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.
Acknowledging that a religious bias favoring evangelical Christianity has been pervasive at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the school’s superintendent told a Jewish audience this month that “it’s going to take a while to fix,” perhaps a half-dozen years, despite an official investigation of mounting complaints.
This summer the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on several cases involving the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government property. Public opinion is fairly clear on this question: according to a Gallup poll, 76 percent say state governments should be allowed to display the Ten Commandments, and only 21 percent disagree.
If the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits public displays of the Ten Commandments nationwide, all heck may break loose, say some religious conservatives. They predict that the furor would exceed the reaction when a California court ruled that “under God” did not belong in the Pledge of Allegiance.
At this time of the winter countless high school basketball teams are trying to dribble, pass and shoot their way to a state championship. Glamorized in small-town lore and big-budget movies, reaching the state tournament is a dream shared by most any student athlete who has put on a basketball jersey (or soccer cleats or football pads or a wrestling singlet or softball glove).
As the 109th Congress goes to work this month, legislative battles over religious and moral issues are virtually certain to remain as prominent as they were last year, say two Washington observers of church-state issues.
The Supreme Court’s June ruling on whether “under God” should be part of the Pledge of Allegiance passed with relatively little notice, since the case was rejected on procedural grounds. For those who paid attention to the arguments, however, it conclusively exposed the incompatibility of American civil religion with any kind of robust Christianity.