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So, Do Our Laws REALLYCome From The "Ten Commandments"?

A Practical Theological Lesson In Political BS

Does This Very Image Violate The 10 Commandments?

Not too long ago, Republican Senator and failed presidential candidate (can I hear AMEN) John McCain made a stupid, ignorant comment. Exactly how does that qualify as news, you ask? True, McCain says something stupid and ignorant almost every time he opens his yap. But this particular stupid, ignorant comment revealed McCain as completely unfit for any American elected office.

"I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation," McCain said in September 2007, going on to describe the U.S.A. as "a nation founded on Christian principles." Ah yes, the tried and true Republican desperation ploy. When your candidacy circles the drain, whip out the Carpenter's Son. Next, in the Conservative Pander comes that "Top 10 of the Phony Religious," the 10COMMANDMENTS. The time has come to look at the Republican idiocy that says the 10 commandments form the basis of our nation's laws.

First a bit of debunking via history: In the Ten Commandments we have nothing more than a list of rules tailored to keep a nomadic tribe from falling apart as it traversed the wilderness for 40 years. Period. If the ignorant bible-thumpers want to get serious about biblical law, then they should reference the 613 commandments delineated in the bible, not just the ten which they have turned into a fetish. But for now, let us examine the preposterous, not to mention sacrilegious, claim that this country's laws came in any way from the Judaic Ten Commandments. Let the facts speak for themselves.

The first commandment says, "You shall have no other Gods but Me."

The first amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Holy Mackerel, we find ourselves at odds right out of the gate! That means no witch burning, no pagan pummeling and no boiling alive or flaying people who do not worship Jesus. Sorry about that... don't mean to spoil anybody's fun, but you can’t ignore the law.

To Continue; how many states have a law demanding that you keep the Sabbath Day Holy? And what does that even mean? The Talmud has a whole body of work on the subject, delineating in excruciating detail what one may or may not do on the Day of Rest. Personally, I know of nobody serving hard time for toasting a bagel or pressing the buttons in an elevator on a Saturday. Or does the Sabbath mean Sunday? We should work that detail out before locking everybody up.

"Thou shalt not make unto thee... any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth." Is it against the law to make photographs and paintings of things on the Earth? If so, there go your new digital camera and the kid's Crayolas. As to "heaven above," remember that your tax dollars went into the Hubbell Space Telescope. Do you expect to be indicted? I think not.

How many states have a law against adultery? If adultery was illegal, then there go the Republican presidential wannabees. Under such a law, wife swappers such as McCain, Gingrich, Thompson, even old Bob "E.D." Dole would languish on the chain gang making little rocks out of big ones. And Giuliani, with his unslakable penchant for cheating on spouses, would likely face capital punishment.

"You shall not take the Name of the Lord in Vain," meaning "don't misuse God's name." Are there any laws against this? Quite the opposite, I'm afraid. In this country, taking the name of the Lord in vain is a national tradition. People pray to God for a new car, for a new skateboard, for a raise, for their high school soccer team to win. Michael Medved, the Neocon wing-nut and professional religioso, routinely calls this country "The greatest nation on God's green earth." What can you expect from the man who recently published an essay saying that slavery in America was not as bad as liberals make it out to be, arguing that African-Americans today are better off because their ancestors were dragged out of Africa, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of America. Taking the Lord's name in vain... bearing false witness to history... How many other commandments does this fourth-tier movie critic regularly violate?

And how could "President" Bush possibly end a speech without invoking the name of the Lord in vain? Without his standard "God Bless America" peroration to signal the end of a speech, Bush would just drone on and on and on. Then even I would start taking the Lord's name in vain. And while we're on the subject, just what the hell is the Lord's name, anyway? Jehovah? Yahweh? Joshua Ben Joseph? Allah? Suzie?

Do any of the 50 states make it mandatory that you honor (i.e., respect) your mother and father? Will you find yourself indicted if you fail to purchase a mother's day card? If you are a Red-Blooded Republican male, is it disrespectful to amorously eyeball your father's most recent mistress? Back in 2004, here's what the thankfully former President G. W. Bush said about his daddy when asked if he consults the old codger regarding the invasion, occupation and ransacking of Iraq: "You know, he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to." Way to go, Shrub! You not only publicly dissed dear old dad, but you invoked God in vain. That's two Commandments down, old pal, and eight to go.

Can cops arrest you for coveting your neighbor's goods? O Lawdsy, I hopes not! In fact, in this materialistic culture of ours, should folks abjure from coveting their neighbor's goods, the entire economy would collapse faster than a Republican's third marriage.

And that brings us to not coveting thy neighbor's wife. I leave it up to your conscience. Sometimes that one stands as its own commandment and sometimes it gets folded into the one about coveting goods. Hey, that's another point! If the Framers based our Constitution on the Ten Commandments, which ten would that be? The Jewish Ten Commandments? The Protestant Ten Commandments? The Roman Catholic Ten Commandments? If it's the Jewish Commandments, do we mean the set from Exodus 20:2-17 or from Deuteronomy 5:6-21?

Well there you have it. Scrutiny shows that seven out of the Ten Commandments (or eight, depending upon which set you believe in) have absolutely nothing to do with our civil legal system. That leaves us with the commandments ordering that we not steal, not murder and not give false testimony (Whoops... that one takes care of about four fifths of the Bush Administration.) But nobody can seriously make a case that these venerable moral prohibitions originated with the Holy Bible. Societies predating that of the nomadic Hebrews of the Sinai Desert already had such laws.

Let us give the Constitutional Framers the final word on this subject: "[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." That's from the Constitution, a document that John McCain swore to uphold when he entered the Congress. Oh well, so much for not bearing false witness...

Vintage 10 Commandments Board Game (1961)
This Can Be Bought For $69.95 - That's Less Than $7.00 Per Commandment!

Hey, guess what I just thought of! This would be a perfect spot for another link to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State! Right wing blowhards whine about God being kicked out of the "public square." In Reality-Land, the opposite is true: the Establishment clause doesn't just guarantee freedom of religion, it was specifically designed to keep the government out of religion. Click the banner below to see a wonderful group dedicated to upholding the constitution and keeping government out of religion.






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