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on a recent Ten Commandments memorial

< ahref="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/10/another-round-in-ten-commandments-fight-hits-fla/">Another Round in Ten Commandments Fight Hits Florida</a>

Stories about Ten Commandments monuments are so common, they become routine after a while. I read them because I find the intersection of civil law and religion interesting, and these stories often provide a fun glimpse at how different people across the country view not only their religion but also their obligation to obey laws they don't agree with. It's usually worth a skim, though hardly ever worth a blog post.

This story is different, because there are several parts of it that are... disquieting to say the least. I don't mean to be an alarmist, and I don't mean to beat up on these people who found their beliefs forced into the national limelight. (I suspect there are communities across the country that have similar beliefs.) Still, there are a few things worth noting.

First, the residents of Dixie County aren't content to just have a court battle. A mechanic promised there would be people here to remove it, if the courts said it couldn't be left in front of the court house. For someone that believes in the rule of law, that's... disquieting to say the least. It also seems worth noting when we look at political battles. Lately, it seems like people are less likely than ever to let the other guy govern, if they lose an election.

Also, there's this charge that the guy who sued the county "ain't from around here." He's not a county resident, arguably not a Florida resident. He is a Florida resident, IMO, just like the thousands of people I grew up around who split their lives between Florida and North Carolina - he probably owns a house there, pays taxes, maybe even votes there. But that technical point is irrelevant. Rights like the freedom not to have someone else's religion shoved down your throat aren't subject to a majority vote. Public monuments of this kind - especially this particular monument (I'll get to why in a minute) - are wrong on principle.

The biggest problem to me, though, is that this particular monument is especially odious. Why? Well, arguably most monuments of the Ten Commandments could just be memorializing a part of history that many Americans think is foundational to our justice system. We can argue about whether it really happened or just how foundational it is. But still, there's the case to be made that it's at least about a past event. This monument goes further. Check out that inscription: LOVE GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. It's indicative, it's a command on everyone who sees it. It's a command on anyone who comes to the courthouse, not just for an emotional state but for a certain kind of actions. That's wrong on many, many levels.

I tend to not be a big fan of these monuments because I think there are much better ways to focus on living your faith in the public square. You know, spending all that money to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, or generally see to the least of these - as the Bible actually commands Christians to do. I try to sympathize with people who feel boxed out of public debate, where the ideas most important to them can't be publicly recognized. That hurts, and so I understand the drive to portray the Ten Commandments as part of the story of where justice came from. But this? Way too far, IMO.

This entry was originally posted at http://fidesquaerens.dreamwidth.org/4469.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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