What is the Fight Over the Ten Commandments About?

Eric D. Arreto of the Luther Seminary in St. Paul posted an article today exploring why local governments and their political constituents fight to keep Ten Commandment monuments 0n public property.

One curious part of the struggle to save them is almost none of the 10C fans could recite all the 10C if asked. Furthermore, they ignore some of the laws clearly stated, no working on Sunday and no swearing.

The 10C are important, Barreto writes, to a segement of the public because of the Moses story.  They came in a deal made with God to whom they were indebted at the time.  This deal has come to be looked at, one might say, as a third beginning of time, Adam and Eve and Noah being the other two.

So, the 10C are cultural identity symbols.  They represent something like, “This is part of the deal we Jew/Christians made with God to be free.  It’s who we are and why we’re here.”

While this explanation is interesting, it does not help justify displaying the 10C on public property.  In fact, it weakens the case by emphasizing the religious, instead of the civic, reason for their existance.

Barreto does not write about the political meaning of the 10C monuments.  The political question is, “Who is running this town, anyway?  Is it we upstanding Christians, or, those lowlife atheists?”

The fight is a complicated one.  It’s about culture, religion and politics.

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Our friend and fellow blogger, Fr. Herbel, asked me to mention his upcoming conference here which I am happy to do:  What is Orthodox Christianity?  Sat. Dec. 3,  froliverherbel@cableone.net   218-289-4693

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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15 Responses to What is the Fight Over the Ten Commandments About?

  1. Avatar of Kay Syvrud Kay Syvrud says:

    Anything that comes out of Luther Seminary is probably a big load of—————-
    balderdash / poppycock/ blarney/blather/hogwash/flummery or tommyrot
    (I consulted my dictionary of synonyms)
    They stopped teaching the inerrancy of scripture years ago…it is all myth…the athiests SHOULD love what anyone from LTS says.
    I am shocked that you quoted a seminarian.

  2. Avatar of S. L. S. L. says:

    Why is a free thinker so obsessed with religion?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      S. L. 2:07 “Why is a Freethinker so obsessed with religion?”

      Religion is the primary topic of this blog. It has been placed under “Religion” on the AreaVoices list of blogs.

  3. entech says:

    Why do so many religious people seek out sites that are obviously anti.

  4. Bob Jorgenson says:

    The following is just one of many atheist’s ten commandments available to find online.
    These should be placed next to any religious commandments on public property, its only fair.

    Atheist’s Ten Commandments
    Thou SHALT NOT believe all thou art told.
    2. Thou SHALT seek knowledge and truth constantly.
    3. Thou SHALT educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science.
    4. Thou SHALT NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god.
    5. Thou SHALT leave valuable contributions for future generations.
    6. Thou SHALT live in peace with thy fellow man.
    7. Thou SHALT live this one life thou hast to its fullest.
    8. Thou SHALT follow a Personal Code of Ethics and love one another if possible.
    9. Thou SHALT maintain a strict separation between Church and State.
    10. Thou SHALT support those who follow these commandments.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Bob 1:02 Thank you, Bob, for your first time comment. Your “ten” lay out a set of values we can all aspire to. I like them, too, because they do not include the one in the “other ten” which implies women are the property of men just like the slave and the ass.

  5. Bob Jorgenson says:

    Thanks, Jon. But I’m really just Bob, the same Bob that’s been commenting on your blog for awhile. For some reason when I went to comment this morning, your blog wanted me to register my name and email again, well, without realizing it, I put my whole name and it was changed to Bob Jorgenson. I didn’t mean for the change to happen. Oh well.

  6. entech says:

    Why do they say it is for Christians and Jews, Islam has the same (and like Judaism a lot more) they are just not bundled so neatly.
    A couple of changes.
    Positive:
    1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. = There is only God.
    9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. = Against any one.
    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house …nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. = Anyone’s possessions.
    “And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things. (Quran 4:32)”

    Abrogated and death penalty removed:
    “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (Exodus 31:14)”
    O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of God, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew! (Quran, 62:9)”

    “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. (Exodus 21:17)”
    And remember We took a covenant from the Children of Israel (to this effect): Worship none but God; treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practise regular charity. Then did ye turn back, except a few among you, and ye backslide (even now). (Quran 2:83)”

    Bad:
    “As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from God, for their crime: and God is Exalted in power. But if the thief repents after his crime, and amends his conduct, God turneth to him in forgiveness; for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Quran, 5:38-39)”

    There are several things that are not in the Quran or Hadith but Muslim jurists have made punishable by death such as blasphemy and apostasy. Christianity is not entirely innocent last execution for blasphemy in Britain was in 1697 and the inquisition didn’t like people that changed their minds.

    Of course, there are those in all three systems that twist for their own purposes, some factions of Islam are particularly egregious. The “thou shalt not kill” in Islam has a clause to the effect of “without due cause” and there are factions who think due cause is not being one of them (some Christians think along similar lines but they are not as extreme).

  7. Bob Jorgenson says:

    I think the Quran is especially ugly too, especially since 61% of the Quran is about what to do with the infidel, and it isn’t good for us infidels. I’m especially afraid of the Islamic texts myself. Afraid as in wary of something that directly means me harm since I’m the infidel that should be beheaded. I don’t like any of the Abramic texts, but the Islamic stuff is just freakier to me personally after the research I’ve been doing on Islam for the past few years.
    I know you probably wouldn’t agree with me Jon, that’s okay, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on how dangerous Islam is.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Bob 10:30 I think what you and I do not agree on is somewhat the same as what Wanna B Sure and I disagree on. It is about the role written documents have the faithful. It is my view people follow their own compasses, picking and choosing which of the written documents they pay attention to. It’s the street leve stuff that counts, not that of the home office.

      So it is that Chrisitianity is changing its view of gay people, just as they have changed on gender, race, sunday openings and any number of other things. The same is true of Islam and, I suppose, any religion in the world. This is not clear cut, so we may disagree and both be partially right and wrong.

  8. entech says:

    The Islamic faith is about 500 years younger than Christianity this makes it some 1500 years old. Considering that witches were being burnt and people killed by Catholics and Lutherans on matters of faith for times much after year 1500. We can only hope that we all survive long enough for Islam to reach the relatively benign state Christianity is in today.

  9. Bob Jorgenson says:

    I’ll second that entech.

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