Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A picture in a courthouse

The controversy surrounding the Jesus picture in the St. Tammany Parish courthouse has got me thinking. There are two separate questions that must be answered here. Is it legal? Is it appropriate?

First, is it legal? The 1st amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...". Obviously, this law only applies to Congress. The courthouse in question is the Slidell City Court. Ok, that amendment clearly does not apply. Now lets look at the state constitution. Article 1, section 8 states: "No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Surely,not even in Louisiana, putting a picture of Jesus on the wall does not enact a law. So, this has clearly not broken any state laws regarding religion. Thus, in my estimation, it is not illegal to hang a picture of Jesus in a city courthouse.

Second, is it appropriate? I would hazard to guess that Christians would not have a personal problem with the picture. What about other faiths? They might be "offended". But, Jesus was a historical figure, and if you don't believe he was god, what's the big deal?

I'm sure JP courthouses have pictures of Aaron Broussard in them. Let's say I were to start a religion worshiping Broussard, god of flooding. Would JP have to remove the pictures of Broussard? I know that is an outlandish example, but it makes my point.

So, I guess you can see where I'm going with this, I would take down the picture of Jesus in the courthouse. Yes you read that right. I don't feel that it is necessary or beneficial to have a picture of any religious figure (or Broussard) in any courthouse. Nor is it worth the fight.

I would be remiss to miss a chance to criticize the ACLU. I recognize that they are an important organization and help many people/groups with civil rights violations. But the ACLU, by publicly attacking religion in the press at every opportunity, alienates a very large section of the country. The ACLU is viewed as secularists crusading against religion. This is not good for their reputation or bottom line.


da po' boy said...

Obviously, this law only applies to Congress. The courthouse in question is the Slidell City Court. Ok, that amendment clearly does not apply.

I am no Constitutional expert, but I think the First Amendment does apply because the Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to extend the Bill of Rights to state governments:

Amendment XIV, Section 1.

"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Therefore, the First Amendment might as well say "Government shall make no law...."

The most famous case I can think of applying the First Amendment to a state court is the Alabama Ten Commandments case.

The German said...

I capitulate, the 1st amendment to the US constitution does apply to the states vis-a-vis the 14th amendment. But, the LA constitution has a law doing the same thing.

But in no way does hanging a picture of Jesus (or anyone else) on a wall "enact or enforce a law".

SC justices may interpret the law differently, but I think the amendments are pretty clear.

Again, I would not have put a picture of Jesus in a government building, but I think it is legal.

This country needs to be better educated on the religions of the world, so we can understand them and not be offended by or frightened of them.