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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

What A Mess

Monday, June 27, 2005

In two 5-4 split decisions, the Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments display on the grounds of the Texas State Capital, but rejected as unconstitutional a similar display in county courthouses in Kentucky. The thinking seems to be that these kinds of decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, with the determination being made in each case as to whether or not such a display violates the "doctrine" of church/state separation. The court found that the Texas display does not violate that ideal, but that the Kentucky display does; one is on the grounds of the state capital building (i.e., a legislative building), and the other is in a courthouse (a judicial building).

Let me get this straight: it's okay for lawmakers to be swayed by the Judeo-Christian morality of the Ten Commandments, but not for judges?

Ultimately, I'm less interested in the public and political fallout of the decision than I am in the response of churches and church leaders. And here is mine: I don't care.

The state can decide what it wants to do with the country's religious and moral heritage as it wishes. As the church, I don't think that should be our main concern. There is much more important work given the church to do (telling the good news of the gospel, defending the powerless, caring for the poor) than assuring that its' doctrinal underpinnings are recognized and respected across the culture.

The argument for the constitutionality of the displays holds that the U.S. was founded upon "Christian principles," and that the order of our society depends upon the propagation and enshrining of those principles into the fabric of our common life. I think that's nonsense. Apart from being historically suspect (which "Christian principles?"), the view is just bad theology, and it demonstrates conservative Christianity's captivity to modern, Enlightenment thinking: God is the great issuer of principles, principles which, when put into practice, produce certain desireable results for individuals and societies, namely a stable social order.

But when I read the Bible I encounter a God who does relatively little principle-issuing and a great deal more creating, calling, shouting, and saving. And what is most striking, I find, is that Jesus, the centerpiece of the Biblical story of God's relationship with humanity, seemed conspicuously unconcerned about such things as "social order." In fact, the people he most vehemently condemned were those people for whom strict observance of principles in the name of social order was a controlling law.

God is bigger than your six-foot monument to your country and its' heritage. Go tell someone about Jesus or go buy food for a destitute family. And get over it.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:30 AM


Day - O... we say daaayyy - o
I'm in love with Sandra D...

so what do you make of the retirement?
commented by Anonymous matt, 1:20 PM  
I don't know what I make of it yet. I'm just looking forward to getting to watch a Supreme Court nomination fight. This is going to be good.

Matt, if I were president, I'd nominate you for Supreme Justice of the schwag.
commented by Blogger Rocky, 1:45 PM  
In other words by practicing Christianity the way Jesus taught us we are living monuments and don't need ones of stone

Good point. Wish everyone could understand that
commented by Blogger Donna, 9:28 AM  

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