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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Thou shalt not mix religion and government

In defiance of the religious freedom our country was founded upon, Republicans who control the Senate Appropriations Committee voted last Tuesday on a bill that would allow private funding to display the Ten Commandments in front of the old state Capitol building.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is accredited with crafting the measure. Pearce believes that considering the Ten Commandments as religious is inaccurate. He asserts that if everyone abided by these “”10 little rules,”” as he called them, the world would be a better place.

True enough, the second half of the Ten Commandments — you shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness against a neighbor, or covet your neighbor’s possessions — pose valuable ideas that, if honored, would be beneficial to society. But denying the religious content of the first half of the commandments, as found in the book of Exodus, is utterly idiotic.

The Ten Commandments commence with the establishment of God as the Lord. “”I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”” The list continues with forbidding idolatry, taking the Lord’s name is vain, keeping the Sabbath and honoring one’s father and mother.

Placing a monument of them on government property disobeys the separation of church and state promised to the citizens of America, implemented in order to maintain a secular government and avoid religious persecution.

Sen. Amanda Aguirre, D-Yuma, is a Catholic who believes in the Ten Commandments but maintains that erecting a copy of them in front of a government building is equivalent to “”imposing our religious beliefs on other folks that have their own God.””

By posting the Ten Commandments on government property, Pearce and other supporters are making a clear statement that those who don’t abide by Judeo-Christian beliefs are not equal citizens. This implies that they don’t deserve the same respect and tolerance as their Judeo-Christian neighbors in a country that supposedly guarantees freedom and equality before the law.

Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, contends that if Pearce truly feels that the commandments don’t have religious significance, then there should be no objection to other groups utilizing private money to erect their personal commandments near the Capitol. In response, Pearce said that people are free to promote such a concept, “”but not on my bill.””

Yet, if instead of the Ten Commandments, a monument was erected in front of the Capitol reading, “”There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet,”” the likely reaction does not coincide with the quiet acceptance and tolerance Pearce’s words seem to imply. Outrage and fury is far more probable.

Even beyond the monument’s clear imposition of the majority religion upon the minority, any evidence of constructive value it would contribute is difficult to grasp. Those belonging to religions that follow the Ten Commandments will be unnecessarily reminded of them. Those not belonging to such religions will simply ignore the monument or develop aggravation toward it and those behind it, recognizing the clear contradiction it embodies in this so-called “”land of the free.””

Laws are plentifully sufficient in reminding citizens of the actions that are deemed impermissible; utilizing religious text to do so is unconstitutional, unnecessary and intolerant.

— Rachel Leavitt is a creative writing sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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