Amendment to Kentucky SJR57
The following is the complete text of Amendment HFA18 to Senate (Kentucky) Joint Resolution 57. The amendment calls for the relocation of a monument of the Ten Commandments on its Frankfort, KY capitol grounds. A Federal District Judge ruled on July 25, ruled this action would violate of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (See: Ten Commandments - Kentucky Loses Again)
The resolution - SJR57 - requests the Kentucky Board of Education and Department of Education to encourage teachers and school administrators to post and teach from historic displays of original documents reflecting American history, which may include the Ten Commandments.
WHEREAS, the Framers of Kentucky's Constitution acknowledged Almighty God to be the source of the Commonwealth's public and private liberties in the following words:
"We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution"; and
WHEREAS, in 1992, the Kentucky General Assembly recognized in the enactment of KRS 158.195 that there is nothing in the Kentucky Constitution or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which requires the rewriting of American or Kentucky history or the suppression or censorship of those histories for any reason, particularly because of any religious references in historic documents; and
WHEREAS, many of the Ten Commandments have been codified in Kentucky's civil and criminal laws and similarly in the legal codes of the other forty-nine states; and
WHEREAS, America's colonial governments adopted the Ten Commandments not as an object of worship or an icon, but as the basis for their civil and criminal law, as illustrated on April 3, 1644, when the New Haven Colony Charter was adopted establishing that "[t]he judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction"; and
WHEREAS, William Blackstone, Esq., eminent British jurist, Professor of Law, and legal scholar whose writings shaped the thoughts of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the other founding documents of the Republic which became the authority for much of our original American system of jurisprudence, stated in his "Commentaries on the Laws of England" published in 1765: "[u]pon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation [the Bible] depend all human laws"; and
WHEREAS, when signing the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, Samuel Adams, the "Father of the Revolution," emphasized the Biblical presuppositions of that document:
"We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come"; and
WHEREAS, on August 20, 1789, Congressman Fisher Ames from Massachusetts proposed the wording of the First Amendment which was adopted by the House of Representatives in the first session of the Congress of the United States; and his writings clearly demonstrate that the Framers never intended the First Amendment to be so interpreted as to require the removal of the Bible and the Ten Commandments from public school classrooms:
"Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble. . . . In no Book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith"; and
WHEREAS, in an article published in "Palladium" magazine on September 20, 1789, Congressman Ames further amplified his concern that American education should include familiarity with the Bible:
"We are spending less time in the classroom on the Bible which should be the principal text in our schools . . . The Bible states these great moral lessons better than any other manmade book"; and
WHEREAS, in his "Farewell Address" of September 19, 1796, President George Washington pointed out the connection between the faith of the Nation and its political prosperity when he declared:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle"; and
WHEREAS, Noah Webster, the author of dictionaries and America's first speller, grammar, and reader (the famed 1783 "Blue-Backed Speller"), articulated the mindset of the Framers who presupposed a Biblical basis for law:
"The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis for all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible"; and
WHEREAS, acknowledging the Bible as an integral part of the fabric of our society, on September 11, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland and Scotland, as the colonies were at war with England; and
WHEREAS, on May 29, 1845, the day before his death, President Andrew Jackson stated:
"My lamp of life is nearly out, and the last glimmer has come. I am ready to depart when called. The Bible is true. The principles and statutes of that Holy Book have been the rule of my life, and I have tried to conform to its spirit as nearly as possible. Upon that sacred volume I rest my hope for eternal salvation, through the merits and blood of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ"; and
WHEREAS, on February 29, 1892, the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision which has never been overruled, cited sixty-six authorities which show the Bible's singular influence on America:
"There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons; they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire group. These authorities were collected to support the historical conclusion that: 'no purpose of action against religion can be imputed any legislation, state or nation, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation . . . we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth . . . this is a Christian nation' "; and
WHEREAS, on May 7, 1911, President Woodrow Wilson, addressing the Tercentenary Celebration of the Translation of the Bible into the English Language, stated:
"Up to the time of the translation of the Bible into English, it was a book for long ages withheld from the perusal of the peoples of other languages and other tongues, and not a little of the history of liberty lies in the circumstance that the moving sentences of this book were made familiar to the ears and understanding of those peoples who have led mankind in exhibiting the forms of government and the impulses of reform which have made for freedom and for self-government among mankind.
"For this is a book which reveals men unto themselves, not as creatures in bondage, but as men under human authority, not as those bidden to take counsel and command of any human source. It reveals every man to himself as a distinct moral agent, responsible not to men, not even to those men whom he has put over him in authority, but responsible through his own conscience to his Lord and Maker. Whenever a man sees this vision he stands up a free man, whatever may be the government under which he lives, if he sees beyond the circumstances of his own life . . . Moreover, the Bible does what is so invaluable in human life -- it classifies moral values. It apprises us that men are not judged according to their wits, but according to their characters -- that the last of every man's reputation is his truthfulness, his squaring his conduct with the standards that he knew to be the standards of purity and rectitude.
"How many a man we appraise, ladies and gentlemen, as great today whom we do not admire as noble! A man may have great power and small character"; and
WHEREAS, President Woodrow Wilson's letter to the soldiers and sailors of the United States during World War I, recorded in the Congressional Record, advised them:
"The Bible is the word of life. I beg that you will read it and find this out for yourselves -- read not little snatches here and there, but long passages that will really be the road to the heart of it. You will find it full of real men and women not only, but also of things you have wondered about and been troubled about all your life, as men have been always; and the more you read, the more it will become plain to you what things are worthwhile and what are not, what things make men happy -- loyalty, right dealings, speaking the truth, readiness to give everything for what they think their duty, and, most of all, the wish that they may have the real approval of the Christ, who gave everything for them -- and the things that are guaranteed to make men unhappy -- selfishness, cowardice, greed, and everything that is low and mean. When you have read the Bible, you will know that it is the Word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty"; and
WHEREAS, before his assassination on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy prepared a major address on the status of American strength and security, choosing his last words from the Bible to reveal the source of America's true security: "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain"; and
WHEREAS, in his book, "Sources of Power," President Jimmy Carter acknowledged the importance of the Mosaic law as a foundation:
"As we face changes and challenges, we need to hold on to the things that don't change, the foundations on which we can build our lives despite the uncertainty and danger of the future. God's law is the greatest of these foundations"; and
WHEREAS, the Ten Commandments appear over the bench where the United States Supreme Court Justices sit, thus showing the source from whence our laws and the governmental power of the state are derived; and
WHEREAS, in his November, 1976 interview with Robert Scheer, President Jimmy Carter stated:
"I think the laws are on the books quite often because of their relationship to the Bible. Early in the nation's development, the Judeo-Christian moral standards were accepted as a basis for civil law"; and
WHEREAS, in his February 22, 1990 proclamation designating 1990 as The International Year of Bible Reading, President George Bush declared:
"The Bible has had a critical impact upon the development of Western civilization. Western literature, art, and music are filled with images and ideas that can be traced to its pages. More important, our moral tradition has been shaped by the laws and teachings it contains. It was a biblical view of man -- one affirming the dignity and worth of the human person, made in the image of our Creator -- that inspired the principles upon which the United States is founded. President Jackson called the Bible "the rock on which our Republic rests" because he knew that it shaped the Founding Fathers' concept of individual liberty and their vision of a free and just society. The Bible has not only influenced the development of our Nation's values and institutions, but also enriched the daily lives of millions of men and women who have looked to it for comfort, hope, and guidance. On the American frontier, the Bible was often the only book a family owned. For those pioneers living far from any church or school, it served both as a source of religious instruction and as the primary text from which children learned to read. The historic speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., provide compelling evidence of the role Scripture played in shaping the struggle against slavery and discrimination. Today the Bible continues to give courage and direction to those who seek truth and righteousness. In recognizing its enduring value, we recall the words of the prophet Isaiah, who declared, 'The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.' Containing revelations of God's intervention in human history, the Bible offers moving testimony to His love for mankind. Treasuring the Bible as a source of knowledge and inspiration, President Abraham Lincoln called this Great Book 'the best gift God has given to man.' President Lincoln believed that the Bible not only reveals the infinite goodness of our Creator, but also reminds us of our worth as individuals and our responsibilities toward one another";
Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
Section 1 . The Kentucky Department of Education, with assistance as necessary by the Legislative Research Commission, shall electronically transmit KRS 158.195 and this resolution to all public school teachers in the Commonwealth setting forth the legal guidelines established by the General Assembly in this resolution governing elected officials and public school teachers electing to post historic displays which include a depiction of the Ten Commandments.
Section 2 . Documents depicting the Ten Commandments may be posted in classrooms by any public school teacher and on other public property, when incorporated into an historical display along with other historic documents as described in KRS 158.195 which may also trace the influence of the Bible on America's Founding Fathers, Presidents, laws, and institutions of government. Each historic document displayed inside a public building or school shall be displayed in a sixteen (16) inch by twenty (20) inch frame, except that the frame containing this resolution and KRS 158.195 may be larger. The purpose of the display shall not be to advance religion, but to advance the important secular purpose of illustrating how the Bible and the Ten Commandments have influenced the faith, morals, and character of American leaders who, in turn, have shaped American law, public policy, and institutions. For that reason, the General Assembly expresses no preference as to which version of the Ten Commandments is displayed or whether the display is in English, Hebrew, or a foreign language being taught in the classroom. To advance the secular purpose of making citizens of the Commonwealth more knowledgeable concerning the founding of America, the intent of the nation's Founders, and the formative influence of the Bible and the Ten Commandments on American leaders, institutions, and law, a copy of this resolution shall be made a prominent part of any historic display on public property which includes any depiction of the Ten Commandments.
Section 3 . The General Assembly directs the Kentucky Department of Education, in consultation with the Legislative Research Commission through its director, to institute a "Read to Lead" program, the goals of which shall be to familiarize students with writings and speeches of America's Founders, Framers, and Presidents which show how important the Bible, the Ten Commandments, religious faith, and strong moral character were to those American leaders. The Kentucky Department of Education shall make these historic documents and materials easily accessible to public school teachers on its web site.
Section 4 . No fiscal court, city council, school board, or site-based council shall post any historical display set forth in KRS 158.195 which incorporates a depiction of the Ten Commandments until that governing body first sets forth by resolution or policy its secular purpose for erecting the display. This purpose shall not advance religion.
Section 5 . Each historic display which incorporates a depiction of the Ten Commandments shall be accompanied by clearly legible copies of this resolution and of KRS 158.195; and the cost of posting and maintaining the displays shall be paid for by voluntary private contributions.
Section 6 . The Legislative Research Commission shall remit a sufficient number of copies of this resolution to the Department for Local Government for distribution by the department, in the manner it deems most efficient, to all elected officials of each city and county of the Commonwealth.
Section 7 . The Legislative Research Commission shall remit a sufficient number of copies of this resolution to the Secretary of State for distribution by the Secretary of State, in the manner he deems most efficient, to the statewide elected officials of the Commonwealth.Section 8. The eighty-six (86) inch by forty-two (42) inch monument, with its base, which is inscribed with the Ten Commandments and which was displayed on the Capitol grounds for decades shall be relocated to a site on the Capitol grounds near Kentucky's floral clock and shall be made a part of an historic display which shall include the display of this Resolution.
We're discussing Religion and Government now in the Forum:
"Another sad day in a long history of Christians taking it in the teeth. As far as I'm concerned, they can skip playing the Star Spangled Banner, too; the land of the free is getting taken away from us, legal reinterpretation by legal reinterpretation." Posted by VERNONM1 Jun-20 11:58 am
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