David Randolph Smith

Ten Commandments/Pledge of Allegiance

The debate over the Ten Commandments displays mirrors a broader aspect of the so-called culture war under way between religious conservatives and secular humanists. I offer the views of the opinions editor of a local Nashville high school newspaper on the similar subject of The Pledge of Allegiance. (In full disclosure, this was written by my son Chris Smith, who is now in college).

Perhaps we should look to the Amish, who first arrived in Pennsylvania in 1737. Offshoots of Swiss Anabaptists, they took their name from their leader, Jacob Amman. As Robert Hughes explains in American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America, (p. 43) the Amish believe in the complete separation of church and state and pacificistic communism as sketched in the Sermon on the Mount. They shunned representations and graven images.

Artiistic presentations of history (the mural at the U.S. Supreme Court or the stained-glass frieze of Moses with the Ten Commandments above the Main Doors of Metro-Davidson County Courthouse) are far different than public displays of the actual texts or creeds--whether the Book of Mormon, the Millenial Laws of the Shakers, the Amish Ordnung or the beliefs and texts of Quakers, Hutterites, Moravians, Mennonites, Lutherans or what have you. Religious viewpoint emphasis of the type espoused by Roy Moore and religious conservatives have no place in courthouses or capitols.