Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Is This the Best He Can Do?

So, Hilly boy is wasting his tax-funded time in Nashville by trying to force the 10 Commandments in Tennessee courthouses. He is not trying to bring more jobs to this area, or to improve health insurance access or lower the sales tax on the poor. He is trying to make sure the ACLU sues Tennessee while our taxes pay for it.

As a Christian, I support the 10 Commandments, but I also own a Bible. I can read them any time I want. Plus, they were part of the Old Testament. Does Tennessee State Representative Matthew Hill really adhere to remembering the Sabbath every Saturday? This kind of legislation opens the door for a Taliban-like government in the future. It is just un-American. Here's what some others have had to say about Hill's antics:

(Kingsport Times-News story): Crowe and Hill seem to care more about what goes on the walls of county courthouses than in classrooms around the state. If it were otherwise, both lawmakers would instead be sponsoring legislation to raise standards and improve funding of Tennessee's K-12 educational system.

…But their approach shows an ignorance of constitutional law that is as profound as it is appalling.

…In essence, the Supreme Court found that motivation matters. Justices concluded the outdoor Texas display of the Decalogue, which was more than 40 years old, permissible, but ruled that the more recently mounted indoor displays of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses had an overtly religious motive. "The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.

"When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality,'' Souter said.

In other words, it is one thing to resist the removal of chiseled text from a public building - regardless of what it says - when it is an historic part of that building. Religious quotes and images have adorned all manner of public buildings including the Supreme Court for decades, even centuries.

But it is quite another to use the Ten Commandments, as Crowe and Hill obviously intend, as a taunt to unbelievers or as a provocation to legal action.

…Crowe and Hill may certainly acknowledge the spiritual power that God exercises over them. But they cannot, as members of the Tennessee Legislature, demand their fellow citizens follow their particular religious philosophy. In this country, no matter our ethnicity or faith, we have equal rights, something apparently lost on Crowe.

…But would they feel the same if they lived in a region where the predominant religion was Buddhism? Or Islam? What if a majority of the Tennessee Legislature were Muslims and voted to place the principal teachings of the prophet Mohammed around the walls of county courthouses? Or what if they were Buddhists, and passed a law which encouraged large, bronze images of Buddha to be placed in the lobbies of all our public buildings?

It is precisely because our Constitution prohibits government sanction of any religion that America has avoided the religious wars that have killed millions and destroyed nations.

The fact is, our courthouses will dispense justice whether replicas of the Ten Commandments are on the walls or not. Strengthening academic standards and providing adequate funding for schools, on the other hand, can make the difference between continued mediocrity and success for tens of thousands of Tennessee students who deserve a fighting chance in an increasingly competitive world.

Messrs. Hill and Crowe have embarrassed themselves, their constituents and our state. Would they have done so were it not an election year?
And from a little down the road:
(WVLT news story):"Anytime you interject religion, you're gonna get a lot of folks on both sides hyped up. It generally takes away from a lot of other things," says State Senator Tim Burchett.

Some taxpayers aren't so sure: "I just don't think it's that big a deal, that there are other things more important," says Knox County taxpayer Jim Boehms.

As for whether the ACLU planning to sue, on constitutional grounds if either bill does pass, it's saying "wait and see".

This hinges on intent, specifically what other documents a city or county government might make part of a display or monument. Ten Commandments alone, would be begging for a court fight.

Here a few more links to the legislation: Knoxville News-Sentinel, Chattanoogan and WBIR.
In other news, this guy, and about 6 others, is running for the 6th District House seat. Unlike Hilly boy, at least Ford is a "lifelong resident of Jonesborough."

Lord help us...according to the JC Press today (17 March 06) no one will be opposing Hill boy and the April 6 deadline is quickly approaching. I can only hope and pray that someone steps to the plate.
Perhaps some returning Iraq-Afghanistan war veteran will answer your challenge...
I have been talking to a couple of guys who are considering running. They say there are a number of hard-core Republicans who don't like Hill, but they don't have $30,000 of their own money to spend against the Gregory machine. It is really sad that Gregory's deep pockets are keeping people from having a real representative in Nashville. We need someone with guts to stand up to Hill, even if they don't have deep pockets.
Why do you suppose that the Northeast Tennessee news media outlets are not including the fact that it was subcommittee member Rep. Jerome Cochran who introduced (unsuccessfully) Hill's Ten Commandments Bill before the Tennessee House Constitution Protetcions Subcommittee?
I'm not sure why Cochran is getting a free pass. My guess is that he's really not that important in Nashville.
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