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TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Supreme Court ruling right in Ten Commandments case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled correctly Monday that a display of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses crossed the line of separation between church and state.

The court's 5-4 ruling wisely did not prohibit all such displays on government property, but rather promoted a case-by-case approach to the issue.

The framed copies in the courthouses in question were displayed for the predominant purpose of advancing a particular religion, clearly in violation of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.

By comparison, a display in the high court's own halls is permissible because it portrays the Commandments and other historical documents neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

"The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," Justice Souter wrote.

A vast majority of Americans support Ten Commandments displays, according to an AP-Ipsos poll. The poll taken in late February found that 76 percent support it and 23 percent oppose it.

But the display for ostensibly religious purposes clearly is a dangerous violation of the First Amendment. To allow such displays would clearly lead down a slippery slope that, at its end, would enable the government to tell us who we worship and how.

We wonder how that same 76 percent would feel about that kind of government intrusion.

Religion should permeate American society, but it should be churches — not government — that give it direction.

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