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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: A Couple of Half-Assed SCOTUS Decisions and the Future of Liberty

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Couple of Half-Assed SCOTUS Decisions and the Future of Liberty

SCOTUS’s rulings on two separate Ten Commandments cases could not have come at a worse time. Passions run high regarding the whole Ten Commandments issue and when and how the Commandments should or should not be displayed on government property. Rather than legally clarifying this contentious church/state issue, the high court instead muddied the waters even further. As much as I am opposed to the Kelo decision, at least the court made a clear decision. In today’s Ten Commandments rulings, however; neither side can truthfully declare victory.

I fear these passions will overtake those of the reaction to the Kelo case. Whether or not the Ten Commandments are displayed inside or outside a government building in no way violates anyone’s right to practice his or her religion as he or she sees fit. This view is in no way exclusively held by secular humanists, atheists, and agnostics. In fact, if you take a look at my links on the right-hand side of this page, you will find a link to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church State Council. This is a religious group which recognizes the importance of church/state separation. On the council’s ‘about’ page, the group states the following:

We believe in and promote the historical separation of church and state, a principle understood by the founders of this nation, and we work to ensure that in matters of faith, the majority has no power. We believe that each person is directly responsible to God in matters of faith, and that religious groups should not invite the state to become involved…

I do not think the council is too far from the mainstream among Christian Americans today. I recently visited with my brother who is an ordained minister in the First Assembly of God Church. I discussed the Ten Commandments issue with him and I was very surprised by his response: “Keep church and state separate.” He went on to say: “If we [Christians] need to depend on the government to erect a monument for the Ten Commandments to get our message out, we aren’t doing our job.”

While this sentiment may or may not be growing among Christians, I fear that the ones who have the megaphone right now are more concerned with the future of their religious displays than with their own property rights. Consider this: churches and religious organizations enjoy a tax-exempt status (which I strongly oppose, for what its worth). What would stop a local government from seizing the church’s property in favor of a development or some kind of strip mall? “The new tax revenue could better serve the community,” the city council would reason. The only thing that might stop such a move by the city council would be the negative press that such a move would trigger. Though church property may be safe in theory, absolutely nothing would stop eminent domain abuse from taking the property of the church’s congregants.

We must continue to focus our energy on this fight to protect property rights. There will no doubt be many other distractions in the coming months. I hope the American public will wake up and realize what is happening to our country at the hands of Republicans and Democrats. I hope that in the next election, more Americans will vote in favor of candidates who respect individual liberty from the city, county, state, and federal level. For our Republic to survive, we must focus on guarding our liberty rather than some of the less important social issues which dominate the national debate.


Blogger Robert said...

For our Republic to survive, we must focus on guarding our liberty rather than some of the less important social issues which dominate the national debate.

Absolutely right! As far as I’m concerned, Liberty, and its preservation, is the preeminent issue that will determine the future of our Republic.

Also, I’m heartened by your brother’s response. My brother-in-law was ordained by the ‘Church of God’ (a close relative of the A of G), but he fails to understand the need for a separation of church and state. I’m rather impotent with respect to influence because I’m not a member of his congregation…and he’s stereotypically narrow-minded. It goes to show that not all battles can be won.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the brother of the host here. It seems that this issue has caused many ripples in the fabric of our country. One interesting note to mention is that the phrase "division of church and state" was not in the constitution or any amendments. Still, like i told my brother, we Christians can not keep our heritage by courtrooms of law. However, what i do see happening and I can see it comming down the pike is, like my brother said, the removal of tax exemptions from churches. But what is to stop it after that. Kids are being sent home all over the U.S. for wearing Christian T-shirts. Soon, there will be no freedom for Christians because we are "narrow minded," but everyonelse can say what they want. I just think that it is interesting how it seems like everybody uses the name of my God in vain, but when I use his name as the answer to life's problems, I am being a biggot, narrow minded, and above all, a hater. And yes, Christians have made a bad name for themselves over the years for the most part, but if we are being who the Bible teaches us to be, we would be the opposite of haters wouldn't we. The Bible says that God is love. I've heard that in Canada they are outlawing preachers to preach out of Romans chapter one, because it is hate speech. I can see from this very debate, the same issues comming down the pike. Then, and you watch and see, we will become no better than our Comunist brothers overseas. But let me ask you this, what out of the ten commandments has hurt anyone? You should not kill, you should not commit adultry. Isn't that a good thing?


11:34 AM  

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