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February 24, 2005 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-02-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

I I

\-taShern your

Go d, You shalt not ree-

God Help Us

a

nize the gods ot others
in My presence.
shaft not make a
carved image or any l
ness. for t am 1-1aShem
Y our God.
the
:t3. You shaft not take r

6. you shall not murder!
7. You shall not commit
adultery!
8. You shall
not steal'
You shall not bear
false witness against
Your fellow!
10• You shall
not covet
your fellow's house.

ov. Jennifer Granholm stirred up a hor-
In March, the U.S.
net's nest when she said she wouldn't
Supreme
Court is expected
, y ou
Panne of BaSheth
object to a display of the Ten
to rule on governmental
God, WI va:tn.
Commandments in the Capitol Rotunda in
display of the Ten
Day of
4.. Ftemehtei the
Lansing, but then hastily retreated, insisting that
Commandments.
The high
Shaehat to sanctihl it.
such a move would be unconstitutional.
tatrer
court
already
has
ruled
that
tic
1c J . ,_
mother.
u,1
Critics say the Democratic governor flip-flopped.
the
commandments
cannot
'Jo •
They say she caved in after a conservative family
be posted in public schools.
group asked her to help clear the way for such a dis- — Source: 0 rthodox Union
Ironically, a sculpture of
play. Worse, she was being divisive, they say.
Moses holding the Ten
I say she was just being honest.
Commandments adorns the U.S. Supreme Court Building
Our nation was built with a faith in God
alongside carvings of Mohammed, Confucius, Caesar
... period. As a nation, we don't condemn
Augustus and Napoleon. This broad, historical context makes
atheism or promote religion. We don't have a
the artwork palatable to most observers.
national god. But at our core, we're not god-
Incidentally, to declare the court in session, the Supreme
less. Major symbols of the freedoms we hold
Court marshal utters, "God save the United States and this
dear cite God, including our money ("In
honorable court."
God We Trust"), the Great Seal of the United
Like judges, governors also have no right to skirt the law of
States (the Latin phrase Annuit coeptis, which
the land. Moore was forced off the Alabama Supreme Court
means "God has favored our undertakings")
in 2003 when he defied a federal judge's order to remove the
ROBERT
A. and the Washington Monument (Exodus
.,
granite monument of the Ten Commandments from display
S KLAR
28:36 "Holy to the Lord").
in the Alabama State Judicial Building Rotunda in
Editor
Francis Scott Key's The Star Spangled
Montgomery The U.S. Supreme Court upheld his ouster.
Banner is our national anthem. But Irving
Berlin's God Bless America is just as uplifting for all who call
Be True
America home.
The Ten Commandments aren't rooted in Hindu, Buddhist or
The public fuss notwithstanding, Granholm was refreshing-
Islamic thought. So Granholm's claim that they are "universal
ly open in telling Tim Skubick of public television's Off The
values" is suspect. But they are woven into the historical tapes-
Record program that she knew she'd "make some people mad"
try that is America. So in talking universal values, the Ten
in not opposing the hypothetical Decalogue display.
Commandments are at least a good starting point to begin a
"But I think they are universal values," she said on the show, debate or discussion.
taped Feb. 11 for airing this month.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., took some heat on
It's not government's role to promote religion, she
the presidential campaign trail, but he made a lot of Jews and
told Skubick, but the Ten Commandments promote
non-Jews alike proud that somebody high up in politics wasn't
"a universal desire for people to behave with dignity and
afraid to share non-binding religious values in a less intrusive
honor God." That's a fair statement.
way than the far Christian right.
"This is not promoting a particular religion," the governor
President George W. Bush has stretched the separation of
went on to say. "That is just recognizing some universal val-
church and state with some of his faith-based social service
ues." On that, she's wrong. The Ten Commandments are
programs. But it's the American way to speak up if you object.
Judeo-Christian in orientation with most public interpreta-
The outrage over Granholm's innocent two-step bothered
tions following the Protestant tradition. Moses, on behalf of
me as much as the outcry last year over the phrase "one
the Jewish people, ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Tablets nation, under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge
of the Covenant from God.
validates the role of God in American history and forming our

Rethinking

In an Associated Press interview three days after the taping,
Granholm clarified that she was speaking personally and
wouldn't support violating the U.S. Constitution. I thought
that clarification was sound. Her personal feelings about a
governmental display of the Ten Commandments in Lansing
notwithstanding, she rightfully sides with the American Civil
Liberties Union in opposing it on constitutional grounds.
The flip-flop charge, silly as it was, was amplified when the
American Family Association of Michigan declared following
the taping that it would ask Granholm to co-sponsor a tern-
porary display of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief
Justice Ray Moore's Ten Commandments monument at the
Michigan Capitol. Last week, Rep. Robert Gosselin, R-Troy,
introduced a Michigan House resolution that seeks a perma-
nent display of the Ten Commandments inside the Capitol.
Granholm's support of the Constitution is unequivocal,
which helps neutralize both of those initiatives. Thank God
for that. Moore's monument, now on national tour, is the
more immediate concern.

federal government. Editing it because of a generic reference
to God seems political correctness gone wild. The Pledge aptly
captures the spirit of our nation's founders. It affirms God's
lasting imprint on America and our historic documents, mon-
uments and buildings. Would-be revisionists overlook that
public schools may require teachers to lead only willing stu-
dents in reciting the Pledge; no student must take part.
Sure, Granholm was wrong to initially infer that a display of
the Decalogue in the Michigan Capitol would go unchal-
lenged. But she was not wrong in speaking from her heart
about what the commandments mean to her. She's Catholic,
but also American. And U.S. freedoms include individual reli-
gious expression. Her God is different than my God, but she
wasn't trying to impose her beliefs through government-spon-
sored religious expression. Michigan's attorney general before
being elected governor in 2002, Granholm obviously knows
the difference between these two fundamental forms of public
expression.
Jennifer Granholm was taking part in a talk show, for God's
sake. Since when did being candid become off limits in that
kind of open forum? If it ever does, I fear for our nation. ❑

JEFFREY CHOW

FOR

271 WEST MAPLE
DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM

:TN

2/24
2005

5

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