And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:1-17).
Someone asked me what I thought about the Ten Commandments being posted inside or in front of courthouses. My short answer is: what’s the point?, who cares?, and this is much ado about nothing. My long answer is what follows.
Every year or so some atheist sues a school district regarding the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. This most recently occurred in Boston, as I blogged about here:
Supreme Judicial Court will begin hearing arguments this week in case brought by an atheist to strike the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Go ahead and take it out; it is a lie anyway, as I pointed out here. Better yet, scrap the whole Pledge. Nothing sickens me more than to see a pastor in church lead the congregation in the Pledge. I have seen it in several churches and about threw up in my mouth it was so sickening.
This always manages to get conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, all worked up about absolutely nothing, as I point out in my post and the article of mine that I link to.
Another thing that gets conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, all worked up about absolutely nothing is the denial of permission by the government to post the Ten Commandments in some public place like a courthouse.
Let me first say—for the benefit of those who are new to my writings—that I am an evangelical Christian and deplore the decline of virtue, decency, morality, and religion in the United States that has occurred in my lifetime.
Second, as a Christian, I have no argument with the Ten Commandments or any other part of the Bible.
Third, I think that most of the federal court decisions regarding religion are not only wrong, they showcase the profound ignorance of the Constitution that characterizes most of the federal judiciary. Here are three examples that concern the Ten Commandments.
In Stone v. Graham (1980), the Supreme Court ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because posting the Ten Commandments “has no secular legislative purpose” and “the preeminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature.” This is rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
In federal court is a case brought last year by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) against the Connellsville Area School District in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, because of a monument containing the Ten Commandments that has been in front of Connellsville Junior High School since it was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957. Atheists are alleging that the monument violates the First Amendment. This is more rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
And specifically regarding the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, there is the case of Roy Moore, the (former and now again) chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore was removed as chief justice in 2003 because he refused a federal judge’s order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. A federal court ruled, in the case of Glassroth v. Moore (2002), that the display of the Ten Commandments monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A federal Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in 2003. Again, more rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
So, if I am a Christian, have no problem with the Ten Commandments, and think the federal District, Appeals, and Supreme Courts are staffed by ignorant buffoons, then why don’t I care about whether the Ten Commandments can be posted in public places?
As I said above: what’s the point?, who cares?, and this is much ado about nothing.
First of all, most of the conservatives who raise such a stink about the Ten Commandments not allowed to be posted in courthouses don’t care a whit about following the Ten Commandments. The last time I checked the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” was still part of the Ten Commandments. Yet, these people are some of the most bloodthirsty warmongers on the planet, and especially the Christian conservatives. They are the warvangelical, red-state fascist, reich-wing nationalist, God and country Christian bumpkins who so idolize the U.S. military. To them “Thou shalt not kill” only applies to an American deliberately murdering an American. Murdering foreigners in their countries is perfectly fine, and especially if they are Muslims. Evidently, a U.S. military uniform covers a multitude of sins.
Second, suppose that the federal government posted the Ten Commandments in every federal courthouse and mandated that all states and counties post the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. That is exactly what most of the above people want, isn’t it? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a sign to the world that America is a godly nation? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a signal to God that America is a Christian nation? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was honoring God? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was giving God the glory due his name? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean signify that America was a land of virtue, decency, morality, and religion? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that justice was actually taking place in U.S. courtrooms? I suspect that the posting of the Ten Commandments in every courthouse would simply deceive dumb, ignorant, easily manipulated, easily deceived God and country Christians into thinking that these things were true.
Third, the U.S. government is an evil monstrosity. Would posting the Ten Commandments make the U.S. government any less evil? Why besmirch God’s Holy Commandments by posting them in some government building? That is the last place they should ever be posted. It’s as bad as putting a chaplain in the global menace that is the U.S. military. Who cares if one of the most despicable governments in the history of the world does or doesn’t post the Ten Commandments in public places, put “In God We Trust” on its money, say “under God” in its Pledge, or hang a crucifix or cross in public buildings?
Fourth, the decline in America of virtue, decency, morality, and religion has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments not being posted in some public place. It is a spiritual problem that is independent of anything the government does or does not so.
Here are fifteen things that would be infinitely more valuable for the federal government to do than to post the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses:
- End the war in Afghanistan and withdraw every single soldier.
- Close all foreign military bases.
- End the drug war.
- Abolish the NSA.
- Repeal CAFE standards.
- Abolish the TSA and return airport security to airports and airlines.
- Lift the Cuban embargo.
- Abolish the Department of Education.
- Sell AMTRAK to the highest bidder.
- Repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
- Eliminate the September 11th security fee on airline tickets.
- End public financing of elections.
- Repeal the Patriot Act.
- Abolish the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
- End the Army sponsorship of Tony Schumacher’s top fuel dragster.
These are just fifteen things off the top of my head; I could come up with 500 more if I took the time.
Should the Ten Commandments be posted? That all depends. Post them if you choose in your church, synagogue, private school, or home. Just make sure you have permission or it is on your own property. But don’t insist that the Ten Commandments be posted on someone else’s property or petition that they be posted on public property. And above all, don’t get so upset about something that means absolutely nothing.