Contact: Nathan Bupp
AMHERST, N.Y. (June 27, 2005) - The Council for Secular Humanism (CSH) and its project, the First Amendment Task Force, are disappointed at today's ruling by the Supreme Court in Van Orden v. Perry. The case challenged the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State capital building.
Spokespersons for the Council for Secular Humanism believe that today's ruling provides no clarification of the meaning of the First Amendment. David Koepsell, Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism, commented that "The decision will lead to more litigation and confusion. We are disappointed at the Court's reluctance to definitively resolve this issue by simply adhering to its clearly stated ruling in the Kentucky Ten Commandments case."
Eddie Tabash, the attorney for the Council for Secular Humanism and Chairman of the First Amendment Task force, and who authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of those organizations in the Van Orden case, declared that, "The Council for Secular Humanism, while appreciative of the vote of a bare majority of the Court in striking down displays of the Ten Commandments inside of government buildings, is deeply troubled over the failure of the Court to extend the reasoning, of barring government bodies from promoting religion, to such displays on government land outside of buildings."
Paul Finkelman, a professor of law at the University of Tulsa and a visiting fellow at the Center for Inquiry, home of the Council for Secular Humanism, added:
"I am sure it will come as a surprise to the many people of genuine faith in Texas - Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Jews, Unitarians, Presbyterians etc. - when they discover that their state has adopted a Lutheran version of the Ten Commandments as the official Ten Commandments of the state. This is an offense to people of all faiths who do not consider the Ten Commandments to be a holy text." Finkelman lamented that "millions of other Americans of various faiths, or no faiths at all, will now be faced with the prospect of their government imposing religious values on them. This is a threat to all Americans - religious and nonreligious."
The Council for Secular Humanism is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization promoting rational inquiry, secular values, and positive human development through the advancement of secular humanism. The Council, publisher of the bimonthly journal Free Inquiry, has a Web site at www.secularhumanism.org.