The Ten Commandments in a "Christian Nation"

So often I hear from Christians in the US that they believe the US to be a "Christian Nation", founded on the principles of Christianity and the Ten Commandments. They believe this to such an extent that many wish to enshrine this belief within a monument of the Ten Commandments in various government buildings.

Yet it seems to me they miss one glaring point:

The Ten Commandments aren't Christian!

The story of the Ten Commandments is found in the Old Testament portion of the Bible, otherwise known as the Jewish Torah. The Ten Commandments are originally part of Jewish religion, and have nothing to do with Christ or what he supposedly said.

How many of the Religious Right or the Conservatives would be willing to proclaim the US as a Jewish nation, in order to more properly claim the right to display the Ten Commandments in front of courthouses? Very few, I would guess.

Another problem with Christians trying to claim the Ten Commandments as a basis of their religion and secular law is the fact that so many of them ignore all the other laws and commandments in the Old Testament. "Oh, that was the Old Testament. Jesus gave us a new covenant, so we don't have to follow the rules of Leviticus or Deuteronomy anymore."

Ok, fine. If you want to write off half of the Bible, don't do it half-assed. The Ten Commandments are part of the Old Testament too. Those monuments in front of courthouses and the posters in classrooms depicting these ten rules will have to go.

Either way, displaying the Ten Commandments as a sign that this is a "Christian Nation" is a flawed concept. The Ten Commandments aren't Christian, and many Christians ignore the other Old Testament laws in a clear display of hypocritical cherry-picking.

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Comment by Melvinotis on June 20, 2013 at 10:28pm

Thats when the few conservatives that have a brain cell start using the term "Judeo-Christian Values" just so that they don't get shown the door. 

The religious use some slippery logic, trying to find or build foundations where there is only sand. 

Comment by Ron Humphrey on June 21, 2013 at 6:13am

Not even a majority of the ten commandments are codified in law.  Not killing, not stealing, not bearing false witness (oaths in court) are about it.  When is the last time some one was arrested for not honoring their father and mother?  While honoring your parents may be a noble goal, it is not illegal not to dishonor them.

While it is true that some fundamentalists would like to have a law making worship of their god obligatory, so far we don't.

Comment by Warren on June 21, 2013 at 12:57pm

Where is this "Christian Nation" I keep hearing about? I don't see it on the world map. Is a US passport good enough to visit it if by some chance I wanted to go there?

Comment by max stirner on June 21, 2013 at 4:00pm

* No executive privilege for God

Theocrat wannabes are fond of using phrases like 'xian country' or 'xian nation' since the words 'country' and 'nation' are ambiguous -- weasel words.

The US population in general is nominally xian. Nevertheless, as a form of government the US has always been a *secular state*. The Constitution precludes the US becoming another Iran or another Israel.

The first amendment forbids establishing a state religious institution. As James Madison explained, “. . . Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience." 1 Annals of Congress 730. August 15, 1789.

• Two principles of secular politics arise out of freedom from state religious institutions:

1. Faith-based political ideology enjoys no advantage over any other political ideology because of its alleged divine origin.

2. No religious institution can assume a god-given right to exert secular power.

There is no executive privilege for God. No self-anointed god-proxy -- priest, pastor, rabbi, imam -- has a divine right to participate in or to dominate politics.

• Every ideology is a public object. All claimants to secular political power must open their ideologies to examination, scrutiny, and questioning. And if that questioning amounts to refuting faith-based claims? So much the worse for supernaturalism.

Religious institutions exhibit a poor record in dealing with challenges to their presumed god-authorized secular pretensions. What else could be expected from authoritarians?

Comment by Elijah Coleman on June 22, 2013 at 6:30am

The First Amendment directly contradicts the First Commandment and it's all down hill from there.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on June 22, 2013 at 11:45am

If we want to keep matters of Church and State separate then there is an onus on us to challenge the legality of such monuments. There is a certain attitude amongst some Atheists that it is “no big deal” to allow such public statements of faith. We need to be polite or respectful of such things. To me this is nonsense. I have no tolerance for any state endorsement of any religion. I think we should challenge them at every turn and offer no quarter in doing so. I am not interested in any middle ground here.  As Hitchens says they can play at home with their toys but don’t expect me to have to play with them too.

Whenever an Atheist billboard goes up it is immediately seen as an attack on religion and demands for its removal border on the hysterical. Why? Because religion demands a special status and has assumed it is entitled to a certain level of respect. There are so many misconceptions about the USA (or Ireland where I am) being a “Christian Nation” and being founded on god’s laws that we are meant to cave in to any sense of indignation from the pious and let them display their toys in public.

So any time you see such public displays do what you can to protest against it. Your protest can be polite but must be militant enough to let the deluded know the illegality of such endorsements.  It is not about free speech or allowing other religions the same rights or even to allow Atheists to install them too. It is about removing them if they have any claims to special privilege that are sanctioned by the State.

There is also the fun side to it when you get to listen to the indignation of the herd when they talk of how their rights are being trampled upon - the very rights they don’t want anyone else to have.

Toys by Hitchens.

Comment by SteveInCO on June 22, 2013 at 12:31pm

I entirely agree with the point our resident fronkey wrangler has made here.  Makes me want to build a crocoduck coop.  (Hey crocs and ducks are closer relatives than frogs and monkeys, it should be easier to breed a crockoduck.) 

I know a few people here have argued that we are making asses of ourselves by attacking IGWT on the money, UG in the pledge, religious monuments in front of courthouses, but they not only are camel's noses under the tent, but once established, they are used by Xian apologists as evidence for their claim that this is a "Christian nation" (sometimes they are even a little more rigorous and say "American was founded on Xianity" which doesn't admit of they "we are really saying the founding generation was a bunch of Xians" CYA argument).  Anyone who has ever tried to argue this point and had the Xian produce a dollar bill and triumphantly point to the "In God We Trust" has experienced this.

Although I live near Colorado Springs, which is often cited as the "evangelical capital of the world" because of all the evangelical organizations that have their headquarters here (including the owners of the NIV translation, if my understanding is correct), there is a fairly active atheist/freethinker group here and to my knowledge the governments in this vicinity don't get away with this sort of shit. There are still a large number of people who wonder where all these Xian nutters came from (most of the wonderers themselves being nominal and maybe even churchgoing Xians but not as extreme).

Comment by Dave G on June 22, 2013 at 4:32pm

Reg pretty much nailed it. Add onto that the fact that, if we don't protest the placement of such things, the theists then use that as an arguing point on their side. "Well, no one ever complained about it before?" and "If we aren't a Christian Nation, then why are the Ten Commandments on display at the courthouse/city hall/local public school/etc?" are common phrases uttered by those wanting to maintain the special treatment of their religion.

Comment by Warren on June 22, 2013 at 10:58pm

Seems to have mostly one central theme, death.

Comment by Jason A. on June 23, 2013 at 2:21am

The religious right has a knack for making the rules as they go, imposing them on other people in the name of "god" and then blatantly disobeying said rules in their own private lives.


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