The 10 Commandments are again on trial. This time the setting is Giles County in Virginia, where a law suit has been filed against displaying the 10 Commandments at Narrows High School. Should they stay or should they go? Apparently it's not as clear cut as that. The judge in the case had a recommendation that leaves everyone wondering what is going on in this country!
As reported in the Roanoke Times, the controversy has been brewing for quite a while. First, the school board voted to remove the display of the 10 Commandments from the high school. Public reaction was intense, and the school board voted 3-2 to put the display back in place.
Then, a student filed a lawsuit against the display. That's where the judge came in.
Could the Ten Commandments be reduced to six, a federal judge asked Monday.
Would that neutralize the religious overtones of a commandments display that has the Giles County School Board in legal hot water?
That unorthodox suggestion was made by Judge Michael Urbanski during oral arguments over whether the display amounts to a governmental endorsement of religion, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by a student at Narrows High School.
After raising many pointed questions about whether the commandments pass legal muster, the judge referred the case to mediation - with a suggestion:
Remove the first four commandments, which are clearly religious in nature, and leave the remaining six, which make more secular commands, such as do not kill or steal.
Wow! Are you serious? The 6 Commandments? Who exactly is helped by this idea? No one. The 10 Commandments are the 10 Commandments. Period.
Of course, the legal debate on either side is intense:
There is no federal case allowing the commandments in a school, said Rebecca Glenberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the student. While Urbanski agreed, he called the details of the Giles County dispute "very nuanced."
Because the commandments appear with other historical documents, and because they are mentioned in the curriculum of Giles County schools, there's reason to find the board had a secular mission when it approved the display, argued Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, a Christian-based law group that is defending the county.
I personally don't care if the 10 Commandments are surrounded by the Bill of Rights, Constitution, or any other document. It is what it is, and it forms the basis for a civil society not just in America, but around the whole world. The more we chop away at the 10 Commandments, the more we chop away at our history and our compass.