Advocates for church-state separation generally gave a collective sigh of relief last month when the Supreme Court ruled that the posting of the Ten Commandments inside two Kentucky courthouses is unconstitutional. But at the same time the court, closely divided over displays of the Decalogue on government property, said a monument listing the “shalt nots” outside the state capitol building in Texas is permissible.
“We won more than we lost,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “And I think that many displays, including any that take place in our government-funded schools, will now be clearly forbidden.”
At the Baptist Joint Committee office, general counsel K. Hollyn Hollman said that the two decisions uphold “the neutrality principle” of government toward religions. Activists who favor religious displays on public grounds “should know they are on shaky ground,” she said.