by Mark Silk
The monument that’s been sitting on the grounds of the state capitol for the past three years, that is. Yesterday, by a whopping 7-2 margin, the state supreme court took just a few paragraphs to rule that the monument has got to go because it violates Article 2, Section 5 of the state constitution, which reads:
No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.
The monument was paid for with private funds, so it was the public property (capitol grounds) that created the problem, having been used to support the Judeo-Christian system of religion. The Ten Commandments, said the court, “are obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.”
Article 2, Section 5 is what’s come to be known as a Blaine Amendment,” after an amendment to the U.S. Constitution introduced in 1875 by Rep. James G. Blaine (R-Maine). The amendment was intended to end political efforts to secure funding for private religious schools, most of which were Catholic — and anti-Catholicism lay behind much of its support. While it narrowly failed to win congressional approval, versions of it were subsequently incorporated into a number of state constitutions.
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