SUPPORT SB 11: Display of historical documents with religious significance

Executive Summary:
Senate Bill 11 states that historical documents with religious themes are allowed to be displayed on state property. Several documents are mentioned as examples: the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, and Washington’s Farewell Address. The bill makes it so that these and other documents could lawfully be displayed at government buildings like county courthouses or the statehouse without their religious content disqualifying them. In order to be displayed, a document must have been donated, purchased with donated funds, or reprinted from a document meeting those criteria. The document must also be accompanied by a statement explaining its historical significance.

Our nation is at a crossroads where once obvious tenants of the American way are being openly questioned. Is America fundamentally good? Is religion helpful to developing a moral people? Senate Bill 11 is a step Indiana can take to remind Hoosiers of the answers to these questions. Promoting the public display of historical documents with religious themes in government buildings would help remind lawmakers and all citizens alike of the values that our state should live by. In our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson proudly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There are some who would wish this document to never be displayed in the Indiana Statehouse or a county courthouse. To them, its religious themes and the very fact that it speaks to the inherent good of America’s founding make it the last thing they’d want in a place of government. This erroneous way of thinking about our nation is the very reason Senate Bill 11 would have a positive impact.

A better understanding of our founding values would give answers to many of the issues causing so much tension in our culture today. With the passage of Senate Bill 11, important documents from America’s past would be able to be displayed in Indiana’s government buildings in order to guide us in the present. Religion has always been integral to our nation’s prosperity, and we must remember that truth if the future is to be bright. Senate Bill 11 makes the statement that American history and its inescapable religious elements are something to be proud of and must remain at the forefront of government decisions.

IFI supports SB 11.