Monday, June 27, 2005

The Ten Commandments

I just read on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel web site that the court issued a ruling on Ten Commandments displays. It seems that the court ruled that each instance is unique. They are okay in front of the Texas statehouse, but not okay inside a Kentucky courtroom.

Now, what makes it okay in one instance to allow the display of the Ten COmmandments but not in another case? The article stated thus:

The justices voting on the prevailing side in the Kentucky case left themselves legal wiggle room, saying that some displays inside courthouses - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held. Those courthouse displays are unconstitutional, the justices said, because their religious content is overemphasized.

Okay, so as long as there is no "religious" content, the Ten COmmandments are okay? How, pray tell, are the Ten Commandments "non-religious?" The whole debate over the Ten Commandments is that they are religious. A photo with the article showed a version beginning with "I am the Lord they God." Presumably this was from the banned version. But even taking this statement out one still has "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (don't you have to then state which is the Supreme God?) and "Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." Will these statements be taken out for Ten Commandment displays to be kosher?

The way I see it, the Ten Commandments are recognized by Christians and Jews. They are found in the Christian Bible and the Jewish Scriptures. Muslims have a respect for these books as well, so I suspect they have no quarrels with the Ten Commandments.

Of course, the United States is a multi-cultural society. Down the street from where I live is a Baha'i meeting place. Hindu believers are also found in Milwaukee. Elsewhere one will find devotees to Buddha and Confucius. Should we leave out the Ten Commandments for the sake of these people?

One of the classes we took in the seminary was a study of world religions. This included reading the sacred texts of each religion, such as the Bhagavad Gita. Many have precepts, usually less than ten, but a maneagable number. And, interestingly, they basically uphold the rights of people--you know, don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't sass your parents, etc. And not only do these precepts preserve the same human rights and property as the Ten Commandments, they do so in similar fashion and in similar order.

So my suggestion is to place the rules of living from all religions in our courtrooms and government buildings. They envelope the fact that most Americans are faith-based and live by common rules, rules needed for an orderly society.


Richard P. Janke said...

Greetings John,
Have enjoyed your posts on Liftalk. Now your blog promises to be a good read also. Not directly related to the Ten Commandment issue but just today I was reading about the continuing debate over whether to teach evolution or not. The author (Chuck Colson?) pointed out that Muslims would wish to teach a creation. People wanting to teach evolution were careful not to offend Muslims but if it was a Christian that wanted to teach creation then it doesn't matter what is said about them.
One thing more, are you able to use RSS technology or software with your blog to allow us to get your new blogs in our RSS readers?

John L. Hoh, Jr. said...

RSS technology? I just started this, so I'll have to check on that. And thanks for stopping by and reading!