The Ten Commandments:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
SARAH DOE and THOMAS DOE, on behalf
of themselves and their minor child, JAN DOE
v Civil Action No. 99-508
HARLAN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT;
DON MUSSELMAN, in his official capacity
as Superintendent of the Harlan Country
AFFIDAVIT OF DAVID BARTON IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS’ OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR CONTEMPT, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR SUPPLEMENTAL PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
STATE OF TEXAS
COUNTY OF PARKER
Upon being duly sworn by the undersigned officer empowered to administer and attest to oaths, the Affiant, David Barton, testifies as follows:
1. I am a recognized authority in American history, particularly concerning the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Federal Eras.
2. I personally own a vast collection of thousands of documents of American history predating 1812, including handwritten works of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution.
3. As a result of my expertise, I work as a consultant to national history textbook publishers and have been appointed by the State Boards of Education in States such as California and Texas to help write the American history and government standards for students in those States. Additionally, I consult with Governors and State Boards of Education in several other States and have testified in numerous State Legislatures on American history.
4. I am the recipient of several national and international awards, including the George Washington Honor Medal, the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor, Who’s Who in America (1997, 1999), Who’s Who in the World (1996, 1999), Who’s Who in American Education (1996, 1997), International Who’s Who of Professionals (1996), Two Thousand Notable American Men Hall of Fame (1995), Who’s Who in the South and Southwest (1995, 1999), Who’s Who Among Outstanding Americans (1994), Outstanding Young Men in America (1990), and numerous other awards.
5. I have also written and published numbers of books and articles on American history and its related issues. (Original Intent, 1996; Bulletproof George Washington, 1990; Ethics: An Early American Handbook, 1999; Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 1995, and many others).
6. I offer the following opinion regarding whether the Ten Commandments are a historical document in America’s civil and judicial history based upon my expertise and study in the areas of American history and the forces and ideas that formed the basis for our system of laws and government.
7. Opponents to the public display of the Ten Commandments offer several grounds for their objections, including that“there is no ‘standard version’ of the Ten Commandments”; that “there is not agreement on exactly what constitutes the Ten Commandments”; and that “the Ten Commandments are not a ‘secular’ moral code that everyone can agree on” and therefore are not appropriate to be included in a display of documents that have helped shape America’s history. In fact, these groups warn that “if the Decalog [sic] was publicly displayed” it “could create religious friction, leading to feelings of anger and of marginalization” and that “these emotions are precisely the root causes of the Columbine High School tragedy.”
8. The Decalogue addresses what were long considered to be man’s vertical and horizontal duties. Noah Webster, the man personally responsible for Art. I, Sec. 8, ¶ 8, of the U. S. Constitution, explained two centuries ago:
9. Modern critics, while conceding “six or five Commandments are moral and ethical rules governing behavior,” also point out that because the remaining “four of the Ten Commandments are specifically religious in nature,” that this fact alone should disqualify their display. They assert that only one of the two “tablets” of the Ten Commandments is appropriate for public display.
10. In an effort to substantiate this position historically, critics often point to the Rhode Island Colony under Roger Williams and its lack of civil laws on the first four commandments to “prove” that American society was traditionally governed without the first “tablet.” However, they fail to mention that the Rhode Island Colony was the only one of the thirteen colonies that did not have civil laws derived from the first four divine laws - the so-called first “tablet.” Significantly, every other early American colony incorporated the entire Decalogue into its own civil code of laws.
11. This affidavit will demonstrate that, historically speaking, neither courts nor civil officers were confused or distracted by the so-called “various versions” of the Decalogue and that each of the Ten Commandments became deeply embedded in both American law and jurisprudence. This affidavit will establish that a contemporary display of the Ten Commandments is the display of a legal and historical document that dramatically impacted American law and culture with a force similar only to that of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
THE INCORPORATION OF DIVINE LAW
12. The Ten Commandments are a smaller part of the larger body of divine law recognized and early incorporated into America’s civil documents. For example, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut - established in 1638-39 as the first written constitution in America and considered as the direct predecessor of the U. S. Constitution - declared that the Governor and his council of six elected officials would “have power to administer justice according to the laws here established; and for want thereof according to the rule of the word of God.”
13. Also in 1638, the Rhode Island government adopted “all those perfect and most absolute laws of His, given us in His holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby. Exod. 24. 3, 4; 2 Chron. II. 3; 2 Kings. II. 17.”
14. The following year, 1639, the New Haven Colony adopted its “Fundamental Articles” for the governance of that Colony, and when the question was placed before the colonists:
15. In 1672, Connecticut revised its laws and reaffirmed its civil adherence to the laws established in the Scriptures, declaring:
16. Significantly, those same legal codes delineated their capital laws in a separate section, and following each capital law was given the Bible verse on which that law was based because:
17. There are other similar examples, but it is a matter of historical fact that the early colonies adopted the greater body of divine laws as the overall basis of their civil laws. Subsequent to the adoption of that general standard, however, the specifics of the Decalogue were then incorporated into the civil statutes.
WHICH ARE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ?
18. In order to avoid the alleged misunderstanding that critics claim accompanies the reading of the Decalogue, for the purposes of this affidavit, these Commandments as listed in the Bible in Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21 (and in a shortened version in Exodus 34:14-28) will be summarized as
19. The following sections will fully demonstrate that each of these commandments was individually encoded in the civil laws, and consequently became a part of the common law of the various colonies.
HOW THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE EXPRESSED
Have no other gods.
20. This first commandment of the Decalogue is incorporated into the very first written code of laws enacted in America, those of the Virginia Colony. In 1610, in a law enacted by the Colony leaders, it was declared:
21. A subsequent 1641 Massachusetts legal code also incorporated the thrust of this command of the Decalogue into its statutes. Significantly, the very first law in that State code was based on the very first command of the Decalogue, declaring:
22. The 1642 Connecticut law code also made this command of the Decalogue its first civil law, declaring:
23. There are numerous other examples affirming that the first commandment of the Decalogue indeed formed an historical part of American civil law.
Have no idols.
24. Typical of the civil laws prohibiting idolatry was a 1680 New Hampshire idolatry law that declared:
25. Additional examples from colonial codes demonstrate that the second commandment also was historically a part of American civil law.
Honor God’s name.
26. Civil laws enacted to observe this commandment were divided into two categories: laws prohibiting blasphemy and laws prohibiting swearing and profanity. Noah Webster, an American legislator and judge, affirms that both of these categories of laws were derived from the third commandment of the Decalogue:
27. Reflecting the civil enactment of these two categories embodying the third commandment, a 1610 Virginia law declared:
28. A 1639 law of Connecticut similarly declared:
29. Similar laws can be found in Massachusetts in 1641, Connecticut in 1642, New Hampshire in 1680, Pennsylvania in 1682, 1700, and 1741, South Carolina in 1695, North Carolina in 1741, etc. Additionally, prominent Framers also enforced the Decalogue’s third command.
30. For example, Commander-in-Chief George Washington issued numerous military orders during the American Revolution that first prohibited swearing and then ordered an attendance on Divine worship, thus relating the prohibition against profanity to a religious duty. Typical of these orders, on July 4, 1775, Washington declared:
31. Washington began issuing such orders to his troops as early as 1756 during the French and Indian War, and continued the practice throughout the American Revolution, issuing similar orders in 1776, 1777, 1778, etc.
32. This civil prohibition against blasphemy and profanity drawn from the Decalogue continued well beyond the Founding Era. It subsequently appeared in the 1784 laws in Connecticut, the 1791 laws of New Hampshire, the 1791 laws of Vermont, the 1792 laws of Virginia, the 1794 laws of Pennsylvania, the 1821 laws of Maine, the 1834 laws of Tennessee, the 1835 laws of Massachusetts, the 1836 laws of New York, etc.
33. Judge Zephaniah Swift, author in 1796 of the first legal text published in America, explained why civil authorities enforced the Decalogue prohibition against blasphemy and profane swearing:
Crimes of this description are not punishable by the civil arm merely because they are against religion. Bold and presumptuous must he be who would attempt to wrest the thunder of heaven from the hand of God and direct the bolts of vengeance where to fall. The Supreme Deity is capable of maintaining the dignity of His moral government and avenging the violations of His holy laws. His omniscient mind estimates every act by the standard of perfect truth and His impartial justice inflicts punishments that are accurately proportioned to the crimes. But short-sighted mortals cannot search the heart and punish according to the intent. They can only judge by overt acts and punish them as they respect the peace and happiness of civil society. This is the rule to estimate all crimes against civil law and is the standard of all human punishments. It is on this ground only that civil tribunals are authorized to punish offences against religion.
34. In 1824, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (in a decision subsequently invoked authoritatively and endorsed by the U. S. Supreme Court ) reaffirmed that the civil laws against blasphemy were derived from divine law:
The court then noted that its State’s laws against blasphemy had been drawn up by James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and original Justice on the U. S. Supreme Court:
The late Judge Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law in the College in Philadelphia, was appointed in 1791, unanimously by the House of Representatives of this State to “revise and digest the laws of this commonwealth. . . . ” He had just risen from his seat in the Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States, and of this State; and it is well known that for our present form of government we are greatly indebted to his exertions and influence. With his fresh recollection of both constitutions, in his course of Lectures (3d vol. of his works, 112), he states that profaneness and blasphemy are offences punishable by fine and imprisonment, and that Christianity is part of the common law. It is vain to object that the law is obsolete; this is not so; it has seldom been called into operation because this, like some other offences, has been rare. It has been retained in our recollection of laws now in force, made by the direction of the legislature, and it has not been a dead letter.
35. The Decalogue’s influence on profanity and blasphemy laws was reaffirmed by subsequent courts, such as the 1921 Supreme Court of Maine, the 1944 Supreme Court of Florida, and others.
36. Many additional sources may be cited, but it is clear that the civil laws against both profanity and blasphemy-many of which are still in force today-were originally derived from the divine law and the Ten Commandments. These examples unquestionably demonstrate that the third commandment of the Decalogue was an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
Honor the Sabbath day.
37. The civil laws enacted to uphold this injunction are legion and are far too numerous for any exhaustive listing to be included in this brief affidavit. While a representative sampling will be presented below, there are three points that clearly establish the effect of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue on American law.
38. First is the inclusion in the U. S. Constitution of the recognition of the Sabbath in Art. I, Sec. 7, ¶ 2, stipulating that the President has 10 days to sign a law, “Sundays excepted.” The “Sundays excepted” clause had previously appeared in the individual State constitutions of that day, and therefore, when incorporated into the U. S. Constitution, carried the same meaning that had been established by traditional usage in the States. That meaning was then imparted into the constitutions of the various States admitted into the Union subsequent to the adoption of the federal Constitution. The historical understanding of this clause was summarized in 1912 by the Supreme Court of Missouri which, expounding on the meaning of this provision in its own State constitution and in the U. S. Constitution, declared:
39. The second point establishing the impact of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue on American law is seen in the civil process clauses of the early State legal codes which forbade legal action on the Sabbath. For example, an 1830 New York law declared:
40. Similar laws may be found in Pennsylvania in 1682 and 1705, Vermont in 1787, Connecticut in 1796, New Jersey in 1798, etc.
41. The third point establishing the long-standing effect of the fourth commandment on American law and jurisprudence is demonstrated by the fact that Sabbath laws remain constitutional today, and many communities still practice and enforce those laws.
42. Examples of the early implementation of this fourth commandment into civil law are seen in the Virginia laws of 1610, the New Haven laws of 1653, the New Hampshire laws of 1680, the Pennsylvania laws of 1682 and 1705, the South Carolina laws of 1712, the North Carolina laws of 1741, the Connecticut laws of 1751, etc.
43. In 1775, and throughout the American Revolution, Commander-in-Chief George Washington issued military orders directing that the Sabbath be observed. His order of May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge was typical:
Washington issued numerous similar orders throughout the Revolution.
44. In the Federal Era and well beyond, states continued to enact and reenact Sabbath laws. In fact, the States went to impressive lengths to uphold the Sabbath. For example, in 1787, Vermont enacted a ten-part law to preserve the Sabbath; in 1791, Massachusetts enacted an eleven-part law; in 1792, Virginia enacted an extensive eight-part law -a law written by Thomas Jefferson and sponsored by James Madison; in 1798, New Jersey enacted a twenty-one-part law; in 1799, New Hampshire enacted a fourteen-part law; in 1821, Maine enacted a thirteen-part law; etc.
45. These Sabbath laws-and scores of others like them - were nothing less than the enactment of the fourth commandment in the Decalogue. In fact, in 1967, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania provided a thorough historical exegesis of those laws and concluded:
46. In 1950, the Supreme Court of Mississippi had similarly declared:
47. Similar declarations may be found in the courts of numerous other States, including New York, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, and Kentucky, Georgia, Minnesota, etc.
48. However, before any of these contemporary courts had acknowledged that the Sabbath laws were derived from the Decalogue, John Jay, the original Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, had confirmed that the source of civil Sabbath laws were the divine commands. As he explained:
49. There are numerous other examples demonstrating that the fourth commandment of the Decalogue played an important historical role in American civil law.
50. While contemporary critics argue that the first four commands of the Decalogue were inconsequential in our history or that they should not be publicly displayed today, the facts prove that they exerted a substantial influence on American law and jurisprudence. In fact, the 1922 Iowa Supreme Court rejected the assertion that only one side of the Decalogue was important to American law, declaring:
51. Whether individuals today agree with those early laws based on the first four commandments in the Decalogue in no manner lessens their historical impact.
Honor your parents.
52. This fifth command begins the so - called second “tablet” of the Decalogue - the section addressing “civil” behavior that even critics acknowledge to be appropriate for public display. This portion of the Decalogue formed the basis of many of our current criminal laws and modern courts are not reticent to acknowledge and enforce these commandments. As the Supreme Court of Indiana declared in 1974:
53. Yet the mandates of the Decalogue currently embodied in our criminal laws are no less religiously-based than were the first four commandments. For example, a 1642 Connecticut law addressing the fifth commandment specifically cited both the Decalogue and additional Bible verses as the basis for its civil laws related to honoring parents:
This law also appears in other State codes as well.
54. Even three centuries after these early legal codes, this commandment was still influencing civil laws-as confirmed in 1934 by a Louisiana appeals court that cited the fifth commandment of the Decalogue as the basis of civil policy between parents and children:
55. Other courts have made similar declarations, all confirming that the fifth commandment of the Decalogue was an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
Do not murder.
56. The next several commands form much of the heart of our criminal laws, and, as noted by Noah Webster, one of the first founders to call for the Constitutional Convention, the divine law is the original source of several of those criminal laws:
57. The early civil laws against murder substantiate the influence of the Decalogue and divine laws on American criminal laws. For example, a 1641 Massachusetts law declared:
58. Perhaps the point is too obvious to belabor, but similar provisions can be found in the Connecticut laws of 1642, the New Hampshire laws of 1680, etc.
59. Courts, too, have been very candid in tracing civil murder laws back to the Decalogue. For example, a 1932 Kentucky appeals court declared:
60. Even the “severest punishment for the crime” is traced back to divine laws. As first Chief Justice John Jay explained:
61. There certainly exist more than sufficient cases with declarations similar to that made by the Kentucky court above to demonstrate that the sixth commandment of the Decalogue exerted substantial force on American civil law and jurisprudence.
Do not commit adultery.
62. Directly citing the Decalogue, a 1641 Massachusetts law declared:
If any person committeth adultery with a married or espoused wife, the adulterer and adulteresses shall surely be put to death. Ex. 20.14.
63. Other States had similar laws, such as Connecticut in 1642, Rhode Island in 1647, New Hampshire in 1680, Pennsylvania in 1705, etc. In fact, in 1787, nearly a century-and-a-half after the earliest colonial laws, Vermont enacted an adultery law, declaring that it was based on divine law:
64. Subsequent civil laws on adultery passed in other States used the same basis for their own laws.
65. Two-and-a-half centuries later, courts were still using divine laws and the Decalogue as the basis for the enforcement of their own State statutes on the subject. For example, in 1898, the highest criminal court in Texas declared that its State laws on adultery were derived from the Decalogue:
66. Half-a-century later in 1955, the Washington Supreme Court declared that the Decalogue was the basis of its State laws against adultery:
67. Other courts made similar declarations. These and numerous additional examples demonstrate that the seventh commandment of the Decalogue was an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
Do not steal.
68. The laws regarding theft that indicate their reliance on divine law and the Decalogue are far too numerous even to begin listing. Perhaps the simplest summation is given by Chancellor James Kent, who is considered, along with Justice Joseph Story, as one of the two “Fathers of American Jurisprudence.” In his classic 1826 Commentaries on American Law, Kent confirmed that the prohibitions against theft were found in divine law:
69. Subsequent to James Kent, numerous other legal sources have reaffirmed the divine origin of the prohibition against theft. For example, in 1951, the Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged the Decalogue as the basis for the unchanging civil laws against theft:
70. In 1940, the Supreme Court of California had made a similar acknowledgment:
71. Significantly, other courts acknowledged the same, including the Utah Supreme Court, the Colorado Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court, the Missouri Supreme Court, etc.
72. However, the eighth commandment of the Decalogue provided the foundation for civil laws other than just those against theft. For example, in 1904, an Appeals Court in West Virginia cited the eighth commandment of the Decalogue as the basis for laws protecting the integrity of elections:
73. And in 1914, a federal court acknowledged that the Constitution’s “takings clause” was an embodiment of the Decalogue’s eighth commandment:
74. There are numerous other examples demonstrating that the eighth commandment of the Decalogue was an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
Do not perjure yourself.
75. A 1642 Connecticut law against perjury acknowledged its basis to be in divine law, declaring:
76. Similar laws on perjury declaring their basis to be in divine law and the Decalogue may be found in Massachusetts in 1641, Rhode Island in 1647, New Hampshire in 1680, Connecticut in 1808, etc.
77. Courts were also open in acknowledging their indebtedness to the Decalogue for the civil perjury laws. For example, 1924, the Oregon Supreme Court declared:
78. And in 1988, the Supreme Court of Mississippi, citing the Decalogue, reproached a prosecutor for introducing accusations during cross-examination of a defendant for which the prosecutor had no evidence:
79. Numerous other courts have cited the Decalogue as the source of the laws on perjury, including courts in Missouri, California, Florida, etc. These and many other examples demonstrate that the ninth commandment of the Decalogue was incorporated into American civil law and jurisprudence.
Do not covet.
80. This tenth commandment in the Decalogue actually forms the basis for many of the prohibitions found in the other commandments. That is, a violation of this commandment frequently precedes a violation of the other commandments. As William Penn, the framer of the original laws of Pennsylvania, declared:
81. John Adams, one of only two individuals who signed the Bill of Rights, also acknowledged the importance of this commandment, declaring:
82. Many courts have also acknowledged the importance of this provision of the Decalogue. For example, in 1895, the California Supreme Court cited this prohibition as the basis of civil laws against defamation. In 1904, the Court of Appeals in West Virginia cited it as the basis of laws preventing election fraud. In 1958, a Florida appeals court cited it as the basis of laws targeting white-collar crime. And in 1951, the Oregon Supreme Court cited this Decalogue prohibition as the basis of civil laws against modern forms of cattle rustling. There are numerous other examples that all affirm that the tenth commandment of the Decalogue did indeed form an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
OPINIONS OF THE FRAMERS OF OUR GOVERNMENT
84. In addition to the approbation already given throughout this affidavit by John Adams, John Jay, Noah Webster, et. al, there are many other specific declarations, including that of William Findley, a soldier in the Revolution and a U. S. Congressman, who declared:
85. Additionally, John Quincy Adams, who bore arms during the Revolution, served under four Presidents and became a President, and who was nominated (but declined) a position on the U. S. Supreme Court under President Madison, similarly declared:
86. However, in addition to their specific references to the Decalogue, the Framers also used other terms to describe that code of laws-terms such as the “moral law.” For example, John Witherspoon, President of Princeton and signer of the Declaration, declared:
87. Thomas Jefferson agreed, declaring that “the moral law” is that law “to which man has been subjected by his creator.”
88. The Framers also used a third descriptive term synonymous with the Decalogue and the moral law: the natural law. As Chief Justice John Jay, an author of the Federalist Papers, explained:
89. The Framers’ understanding of natural law must not be confused with the secular view of natural law embraced in Europe at that time. The American view of natural law was not secular-a fact made exceptionally clear by Justice James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and the father of the first organized legal training in America. As Wilson explained:
90. Notice additional evidence that the Framers considered “natural law” as a synonym for divine law:
91. The Framers clearly considered that the natural law and the moral law, of which the Decalogue was a major component, provided the basis for our civil laws and jurisprudence.
92. However, even if it should be argued that the Decalogue is nothing more than the embodiment of a religious rather than a secular code, even this, in the views of the Framers, would be insufficient grounds for its exclusion from the public arena. For example, Justice William Paterson, a signer of the Constitution placed on the Supreme Court by President George Washington, declared:
93. Justice Joseph Story, later appointed to the Supreme Court by President James Madison, similarly declared:
94. John Adams, an accomplished attorney and an author of a commentary on the Constitution of the United States, similarly declared:
95. Dewitt Clinton, the Framer who introduced the 12th Amendment, also declared:
96. Perhaps the best reflection of the collective belief of the Framers that religion was not to be excluded from civil society is enactment of the Northwest Ordinance, one of the four organic laws of the United States. That law, passed in 1789 by the same Congress that framed the Bill of Rights, declared:
97. This federal law declares that “religion, morality, and knowledge” are necessary for “good government.” Expounding on the reasoning behind this belief, signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon, who served on over 100 committees while in Congress, declared:
98. However, the Decalogue clearly is more than just a religious code. It-in its entirety-provides the base for much of America’s common law. As the Supreme Court of North Carolina declared in 1917:
99. In 1950, the Florida Supreme Court similarly declared:
102. A further indication of this American proclivity to honor Moses, the deliverer of the Ten Commandments, is seen in the U. S. Capitol. Adorning the top of the walls around the House Chamber are the side-view profile reliefs of 23 great lawgivers, including Hammurabi, Justinian, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, William Blackstone, Hugo Grotius, George Mason, and 16 others. Significantly, there is only one relief of the 23 that is full faced rather than in profile, and that one relief is placed where it looks directly down onto the House Speaker’s rostrum, symbolically overseeing the proceedings of the lawmakers. That relief is of Moses.
103. Not only Moses but also depictions of the Ten Commandments adorn several of the more important government buildings in the nation’s capitol. For example, every visitor that enters the National Archives to view the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence (and other official documents of American government) must first pass by the Ten Commandments embedded in the entryway to the Archives. Additionally, in the U. S. Supreme Court are displayed two depictions of the Ten Commandments. One is on the entry into the Chamber, where, engraved on the lower half of the two large oak doors, are the Ten Commandments. The other display of the commandments is in the Chamber itself on a marble frieze carved above the Justices’ heads. As Chief Justice Warren Burger noted in Lynch v. Donnelly:
104. Other prominent buildings where large displays of the Ten Commandments may be viewed include the Texas State Capitol, the chambers of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and scores of other legislatures, courthouses, and public buildings across America. In fact, the Ten Commandments are more easily found in America’s government buildings than in her religious buildings, thus demonstrating the understanding by generations of Americans from coast to coast that the Ten Commandments formed the basis of America’s civil laws.
105. Historical evidence, drawn from civil law codes, judicial decisions, and declarations of great American lawgivers, affirms and reaffirms that the entire Decalogue has made a seminal contribution to the early common law and still continues today to make a significant contribution to the modern common law.
106. The fact that some may not agree with all of the commandments of the Decalogue does not mean it should be prohibited from display any more than does the fact that not everyone agrees with all of the protections in the Bill of Rights requires that the Bill of Rights should not be displayed-or that because not everyone agrees with what the American flag represents requires the flag should not be displayed. Even though some may wish that the American ensign was the Stars & Bars rather than the Stars & Stripes, the reality is otherwise-and the reality is also that all ten of the commandments in the Decalogue had a unique, distinct, and significant impact on both American law and jurisprudence.
107. To prohibit the display of the Decalogue simply because the first four commandments are more religious in nature than are the other six is like permitting the display of George Washington’s “Farewell Address” or Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech or the “Mayflower Compact” only if each document is displayed without its religious portions. In a display of any of the aforementioned works, it is not the avocation of religion that is occurring but rather the recognition of a significant historical contribution made to America that also happens to include religion.
108. Aside from the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, it is difficult to argue that there is any single work that has had a greater or more far-reaching impact on four centuries of American life, law, and culture than the Decalogue. For this reason alone, the Decalogue merits display.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
Under penalty of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing; that the facts alleged are true, to the best of my knowledge and belief.
The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this ______ day of MARCH, 2001, by DAVID BARTON, who is personally known to me or who has produced identification and who took an oath/affirmed.
My Commission expires:
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