Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 July 2009
In December 2004 the George W. Bush administration filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of two Kentucky counties barred by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from posting framed copies of the Ten Commandments in their courthouses, alongside a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan marking 1983 as the Year of the Bible. To those who would object that even a minimalist interpretation of the separation of church and state might preclude the prominent display of a religious text in just that place—the courthouse—where the principle of separation is normatively enforced, the White House offered assurance that “Official acknowledgement and recogntion of the Ten Commandments' influence on American legal history comport with the Establishment Clause [of the First Amendment].”
2. “Ten Commandments Backed by Bush in Court Fight,” Bloomberg Media, 12, 2004, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aVq7CjVw_3Zc&refer=usGoogle Scholar.
3. David Lyle, Jeffrey, “Civic Religion and the First Amendment,” One Nation Under God? Religion and American Culture, ed. Maijorie, Garber and Walkowitz, Rebecca L. (New York: Routledge, 1999), 21–31, 22–23.Google Scholar
4. The Ten Commandments, of course, belong to Hebrew as well as to Christian Scripture and so, it may seem to many to follow, to “everyone.” As Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini write of invocations of “Judeo-Christian” moral standards in American jurisprudence, “we should not mistake the hyphen for inclusion or some sign of religious pluralism. Rather, the hyphen condenses the story of Judaism's supersession by Christianity and passes off a wished-for assimilation of difference … as an instance of religious pluralism”: Jakobsen, and Pellegrini, , “Getting Religion,” in One Nation Under God?, 101–14, 109.Google Scholar
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7. Boles, Donald E., The Bible, Religion, and Public Schools (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1965), 39–40Google Scholar. American Protestants had in fact urged their demands for a separation of church and state along the same lines that the Independent party in the English Civil War had articulated England's separation from the Roman Catholic Church. See Hudson, Winthrop, American Protestantism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 14–16Google Scholar. See also Banner, Lois, “Religious Benevolence as Social Control: A Critique of an Interpretation,” Journal of American History 60 (06 1973): 23–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar: “In freeing men from Catholicism [Protestant republicans believed], the Protestant Reformation had liberated them from their attachment to the feudal state and had stimulated them to develop representative governments” (39).
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21. “Kirwan” (Nicholas Murray), Romanism at Home: Letters to the Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1852), 249–50Google Scholar. Taney, who would notoriously go on to author the Supreme Court's opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), impressed Murray as a Catholic whose training in rationality had overcome the debilities of his religion: “Brought up to a profession which proverbially sharpens the intellect for just discrimination … you are as capable of separating the false from the true, the fiction from the fact, the seeming from the real, as any other American citizen” (18).
22. As quoted by Smith, Timothy L., “Protestant Schooling and American Nationality, 1800–1850,” Journal of American History 53 (03 1967): 679–95, 685CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The writer was commenting on the monitory and reformist Lancaster system of education in England, which sought to educate children from indigent families and became the model for charity schools in the United States.
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40. Christian Observer, July 19, 1844, 114.
43. Mormons and Indians were often conflated in children's textbooks; according to Willard's, EmmaAbridged History of the United States or Republic of America (New York: A. S. Barnes, 1868)Google Scholar, for example, Mormonism constituted “the most extraordinary imposture of our age … giv[ing] its followers license to commit every crime,” but was destined, together with Indians, to be “overwhelmed by the restless wave of civilization” (337–38); as quoted by Elson, , Guardians of Tradition, 59Google Scholar. On Indians in textbooks, see Elson, , Guardians of Tradition, 71–81.Google Scholar
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50. Cincinnati Gazette, November 16, 1844; as quoted by Stritch, Alfred G., “Political Nativism in Cincinnati, 1830–1860,” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia 48 (09 1937): 227–78, 244.Google Scholar
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63. New York Times, Dec. 3, 1869, 1.
64. The text accompanying these images describes morning exercises at the ideal public school: “a short passage of scripture is read, and with folded hands the little ones repeat the Lord's Prayer.” Public schools, the text continues, “constitute our chief safeguard against a relapse into the temporal and spiritual bondage which our fathers sought this country to avoid. … The dangers that threaten them in the way of unsecularization, and a diversion of the large portion of the common schools funds for the support of sectarian schools, are only too happily foreshadowed in Mr. Nast's admirable composition on page 140, which requires no comment to enforce its warning admonitions”: Harper's Weekly, February 26, 1870, 141–42.
65. Board of Education of Cincinnati v. Minor, 23 Ohio State Reports (December Term 1872): 238–54Google Scholar; reprint in The Bible in the Public Schools, 422–38.
70. Emerson wrote in his journal in 1844, “the Catholic religion respects masses of men and ages. … The Catholic church is ethnical, and in every way superior. It is in harmony with Nature, which loves the race and ruins the individual. The Protestant has his pew, which of course is only the first step to a church for every individual citizen—a church apiece”: Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Emerson, Edward W. and Forbes, Waldo E., 10 vols. (Boston 1911), 7:341–42Google Scholar, as quoted by Birdsell, Richard D., “Emerson and the Church of Rome,” American Literature 31 (11 1959): 273–81, 274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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75. In the words of Justice Rehnquist, “the greatest injury of the ‘wall’ notion is its mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intentions of the drafters of the Bill of Rights.… The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned”: Wallace v. Jaffree; 472 U.S. 38, 107 (1984), Dissenting; National Alliance Against Christian Discrimination website, http://naacd.com/issues judicial.htm. Stephen F. Smith approvingly notes that “the most powerful voice in the recent assault on separation has been Justice Clarence Thomas. His plurality opinion in Mitchell [Mitchell v. Helms, 570 U.S. 793 (2000)] declared that, in the educational context, strict separation was ‘born of bigotry’ and thus ‘should be buried now.’ Incidentally, Thomas was educated by nuns in parochial schools and graduated from Holy Cross. Maybe the nativists were onto something about those Catholic schools after all”: Smith, Stephen F., “We the Protestants,” First Things 128 (12 2002): 43–47, 46–47.Google Scholar