‘We are sovereign nation and can pretty much post anything we want’

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If you are nostalgic for the days when the Ten Commandments were posted in public buildings, you might want to consider visiting the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

The tribal council is making plans to mount a copy of the Ten Commandments in the council house where government meetings are held, and possibly display them throughout other public buildings in the Cherokee Nation of western North Carolina.

The idea was introduced by Councilwoman Angela Kephart last month. She said the tribe should display the Ten Commandments out of respect and devotion to God. The motion passed unanimously.

“We aren’t saying you have to abide by the Ten Commandments,” Kephart said, according to the Smoky Mountain News. “We are simply displaying God’s Ten Commandments. That’s what He expects from each and every individual. If you break that, it is between you and God. It is not between you and the tribal council; it is between you and God.”

There is no First Amendment issue involved, and even if the American Civil Liberties Union wanted to make one, it can’t. The U.S. Constitution does not apply to Cherokee, nor to any other Native American tribe for that matter, according to Cherokee’s Attorney General David Nash.

“We are a sovereign nation and we can pretty much post anything we want in our council chambers,” said Kephart. “For once the federal government is not going to tell us what to do. We can feel good about it because we are standing up for God. The more it becomes controversial, the more we need to stand firm.”

Kephart was clear about her desire to promote Christianity.

“God has blessed our tribe,” she said. “We have a very rich tribe, per se. We are operating on over a $200 million budget thanks to our gaming enterprise.”

Posting the Ten Commandments doesn’t prevent others from practicing their religion, explained Nash.

“Anybody can practice any religion they want to practice,” Nash said.