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Thou Shalt not Trample on the Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This is the first amendment to the Constitution. In essence this states that the government will not become involved or sponsor any religion. There is a reason our founding fathers added this amendment to the Constitution. Any time a government becomes involved with religion or visa versa, Disaster happens.

If you want evidence of this look at the history of Europe for the past 700 years and see what chaos has arisen when religion and the state intertwine. Yet we do not seem to be learning from the past. Congress on June 17, 1999, passed a law that slaps the First Amendment in the face. That law allowed for the states to choose to post the Ten Commandments in public schools and other government buildings. The law that was proposed by Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), Rep. Robert Alderholt (R-Al), and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL). The bill was created in response to the Columbine shootings that took place April 20, 1999.

The bill was swept through the house at a time when the country was in shock over the shootings. There were several reasons why the house felt the need to pass such a bill. Rep. Alderhold believed that it is an important step to promote morality, and an end of children killing children. (Leavitt) Rep. Hyde believes that the amendment should slow the flood of toxic waste into the minds of our children. (Webster) Rep. Barr went as far to say that if Columbine had the Ten Commandments posted that the massacre of April 20th would not have occurred.

These are the arguments for the Ten Commandments to be posted in public schools. These are the best reasons our elected representatives could come up with to slap the First Amendment in the face. Is it really as Rep. Alderholt said We have the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion? (Leavitt) According to the Supreme Court The honorable Alderholt is wrong. In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled that a similar Kentucky law, which required all classrooms to post a copy of the Decalogue, was unconstitutional. The oppositions’ arguments against this law are enormous.

One major argument is which set of commandments do you use? Do you use the Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant versions? Is there one version better than the others? Is it thou shalt not kill or is that thou shalt not murder? (Boston) Does that include self defense? What constitutes a graven image? These are just some of the questions brought up by those opposed to the bill. If the government puts up the Ten Commandments will they also post the Five Pillars of Islam, The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the Wiccan Rede and the Affirmation of Humanism? (Boston) The government should not play favorites with religion.

Religion does not need the governments help to promote the Ten Commandments. For a few thousand years, the leaders of Judaism and Christianity have been doing a pretty good job of getting the word out to the people. Four of the Ten Commandments are religious in nature. People have fought and died because they disagreed over what constitutes a false god or over the meaning of the ban on worshipping a graven image. Does this mean that believers of Islam and Hinduism should be punished because they worship a different god then what is on a piece of paper?

What day is the Sabbath Friday, Saturday, or Sunday? Religious leaders differ on these questions. They not government bureaucrats are best suited to interpret the Commandments. No matter which way one looks at it, posting a version of the Ten Commandments would exclude millions of Americans who follow different religions, or none at all, and many of them would be upset to stare at someone elses beliefs every day in a public school. Other arguments against posting the Ten Commandments are the moral implications of forcing ones religion on another? America is religiously diverse.

For starters there are 2,000 different religions, traditions, denominations, and sects in the United States. Spreading the word of God is one thing. If you want to show others how great you love is for god, you have the right to pass out as many pamphlets on the street corner as you wish and give speeches and sermons until your hoarse. However you arent allowed to do so on public school grounds. (Leavitt) It is wrong to force your religion on others. Our fore fathers knew this from experience which is why the first amendment was added to the constitution. A third argument is raised.

After the Stone v. Graham decision when the Supreme Court struck down the Kentucky law that required schools to post the Ten Commandments. Lower federal courts have struck down the display of the Decalogue at government buildings as well as schools. Public schools who post the Decalogue are begging for a lawsuit that they are almost certain to lose. (Boston) Who will ultimately pay for that lawsuit. The tax payers will with time and money. The end result will be the Decalogue will be removed and we will be back at square one only we will have wasted our time and money. There are very few arguments for posting the Ten Commandments.

Most of the arguments are like the ones the honorable representatives have stated. Others believe this will bring back to society what it has been missing. The posting of the Ten Commandments will be the key to having a peaceful society. (Associated Press) The “first step” toward instilling moral values in children. (Associated Press) as Rep. Alderholt (R-Al) “I understand that simply posting the Ten Commandments will not instantly change the moral character of our nation, however it is an important step to promote morality, and an end of children killing children. Associated Press)

This is all the argument there is for the posting of the Ten Commandments. A public school is not a place of religion. But religion has a constitutional place in the public schools. This is an argument by the state Attorney General of South Carolina Charlie Condon. Other arguments are if the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey the Commandments. These are the arguments that are being repeated over and over to support the posting of the Ten Commandments.

Lets be logical for a minute. A kid who is homicidal will not show up to school with an automatic weapon with the intent of murdering his classmates and then see the Ten commandments and think, Gee, I shouldnt do this. That piece of paper says thou shalt not kill. Lets be realistic posting the Ten Commandments will not give us this utopic society we want. It will not end violence. It is not the public schools job to instill morals and values. The school is responsible for reading, writing and arithmetic thats it.

If the Ten Commandments have not changed the moral character of the children yet they are not going to do so. It is the parents and church leaders’ jobs to instill the moral character they want their children to show. I dont know about everyone else but when I was in elementary and high school meditating about some poster on a wall was the farthest thing from my mind. I kept seeing a poster telling me not to do drugs. That did not stop me from lighting up a joint after school. Then there was the abstinence poster ironically that did nothing to slow me down either.

Why would an educated population think that a poster would keep me from executing hundreds of my classmates in a blood bath or turning my teacher into a red spot on the wall. Lets face it, many politicians and special interest groups seem ready these days to use religious symbols and language to win elections. Do we really want sanctimonious, poll-obsessed politiciansmany of whom dont impose the Ten Commandments on themselvesimposing them on us? In conclusion the Ten Commandments are not a magic charm that can make societys problems disappear overnight.

Although some people and politicians treat the commandments as though they are a lucky rabbits footpost them on the wall and all of societys ills will disappear! This is simplistic thinkingand it distracts us from the hard work of solving thorny social problems. Not Posting the Ten Commandments in schools wouldnt be keeping people from religion. It would only be protecting everyones constitutional right not to have anyones views forced upon them in a government-run organization. The Ten Commandments should not be posted because they violate the first amendment.

They dont allow for the beliefs of other religions. It is wrong to force your religion on others. I believe it is a waste of time and money to even attempt to hang the Ten Commandments up. They will just come back down when the courts rule it unconstitutional. Finally I believe that we are fooling ourselves, thinking that a manuscript written thousands of years ago is going to change school violence today. The only thing that is going to change school violence today is more parent involvement in the lives of their children, not some archaic code of laws.

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