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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