Beliefnet
People of faith across the nation were disheartened on Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an important case involving the display of the Ten Commandments. This case was consequential because civil libertarians and atheists who claim to be offended by them are challenging Ten Commandments exhibits across the country.

In this instance, the High Court said it would not rule on theconstitutionality of a display in front of the Elkhart, Indiana, Municipal Building that has been in place for 43 years. The court's action lets stand the Seventh Circuit Court ruling that found the marker violated the so-called "separation of church and state." A federal judge will now determine what to do with the historic monument.

While the Seventh Circuit said it was unconstitutional, a similar public display was upheld by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. This is why I had prayed that the High Court would hear this case--with varying rulings handed down regarding the Ten Commandments, it is imperative that the Court hand down a ruling.

In the Elkhart case, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was joined in dissent from the majority by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. While the three argued that the case should have been accepted, the affirmative votes of at least four justices are needed in order for a case to be heard. Justice Rehnquist, noting that Elkhart's display had a secular as well as a religious purpose, said the city simply sought to reflect the cultural, historical and legal significance of the commandments.

"Indeed, a carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, surrounded by representations of other historical legal figures, adorns the frieze on the south wall of our courtroom," he wrote, adding that the Supreme Court carving "signals respect not for great proselytizers but for great lawgivers."

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said the Court "missed an important opportunity to clarify an issue that has become the center of a national debate."

Francis J. Manion, senior counsel of the ACLJ (which represented the city of Elkhart in this case), added, "The Court's decision not to weigh-in on the Ten Commandments issue will only add to the confusion surrounding the displays of Ten Commandments in communities across America."

The ACLJ had asked the Supreme Court to take the case and overturn a December 2000 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that ruled that the Commandments display--donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1958 to the City of Elkhart--was unconstitutional.

The ACLJ is presently involved in 10 cases involving challenges to the display of the Ten Commandments--including therepresentation of Ohio Judge James DeWeese, who has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for posting the Commandments in his Richland County courtroom.

The ACLJ and other groups--such as Liberty Counsel, an affiliate ministry of Jerry Falwell Ministries--are diligently working to safeguard the constitutionality of Ten Commandmentsdisplays, which represent the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country. The American Civil Liberties Union typically ignores our nation's history in its call for virtually eliminating the religious heritage of bygone days.

Jan LaRue, senior director of Legal Studies at the Family Research Council, said, "All Americans should have the right to educate their fellow citizens through public displays about the role of religion in the founding and history of our country and its legal system, but those living in the Seventh Circuit do not.

"This is another illustration of how important the next judicial appointments are," LaRue added. "In the meantime, nationwide efforts to publicly post the Ten Commandments are reasonable, within established law and tradition, and will not cease. The public square is an appropriate and constitutional location for the Ten Commandments."

Indeed, the public square is--and has been since our nation's inception--a suitable place to honor a document that was important in America's founding and its progression. Tragically, the American Civil Liberties Union wants to purge our religious heritage from the American public square, and many jurists are willing to let them do just that. These activist judges are deliberately ignoring the actuality of America's founding--an actuality of dependence on the Bible and Judeo-Christian values. Our Founders would be horrified to witness the utter disdain many present-day legal scholars and jurists have for the very values that made this nation great.

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