A new bill moving forward quickly in the statehouse in Atlanta would allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all Georgia government buildings, including schools.
A primer on the Old Testament: the Ten Commandments appear twice in the Hebrew Bible, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. According to the story in Exodus, God inscribed them on two stone tablets, which he gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.
They include a reminder that the God of Israel is a jealous god, and you had better not obey any other gods, as well as the directives not to kill, commit adultery or steal. Oh, and don’t covet your neighbor’s wife, manservant, maidservant or ox.
House Passes Bill On A 161-0 Vote
The Associated Press reports that the bill, sponsored by Republican state Representative Tommy Benton, passed the state House unanimously Tuesday on a 161-0 vote, and is well-positioned to pass the state Senate.
From The Los Angeles Times:
Benton, a retired middle-school teacher, argues that the commandments are of great educational and historical value, and a key influence on the American legal system. His bill notes that a “basic knowledge of American constitutional history is important to the formation of civic virtue in our society.”
The bill technically expands an existing Georgia law that now allows the commandments to be displayed only in courthouses and judicial buildings to apply to all state government buildings, but only when displayed along with eight other documents, including the Mayflower Compact and the Magna Carta, as part of a “Foundations of American Law and Government” display. (To be fair, it’s not clear if the existing displays get into the details about the maidservant, manservant and ox, though those are clearly delineated in Exodus 20:17.)
The original Georgia law, also sponsored by Benton, was passed in 2006, with the added documents a kind of workaround after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down commandments displays in two Kentucky courthouses on the grounds that they were promoting religion.
2005 Supreme Court Decision On Ten Commandments
It was in 2005 that a narowly divided Supreme Court issued a split decision on the public display of the Ten Commandments on government property: while forbidding those displays on the walls of two rural Kentucky courthouses, at the same time they approved a 6-foot-tall granite monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol in Austin.
When I went to school in England, we had our religious indoctrination every morning, in the form of prayers and a hymn. But this is America. Wasn’t this country founded on the basis of separation of church and state?
The Ten Commandments may work well for some people, but what if you believe in a different religion? Christianity is not, and never should be the “official religion” of the United States.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: Loci Lenar