Thursday, May 16, 2013

Christian nation 2: Continued.

We start this with a fairly vague commandment.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

What, exactly, does that mean? Most people would say hitting your thumb with a hammer and saying "God Damnit!" counts. Some go so far as any swearing, but that's a bit extreme. Does finishing something difficult and saying "Thank God" count? How about seeing, for instance, a bad car crash and going "Jesus?" You're not praying. You're not really swearing then, either. But many people would put all of the above into "taking in vain."

Here's the kicker, though. There are two meanings here. One is what many would call blasphemy, as mentioned above. The other meaning seems like just the opposite - taking it *as vanity.*

The example that immediately comes to mind is a politician pushing their Christianity  as they try to get reelected. "I'm a Godly man, I'm christian!" Guess what... just broke the commandment, dude. Or those that use their "righteousness" to drive others down (hi, Westboro.)

Can you name one person who hasn't done this? Ever? So according to God, guess what, everyone's broken this and is guilty. (Unless, of course, they're non-christian. I don't think he'd be all that upset over someone yelling "Zeus damnit!" after all.)

There are a couple of problems with this, though.

First, is "God" God's name? I'd say no, really. It's a description or, if you want, rank. Even "Lord." When's the last time you heard someone say "YHWH damn!" Probably not too often... bit of a mouthful. How about "Jesus?" That really depends on how you see that interrelationship.

Second, and getting to the constitution - If the founders wanted to outlaw this out of respect for a supreme being, they could very well have put in anti-blasphemy laws. You'll note there are none. None in the constitution. None in the bill of rights (or any other amendment.) They do exist in other nations, after all. It would be a fairly obvious way to show fealty to a deity.

Third, it goes against the first amendment. Believe it or not, I'm not talking separation of church and state - though the lack of blasphemy laws seems to indicate that's covered. I'm talking free speech. Just like I can insult the president (or any past president,) barring libel/slander or threats against his life, I can say things like "If intelligent design is your proof for god, that design is my proof that your god is an incompetent engineer if not a flat out idiot." I could not do that with blasphemy laws without being punished.

I'd say it's safe to say that there's no support for the third commandment in our founding documents, and that the lack of inclusion of what would be an obvious bit of support (blasphemy laws, much less establishing a national church) contradicts, again, the ten commandments - or Christianity - as a basis for our nation.

Now for the fourth.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Once more, we hit what could be an obvious bit of support - putting in a national law to observe Saturday (yes, Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, not Sunday - but either way) as a labor-free day. 

Again, though, that would require establishment of a national church - or at least support it - and that, of course, is against the first amendment. Not only does this commandment impose a certain belief system on YOU, but insists that YOU impose it on your family, your employees (and, let's be honest, slaves, given the time it was written,) and even anyone happening to stay with you. And your cows. Can't forget the cows...

The flip side of this, of course, is that there's also nothing preventing you from observing *either* day as your chosen belief system, if you have one that has said observance, dictates.

Again - no foundational document supports or even refers to this commandment. Not looking good for any support of the US being founded on the ten commandments.

The fifth, our halfway point in the commandments and a good stopping point for this post:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

 Remember what I said earlier about people stopping early when they recite these? This, fortunately, is on ethey remember - and the first part, while not earth-shattering, is quite good. Honor your father and mother. (There's also, believe it or not, an implied contract the other way. Behave properly towards your children.)

... And then we get the second part. Don't do it because it's the right thing to do. Do it to live a long life. Yes, God is bribing you.

Obviously, getting to the point of this series of posts, nobody can legislate getting a longer life. Or, really, how to "honor" your parents. Yes, we have laws and departments (which seem to be the target of budget cuts...) to help pay for medical care for seniors, and give them pensions and the like. But these were not created by the founding fathers, and certainly aren't in our founding documents.

Five down, five to go... and zero support for the assertion that the US's founding documents bear any relation to the ten commandments.

Next up: Turning a bunch of commandments into one...

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