The Ten Commandments
and the Separation of Church and State


Amendment I

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.

The Bill of Rights Online
The U.S. Constitution Online

Now as most anyone with a grade school education can plainly read, the first amendment of the United States Constitution limits only the legislative authority of the House and Senate of the United States (Congress). No other governmental body is mentioned, at either the federal or state level. Clearly this amendment was intended to prevent the federal government from meddling in the free exercise of religion by denying Congress the authority to enact laws that regulate churches / houses of worship (an establishment of religion), or the freedom to worship God as one deems appropriate, but that is the total extent of the 1st amendment regarding religion. Although it does not specifically mention religion, the 14th amendment also applies:

Amendment XIV

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; ...

So this part of the 14th amendment prohibits the States from restricting, by law, liberties granted by the U.S. Constitution, which includes religious freedom as mentioned in the 1st amendment. The amendment continues:

... nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That part of the 14th amendment prohibits State governments from taking away a person's life (by execution), liberty (by imprisonment), or private property (by seizure), without the procedure of law being followed. The amendment also guarantees equality under the law to everyone.

So, I ask you, what jurisdiction does a federal judge have in the matter of Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore displaying the 10 Commandments in the rotunda of Alabama's judicial building? None, because it is certain that the Constitution of the United States does not give the federal government competency, authority or jurisdiction in the matter, since it does not involve any legislative act of the U.S. Congress (1st amendment) or the state of Alabama, or the unlawful deprivation of life, liberty, or property by federal or state authorities (14th amendment).

Whether you agree or not with what judge Moore has done, he simply has not done anything that can be deemed "unconstitutional", at least with regard to the 1st and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The federal government simply has no authority to dictate to the people of Alabama how they, or their elected officials, choose to decorate their judicial building, since architectural decorations on or in state buildings in no way involve a deprivation of religious liberty to anyone in the state.


What else is on the monument, besides the 10 Commandments?

HR 2045 - Ten Commandments Defense Act of 2003 - A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives that would define display of the Ten Commandments in State buildings a matter of States rights.

Glassroth v. Moore [PDF]

The Federal Court Ruling that Judge Moore violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Lawsuit to Keep the Commandments [PDF]

PREAMBLE TO THE ALABAMA STATE CONSTITUTION

We, the people of the State of Alabama, in order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution and form of government for the State of Alabama:

SECTION 3 OF THE ALABAMA STATE CONSTITUTION

Religious freedom.

That no religion shall be established by law; that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination, or mode of worship; that no one shall be compelled by law to attend any place of worship; nor to pay any tithes, taxes, or other rate for building or repairing any place of worship, or for maintaining any minister or ministry; that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state; and that the civil rights, privileges, and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected by his religious principles.

Constitution of the State of Alabama


There is an increasing tendency by Christians in America to defend the public display of the Ten Commandments in the courtrooms and other state or federal governmental buildings, in an effort to publicize the foundational nature of God's Law in the fabric of the nation's legal system, and promote their enduring value to the general welfare and safety of the public at large. This puts the majority of Christian pastors in a very awkward position when it comes to preaching the value of observing the Ten Commandments, because when it comes to the Sabbath commandment (third by Catholic count, and fourth by some Protestants), the Sunday keeping preacher needs to explain, somehow to his congregation, just why it is that God's eternal law commands the keeping of the seventh day (Saturday), but that is no longer validthat God's Law has been changed, and it is now the first day of the week (Sunday) that should be kept holy today by Christians. 

A diligent search of the New Testament will discover no command from Jesus or the Apostles to cease keeping the Sabbath, or that it has been replaced by the first day of the week, yet the Sunday keeping Protestant pastor finds himself in the predicament of exhorting his congregation to keep Sunday, in striking contradiction to God's clear command to keep the seventh day Saturday Sabbath. ... (More)



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