Council for Secular Humanism Disappointed with Supreme Court’s Decision in Texas Ten Commandments Case

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2005
Contact: Jefferson Seaver, Communications - (207) 358-9785

Council spokespersons believe ruling will only add to confusion about meaning of the First Amendment

Amherst, New York (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 the First Amendment Task force, 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.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at