The Ten Commandments Controversy and the Separation of Church and State Essay
The state of being independent of church and state of one another is officially authorized. The decision-making or the decisions being made must not be intruded or must not influence by one of them. There are of two ideologies about the division of them: the separation from the religion (secular activities) and the liberty of religious exercises. Examples of secular activities are washing dishes and fetching water which doesn’t involve any religious acts. On the other hand, worshipping and attending mass are examples of non-secular activities.
The separation of the state and church is already written in our history gaining the respect from the people from opposite division. Before, issues about them were not as deep as compared today. Nowadays, every decision of each individual party is now being criticized by each group especially when the decision or acts is very critical like religious issues making a friction between the state and the church.
In this essay, we will be discussing the debate on the Ten Commandments involving the separation of the church from the state emphasizing the debate on the display of the Ten Commandments in public places.
II. Ten Commandments: To Display or Not?
In Kentucky public schools, the Ten Commandments are displayed for public. This act is a violation of the “Establishment Clause” which says that government shall not make any law regarding the creation of religion. Another clause, the “Free Exercise Clause” stating the no law shall be created banning the free religious exercise. Looking at another perspective, posting of the Ten Commandments bring about students to ponder about the significance and meaning of it even though they were in school. The right place to meditate upon it is in the religious establishment doing it solemnly which is a must. These amendments just imply that any government actions must have the “secular purpose” and the non-secular purpose must be delegated to the religious parties.
However, these acts were discouraged by acts that recently passed that will allow or even require establishment to post the Ten Commandments as stated in the “The Ten Commandments Defense Act” (Davis). In US, at least 15 states already passed legislation that favors the display of it in public places. However, although some acts already approved to put on view this, there is still a law that is passes before which contradicts it.
Some of the people don’t know yet some important religious faith, especially the places hardly accessed, or we don’t remember it anymore. The display of religious figures such as the Ten Commandments reminds us our everyday obligations to God. In addition, in Ten Commandments, there’s no statement saying that display of it is being prohibited and an immoral religious act. However, we must be practical and consider other factors because where not just the people who has the same faith as others. In Bible, we are encouraged to promote the words of God. How could we promote it if religious acts are merely enclosed in an area?
The display of it must be analyzed in the first place. Is it practical and dutiful if someone displays it in public areas where there are also appropriate place, such as in church? This act is just a religious endeavor seeking hardly its purpose. Especially in urban areas, where people have different religion, display of it might foster the discrimination against non-Christian advocates. In addition, it will also cater a “friction” to other religious groups that believes that Ten Commandments must not be displayed in such public places. As a possible consequence, these would create division in a community (Curry, 2004). We can promote our religion to other people by not just displaying of it but rather by preaching them in a religious manner. Our obligation is to reach the unreachable brothers and sisters that have the difficulty in visiting churches because of their place.
Posting of the Ten Commandments is primarily promoted by the government to encourage people to return to God. It is stated before that government must only do secular activities excluding religious ones. Does displaying of it a religious act? Definitely, a religious act! So, there’s a violation of the constitution and government itself violate it.
Once a person saw it being displayed in a public urban place, he may wonder why it is placed there considering that it is very contentious. People who are deeply pious may be considered by others as having no respect to God and no care about their faith resulting to the creation of “wall” in every community. As a result, this may create a false image to Christians and damage their belief and devotion to Him.
Once displayed in public places, it is being passed by several ages of people. Some people is ignorant of it especially those children. It’s not the best way to teach children about it. In addition, the display of it is not the way to promote ones religion. Moreover, it is a fake religious act that has no religious purpose.
Even though laws allow the display of the Ten Commandments, in any sense, it will create religious violations to others. Just remember that this world is being divided by faith, by religion. Some religions don’t allow the display of the Ten Commandments in public places. People who happen passed by in a public places with display of the commandments will be discriminated and violate their belief. The government should also have empathy to other people who have different beliefs.
It is true that we have the freedom and liberty as a citizen of a country. The government which advocates of the display of the commandments has the freedom to display it. However, not all freedom can offer positive result and freedom is not merely a freedom itself. Freedom implies our critical responsibility as we take and perform it. It promotes a balances-manner as we act. It is an act of consciousness. Meaning, as a responsible member of a society, we must consider factors behind our decision-making and we must consider other people which we may be affected by our decision. We must take our freedom with responsible sense of doing it.
Social equality in the middle of the issue is being contested. Those who are against the display of the commandment seek equality. How we could say that there’s equality if one party continue to pursue their ideas though it may trample other’s belief? The essence of equality is seen when all people have the same standing and a certain respect to them. How could we say that there’s a respect when one party is being deprived of their rights? Equality constitutes equal rights. It also provides people same level of stage in life for them to realize and develop their potential. But how we consider it is equality if people are being push down due to the discrimination arises when the Ten Commandments are being displayed.
The discrimination arises from the issue raised ruin the social order in a community. There’s no social order if the patterns of the social relations among people are being degraded by the social divisiveness caused by the battle of their faith.
The Supreme Court is in deep analysis on how to rule this issue. They emphasize that displaying of the commandments must be integrated with its meaning or its contents not just a simple object being displayed in public places. The court saw it a non-sense display “because of a lack of a demonstrated analytical or historical connection between the Commandments and the other documents” (Findlaw, 2007).
The Supreme Court mainly looks at the primarily objective of the display of the commandment. If the objective is unconstitutional, then it violates the law. For example, the display of the Ten Commandments in public places is unconstitutional because it violates the religious clause. However, the commandment as a monument has a constitutional purpose since it serve as a historical and educational purpose(Almond, 2005). In addition, if its objective is to promote their religion implying that their religion is better than the other, then, it violates the equality of religious parties.
The debate of the in the controversial issue about the display of the Ten Commandments implies the majoritarian democracy at work. The definition of the democracy states the law of the citizen but its implementation may rise to a higher complexity of an issue (Janda, 2007). People who are against and in favor of the display criticize one another because it is their rule in the community as a member of it. However, the Supreme Court is the highest policy-making in a country and its decision is final after duly processed. One can voice out their feelings but after, the rule of the Supreme Court must be followed. The decision of the Supreme Court may bring a great convolution among people from a large division of ideas and different concepts but it is simply the concept of democracy. Debate is inevitable in the definition of democracy.
The concept of the majoritarian democracy provides no discrimination among people. Even though you are lacked of resources, you can still provide powerful arguments to influence others. Unlike pluralism where the “government was governed by huge number people not the people as a whole”, democracy interpreted the government to be run by people as a whole (Reynolds, 1996).
As a judge, who the constitution is his main source of decision, what the constitution says is what I will declare. What is the importance of the constitution if it is not being used if there are issues concerning the concept of the constitution? The constitution is a system that gives the people their role and duty in the government. The constitution can also be valid to those laws that rule the government and its people.
The display of the Ten Commandments ion public places really raises a controversial issue. There are positive and negative consequences once we take one step towards this issue. It seems so irrational if we take a step and being criticized again and again without really a positive outcome that would benefit the conflicting parties.
However, amidst the issue, there’s one very simple way to overcome it as an individual without compromising others’ belief. As Christians, the Ten Commandments are very important. The best way to giver solutions to this controversy is to memorize it and put it in our hearts. In this sense, there’s no need to require the government to display the commandments as well as we respect others beliefs having different faith from us. Many advocates of display of the commandments merely say that it is a positive step towards the disseminating His words and promoting religious values. However, it’s not only the way and rather it seems to be an impractical means. It is true some people on an area have no access to the religion. One of the methods to the gradual appreciation of people to God is by reaching them through God’s preaches and providing them His words. Convincing our brothers and sisters to embrace God’s word can be attained morally through reaching them not just the display of the commandments which they don’t understand unless there’s someone who will articulate and explain it what it is all about.
Almond, B. J. (2005). Panel of legal experts shares perspectives on U.S. Constitution. Retrieved 18 April, 2007, from http://www.media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=7791&SnID=1327798495
Curry, E. (2004). CULTURE DIGEST: Most in Ala. favor Ten Comm. displays Retrieved 18 April, 2007, from http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=19109
Davis, D. H. American Public Religion and the Ten Commandments [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 18 April 2007 from http://www.spiritrestoration.org/Church/All%20About%20Church%20Articles/Moses%20to%20the%20Rescue%20-%20Ten%20Commandments.htm.
Findlaw. (2007). McCREARY COUNTY, KENTUCKY, et al. v. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF ENTUCKY et al. Retrieved 18 April 2007, from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=03-1693
Janda, K. (2007). Democratic government and institutional models. Retrieved 18 April, 2007, from http://janda.org/B20/Lectures/Week%202/W2-3InstitutionalModels.html
Reynolds, A. H. T. (1996). Pluralism. Retrieved 18 April 2007, from http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/APGOV_pluralism.htm
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