The U.S. Supreme Court is again considering whether it is constitutional to display the Ten Commandments on public property.
An expert on the American religious experience from Washington University in St. Louis argues that the only way to allow all citizens to contribute to this country’s religious tapestry is for religion not to have a direct role in civil affairs and on government property.
Flinn argues that the decision to hang one version or the other of the Decalogue flies in the face of the First Clause of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … .”
“Some argue that tacking up one version over another is only a little inconvenience to unrepresented religious groups,” Flinn states. “The prohibition, however, is one of the rare absolutes in the Constitution: ‘no law.’ Not a little, inconvenient law; no law.”
Asking the state to arbitrate which version gets posted in public is to invite government into an imbroglio of entanglement that is worse than excessive; it promises to be destructive of civil peace, he warns.
“American Hindus subscribe to the Laws of Manu, Buddhists to the Code of the Bodhisattva, and Muslims to the Shariah. Why not post them?” Flinn asks. “By their own admission, the devout Christian champions of the Ten Commandments not only would not agree to posting the law codes of other religions, they would positively fight posting them, thus dragging the state into open religious disputes.”