In 2007, the ACLU was finally successful in getting Ten Commandments plaques removed from public buildings in all 50 states. In addition,
1. They forced the Ten Commandments to be expunged from the Supreme Court building;
2. They obliged the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to fire their chaplains;
3. They won a ban on official chaplains in the military;
4. They removed “In God We Trust” from all currency and public documents;
5. They removed “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance;
6. They removed all crosses, Stars of David, and crescents from the gravestones of American soldiers in military cemeteries around the world.
7. Finally, as a coup de grace, they succeeded in getting major revisions or deletions in the public use of American historical documents, including:
a. The removal from the Declaration of Independence of the words: “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” “Supreme Judge,” and “Divine Providence”;
b. Deletion from the public use of letters and speeches by America’s founders of any reference to God, Providence, the Ten Commandments, or religion in general, including numerous such references made by George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln;
c. Deletion–when sung in public–of the last God-laden Stanzas of “My Country Tis of Thee” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
With the completion of this public-spirited contribution, the ACLU began criminal prosecution against any minister or priest who argued from the Bible in public fora to suggest that any given act might be judged morally wrong–contending that such judgment is discriminatory against anyone engaging in such an act, and serves to diminish his or her dignity and/or self-esteem.
A brochure published by the ACLU in mid-2005 argued that it is morally permissible to hate traditional religions for their discriminatory teachings. It is no violation of hate speech codes, the ACLU pamphlet argues, to express hatred of those who uphold the narrow teachings of Christianity and Judaism.
God bless the ACLU for cleansing the public life of the United States, at last, from discriminatory religious speech.
–Dr. John M. Templeton, M.D., has been the president of the Templeton Foundation since 1995; he was formerly a pediatric surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Michael Novak is the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. This piece first appeared in the Washington Times and is reprinted with permission.