I had to go back and read this again. Here it is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Yes! That’s what I thought it said. Especially the part about “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What I missed apparently in all of this is the part about Christians. Fortunately Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court has cleared that up for us:
Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians
Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us. “They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”
I am glad Justice Moore has cleared that up, and I’m glad he has decided to stop playing games, because there was the possibility he had become circumspect in his push for a Judeo-Christian theocracy. Certain of Judge Moore’s past actions should have given the clue that he would be unbending in this:
Soon after his appointment [as a circuit judge], when Moore presided over a case where two male strippers (known professionally as “Silk” and “Satin”) were charged with murdering a drug addict, the attorney for the defendants objected to the display. This drew the attention of critics, who also objected to Moore’s practice of opening court sessions with a prayer beseeching Divine Guidance for jurors in their deliberations. (In at least one instance, Judge Moore asked a clergyman to lead the court’s jury pool in prayer.) Though such pre-session prayers were not uncommon in Alabama, having begun many years earlier by George C. Wallace, Jr., when he was a circuit judge, the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter in June 1993 with the threat of a lawsuit if such prayers did not cease. [Some links removed]
Regarding a plaque depicting the judges on version of the Ten Commandments:
In March 1995, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Moore, claiming that the pre-session prayers and the Ten Commandments display were both unconstitutional. This original lawsuit was eventually dismissed for technical reasons, but Governor Fob James instructed state Attorney General Bill Pryor to file suit in Montgomery County in support of Moore. The case ended up before state Circuit Judge Charles Price, who in 1996 declared the prayers unconstitutional but initially allowed the Ten Commandments plaque to remain on the courtroom walls. Immediately after the ruling, Moore held a press conference vowing to defy the ruling against pre-session prayers and affirming a religious intent in displaying the plaque. Critics responded by asking Price to reconsider his previous ruling, and the judge issued a new ruling requiring the Ten Commandments plaque to be removed in ten days. Moore appealed Price’s decision and kept the plaque up; ten days later the Alabama Supreme Court issued a temporary stay against the ruling. The Court never ruled in the case, throwing it out for technical reasons in 1998. [Emphasis added]
There is one thing his critics (that would include me) can appreciate about Judge Moore, and that is he does not hide his intent behind noble claims of advancing morality in the name of all faiths. It actually is refreshing to see a public official, such as Moore, come out and state that this country is for Christians (Jews if they behave themselves), and the rest of you idolaters can just go screw off. I’m sorry. Did I say Christians? I meant some Christians. Joel N. Shurkin has researched and posted a better hash of this issue than I could ever have done:
Moore was probably unaware that even the numbering of the Decalogue is a matter of dispute. There are at least four methods of numbering the “Ten”: Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox.
Is the first line, “I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt….”a statement or a commandment? Some Christians say it is a statement, a prelude to what follows. That would leave them with nine commandments, but they break the last one into two prohibitions, one against lusting after your neighbor’s wife and another against coveting your neighbor’s property, to get back up to ten. Maimonides, though, said that the first phrase was a commandment to recognize the one God, an affirmation of monotheism.
In typical fashion, Jewish scholars have debated just how many commandments the Ten Commandments contain, and numbers vary up to near 30, depending on how you divide the sentences. Of course, “Ten Commandments”is not a Jewish term anyway. In Hebrew, the Decalogue is called aseret ha-dibrot, which means statements or utterances, not aseret ha-mitzvot.
Beyond numbering, mainstream Christianity’s and mainstream Judaism’s relationships to the Decalogue have long been complex. Rosann Catalano, Arian’s Roman Catholic counterpart at the institute, says that “generally, they carry the sacred word of the living God and we’re obliged to heed them.” Yet while Catalano says that the Decalogue has not been superseded by the New Testament, Christians regularly disobey two of the 10, the one against graven images (visit any Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church) and the one requiring Sabbath observance (almost all but Seventh Day Adventists). They believe Jesus made them less imperative, and some Christian scholars believe the Sermon on the Mount might have superseded the commandments.
Perhaps surprisingly, mainstream Judaism also has a complicated relationship with the Ten Commandments.
The Jewish Studies scholar Everett Fox, whose poetic translation of the Torah was a best-seller, called the Ten Commandments the “cornerstone of Western civilization-although a glance at them will reveal that they have not even very well followed over the past two millennia.” Similarly, Rabbi Bradd Boxman of Har Sinai, a Reform synagogue in Owings Mills, MD , calls the Decalogue “one of the most important advances in the history of humankind. It incorporates the breadth and scope of what a just and civilized society should look like.”
But in traditional Judaism, the Decalogue is deliberately de-emphasized, the result of a brawl going back to when the Christians separated from Judaism. In the days of early synagogue, both the Decalogue and the Shema were recited at services. The early Judeo-Christians made much of the ethical focus of the Ten Commandments (at least the last six, anyway), arguing that it showed that ethics, not ritual law, was the fundamental essence of the Covenant. In response, the early rabbis decided to play down the Ten Commandments (see Berachot 12a) and the Shema became the sole “Watchword of the Faith” of Judaism.
Judge Moore dictated the design of the monument he caused to be placed in the Alabama Supreme Court rotunda. The monument is capped by an inscription of the Ten Commandments, but in an abbreviated form. See the image. The inscription reads (using lower case where appropriate):
I am the Lord thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Thou shalt not the name of the Lord thy God in vain
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
Honor thy father and thy mother
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
Thou shalt not bear false witness
From Google Images
Judge Moore’s remark that “First Amendment only applies to Christians …” is hard to reconcile with his infatuation with the Ten Commandments, since the Ten Commandments, as traditionally accepted, is sort of a Jewish thing. The judge is right on one point: “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us.” Obviously Buddha did not create us and Mohamed did not create us. Mohamed is only considered to be a prophet and not a god—not a creator. However, and Judge Moore seems to have missed this point, the God of Islam is exactly the same as the God of Abraham. So, what’s Judge Moore’s point? Nothing, in my view, except that religious bigotry seems to be his thing.
I’m glad that point has been made clear.