- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 14, 2004

The ACLU recently convinced a U.S. District Court to force Chester County, Pa., to cover up a plaque containing the Ten Commandments that had been hanging on the faade of the county courthouse for the last 82 years.

The ACLU filed suit against the county to have the plaque removed claiming it violated the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause” (a k a the so-called “separation of church and state”) of the U.S. Constitution. ACLU lawyers asserted the plaque, hanging on county property, improperly advanced religion, specifically Christianity.

The Chester County courthouse suit is one of many the ACLU has brought in recent years in an effort to rid this country of the “menace” of religious, mostly Christian, symbols on public property.

The pat ACLU argument is that these religious symbols are divisive, they promote one religion over others and that nonbelievers are made to feel as outsiders. Of course, that was not the intent of the Establishment Clause. The Establishment Clause was ratified to prevent the federal government from establishing a national church, hence the term “Establishment.” Government acknowledgment of religion, any religion, is not the same as establishing one.

Also, the Establishment Clause was a restriction on the federal government, not state, county or local governments. But that is an argument for another time.

The ACLU’s crusade to rid public lands of religious symbols is part of that organization’s concerted effort to disgorge religion, mostly Christianity, from the public landscape. Their efforts will not stop with just these symbols. Their objective is a religious free public zone — not a hint, not a penumbra, not an emanation.

Eighty two years ago when the Ten Commandments plaque was placed on the facade of that Pennsylvania courthouse, it was unthinkable such a display was unconstitutional. After all, it was common knowledge that the authors of the Constitution were overwhelmingly men of faith and that their consciences were duly informed by Judeo-Christian teachings.

But the ACLU ignores the factual history of this country, confident people today will too, due to the sorry state of our public schools. The ACLU claims “diversity” and “inclusiveness” are their overarching concerns and religious symbols are an anathema to these goals.

Never mind that in the 82 years the Ten Commandments plaque has hung on the Chester County courthouse the religious make-up in this country has become more and more diverse and non-Christian religious participation in this country has increased more than tenfold.

What would this country be like if the ACLU’s dream of a religious free public zone becomes a reality? Many may think once that is accomplished, the ACLU will go away. Of course, that is naive. The ACLU will continue to find heretofore-unrecognized “symbols” of “religious oppression” to attack.

Once the ACLU has convinced the malleable judges of this country to remove the Ten Commandments from the public landscape, can the proscriptions of those same commandments be far behind? Will their future argument be that murder laws are a violation of the so-called “separation of church and state” because they are based upon the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not murder?” Will they come to the defense of thieves because “thou shall not steal” is the eighth commandment and enforcing such laws would advance religion?

These questions may sound preposterous to many, but 82 years ago the thought that displaying the Ten Commandments on a county courthouse was unconstitutional sounded just as preposterous. What new absurdities will the ACLU bring us in the next 82 years?

DAVID P. MCGINLEY

McLean, Va.

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