Saturday, February 5, 2011

Courts must rule from the Constitution and not religion

What many of us mean when we say freedom of religion is really freedom of our religion at the exclusion of others.

An Ohio judge hung the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the court house where he presides. Alongside the Ten Commandments was a statement, that he said, was attributed to “humanist” view of the rule of law. (It does need to be noted here that the humanists views were not from a “humanists”. They were his own interpretation of the humanist view point. Needless to say, perhaps, they were not flattering.) The judge argued that it was a freedom of speech issue because he was making a comparison between his religious beliefs and those that do not believe in a god. He claimed that his action is protected under the First Amendment.

Members of the community objected and took him to court. They did this since they owned the court house in union with others in the community and not the judge. By the judge hanging a display expressing his own religious beliefs and not that of the overall community, he didn’t express the community’s overall view of religion.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was a display of a religious document. The court ordered that he take down the display.

The audacity of the judge is remarkable. What the Ohio judge was doing was excluding all other religions in the community from expressing their own views in the same manor. He also insulted some in the community, the humanist, with his negative interpretation of their view. He was doing this because he thought he owned the court house and could do as he pleased. But the truth is, everyone in the community owns an equal share of the court house. They also pay the judge’s wages in equal share. His actions should reflect the will of the entire community and not exclude anyone because of his or her religious beliefs.

Freedom of religion doesn’t mean that you can use the resources of other community members to practice your faith. It means that on your own, or in association with a private group, you can worship, express, gather and in other ways exercise your religion.

This most likely took place in a predominantly Christian area of the country. What if the judge was Muslim and in a part of the country that is predominantly Islam? What if he wanted to hang the a list of the five pillars of Islam in the lobby of the court house and compare it to Judaism in a negative way. Events in some parts of the country already have an answer to that question. In Oklahoma, they passed a voter initiative that doesn’t allow courts to use Sharia Law as a basis for decisions. Sharia Law is the primary basis of law that guides most Muslims. Courts in Oklahoma can only use Constitutional law in harmony with state law.

It is proper that Constitutional law be the only law for any court in the United States follow. It should be used worldwide. We should not use Muslim, Christian or Judaism as a factor in decided cases. There are many legal issues in Constitutional law that are in conflict with Christianity, Islamic and Judeo law. But, courts and their judges, specifically the judge in Ohio, must be blind to the faith of the individual that is in front of them. They must adhere to the law of the Constitution in all of his or her rulings.

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