Written by Don Byrd
What is it about the Ten Commandments? It seems like hardly a month goes by without some courthouse, state capitol, city municipal building, or public school building becoming the site of an effort to display – or to remove a display – featuring the Ten Commandments on government property. Whether on a poster, a banner, or a heavy granite slab, the Decalogue has become a consistent lightning rod for church-state controversy.
Still, I haven’t seen anything quite like the scene at the Arkansas State Capitol, where a few weeks ago a 6-ft granite Ten Commandments display was destroyed, one day after installation, when a man purposefully drove his vehicle into it. As it happens, the same man similarly buildozed a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma a few years ago. Now, that is a strange hobby. (For some insight into Michael Reed’s motivations and mental state, see the Arkansas Times’ piece on him)
A replacement monument is reportedly in the works, though it will apparently face a more traditional and lawful effort at removal through the court system. The ACLU previously announced its plans to file a lawsuit over the monument.
Meanwhile, a Ten Commandments controversy in New Mexico may be approaching its final stage as proponents of a monument at the Bloomfield City Hall have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of the 10th Circuit’s ruling that the display is unconstitutional. The 10th Circuit looked at all the surrounding circumstances of the monument and concluded that “any reasonable observer would glean an apparent religious motivation” in violation of the separation of church and state.
It only takes four justices of the Supreme Court, however, to decide to hear a case. Stay tuned.