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On the June 27th 2005 Supreme Court Ruling on the Texas Ten Commandments Monument

Press release issued: June 27, 2005

The Atheist Community of Austin is dismayed by the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Thomas van Orden v. Texas Governor Rick Perry concerning the Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds. The court ruled that the monument did not violate the Constitution's First Amendment as the alleged secular purpose of the monument was to commending the Fraternal Order of Eagles, in their efforts to reduce juvenile delinquency. The Fraternal Order of Eagles gave the monument to the state in 1961.

The monument is clearly religious in nature and its permanent placement on the capitol grounds does indeed constitute an establishment of religion. Few Americans would make a connection between the monument and juvenile delinquency. Instead, most Americans would recognize it as a symbol of the belief that the US law and our government come from the Judeo-Christian God. Justice Scalia concurred with this perception in the March 2nd oral arguments, adding "And if you don't think it conveys that message, I think you're just kidding yourself." In fact, our nation was made explicitly secular by the founders and US law is based primarily on British Common law, which was in place before Christianity reached Britton.

The ACA commends the efforts of Austinite Thomas van Orden, who against difficult obstacles proved a dedicated advocate for constitutional principles. While many, including the high court, have portrayed him as a lone complainer about a passive monument, we view him instead as courageous patriot. We share with him the desire to uphold the separation of church and state implied by the first amendment as it benefits everyone--the believer and non-believer alike. We also fully understand the persecution that is often faced by those who stand up against the majority religion. We assert that monument went unchallenged for so many years because of this fear.

The ACA agrees with the second Supreme Court ruling in the Kentucky Ten Commandments case, McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. Religious displays in government buildings are also clearly an establishment of religion. The display in the Kentucky case is especially insidious, as it is in a courthouse where all citizens should be guaranteed equal treatment under the law.

The Atheist Community of Austin is organized as a nonprofit educational corporation to develop and support the atheist community, to provide opportunities for socializing and friendship, to promote secular viewpoints, to encourage positive atheist culture, to defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation, to oppose discrimination against atheists and to work with other organizations in pursuit of common goals. For more information about the Atheist Community of Austin or to read our position on the Ten Commandments monuments, see our web site at http://www.atheist-community.org or call 512-371-2911.

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From the officers:

The ACA Lecture Series continues, Sunday September 14th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. Chase Hunter will talk on "Inside Scientology." The Austin History Center opens at noon.

Join us for the Bat Cruise Lecture, 1:15pm September 27th at Trinity United Methodist Church, at 40th and Speedway. Lecturers will be Richard Carrier and Chris Johnson.

The ACA Bat Cruise is set for Saturday, September 27th, 6-8pm. Purchase tickets in advance here.

The audio and video from Dr. Shahnawaz August lecture is now available.