The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down an important religious freedom ruling.
In a momentous ruling, the court ruled that a Ten Commandments display that was exhibited with other historical documents is constitutional, and also disparaged the efforts of the ACLU, which has attempted to secularize our nation.
The Mercer County, Ky., “Foundations of American Law and Government” display became the target of an ACLU lawsuit because it contained the biblical tenets.
Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel represented Mercer County in its defense. Liberty Counsel also represented Elkhart County, Ind., in which the 7th Circuit earlier this year upheld an identical Ten Commandments display. The organization also represented two Kentucky counties – McCreary and Pulaski – before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year involving the same types of displays.
The Mercer County display includes the Ten Commandments, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Star Spangled Banner, the National Motto, the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution and a picture of Lady Justice.
It is designed to show Americans the foundational documents and influences on our early court system – not to promote or establish a religion.
Mr. Staver said the 6th Circuit adopted the reasoning of the 7th Circuit in Books v. Elkhart County, where the court upheld an identical display to that in Mercer County.
The 6th Circuit stated, “Our concern is that of the reasonable person. And the ACLU, an organization whose mission is ‘to ensure that … the government [is kept] out of the religion business,’ does not embody the reasonable person.”
The court also rejected the ACLU’s “repeated reference to ‘the separation of church and state.’ This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.”
Mat Staver said the decision is a major victory for people of faith, one that could significantly weaken the ACLU’s efforts to eradicate religion from the American public square.
“Today’s decision begins to turn the tide against the ACLU, which has been on a search-and-destroy mission to remove all vestiges of our religious history from public view,” Mr. Staver said. “Whether the ACLU likes it or not, history is crystal clear that each one of the Ten Commandments played an important role in the founding of our system of law and government. Federal courts are beginning to rightfully reject extreme notions of ‘separation of church and state.'”
He continued, “It’s about time that courts begin interpreting the Constitution consistent with its original purpose. With the changing of personnel at the U.S. Supreme Court, the trend toward a more historical approach to the First Amendment is well under way.”
This ruling for the Commandments follows a season of victories we have seen regarding Christmas in America. We have seen a host of churches join the “Friend or Foe” campaign across the country, alerting Americans through our newspaper ad campaign that Christmas is still legal in this great nation.
In addition, we have seen retailers, under intense scrutiny, suddenly get a dose of that “old time religion.” After determining that they would secularize the Christmas season, retailers have learned that most Americans don’t want to shop in a sanitized store that shuns the word “Christmas.” And just as abruptly as Christmas seemed to disappear, it is now back in vogue in American malls and shopping centers.
The great author Charles Dickens, in his “A Christmas Carol,” wrote, “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”
I’m so pleased to see that Christmas is making a comeback in our nation and that little children will have an opportunity to understand that Jesus is truly the reason for the season.