‘Ten Commandments Weekend’ Resolution is Misguided, Inaccurate
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Secular Coalition for America today lambasted a proposed House resolution “expressing support for designation of the first weekend of May as Ten Commandments Weekend” as a misguided proposal that distracts House members from more important public policy issues while encouraging government support of particular religious beliefs – in violation of America’s founding principles.
“Taken literally, the first commandment alone prescribes death to Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, humanists, and anyone else who does not worship the god of the Old Testament,” said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. “It is not the job of government to pick winners and losers based on religion in a diverse and pluralistic society.”
“At a time when our nation faces three wars and an economic downturn, why are our lawmakers wasting taxpayers’ time and money picking which religious beliefs receive government recognition?” asked Faircloth. “This legislation is theocratic grandstanding, pure and simple. The resolution’s sponsors should stop wasting taxpayer money on such symbolic distractions, act like grownups, and work on real issues affecting everyday Americans.”
With the exception of the commandments against murder, theft, and perjury—which are not unique to and even predate Judeo-Christian teachings—nothing in the Ten Commandments is codified in U.S. law. In fact, there are millions of moral Americans, believers and nonbelievers alike, who reject the first three commandments outright. The first three commandments as listed in the King James Version of the Bible in “Exodus 20: 2-17” command people to worship only the god of the Old Testament, to not make idols of false gods, and to not take the lord’s name in vain.
H. Res. 211 was introduced by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and 21 co-sponsors on April 7 and referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It claims the Ten Commandments are “a widely respected code of personal conduct and a declaration of fundamental principles for a fair and just society that transcend the diversity of cultural expression and faith in the United States,” even though the Commandments call for the punishment of death for non-Judeo-Christian religious practices; violation of the Sabbath; adultery; and coveting a neighbor’s “male or female slave, or ox, or donkey.”
“None of those ancient rules exist in modern-day U.S. law,” Faircloth said. “No matter which of the multiple versions of the Ten Commandments one refers to, in this country, we don’t execute people for practicing a minority religion or for working on Saturday. The commandments are so outdated that they implicitly accept – but never denounce – the practice of slavery. These are not values Americans should waste a perfectly good weekend reflecting upon.”
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