Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

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My daddy sends me really interesting things.


from, of all things, Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" for November 26, 2002:

Last week, a federal judge ordered that Alabama remove a display of the Ten Commandments from a courthouse, saying the display violates the Establishment Clause because it "promotes one specific religion, Christianity." Whoa there! First off, TMQ always thought the Ten Commandments were given to a Hebrew leader, Moses, and that they can be found in what Christians call the Old Testament and Jews call the Bible, and that the Ten Commandments are the bedrock of Judaism. For that matter, since Muslims also revere Moses, the Ten Commandments are a part of Islam too, though admittedly a secondary part. So setting aside whether this display belongs in an Alabama courthouse, the Ten Commandments don't promote "one specific religion." Actually, the Ten Commandments are an element of all three major monotheist faiths. If they represent any one of the three, it's Judaism, not Christianity, considering that Christians believe the New Testament amends the Old, while Jews consider the Old sacrosanct.

More, while Christians obviously do recite the Ten Commandments, it can be argued that Christianity actually has Six Commandments, not Ten. Jesus was once asked (at Matthew 19:17-19) which Commandments should be kept. The answer: "And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother. Also, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' " That's Six Commandments! Can you name the missing Four? These are the Commandments that Christ leaves off his inventory: "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make yourself an idol. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy." (From Exodus 20:3-8, NSRV.)

That is, Jesus consciously edited the Ten Commandments down to Six, deleting the commandments concerning formal religious observance. You can read more on the theological implications of this here, or for that matter, buy my book "Beside Still Waters," which goes into considerable detail on the history of Christ's alterations of the Commandments and why established churches prefer to pretend these verses don't exist. At any rate, what matters from the standpoint of the current political debate is that the Six Commandments could be posted in any public building without the slightest constitutional complaint, as the Six Commandments concern morality among people, saying nothing about religion.



I was reading the comments on the BeliefNet article, and it points out that the "love your neighbor" is an addition to the original ten, and the commandment about "thou shalt not covet" was one of the original ones dropped. It also points out that although in that instance Jesus doesn't mention any of the commandments about honoring Jehovah/Yahweh specifically, Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV) goes like this:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ [Deuteronomy 6:5] And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [Leviticus 19:18] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
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