It is still not OK to display the ten commandments in a court room

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The CSM reports:

The Ten Commandments
How the Ten Commandments came to be.

The US Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a case examining whether an Ohio judge violated the separation of church and state when he displayed a poster in his courtroom that contrasted The Ten Commandments with humanist precepts.

By declining the case, the court let stand rulings that found that the judge had indeed violated the church-state principle.

This follows from the case of Judge DeWeese, who made numerous claims about how judicial law and churchy law are the same thing, and how the founding fathers would want it this way, and so on and so forth. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio saw it differently, filed suit, and won.

In a decision handed down in February, the Sixth Circuit noted that that Judge DeWeese had been ordered in 2000 to remove a poster of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall. That display was also ruled a violation of the separation of church and state.

To survive this second challenge, the judge would have to have demonstrated that the new poster had a secular purpose – that it wasn’t intended to teach or promote a religious message.

The appeals court said in light of DeWeese’s earlier poster “the history of [the judge’s] actions demonstrates that any purported secular purpose is a sham.”

Anwyay, just so you know, here is a list of

The Ten Commandments (all 16 of them)

  1. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

  2. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

  3. 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.

  4. 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;

  5. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

  6. 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.

  7. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy

  8. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

  9. 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:

  10. 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.

  11. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

  12. Thou shalt not kill

  13. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

  14. Thou shalt not steal.

  15. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

  16. 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.

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12 thoughts on “It is still not OK to display the ten commandments in a court room

  1. Good news, thanks.

    Sometimes it’s so hard to keep even a glimmer of hope for America with its backward religionists and corrupt oligarchs … when the Supremes – including six Catholics and no overtly non-religious justices – refuse to insert religion back into courtrooms, I get more than a glimmer. This calls for celebration!

  2. It’d be nice if we could criticize the biblical commandments without looking stupid…

    That’s 12 you’ve got there(if I’ve counted correctly*).

    The following clearly aren’t commandments:

    1 (merges nicely with 2)
    5 (is the end of 4)
    and 8&10 (both part of 9).

    (I haven’t re-numbered. ^ all refer to verses)

    Verses Commandments.

    * 16-4=12

  3. Nathan, I hope you didn’t come far to call me stupid, because that never goes well.

    If you were not stupid you would know that I’ve pasted the verses are they appear in the Bible and The Bible is supposedly the word of god and these are his commandments, and there are 16 lines.

    So, how do you go from 16 to 10? You can combine some of them as you suggest, but there is not easy way to combine these that makes 10. If you were not stupid you would know, however, that there is a reason for there being 10.

    Elsewhere in the Bible, which remember is the word of god, it says that there are 10 commandments. It does not exactly say that, but pretty close, and that’s the standard interpretation by men who lived in caves and thought about this for a long time.

    So, the rest of the story is that people have been busy cramming 16 verses that obviously have some number other than 16 assertions into ten commandments.

    What is not stupid is me putting the verbatim (but translated) version as it is and letting people ponder this. No, that is actually rather smart of me.

    By the way, I had considered changing “thou shall not kill” to “thou shall not murder” because that is closer to the original and the difference in meaning is very, very important.

    Especially in a court room in a country with the death penalty.

    Now regarding your details, 1 does not merge nicely with 2 any more than 2 merges nicely with 3. All three could merge, or they could all be separate. But this is the word of god, so even thinking that you should merge them means you are going to hell.

    5 could be the end of 4, but it is not, they are separate verses. And, 4 could be two different items (Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them AND 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;)

    Regarding 8 and 10: NO, they are quite separate. 8 refers to the days of the week that are not Sabbath. 9 makes the exception for the sabbath and specifies that there will be no work. 10 refers to the Lord’s rest on the Sabbath (made such in item 9) and specifies that not only will you not work but you will keep it holy.

    Have you ever even MET a Rabbi?

    You are correct. Verses do not equal commandments. But only because there is a verse that says that there are ten commandments, and the rest is cramming 16 verses that are all over the place in terms of being distinct, unary, or exhaustive of some pro/prescription into the magic number of 10.

    And the whole thing is rather stupid.


  4. And in reference to #4, God happened to forget his Prozac that day was dealing with some anger issues. Seems he was in a relationship with Canaan that he thought was really serious, but she was totally fooling around with Baal behind his back. So Israel was totally a rebound romance which is why he’s been trying to dump her ever since the Babylonian captivity. Explains a lot of history, doesn’t it?

  5. But the verse divisions are mostly arbitrary, and were made in the middle ages. So counting by verses doesn’t make any sense. Even if we were to count by verses, 5 and 10 are clearly not commandments (they are not imperatives).

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m an atheist, the Bible is nothing more than the Goatherder’s Guide to the Galaxy, and this judicial decision was correct. But trying to make the Bible look stupid with these sorts of tactics is not only unsound, it detracts from real criticisms of the Bible.

  6. Too bad you can’t put commas instead of periods between 12 through 15. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that’s how the Hebrews thought of them.

  7. wehaf, you missed the point of why it is stupid. I shall now repeat it

    There are not ten commandments there. I’m being humerous when I say “Look at the 16 ten commandments” but there are not 10. A lot of other numbers work better than 10.

    But somewhere else in the bible there is a reference to there being 10. So they made these phrases fit into ten.

    I just gave you the raw data here.

    the Bible is nothing more than the Goatherder’s Guide to the Galaxy

    Not at all. The bible (the total set of texts) is an an amazing set of documents. Atheists are required to put the entire bible into a single category and label it as “meaningless fiction” or “unicorns” or “the writings of an ignorant sheep herding people” etc. But I’m an anthropologist and I see the bible as an incredibly rich and interesting pile of documents. (hard to read, redundant, and the religious stuff is mind numbing, though some of that is more interesting than most non-believes let it be)

    It is a shame that so many people who devote their lives to the study of the bible and related documents come to the table with the assumption of actual spiritual or religious meaning. But almost as bad is writing off this huge pile of ancient documents as nothing of interest because of a not well thought out relationship to history. Almost like one would be happier if they texts were all destroyed.


  8. Greg, I think I see the problem. You see, numbers are like science, they are satans way of tempting us away from god. If you spend too much time trying to question how many commandments are using those devilish numbers, you go to hell forever.

    Don’t question the 10 commandments that take up 16 versus. 16 is god’s 10. Amen.

  9. Isn’t “the LORD” actually the tetragrammaton, YHWH, in the original? There’s a certain difference between “I am the LORD” and “I am YaHuWaHu” (or what have you).

    I’m actually pretty observant, though taking my elderly mother to church on Sunday seems more like doing work than refraining from it, except that I find it impossible not to covet my neighbor’s ass.

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