Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ten Commandments before high court: "The issue of whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed on government property goes before the Supreme Court Wednesday, in a pair of potentially landmark cases that test religion's cultural and legal status in American society.

"The justices will consider whether displaying the commandments represents state endorsement of religion, or simply recognizes and reflects the role that code has played in U.S. moral and legal traditions."

"Few Christian organizations have spoken out. The National Council of Churches said differences within its membership kept the group from taking a position. The Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have been largely silent."

"The court has tread carefully on the issue. It ruled in 1980 that the Ten Commandments could not be posted in public school classrooms.

"And in October, the justices refused to accept an appeal from former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. He was removed from office in November 2003 after refusing a federal judge's order to remove a 2.6-ton granite monument bearing the Ten Commandments from the state court building.

"The pervasiveness of the Ten Commandments is evident in the Supreme Court building itself. Inside the courtroom is a series of marble friezes that include not only Confucius, Mohammed and secular figures associated with law, but Moses holding the tablets, without text. The justices can see them from the bench simply by looking up."

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