On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in separate cases that the Ten Commandments can and can’t be displayed in government buildings.
While the court ruled that the Ten Commandments could continue to be displayed at the Texas Capitol because the display did not endorse a religion, the court ruled in another case that displays at two Kentucky county courthouses must be removed because they do endorse a religion.
Many Christian groups have objected strenuously to the court’s ruling in Kentucky.
"Our spirits are grieved a little bit,’’ said Bobby Brewer, pastor at Mountain View Church in Scottsdale. "We feel it in the pit of our stomachs.’’
Jim Wood, assistant pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Mesa, said the Kentucky ruling is the continuation of a disturbing trend.
"I think the concern is, little by little, religious freedom is being chipped away at in the United States,’’ Wood said. "It’s a chipping away at what we believe and our freedom to express what we believe.’’
So it’s an important issue, right?
Funny, though, as I was considering the impact of the court’s ruling Tuesday morning, it occurred to me that my church doesn’t have the Ten Commandments posted permanently. I wondered just how many churches do have the Ten Commandments on display.
So I called 16 churches from numerous denominations. From that sampling, I found only one Christian church that had the Ten Commandments posted. Arizona Community Church in Tempe has a framed copy of the Ten Commandments in its welcome center.
"We don’t have it here,’’ said the Rev. Chris Carpenter of Christ the King Catholic Church in Mesa. "Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it posted in any of the churches I’ve been to.’’
This seems a startling omission and, for some, it may only serve to undermine the argument that public displays of Ten Commandments are vital to preserving the faith.
"I could see how that might make things a little awkward,’’ Carpenter said.
While Christian churches appear to be unlikely to feature displays of the Ten Commandments, they are a fixture at Jewish synagogues. Interestingly, though, the fight to keep the Ten Commandments before the public eye has been an almost exclusively Christian crusade.
"We think (the displays) are a good thing,’’ said Rabbi Mendy Deitsche, director of Chandler’s Chabad of the East Valley. "But unlike the Christian churches, we don’t proselytize.’’
Brewer thinks the absence of the Ten Commandments is probably just an oversight.
"I think it’s something that maybe we’ve taken for granted,’’ he said.
That’s too bad.
Because you shouldn’t have to go to court to see the Ten Commandments.