Beliefnet News

Beliefnet News

Confucius Joins Jesus on Court Display

Religion News Service
Christine Harvey

SLIDELL, La. – Napoleon, Confucius, Hammurabi and more than a dozen other historical figures have joined Jesus Christ on the wall at courthouse in a bid to reassure visitors that the court wanted nothing more than to showcase people who helped to create the laws of civilized nations.
Officials mounted the additional portraits Friday (Aug. 31), one week before a scheduled court hearing at which the Louisiana ACLU will ask a federal judge to remove the Jesus portrait.
The ACLU has sued the court, the city of Slidell, St. Tammany Parish and Judge Jim Lamz, saying the portrait and the accompanying words, “To know peace, obey these laws,” violates the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.
“The idea here is there never has been an ulterior motive, as is alleged by the ACLU,” said Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization that is representing the court.
“They wanted to erect an artistic display to emphasize the importance of following the law to maintain a peaceful society. The expanded display conveys that same message in a way that is unmistakable.”
Similar historical and educational renderings are on display in many public buildings and courthouses across the country, Johnson said from his office in Shreveport. Even the walls of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington contain marble friezes of “great lawgivers of history,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s friezes contain 18 “historical lawgivers,”
according to the court’s Web site. The Slidell City Court’s expanded display, which also includes a framed copy of the Constitution, contains many of the same figures as those depicted on the walls of the Supreme Court.
In addition to Confucius and Hammurabi, the common figures include Moses, Charlemagne, Octavian, Louis IX and John Marshall, the longest-serving chief justice on the high court. The Supreme Court friezes do not include Jesus.
The Louisiana ACLU’s new executive director said Wednesday that changes to the display appear to show a clear intent by court officials to try to fix something they view as a problem.
“The question of whether Jesus needs to come down is the same question,” said Marjorie Esman, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such displays must be conceived from the beginning. “You can’t cure a problem by dressing it up.”
The dispute began June 20 when the ACLU sent a letter to the court saying it had received a written complaint about the display, which has been in place since the courthouse opened in 1997. The organization said the court must remove the display or face a lawsuit.
The ACLU filed suit July 3 in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
Christine Harvey writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • Joey

    Even I am not going to believe that the original version does not count as a religious endorsement, but I like the new idea. I hope A.) the ACLU just decides to drop this case and B.) the courthouse doesn’t just take Confucius and his friends right afterwards.
    God bless.

  • cknuck

    If the ACLu could actually do some good I would respect them but of all the cases and all the injustices they waste their time on going after God. Get more hungry people fed more education for the poor more innocent people out of jail, better tax breaks and drugs off the streets and hold gun manufacturers accountable then maybe I could respect their work.

  • Henrietta22

    If the ACLU hadn’t sited the Courthouse in LA, the panel of all the people who show up on the renderings of historical and educational leaders in the civilized laws of nations, probably wouldn’t be there. Not because they planned it this way, but just because of inertia or lack of caring, as the picture of Jesus was hanging since 1997, with its writing on it, and forgotten. It’s interesting to see how many other courthouses have done this of their own volition. The Supreme Court, and some other bldgs. in Wash D.C. have this, too. If the old picture of Jesus has to come down to follow some ridiculous law, just take it down and put another one up to match the frames of the new ones.

  • jestrfyl

    This is all well and good, EXCEPT
    My understanding of Jesus is such that I think he would absolutely c*r*i*n*g*e at the thought of being included as the source of Law! Now, Moses? – sure. Paul? – maybe. But part of Jesus’ reputation is based on his “outlaw” (renegade, rebel, other?) status.

  • pagansister

    Looks like Slidell,LA has come up with an interesting way to try and get the suit dropped. Hey, the courthouse can become an art gallery, with the displays of all the different “law makers”. I find it interesting, however, that Slidell is using the U.S. Supreme Court building’s display as an example. BUT the U.S. Supreme Court DOESN’T have Jesus displayed.
    I agree, H22, that this new group of pictures wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the ACLU.
    Should be interesting to see if Jesus is removed in spite of the efforts by Slidell to remedy the previous situation.

  • Joey

    “But part of Jesus’ reputation is based on his “outlaw” (renegade, rebel, other?) status.”
    I don’t know. Didn’t he say, “I have come not to overthrow the Law, but to fulfill it?” He was certainly an outlaw, but that wasn’t so much because he wanted to be as he simply did not accept the law as it was.
    God bless.

  • nnmns

    “If the ACLu could actually do some good I would respect them but of all the cases and all the injustices they waste their time on going after God.”
    You’d think “God” would just say “ENOUGH!” in some convincing way. Funny that doesn’t happen.
    Seriously, the ACLU is actually going after practices favoring one religion by the government. It’s good somebody is doing it. You’d feel very different about it if, say, Islamic prayers were posted alone.

  • jestrfyl

    When it came to the confrontation over healing on the sabbath, Jesus stopped just short of saying , “Badges? We don’t need no stickin’ badges”. Except maybe he might have used the word “phylacteries” instead of “badges”. You can bet the priests and sadducees (spelling?) thought he was an outlaw. Pilate had his ideas too. And Luke seemed to go out of his way to make Jesus into a “Robin Hood”-esque character. Personally, as a person-of-motley myself, I continue to appreciate Jesus’ as a fellow Jester/Clown (a la Godspell, but way more cool)
    No matter what, they are disguising their religious inclinations with a smokescreen of not-Judeo-Christian rulers of various reputation.

  • Windsors Child

    “You’d think “God” would just say “ENOUGH!” in some convincing way. Funny that doesn’t happen.”
    Someday, it will.

  • jestrfyl

    You’ve got to be kidding. I expect (in my anthropomorphic, mythological way) that God is watching and having a hearty chuckle. Probably Buddah and Confuscious and Mohammed and Krishna and Anansi are all sitting with God, pointing and offering their versions of “O yeah, remember when …”.

  • Rudicus

    Jesus is not a lawgiver. Never has been, never will be – he was put there in direct violation of the establishment clause because the builders, townspeople and other officials are all Christian and only added the rest to avoid a lawsuit. The ACLU may be chasing their tails with all these suits, but somebody has to keep reminding these folks that we live in a pluralistic society and they can’t continue to present and re-imagine the U.S. as a Christian based country, no matter how much they would like it to be that way.

  • nnmns

    ‘”You’d think “God” would just say “ENOUGH!” in some convincing way. Funny that doesn’t happen.”
    Someday, it will.’
    Christians have been saying that for right on 2,000 years now. Nada. You’d think they’d learn it’s just not happening.

  • Frank B. Chavez III

    If the people of Sliddell actually wanted to convince the ACLU or anyone else that artwork in question was meant to be display of historical lawgivers they would remove the portrait of Jesus (a historical law “reinterpreter”) and replace it with a portrait of primary Constitutional author James Madison.

  • jd70

    Why not just post the golden rule up and leave it at that. In my opinion doing good or being law abiding is not about honoring religious figures, but rather having understanding and compassion for each other.

  • Anonymous

    “”You’d think “God” would just say “ENOUGH!” in some convincing way. Funny that doesn’t happen.”
    Someday, it will.”
    Odds are it won’t, but if it did what would be the point?

  • Anonymous

    Not sure I like this new format. The last post was by jd70

  • jestrfyl

    We could do worse than have the Rede (is this correct? I don’t have the previous posting about the battling WICCANs at hand. But this impressed me) over our courtrooms, along with the Golden Rule, and Sun Tzu’s “Keep your frineds close, and your enemies closer”

  • nnmns

    The Golden Rule is a darned good start toward treating people right. I could go along with posting it in some form; I understand various religions have versions.

  • recovering ex-Pentecostal

    you are free to disagree with and disrespect the work of the ACLU, but I gotta disagree with your statement…
    “of all the cases and all the injustices they waste their time on going after God”
    Since, at least in THIS case, the Courts are supposed to be neutral, God (aka Jesus in this cae) is an affront to that neutrality. It gives the message that His followers are likely to be treated more ‘fairly’ than non-Christians.
    Religions have NO place in a system that is supposed to be concerned with justice, especially given the particular histories of so many religions, and also in light of the fact that there is not supposed to be any religion given preferential treatment in America.

  • pagansister

    Yes, jestrfyl, you are correct– the Wiccan Rede:
    “Do what you will, so long as it harm none.”

  • Saadaya

    Since we’re at it, why don’t they add an addendum to Leviticus – the US Constitution, and place the Bill of rights after the Pauline epistles in the Bible?
    And since Moses is on display and he’s one of our Lawgivers, are we re-instituting public stoning of those who work on Sabbath, as the Law of Moses clearly ordains? And of adulterous women, even if raped, as per Deuteronomy 22?

  • jestrfyl

    OK, why not include Yoda “There is no try, only do”.
    What bits of wisdom can we include from Gandalf, Merlin, or Dumbledore?
    I expect we can also glean some wisdom from Mr Rodgers as well as Grover or Elmo.

Previous Posts

Former Muslim Wants to See Change   Author and former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke at the National Press Club on April 7th and said there needs to be five amendments to Islam. She said “individuals” within Islam today ...

posted 9:08:12am Apr. 10, 2015 | read full post »

Hispanics turning evangelical, Jews secular
Worship service attendance is up in New York City, but down among young adult Jews, according to recent studies. On the other hand, fewer Spanish-speaking teens are attending Catholic mass, but more are showing up at Evangelical ...

posted 3:10:30pm Nov. 05, 2013 | read full post »

Billy Graham: I know where I'm going
“Daddy thinks the Lord will allow him to live to 95,” said Franklin Graham recently. It was not a prophecy but a hope, Franklin explained, ...

posted 10:02:01am Oct. 24, 2013 | read full post »

Are All These Christians' Complaints of Persecution Just So Much Empty Whining?
The headlines are alarming: “Catholic-Owned Company Wins Religious Freedom Court Decision,” “Death Toll Rises to 65 in Boko Haram Attack on Students,” “Little Sisters Catholic Charity Victimized By Obamacare,” “Christians Sought ...

posted 2:41:26am Oct. 07, 2013 | read full post »

How can Christians defend themselves against today's random violence?
So, a crazed gunman opens fire and you’re caught in the middle. How can you survive? Heroes come in all sorts of packages. And they wield all sorts of defensive weapons. Such as guns and Jesus. Sometimes both at the same time. [caption ...

posted 2:53:48pm Sep. 27, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.