Monday, February 28, 2005

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shall not strike down the Ten Commandments

The Supreme Court will have to decide whether the display of the Ten Commandments breaches the constitutional clause of non-establishment. Bush's administration has already taken a clear stance calling the ten commandments: "a uniquely potent and commonly recognized symbol of the law." In other words, the defence claimed by the administration puts the text of the ten commandments in the American historical context, and argues that within it the document has played a key role in enhancing the image of the law.

Paradoxically, by using a secular argument of that sort, Bush's administration undermines the deep religious value of the text of the ten commandments. Its value does not belong to a contingent, local historical experience. It goes beyond that. It is not a symbol of the law, but it is a deeply religious symbol. The two would better not be conflated.

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