandments represents a religious edict regarding the specific application of those concepts, some of which are contrary to the principles on which this country was founded.

I must ask, which commandments (edicts) are contrary to the principles on which the United States was founded? Thou shalt not kill?

Some would argue that the Ten Commandments are mostly good common sense that keeps a civil society, not necessarily a through-and-through religious thing. The bible is full of practical advice (Proverbs comes to mind) and I think it unfortunate if we banish it from public display simply because the edicts are found in the Bible. It sounds borderline discriminatory and ignorant to do so.
This is almost a "if you have to ask" issue. . .czardonic
Aug 7, 2003 9:02 AM
. . .but here are a few anyway:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, etc.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in taking God's name in vain. . .yadda yadda.

Yes, the Ten Commandments are "mostly good common sense". But they are couched as an arbitrary religious edict, not an appeal to common sense. So we must discriminate between those Commandments that are common sense, and those that are not. The former have been incorporated into our laws (just as they were taken from previous legal codes and incorporated into the Ten Commandments), and the latter are rightfully banished.
regarding common senseDuane Gran
Aug 7, 2003 10:38 AM
It may be the case that the fellow in Alabama did this out of a personal conviction for Christianity, but to me it is perfectly conceivable that one might display the Ten Commandments in a public place without a religious overtone. Like it or not, it is a fundamental aspect of Western Civilization. I suppose that seven of the commandments are more secular than the three you mentioned, but the piece as a whole is a part of our cultural heritage. I just can't see banishing it as a whole from public places. Who among us doubt that we would live in a better world if the Ten Commandments were more generally followed by the populace? Shouldn't we endorse and display positive influences, even if it means we hazard the chance of mentioning God in mixed company?
No, we shouldn't.czardonic
Aug 7, 2003 12:03 PM
This false notion that that the Ten Commandments are the basis of Western Civilization is exactly the kind of sectarian attitude that the Constitution seeks to proscribe for the State. Whatever their place in the evolution of Western Civilization, the Ten Commandments are not the law of this land and have no standing in our courts. Enshrining them in our courthouses serves no real purpose other than to draw attention to Christianity.
No, we shouldn't.Duane Gran
Aug 8, 2003 5:16 AM
Okay, I accept that we won't see eye to eye on this one, but you say:

Enshrining them in our courthouses serves no real purpose other than to draw attention to Christianity.

Let's keep in mind that the Ten Commandments are a Jewish edict, which in fairness today is a Judeo-Christian edict. I bet most people suspect that Moses wrote the commandments himself. If you look at the problems of his day, these commandments are particularly appropriate to creating order among a people not sure what to do with a newfound freedom. This is a problem that we have still not solved to my satisfaction.

As a matter of clarification, I don't claim that the Ten Commandments are the basis for Western Civilization, but rather a strong tenet. Likewise I consider the writing of Plato, Aristotle and handful of others I've forgotten about to be instrumental texts, the Bible included, that explain Western Civilization.

Let me ask, what is the real harm done by displaying the Ten Commandments in a public place? Who is hurt? What is the harm in a subtle reminder to people that we have a long heritage of striving for rules and order that comes with freedom (my personal interpretation, I admit)?
I don't really see how the Ten Commandments are helpful.czardonic
Aug 8, 2003 9:01 AM
First, the Ten Commandments have nothing to do with the balance of responsibility and freedom. Christianity itself is an authoritarian and patriarchal religion. If anything, displaying them undermines the liberal traditions of this country, and that is often the intention of many who seek to return them to prominence.

Second, the Ten Commandments are about as effective an educational tool as a "no smoking" sign. They simply say "don't" because "God" says so. As such, they are meaningless to anyone who does not believe in the Judeo-Christian God.

The United States already stands as an effective example of the principles you hope the Ten Commandments will encourage. However, the true legal foundation of this country, the Constitution, serves as a non-sectarian model of freedom and democracy that is universally applicable. Muddying the distinction between the actual foundation of this country and historical religious antecedents hurts our efforts to spread the benefits of secular government, and hurts those who will conclude that because they are not Christian (or Jewish) and don't want to be, our values are not relevant to them.
I don't really see how the Ten Commandments are helpful.Duane Gran
Aug 8, 2003 9:38 AM
First, the Ten Commandments have nothing to do with the balance of responsibility and freedom. Christianity itself is an authoritarian and patriarchal religion. If anything, displaying them undermines the liberal traditions of this country, and that is often the intention of many who seek to return them to prominence.

Your distaste for Christianity is well established, but that is a pretty heavy-handed proclamation. One of the firmest liberal traditions of the United States is the rule of law, as opposed to the whim of a dictator. The Ten Commandments is consistent with the notion of agreeing on foundational principles. I just don't see how affirming something like "thou shalt not kill" undermines the liberal traditions of this country. I asked you to demonstrate harm by displaying the Ten Commandments and I'm really interested to know if there is a harm.

Second, the Ten Commandments are about as effective an educational tool as a "no smoking" sign. They simply say "don't" because "God" says so. As such, they are meaningless to anyone who does not believe in the Judeo-Christian God.

If it is ineffective, how can it be harmful? On one hand you claim that displaying these common sense rules in public undermines the liberal traditions of the United States and on the other hand you regard it as ineffective.

I would really like for everyone in society to follow basic rules of conduct because they take it to heart. That is ideal, but my understanding of Sociology reminds me that locks on doors are for honest people and rules and penalties are to keep peace. If someone can't (or chooses not to) internalize rules for civil society I'm content if they follow them because "God says so" because in the end we still have peace. I see displaying the Ten Commandments as working on both levels.
Why would someone who can't adhere to civil law. . .czardonic
Aug 8, 2003 10:27 AM
. . .adhere to a religious dictate, especially if they are not religious? That makes no sense.

The Ten Commandments are not consistent with agreeing on anything. They are consistent with simple, unquestioning obedience to the arbitrary rule of an totalistic authority. One man's heavy-handed proclamation is another man's unsentimental statement of the obvious. Christianity is based on the idea that everything comes from God, and God rules all. No?

The Ten Commandments are ineffective in acheiving your stated purpose for promoting them. They don't stop Christians from cheating on their spouses, lying, stealing and killing. Why would they stop a non-Christian?

On the other hand, the Ten Commandments are effective in underminig some of the most fundamental principles of this nation:
  • Separation of Church and State is one. Since establishing and enforcing laws are the prerogative of the state, religious laws or justifications thereof are an obvious intrusion by the Church into the State's domain.
  • Liberal democracy is another. Like it or not, Christianity is neither liberal nor democratic.
  • Governance by consent of the goverend is yet another. The Ten Commandments say "thou shall not kill". But as a society we have arrived at a vastly more nuanced expression of this principle. We recognize that killing people should be avoided, but is sometimes excusable or even necessary. Meanwhile, we have also decided that we can worship whomever we want. The Ten Commandments make no concessions for such deviance.

    Two things can be both consistent and incompatible. Incompatibility arises when the two compete, and in doing so undermine each other. The Founding Fathers recognized civil and religious authorities as being incompatible in this way, and we are a better country because they had the wisdom to put aside their personal superstitions in favor of the greater good of a viable, adaptable and just system of government.
  • That's ridiculousSpecialTater
    Aug 6, 2003 12:10 PM
    Judge Roy Moore is a fundy wacko who only fought this to the Federal courts to further his name as a conservative bible thumper to the bible-thumping Alabama voters. If he had gone about this any other way (i.e. NOT installing the "monument" in the middle of the night, etc.), there would likely have never been an issue. He is really bad for your state.

    To claim that the statue of the woman holding the scales of justice tramples on the church v. state issue is one I haven't heard (and I've heard most of them living down here in the South).
    I am not making the argument that...ClydeTri
    Aug 6, 2003 12:14 PM
    I am not making the argument that the 10 Commandments statue should be allowed, I am just applying logic, you allow all religious statuary or none. Consistency.
    Hobgoblin of small minds?jtolleson
    Aug 6, 2003 12:28 PM
    I don't mean to insult you or call you small minded. But an insistence on philosophical consistency, which no deeper analysis, does a disservice. There is SOME truth to the old adage.
    You beat me to it!czardonic
    Aug 6, 2003 12:31 PM
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
    F...ing brilliant! (nm)eyebob
    Aug 6, 2003 1:45 PM
    Hobgoblin of small minds?ClydeTri
    Aug 6, 2003 12:31 PM
    if you read my position on this, I dont come down on either side of this, just on the side of consistency. I am bothered by selective application of the law. Enforce it or change it, dont selectively enforce it.
    they COULD display them.dr hoo
    Aug 6, 2003 12:29 PM
    If they put them in a HISTORICAL display, say, next to the code of Hammurabi (cool document, btw) and explicitly said it was a display of historical legal codes, there would be no problem.

    Or so I recall from a previous case a few years ago. I could be mistaken on this one. The problem is not so much display as the (implicit or explicit) endorsement of a single faith.
    Let's face it53T
    Aug 8, 2003 6:07 AM
    The Ten Commandments are religious in every aspect of thier existance. Without even reading the text, legend holds (not history, legend) that these Comandments are from God. This whole notion that a divine being will proscribe laws is the opposite of the American System in which all power to govern is delegated by the governed.

    Within the four corners of the Ten Commandments, we find ample and startling evidence of religious foundations "I am the lord, your God. You will have no other God before me". Where is the evidence of liberal democracy in that statement? Thou shalt not covet? Coveting is essential to a capitalist economy.

    And another thing, don't be fooled into thinking that religious displays are OK, if they don't endorse a single faith. If has to do with the voodoo of any "God" system, it goes against my beliefs. Any monotheistic display endorses monotheism, at the expense (and I mean that literaly) of non-believers.