Rival Iconic Texts: Ten Commandments Monuments and the U.S. Constitution
James W Watts [+]
The legal and political controversy over Ten Commandments monuments in the United States revolves around iconic texts holding a discrete symbolic value compared to texts whose function is primarily to be read. A comparative perspective on iconic texts reveals that the nation’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, have also been increasingly turned into monumental icons over the last half-century. The Ten Commandments controversy can therefore be understood as the competition between iconic texts for symbolic supremacy. At stake in this struggle is how the nation will represent the government’s relationship to the many religions represented within its population.