Tuesday, February 10, 2004

10 Commandments Deja Vu

Again with the 10 Commandments in North Carolina. This time, a controversy in Nash County, NC, where defense attorneys Sam Dixon and Tommy Moore asked that panels depicting the 10 Commandments be covered during the trial of Andre Edwards, who has been accused of rape and murder.

The prosecutor, Keith Werber expressed outrage, saying,
The state vigorously opposes covering of the Ten Commandments. We understand the constitutional separation of church and state, but the next thing they'll be asking for is that the Bible be removed from the courtroom when witnesses come up to testify.
Well, now that you bring it up, Mr. Werber, why not? What significance does it hold if a muslim or an atheist swears on the Bible anyway?

The Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner responded that the "trial is the state vs. Andre Edwards, not the state vs. the Ten Commandments or the country vs. the Ten Commandments."

True, but the panels, which was painted some 90 years ago, should be taken down for good anyway. Put them in a museum or a church, sure. But don't put it in the courtroom, where their presence implies that the 10 Commandments are somehow relevant to the laws of the United States of America.

Edwards' crime is a serious one. A revolting one, to be sure, if he's guilty of it. And he should receive an appropriate penalty. But the laws which should decide his fate are United States laws, applying to everyone in the United States, which apply only to some members of a particular religious faith. (I say "some" understanding that many Christians take issue with certain commandments themselves.) After all, are we going to enforce "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy"?