Putting God on a billboard: Why the Commandments should remain in Scripture and out of government | SummitDaily.com
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Putting God on a billboard: Why the Commandments should remain in Scripture and out of government

Michael J. McCarthy
Breckenridge

Have we so separated ourselves from God that we must post what we think are his words on walls?

We are in a national debate over the public display of the Ten Commandments as Supreme Court justices consider whether displays of the decalogue on government property violate the Constitution’s prohibition against the establishment of religion.

A decision in the case is expected by June.

Many people view the Bible as “man’s” best effort to portray God’s desires. And, in so doing, it still reeks of man.

For if God is superlatively wise and all loving, they doubt the whole of love, truth and knowledge could have rendered some of the following laws in close conjunction with the Ten Commandments, unless God is learning just like us:

Exodus 21:20: “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished. But he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

Exodus 22:2: “If a thief is found breaking in, and is beaten to death, no blood guilt is incurred, but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.”

Exodus 22:29: “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.”

Do we post these sayings of “God” in our courtrooms as well?

These are just a few verses taken out of context, one might argue. However, inconsistencies of moral values are evident throughout Scripture.

What am I trying to prove by all this? Simply that life itself is our most splendid and precious gift.

We can’t begin to fully enjoy that splendor until we are thoroughly honest with each other and ourselves.

Concerning spiritual growth, we limit ourselves by placing finite attributes on something that is infinite. We need to draw strength from what we do not know as much as what we know.

To obtain as close as a connection with God as humanly possible, one merely has to call upon the highest aspects of one’s self, through the divine, and then listen.

Some people might find this article offensive. My own mother was outraged at my writing this column. She said if the Ten Commandments were posted in more places we wouldn’t be having this war in the Middle East.

What she’s forgotten is Christians, Jews and Muslims all acknowledge these very same sets of laws in their doctrines. It is well written and duly posted in many places. But what good has it done?

The question of whether to post the Commandments in a courtroom is not a difficult one at all. Those who want to post them should not, and those who have them up should take them down.

What drives the desire to post the Ten Commandments is a sense that we are in a moral decline in our country. The answer for many is an infusion of religion.

That’s no problem except when government becomes the agent of infusing religion.

There are several problems with posting the Commandments in a courtroom:

– Displaying the Commandments is a “subtle suggestion” to jurors “that only those who affirm the Judeo-Christian tradition are worthy to render judgment.” This is wrong, because religious faith is not a requirement for participation in the judicial process.

– Courts have ruled against posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms, and public courtrooms should be no different.

– Government endorsement of sacred texts waters down religious faith and leads to a “trivialization of faith.” It is a sacrilege to argue that the Ten Commandments should be posted in a courtroom because it is a secular document. Government has no business promoting the merits of a sacred text like the Ten Commandments.

This is a dangerous quest because America is a far more religiously diverse nation today than it was at its founding.

God is expressed in everything. When we can call on that truth in the moment of darkness without a book, or a posting on the wall, then we are going somewhere. If we want to see and hear God’s infinite expression, we need only open ourselves to that joy. In the meantime, spare us the dogmatic billboards in public places.


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