Missouri Baptists will oppose any attempt by ACLU to remove 10 Commandments from State Capitol
By Bob Baysinger
September 9, 2003
|Out-of-state visitors pause at the 10 Commandments monument at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. Missouri Baptist leaders say they will strongly oppose any efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to have the monument removed from state property as they did with a similar monument at the state Supreme Court Building in Montgomery, Ala.|
JEFFERSON CITY – A group of Missouri Baptist leaders, including Monte Shinkle, president of the Missouri Baptist Convention, say they will oppose any efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to remove a "10 Commandments" monument at the Missouri State Capitol.
The monument has been in place on the Missouri Capitol grounds the last 45 years. It was donated to the state by the Missouri State Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Dan Viets, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Missouri, said the monument likely will be a topic of discussion when his organization meets the first week of September.
"A lot of our board members think there are more important issues to work on," Viets told The Pathway. "I’m not saying we won’t take it up at some point in the future, but there is no rush. We haven’t made up our mind."
But Viets told KOMU television in Columbia said he would try to solve this formally with state lawmakers first, rather than going to court, as in Alabama.
"It would appear that the court has spoken precisely to this issue. In other words, it would appear that maintaining that display is probably going to be held to be unconstitutional.
"There is no way that it could possibly be legal to single out the Christian religion or the Jewish religion, or any other religion for that matter. And say they get to put a monument on the grounds of the state Capitol."
Shinkle said history is recorded in the Missouri Capitol.
"I would say absolutely this is something we need to take a stand on," Shinkle said. "Every Missouri Baptists ought to walk into the Capitol Rotunda and see the scripture verses that are chiseled into the walls of the Capitol. Those verses say a lot about our history … ‘The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’ and ‘Lord of Hosts be With us lest we forget.’
"This is not a Republican-Democrat thing. It was a bi-partisan committee that decided to put scripture in the Missouri Capitol. I feel very strongly about this issue. The separation of church and state was not written into the Constitution of the United States and it wasn’t the intention of our founding fathers to remove God from our culture.
"This fight that is going on in Alabama and what may happen here is nothing more than an attempt to deny God in our culture. Right now, Judge Roy Moore is one of my heroes."
David Clippard, MBC executive director, is calling on every Missouri Baptist church to adopt a resolution in support of keeping the 10 Commandments monument and flood the offices of elected officials and judges with copies of the resolution.
"Every Baptist needs to make a call and send a letter," Clippard said. "They need to let their voice be heard. Why should we let a minority group like the ACLU direct and influence the direction of our government. We are being held hostage by a minority.
"The 10 Commandments are engraved in stone at the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Our forefathers put them there for a reason."
Clippard said he is concerned about an often times unelected judiciary legislating from the bench and would like to know what happened to the checks and balance system that is supposed to hold them in check.
"The problem we’ve got is that judges are making laws rather than interpreting them," he added.
Dee Wampler, an attorney, a member of Second Baptist Church, Springfield, and author of The Myth of Separation Between Church & State, said he would not be surprised by an attempt to remove the 10 Commandments monument in Missouri.
"I feel certain they (the ACLU) have many, many lawsuits ready to file, and I’m sure the Missouri monument may be next on the list," Wampler said. "Ultimately they’re going after the "In God We Trust" motto on our coins, crosses on church steeples and crosses along highways marking the location where an accident has claimed a life."
Wampler said he is a member of four lawyer organizations, including the Christian Legal Society. He was involved in defending the city of Republic’s right to display a nativity scene.
"I have spent years studying church and state issues," Wampler said. "I may be just a plain, old lawyer, but I can assure you I will be involved in a lawsuit somehow – either on the front line or behind the scenes – to encourage a strong defense on these issues."
Joey Davis, a member of First Baptist Church, Branson, and director for Concerned Women for America of Missouri, believes it is only a matter of time before the ACLU attacks the monument.
"It sounds to me as if the ACLU is circling and looking for anther place they can attack," Davis said. "They’re anti-American and out to destroy the foundations of this country, which is the 10 Commandments. They want to destroy the very foundations of America."
Davis predicted, however, that the ACLU attack on the 10 Commandments monument at the Supreme Court Building in Montgomery, Ala., and a possible attempt to remove the 10 Commandments monument in Missouri, can have a reverse effect.
"I think God can use it for good," Davis said. "The 10 Commandments are now front and center, and it’s time to educate Christians and others across the nation who have been lied to for year by the ACLU and other atheist organizations who are trying to remove God from every crevice of American life."
Davis said there are too many Christians who do not understand that the nation’s civil laws, which are based on the 10 Commandments, provide the protection to preach the Gospel here and abroad.
"Many churches say we don’t want to get involved. All we want to do is preach the Gospel, but churches have to preach the whole counsel of God. If they don’t stand up now, they will be silenced. Churches in Germany wouldn’t stand up against the Nazis, and they were silenced."