The Bush administration, saying that religion ``has played a defining role'' in the nation's history, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to permit Ten Commandments displays in courthouses.Lovely.
The Justice Department today filed a brief supporting two Kentucky counties accused of violating the constitutional ban on government establishment of religion by posting framed copies of the Ten Commandments.
Anyway, who's Ten Commandments are under discussion here?? For instance:
You've got your Jewish Ten Commandments, your Catholic Ten Commandments, your Lutheran Ten Commandments, your Charlton Heston Ten Commandments, your King James Bible Ten Commandments, your New Revised Standard Version Ten Commandments, and they don't all agree as to which commandment is which -- or what they really mean. Catholics, for example, think their idols can coexist with the first commandment, and the whole of Christendom never quite understood the whole "Do Not Kill," thing.
Even the Bible contains two versions, one in Exodus 20:1-17 and a slightly different one in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.
There are, of course, various English translations of those ancient Hebrew texts.
Further complicating the commandments are the fact that neither Exodus nor Deuteronomy neatly number the no-nos from one to 10.
Also, in the Jewish imagination the Ten Commandments were given on large rectangles. The version with the rounded tops was dreamt up by Christian artists. (Though Jews have since appropriated it.)
And if Bush is desperate to decorate courthouses with "objects having a defining role" in the nation's history, why stop with the 10 Commandments? "Defining role" could mean just about anything, couldn't it?