Bruce Prescott of the Oklahoma Faith Network, a Baptist who takes the traditional Baptist position of strong support for separation of church and state (which the Southern Baptist Convention abandoned about 35 years ago), has filed a brief in the lawsuit he filed challenging the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the state capitol grounds. He has some excerpts from it on his blog. I like that he attacks the ridiculous claim that the Ten Commandments are historical, not religious.
6. Historically, Baptists have affirmed the Divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible declares, and I affirm, the sacredness and holiness of the religious covenant being affirmed in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19), and it explicitly states that Moses recorded that God personally spoke and wrote down the Ten Commandments:
“These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. (Deuteronomy 5:22 NIV, cf. Exodus 24:12)
Historically, Baptists have affirmed the religious significance and purpose of the Ten Commandments as being the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith.
7. Many Baptists, as well as many other people of faith — Jewish, Christian and Muslim — continue to affirm that the Ten Commandments are properly understood to be the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith. Among them some, like myself, are horrified when attempts are made to have secular courts of law rule that the terms of this sacred and holy covenant no longer have any religious significance and meaning. In the long run, I believe the effect of such rulings serves to undermine sincere faith by trivializing the value of religious covenants.
8. Foremost among the terms in the covenant are those that identify Divinity. The word “God” appears six times, usually within the phrase “the Lord your God” (five times). The word “Lord” appears seven times. One of the commandments pertains to the dignity necessary when invoking Divinity and the special care necessary to assure that every invocation of God have meaning and significance:
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7 NIV)
I believe that the name of the Lord God is “misused” when declarations are made that the words “Lord” and “God” on Ten Commandments monuments are historical artifacts and no longer have religious meaning and significance. In effect, this undermines religion by negating the significance of the most sacred symbols of religious language.
And he concludes:
I have observed the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol from both within and outside the Capitol building. The placement of the monument makes viewing it unavoidable to any sighted person walking up and down the Northeast staircase of the Capitol building. The monument gives me the impression that the Oklahoma state government endorses a certain form of religion.
I have met many people walking up and down that staircase whom I know to be people of other faiths and people of no faith. People for whom both the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma State Constitution secure an equal right to freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I believe posting the Ten Commandments monument before unwelcoming eyes on government property sends a message that such persons are looked down upon as second class citizens by their government.
In other words, it is a blatant assertion of Christian privilege being defended on the ridiculous pretext that it isn’t religious at all, merely historical.