The South Carolina Senate recently passed a bill that would allow the public display of 11 “historical documents” that “make up the nation’s foundation of law and government.” I use the scare quotes because this set includes two “documents” that manifestly do not make up the foundation of US government: the ten commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.
I’ve got an idea for a law: legislators should have to read the Constitution before taking office. The Establishment Clause clearly forbids the passing of any law with the purpose or effect of establishing religion. This bill would allow public schools to post the Ten Commandments. Do they not see how blatantly unconstitutional that is?
The Establishment Clause exists for a reason: to preserve the freedom of every American to believe what they wish. This bill would singles out Christianity and Judaism. Why don’t they include Muslim commandments? Why don’t they include the Five Precepts of Buddhism? Why don’t they include the Eight I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts of the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
In order to guarantee freedom of religion, public places and proceedings must either exclude all religion, or include all religion. To endorse one religion specifically, as this bill does, denies the freedom of those who follow all the others, or who follow no religion at all.
The bill has already passed the House, but the version passed in the Senate included one or more amendments (e.g. the inclusion of the Lord’s Prayer) that will need to go before the House before the bill can be sent to the governor. Let’s hope a majority of the representatives get some sense. If this bill passes, it will be challenged and struck down in federal court, but not before a gob of taxpayer money is pissed down the drain.