Lots of Right-wing Christians like to claim that the Ten Commandments are the basis for the US government, saying things like:
The Ten Commandments have been the foundation upon which much of America’s legal system has been built. To deny this fact, one would have to rewrite American history.
When our nation forsakes the moral basis provided by the Ten Commandments, all of our freedoms are in jeopardy. When the ACLU and its allies file their seemingly endless and costly lawsuits to remove the Ten Commandments – and other public vestiges of faith – they are systematically stripping our nation of its legal heritage and history. Once you remove the moral basis for our laws, the respect for all law weakens. This potentially results in social anarchy, and makes America a far more dangerous place to live. And once the moral basis for laws is removed, we increasingly move toward a society where “anything goes” at any time. (Link)
(Ah, so many things to disagree with in that quote, but I’ll skip past them.) They hope to push more and more religion into government, and by promoting this revisionist history, they hope to make it appear that a more Christian-based government is not a departure from the original concept of America, but rather, a return or restoration to America’s Christian founding. The whole idea of the Ten Commandments as the basis for the US laws is absurd. Craptaculus does a great take-down of that idea:
The Ten Commandments: The Basis of America’s Laws.
It seems like every other day I hear another story about the ACLU suing some school district or county court for displaying the Ten Commandments. Don’t they know our laws and our entire system of justice are based on the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments?
So, just to prove this to ourselves, let’s examine each Commandment’s influence on our laws in detail. Using my trusty Bible:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Many of our laws make it illegal to worship non-Christian or non-Jewish gods, and rightly so. The First Ammendment to the United States Constitution even says something similar I’m told. So this one checks out.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Since day one in American history it has been a crime to cast a golden calf or other idols. Check.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Swearing is a crime, and always has been. Bingo.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
It’s illegal in many places to sell alcohol or certian other products on Sunday, and going to church is a legal requirement. Another point.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
If you forget a Mother’s Day card, you go to jail. It’s been that way for a long time. Tick!
6. Thou shalt not kill.
Killing is always illegal. Spot on.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Adulterers are routinely put in prison. Score!
8. Thou shalt not steal.
Taking something that is not yours is always a crime. Ba da bing!
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Lying is a crime, always. Cha-ching.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
If you desire your neighbor’s wife or car, you can be fined up to and including $60,000. Exactamundo!
Ten Commandments: 10
I hope the ACLU will now acknowledge it is wrong to try to remove the Ten Commandments from our schools and our courtrooms.
Unless, of course, they don’t want to be judged by its laws?
That’s what it all boils down to, isn’t it? They think that by removing the Ten Commandments from a courtroom, they can make people forget that adultery is a crime and adulterers should be locked up. They want people to not remember that heathens should be put in jail. They don’t want to have to go to church or be arrested!
See what happens when we forget the source of our laws? We start forgetting them. We start not arresting people for worshipping lesser gods. We start letting people get away with killing other people when they are acting in self defense. We let coveters get off without punishment. Do you want that? Do you want your kids to grow up in that kind of world?
I know I don’t, and if you don’t either, I urge you to call or write your congressmen and ask them to keep throwing killers, liars, and heathens in prison. Tell them to keep the Ten Commandments! Remember, this is for our children, our country, and most of all, our God!
But, more than that, I want to talk about one specific commandment: the fourth commandment “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”. Now, keeping in mind that most Americans believe that everyone should follow the Ten Commandments, we have to ask: “Why do so many businesses, including Christian bookstores and other Christian businesses, have their employees work on Sunday?” In fact, it’s difficult to find any businesses that are closed on Sunday. Christian employers and employees really don’t even give it a second thought. If they thought about it, they would probably downplay the importance of the fourth commandment to justify their repeated breaking of this commandment. Now, the ten commandments are written in Exodus 20. Eleven chapters later, in Exodus 31, God tells Moses what should be done with people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15):
Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth [any] work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
If God recommends death for breaking the Sabbath, then He must be very serious about it. This is the exact same punishment that God recommends for homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13):
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them.
Yet, Christians cite the death-penalty for homosexuals as proof that God disapproves of it, yet, ignore “keeping the Sabbath” despite the fact that the same punishment is recommended for breaking the Sabbath. Even further, homosexuality isn’t even mentioned in the Ten Commandments, but ‘keeping the Sabbath’ was. I’ll be looking forward to seeing Christian outreach programs equivalent to Exodus International (a Christian “ministry” to turn gay people straight) that help teach Christians to respect the Sabbath.