This has to stop
And then has to stop
Someone keeps driving over 10 Commandments monuments.
Actually one guy does.
“I’m a firm believer that for our salvation we not only have faith in Jesus Christ, but we also obey the commands of God and that we confess Jesus as Lord,” he says in the post. “But one thing I do not support is the violation of our constitutional right to have the freedom that’s guaranteed to us, that guarantees us the separation of church and state, because no one religion should the government represent.”
That guy is Michael Tate Reed, whom the Washington Post calls a “serial destroyer of Ten Commandments monuments,” (ouch) and who, allegedly, ran over the one in Little Rock, Arkansas. The above statement, incidentally, was not from yesterday but what he said after he ran over a similar monument at the capitol in Oklahoma City in 2014. At the time, he gave the voices in his head a full airing.
He also detailed one incident where voices told him to crash his car into other vehicles, but instead he wrecked on a highway median. In the past, he’s walked into federal buildings to spit on portraits, made threats against former president Barack Obama and set money on fire, according to the World.
This isn’t funny, isn’t poetic justice, isn’t schadenfreude, and doesn’t make Reed some passionate rebelious advocate of the Establishment Clause.
For the love of Christ (more on this in a moment), here we go.
Last year, in the Tulsa Voice, I wrote a piece about the ongoing battles in Oklahoma to justify such monuments, and my good friend, the incomparable Garrett Epps, an American legal scholar, professor of law at the University of Baltimore and contributing editor for The Atlantic, told me the courts are actually pretty good at seeing intent in these matters and ruling accordingly.
… that Ten Commandment exhibits throughout the country — at least those already in place — do not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution when they are considered historical acknowledgement rather than religious shrines.
Historical acknowledgment, not religious shrines — and we have the marketing genius of Cecile B. DeMille to thank for that distinction.
DeMille actually helped establish the battleground. He played a role in getting the granite replica of the Commandments placed outside the Texas Capitol. He skillfully avoided footing the bill for the tablets, leaving that to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. DeMille’s Ten Commandments premiered in 1956. Learning of the Eagles’ work — and keen to promote his film with their cause — the director encouraged the group to donate carved stone tablets like those that star Charlton Heston, as Moses, brandished in the movie.
Look at the date again — 1956.
The statue in Arkansas went up Tuesday.
These monuments, far from being an homage to the foundation of American law or an example of the glue that holds us all together (Is there a state that still has adultery laws?), are erected by Christians, reflective of Christianity, promoted by Christians, paid for by Christians, defended by Christians, and intended for Christians. It is the desire of people like State Senator Garner to establish one religion — theirs — and to essentially erect a “Jesus is Lord over (your state’s name here)” monument at the seat of state government.
It’s maddening, enough to make you want to repeatedly mow down such edifices with your car.
But you don’t. A civilized society has other options for redress.
The right to sue and defend in the courts is one of the highest and most essential privileges of citizenship and must be allowed by each State to the citizens of all other States to the same extent that it is allowed to its own citizens.
That’s not in The 10 Commandments — it’s in the US Constitution.
You want to erect something, erect that.