Here's the deal. I was reading a blog post today at Religion Clause in which Howard Friedman informed us that the Arkansas legislature had passed S.B. 939. The bill, called The Ten Commandments Monument Display Act (full text), directs the secretary of state to arrange for private groups to erect a 10C monument on the State Capitol grounds.The text of its commandments would read (I've added numbers for clarity):
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images.
- Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor 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 neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his 34 maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.
But, you know, it's not just Arkansas. The Fraternal Order of Eagles had a similar problem on some of its Ten (or Eleven) Commandments monuments that it erected in public parks, state capital grounds, courthouses, libraries and public schools.
Even more troubling is the Arkansas legislature's revisionist American history. Our founders did not believe that "God" ordained our government. Our founding document--the Constitution of the United States of America--explicitly says in the Preamble: "We the People of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."
While I'm quibbling, the bill also states: "The Ten Commandments ... are an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States ..." What? Commandments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10 and 11 (above) are not part of our legal system. Moreover, commandments 6 (not kill), 8 (not steal) and 9 (not bear false witness) are secular in nature and are common in non-Judeo-Christian societies.
And did you know that the words "Ten (or Eleven) Commandments)", "Creator", "God", "Supreme Being", "Jesus" and "Christianity" are not mentioned in the Constitution? Not once.
The conclusion is unmistakeable, neither the Biblical Ten Commandments nor Arkansas' Eleven Commandments had little or no influence in the founding of our system of governance in the United States.