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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The Law and the Ten Commandments

June 29, 2005

Re "Justices Limit Public Display of Religion," June 28: The U.S. Supreme Court has stated it is OK to display a religious symbol on government property as long as it is for a historical reason and not an endorsement of any one religion. Following that logic, the L.A. County seal (with the cross representing our historical founding) should now be saved from extinction. The cross does not endorse one religion over another, it represents our history.

Louis Grinbaum

Northridge

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The only commandment that is even faintly religious is the First: "I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no God besides me," which supports monotheism but does not name a specific religion or divine being. The other nine constitute a code of ethical behavior, basically a template on how to live with our fellow human beings.

Charlene A. Scherer

Rancho Mirage

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Re the Ten Commandments ruling: Justice Antonin Scalia maintains that because the "overwhelming majority" of Americans believe in a single God, public officials should be allowed to acknowledge this belief through public displays, such as the Ten Commandments. Where does that leave the rest of us whose beliefs don't match up?

Considering his assertion that there would be nothing "unconstitutional" about a state's "favoring religion generally," do you think Kentucky lawmakers would object to my installing a plaque of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path on their courthouse lawn? And if I'm ever called as a witness, I'd certainly prefer to swear on "The Analects of Confucius," which are closer to my own spiritual and ethical beliefs than the Bible. Think I'd be allowed to do that? I doubt it.

Rebecca S. Hertsgaard

Palm Desert

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