Thou shalt not command non-Christians
by Harley Brown

The vote by Congress to put the 10 commandments into all the schools shows how little people understand the 10 commandments or the reason they should not be used in public buildings.

The idea of Church and State separation is often invoked, but most people don't understand it. The appeal to the unconstitutional nature of the display of the 10 Commandments is also not convincing to many who merely think we should change the Constitution. What is lost is the reason why the display of the 10 Commandments is not appropriate. I wonder. When was the last time the congressmen and women who voted for this bill actually read them?

The first commandment alone should disqualify it from our public schools. Thou shalt have no gods before me. What does this mean to those who believe in the Bible? It means that everyone else's gods are false, and those who follow other gods are wrong and inferior.

What must it feel like for the non-Christian or non-Jewish child who enters school to see this on the wall? He feels like an outsider an intruder or inferior or incorrect in the beliefs his or her parents have taught them at home. Is this the message of tolerance and equality that we need to instill in children so they can live together peacefully?

Thou shalt make no graven images. What does that mean to anyone? Churches are filled with graven images. Patriotic pictures of George Washington are graven images. In any case this is a religious injunction relating only to believers and not appropriate to a building serving all.

Thou shalt not take the Lords name in vain. This again is a religious injunction not appropriate to a building serving all.

The next commandment is about keeping the Sabbath which again is a religious injunction.

The rest of the commandments are the ones that most people have some agreement on and they are not specifically religious. Unfortunately, they come wrapped with the unacceptable religious ones. Who can disagree with not murdering, stealing and bearing false witness? Honoring parents is a nice idea but not when it includes abusive ones.

The last commandment is truly un-American. Do not covet thy neighbor's anything. Our economy would collapse if anyone followed this. The Joneses would have no one to show off to--hmm maybe this one isn't so bad after all.

The most unfortunate part is that "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." is not in the Ten Commandments at all.

If law makers want to post a code in every school, then why don't they get a commission together with a representative of every major religion and non religious philosophy and let them see if they can agree on some basic ethical rules for all to follow.

Of course, just putting this on the wall isn't any more likely than putting up the Ten Commandments to stop some idiot kid from bringing a gun to school and killing his classmates.