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Congress Shall Make No Law By: Michael Tremoglie
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 02, 2002

THE LAWSUIT OF THE FREETHOUGHT SOCIETY OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA and Sally Flynn vs. Chester County (PA) revolved around a bronze tablet, 50 inches by 60 inches, engraved with the Ten Commandments and posted at the entrance to the county's historic courthouse. According to the Chester County, Pennsylvania Historical Society, the Council of Religious Education of West Chester installed the plaque at the courthouse, in 1920.

In August 2001, members of the Freethought Society, an organization of atheists and agnostics petitioned the County to remove the plaque. The county did not. The society, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union's Pennsylvania chapter, filed a federal lawsuit. The court ruled that the plaque was unconstitutional. The county is appealing. Now the Freethought Society is suing to have a similar plaque removed in another Pennsylvania county. Obviously, this is a well-organized and well-financed organization.

The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Everyone should understand the plain meaning of those words. The government is prohibited from setting up a state religion, such as the Taliban. However, no barriers will be erected against the practice of any religion. I do not understand how a plaque of the Ten Commandments installed at a courthouse establishes a state religion. References to God are contained in the Declaration of Independence, other governmental documents, our currency, our pledge of allegiance, the Supreme Court, and prayers are recited at sessions of Congress--none of which has caused the Republic to crumble, the United States to become a theocracy, or the persecution of nonbelievers.

Despite its plain meaning, the First Amendment has been used to forcibly remove religion from classrooms, government institutions, and to dilute the religious content of much of American life. Regardless of the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled to the contrary, neither the establishment clause nor the free-exercise clause was intended to preclude all interactivity between church and state. The words of those clauses have been stretched well beyond their logical extremes.

So why does the “Freethought Society “ (a misnomer if ever there was one) object to the Ten Commandments? Are they concerned about the Republic, as we know it?

Well judging from their website the organization simply detests Christianity. Consider these opinions from a Freethought essay about the Ten Commandments:

“Do study the Ten Commandments! They epitomize the childishness, the vindictiveness, the sexism, the inflexibility and the inadequacies of the Bible as a book of morals” “How can anyone not perceive the…psychotic insecurity behind the first four commandments?” “In general, to bear false witness is construed to mean, "don't lie," and that is a valuable moral precept, except again it is stated in absolute terms. Lies have saved lives…”

Like most bigoted groups, the Freethought Society is ignorant.

How can it legitimately be argued that for public schools to set aside a few moments in the morning for students to pray (only if they choose to) is tantamount to Congress making a law respecting the establishment of religion? I have often wondered why no one has made the argument that to deny children the time to pray comes closer to violating their free exercise of religion than the allowance of that time violates the establishment clause

Today our intellectual and political elites are often either hostile or ambivalent toward religion. Religious displays have been banned from public buildings during holiday seasons unless they contain enough secular images such as Frosty the Snowman to satisfy the ACLU-lulus. People for whom belief in God is at best a charming superstition have managed to ban prayer from the public schools.

Not content with banning prayer, many schools have been overtly hostile to religion. A teacher was fired in Fairfax County, Virginia, for holding a voluntary Bible study for students after hours in the privacy of her home. At a Smokey Robinson concert at a high school in Florida, Smokey Robinson spoke about the song Amazing Grace. County schools officials promptly canceled Robinson's second appearance at the high school. The reason was they said "It is not something we can allow other students to hear and be a party to." The NCAA prohibited football players from praying in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.

The socialist intelligentsia wants to bowdlerize religion from America’s institutions. They want to make God unconstitutional.

Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of the new novel A Sense of Duty, and an ex-Philadelphia cop. E-mail him at elfegobaca@comcast.net.

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