Fri, 27 Feb 2009 16:54:46 +0000 – Yesterday the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that public parks can reject the erection of one monument while approving or maintaining another, even when these express diverse religious messages.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court saying Pleasant Grove City, Utah, could retain monuments to the Ten Commandments and other subjects in its Pioneer Park without being forced to accept a monolith depicting the "Seven Aphorisms" of a small Gnostic group called Summum, founded by a former-Mormon.
In my opinion, the Court's decision is a victory for common sense, for the Mormon majority in Utah, for the right of self-determination of our local communities, and of our federalist system. It is a defeat for activist groups who, primarily through the courts, have long used distorted interpretations of the distinct roles of church and state and the non-establishment clause to rid the public square of all religious expression.
If the Supreme Court had decided otherwise, it would have emboldened the current strategy of some fringe activists to whitewash society of its religious heritage by giving equal prominence to every belief, no matter how disrespectful or unrepresentative it may be of the history, character, and traditions of the local community. How can we forget the case late last year of the "atheist sign" that was placed next to the Christmas Nativity, forcing the state of Washington to prohibit any "seasonal symbols" on public property to avoid even more social chaos! Sometimes an unfortunate short-term victory by radicals, like that one, is sufficient warning to society to protect itself long-term from falling further into the ridiculous.
This seems to be the point Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas made in their separate paper, which went even further than the Court's unanimous opinion (that skirted the non-establishment issue). They said allowing Pleasant Grove to maintain its Ten Commandments monument bolsters an earlier Court's decision that protected a similar Ten Commandments monument that has been on the state capitol grounds in Austin, Texas for decades. In other words, future Justices should think twice before they overlook this precedence as an indication of how to deal with cultural and religious expression.
Yes, today is a day to celebrate with Utah the continued survival of at least some common sense in America and in its Supreme Court.
You can follow Father Jonathan Morris' television appearances and other activities through his Facebook page. He is author of the book "The Promise: God's Purpose and Plan for when Life Hurts."
Father Jonathan Morris, who joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in May 2005, currently serves as a contributor and also writes for FoxNews.com.