The first question you need to ask is which Ten Commandments? If you're a fan of the Bible, which version do you use, and how do you feel about the possibility that judges may be ruling based on a translation rejected by your church?

Secondly, Judge Roy Moore's monument lists an abbreviated version of the Ten Commandments. This article on says: "The monument features the King James Bible version of the Ten Commandments sitting on top of a granite block. Around the monument are quotes from historical figures and documents, such as the Declaration of Independence."

No matter which Bible you pick up, you'll find that the section commonly known as the Ten Commandments is actually about 17 sentences. If you wanted to honor the words with a two ton monument, why would you take it upon yourself to edit them? Why not spell them out all the way?

I love how someone had to engrave into the top of that monument the words: "THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGE."

Fans of religious displays in government spaces claim that "In God We Trust" on our money is acceptable, so the Commandments in a courtroom, crosses on lawns and prayer in schools should be no problem. Actually "In God We Trust" shouldn't be on our money either, if people had taken the First Amendment seriously. People also tend to assign these mottos to long traditions, not realizing that some of them were added less than 100 years ago, long after the Founding Fathers would have been able to voice their approval or disagreement. It was only in the 1950s that the words "under God" were appended to the Pledge of Allegiance, and "In God We Trust" replaced the secular Latin motto "E Pluribus Unum" (out of many, one).

Even if they hadn't been tacked on during a moment of high religiosity in our nation's history, even if the Founding Fathers had approved of these traditions, that still doesn't make it right. Remember, these were the clowns who officially noted that kidnapped Africans counted as three-fifths of a person. Traditions can make you feel all warm inside, but at some point we were able to overcome bad traditions like slavery or "the rule of thumb" (okay to beat your wife with any stick up to the diameter of your thumb). People who say "My money says In God We Trust, so there's nothing wrong with Ten Commandments in courthouses" might have been the kind of people a few generations ago who argued, "Slavery is sanctioned by God in the Bible, so we can continue it." In fact, that might be why they abbreviate the Commandments so often, embarassed about how some versions of these lines from Exodus say that you shouldn't covet your neighbor's slaves. (Some versions say "bondsman" or "manservant".)

You have to look at the most religious section of the Ten Commandments, think of it displayed in a state supreme court, and try to reconcile that with the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights.

"I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." - Exodus 20:2-3 King James Version (The words in bold are the first sentences on top of the illegally placed monument.)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." - The First Amendment

Do you really expect to plant a two ton rock proclaiming "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" in the highest court of a state, and claim that this does not establish a religion? How big would the rock need to be, or how high would the letters need to be, before it gets through to you that atheists are going to be second-class citizens in that court?


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