No. 4 - Public Acknowledgment of God — The use of the word “God,” prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as permitted on government buildings and property.— YES or NO
This was my point: One passage toward the beginning of Exodus declares that we shouldn't misuse the name of God (by attaching God's name to the works of the Burleson Texas Independent School District, for instance), and that Jesus said we should pray in private, not standing on the streetcorners "like the hypocrites" who pray "to be seen by men". (Hit the "rant" link above.)
There's one other thing I didn't mention in that post, something about the Ten Commandments: Why do we want to live by these commands that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai? We seem to have rejected most of them. What follows is from the New International Version of the book of Exodus, Chapter 34. The division I've used between the commandments is the one followed by most Rabbinic scholars:
14 (Commandment I) Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
17 (Commandment II) Do not make cast idols.
18 (Commandment III) Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
19 "The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock.
20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
21 (Commandment IV) Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
22 (Commandment V) Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
23 (Commandment VI) Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel.
24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.
25 (Commandment VII) Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and....
(Commandment VIII) Do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.
26 (Commandment IX) Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
(Commandment X) Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk.
27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
These are the only commandments that the Jewish Scriptures refer to as "The Ten Commandments". There were earlier rough drafts which, as far as I can tell, no human ever saw except Moses, and Moses might have just been blogging when he wrote those. The ones listed above are the ones that made it down from Mount Sinai intact. These are the ones that got toted around the wilderness in the Ark Of The Covenant. These 10 Commandments are the ones that are to be "acknowledged at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as permitted on government buildings and property" in the state of Texas.
Let's start with Commandment #10. Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. Do we need to acknowledge this, and make it a requirement for the concession stands at Texas High School football games? If we carve this commandment into the walls of the state capitol, how long will it take to become part of Republican anti-immigrant rhetoric? Them damn Mexicans ain't like us white folks. Turn your back on 'em, and they'll bar-b-que a goat in its Mama's milk every time....
And finally, if this commandment becomes law of the land, will Libertarians have to stage ridiculous protests to prove that they have a right to cook a goat in its mother's milk?
Moving on to Commandment #9, we see that we are to bring the best of the firstfruits of our soil to the house of the Lord. I know my Bible pretty well, but this one eluded me. I've resorted to Chabad.org, a website that breaks the Jewish calendar into daily topics for study. Bikkurim is a term for the first-born, or the first-produced of just about anything:
Even in the seventh year, the offering of bikkurim is obligatory. Therefore, it is stated here, too: “the first fruits of your soil.” How are the bikkurim chosen? A person enters his field and sees a fig that has ripened. He winds a blade of grass around it as a sign and sanctifies it. Bikkurim are brought as an offering only from the seven species enumerated in Scripture: “A land of wheat and barley, and vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil-yielding olives and honey” (Deut. 8:8).This spring, I can't wait to see Governor Rick Perry go into bikkurim mode and wander into a mesquite thicket looking for a ripe fig to sanctify by wrapping some buffalo grass around it.
Despite my Southern Baptist upbringing, I grew up with Commandment #8: Do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning. The Whited Mama was, and is, a great cook. It is unusual for leftovers to remain past 8:00 p.m., much less midnight.
Commandment #7 is a problem. Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast. It really has come to this. I'm 48 years old, I make good money, and I have a fairly popular website. Yet here I am sitting in a corner at Starbucks writing, and instantly deleting, adolescent jokes about bloody yeast infections.
I could go on and on in this vein, but I hope you get the idea by now. When we start talking about God, prayer, or even the Ten Commandments, we all bring our histories, traditions, and loyalties to the discussion. Like it or not, these are THE Ten Commandments. Exodus calls them The Ten Commandments. Everything that came before was a rough draft. You can look it up.
Do we really want to open this can of worms at every Texas city council and county courthouse meeting?
If you've got a few more minutes, go to this post about the 10 Commandments. Don't read the comments. See if you can detect something strange about the way we portray the 10 C's in art and sculpture.