Draw historical line on 10 Commandments

Where to draw the line? As the U.S. Supreme Court struggles to answer that question with regard to displays of the 10 Commandments in government buildings, a practical solution lies before them.

Draw the line here. Draw it now.

No government buildings should add the 10 Commandments, and no new buildings should be constructed with them as a component. Nor should any government be compelled to remove a 10 Commandments display that is part of the permanent structure or has been placed there historically.

This solution avoids the philosophical argument over separation of religion and government, an argument that could go on endlessly. Instead, it relies simply on the logic of history: The 10 Commandments are part of the nation's heritage and foundation for its legal concepts (as are similar tenets in many major religions).

In those respects, religion can never be removed from debate that shapes public policy in the United States. Religious concepts are imprinted on the nation's legal precedents, and they mold the people - from president to city councilman - who decide those policies.

The strength of America lies in its diversity and willingness to embrace all faiths and beliefs. That's why it is impossible for government to pick and choose from thousands of religious symbols which to include and which to exclude from its monuments. Legally and logically, allowing one means allowing them all.

There's no need to strike "In God We Trust" from our money or "under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance. Continue to allow prayers to open legislative sessions, as long as there's an opportunity for a variety of faiths. Leave religious holidays on the federal calendar.

Don't try to deny religion or history.

Nevertheless, many of us would scratch our heads in bewilderment if the seven aphorisms of the Summum philosophy were etched over the Supreme Court tomorrow. Under the constitution, we should treat the 10 Commandments the same way from now on.


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