AJC Files Brief Opposing Ten Commandments Display in Kentucky Courthouse

AJC Files Brief Opposing Ten Commandments Display in Kentucky Courthouse

January 21, 2005 -  New York – The American Jewish Committee today filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in opposition to the public display of the Ten Commandments in county courthouses. The case, McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, involves the display of the decalogue, surrounded by secular patriotic texts on courthouse walls.

"The display of religious symbols, including the Ten Commandments, on public property, violates the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, and sends the message to non-adherents that they are outsiders in their own communities," said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC's general counsel. "Such displays are especially inappropriate in situations where people of all faiths and of no faith convene daily to seek justice."

The AJC brief was filed with a coalition of Christian, Jewish and interfaith organizations. "When government attempts to rationalize its display of sacred texts by claiming secular purposes and secular effects, the inevitable tendency is to distort and desacralize the sacred text," the brief states.

AJC, a staunch defender of church-state separation as the surest guarantor of religious liberty for all Americans, filed in 1980 an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the mandatory display of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky public schools. In that case, Stone v. Graham, the High Court recognized the religious nature of the Ten Commandments, stating: "The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact."

Contact: Kenneth Bandler (212) 891-6771 PR@ajc.org

        Lisa Fingeret Roth (212) 891-1385 rothl@ajc.org
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