Select Page

Thou shalt not read the Ten Commandments

Thou shalt not read the Ten Commandments

Louisiana recently passed a law that “requires” that the Ten Commandments be posted in the classrooms of every public school in the state – from grade schools to colleges and universities.

Personally, I have no problem with schools displaying the Ten Commandments — and using it as a part of history education.  America’s laws and judicial structure are largely based on the Judeo-Christian moral tradition – and the Ten Commandments are foundational.  Without understanding that, you cannot understand the historical development of the American legal system or the work of the Founders.  It is the reason that I defend the display of various religious symbols on public property during festive occasions – or football teams to engage in voluntary prayer.

So, what about the Louisiana law? I am guessing that the federal courts will strike it down – as they should.

As they should?  Yes!  I think it is a bad law – and unconstitutional.

It is the difference between “allow” and “compel.”  Teachers and school administrators should be ALLOWED to use the Ten Commandments as a teaching aid.  Religious celebratory symbols should be ALLOWED on public property.  Since religious expression is a basic constitutional right, it should not be infringed.

What the Louisiana legislature did was to COMPEL a specific religious (Christian) text on the diverse population– essentially making it a state religion. I see that as a violation of the Constitution’s protection of all religious expression.  To me, it is so obvious that I cannot imagine the law surviving a federal court challenge – and several suits challenging the Louisiana law have already been filed

That leads to the issue of “separation of church and state.”   While I believe the Louisiana law violates the Constitution in terms of equal protection for all religious expression, I strongly disagree with the modern interpretation that a theoretical separation of church and state necessitates the removal of religion from all public spaces.  In my judgment, the Supreme Court went off the constitutional campus on that issue.

There is nothing in the Constitution that contends any such separation. The Constitution states clear protection for the free devotion to “religion” without restriction or bias in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.  The modern definition of church and state separation is derived not from the Constitution but from an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association from Thomas Jefferson.  It is important to put that in context.  Jefferson’s letter was in response to the Baptists’ concern over the establishment of a state religion.  Jefferson’s answer was in that context.

Neither the Founders nor Jefferson –nor the 1802 Baptists — intended to exclude religion from the public commons or cancel it from government events and dialogue – and certainly not banning it from public education.  We know that from their writings and the fact that they made prayer a regular part of their official business. The Founder’s concern was NOT the expression of various religious affiliations in the public space, but the imposition of a state religion – as was the case in England.

That approach is seen in the President’s oath of office.  The official version does not include so help me God.”  Incoming presidents are not COMPELLED to swear on the Bible – or even swear at all.  They may “affirm.”  However, they are ALLOWED to say, “so help me God” and they are ALLOWED to use a Bible in the official ceremony.

While the Founders did not push religion, they clearly intended it to be ALLOWED even by the government.  It was not considered a violation of any church/state separation when Christmas was made America’s first national holiday in 1870.  “In God We Trust” was lifted from the fourth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner (not officially the National Anthem until 1931) and added to coins in 1864 –and to the currency in 1956.   “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance” in 1954. 

The “God” on our money and in the Pledge has been described as a generic “God” – to be seen through the eyes of various religions. Christmas as a national holiday, however, is questionable.  Much like the imposition of the Ten Commandments in the Louisiana case it clearly favors Christianity.

In 1947, in the New Jersey case of Everson v. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that it was NOT a violation of separation of church and religion for government to reimburse the bus fare for students attending private or parochial schools.  But … that neither the federal government nor the states could create a state religion.

Later cases twisted the meaning of the First Amendment to begin the ban on any hint of religious expression in the public commons – especially the 1962 Ingles v. Vitale case that banned prayer in schools. 

If separation of church and state means the banning of religious expression – and public high school athletes are forbidden to voluntarily pray before a game – should President Biden be called out for incorporating the Sign of the Cross as part of his public comments?

The First Amendment was designed by the Founders to protect all religions from being suppressed by a state sponsored religion – not to eradicate mutual religious expressions from the public places.  It is arguable that the current view of a separation of church and state is, itself, an infringement of religion in violation of the First Amendment.

I am betting that the federal courts will strike down the Louisiana law – as they should.  I only wish they would roll back the rulings that have made the public commons a religious desert.

Of course, we would not even be having a controversy if America had not evolved into a less Judeo-Christian — and even less religious nation.  And in a democracy, there is nothing inherently wrong with traditions and customs change in accordance to the demographics and will of the people.  After all, no expression of religion in the public space is mandatory – COMPELLED.  It is only ALLOWED as long as we the people allow it.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

38 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    HAPPY FOURTH: our favorite town went on the 3rd so watching Macy’s on TV…….shoulda checked earlier……

    HAPPY FOURTH, and Mr. Horist: Louisiana can keep their theology away from my biology.

    The founders said “all men are created equal” while acting quite different. There are differences in the vision and the actions. .

    It’s pretty ez; I would rather not have your commandments on display in a public place UNLESS you honor the Muslim, Jewish and any other major faith equally. We may have started as Judeo-Christian although I would guess a lot of slaves and others would differ, except for who held the whip, but we established a nation based on freedom of religion including not be persecuted by any given religion.

    I agree —- this one should not pass the SCOTUS, but this is the Trump’s SCOTUS so who knows.

    Reply
    • Tom

      Yes, agree. And I am waiting to see how the Satanists respond! The other issue is some of those commandments, at least one for sure, cover activities for which if displayed on the silver screen you have to be 17+ years of age. This might present a problem for grade school teachers explaining if their little students ask about it.

      I think the essence of LA’s action is to bring back a moral code into the public schools because of the lack of moral code elsewhere, especially in view of a potential POTUS that has no moral code. What LA could have done was to design a public moral code that includes wholesome moral statements from all religions but is not religion specific.

      Example: IN LA, WE…..

      HAVE THE RIGHT TO HONOR THE GOD OF OUR CHOICE
      HAVE THE RIGHT TO NOT HONOR ANY GOD
      WE HONOR PRAYER AND SPIRITUALITY OF ANY FORM AND MAKE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ALL
      WE HONOR TRUTH FOR ITS INHERENT VALUE, AND ACCURATE ACCOUNTS OF EVENTS
      HONOR AND RESPECT ALL OF OUR NEIGHBORS
      HONOR OUR PARENTS, STEP PARENTS, AND CAREGIVERS
      WE HONOR AND RESPECT THE LIVES OF OTHERS TO LIVE FREE FROM HARM
      WE HONOR ALL RACES, CREEDS, AND NATIONALITIES
      WE HONOR THE PROPERTY RIGHTS OF OTHERS
      WE HONOR THE RELATIONSHIP RIGHTS OF OTHERS
      WE HONOR THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE AND WORK
      ALL WORK IS HONORABLE

      Most teachers of any grade level can easily explain any line in the above code of honor.

      Reply
    • Susan Robbins

      Muslims, Christians and Jews all believe in the God of Abraham. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jews on their escape from captivity from Egypt. I do agree with the writer that we should not be forbidden nor compelled to display the Ten Commandments. There is nothing in that list that should offend any moral thinking person.

      Reply
    • Susan Robbins

      Christians did not exist when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Research before you state misinformation. Muslims have their own commandments which are very similar in content. They do not object to the display of the e Commandments. So, tell me which of those religions is the government of Louisiana favoring? No one is telling student which church, temple or mosque they must attend or that they have to attend any place of worship.

      Reply
  2. Bob

    I believe that the Ten Commandments should be posted in the classrooms in order to help the students & teachers recognize the fact that the God of the Bible exists & will judge everyone.
    Your argument of separation of church & state is not valid, as it was NEVER intended to be a constituational position, because it is NOT in the constitution.
    Our country was founded on the Judeo-Christian values & the Ten Commandments are at the base of those values, so yes, they should be posted in schools & universities.

    Reply
    • larry Horist

      Bob … I am all for the Ten Commandments to be displayed and used as a teaching aid in schools. That should be ALLOWED. But the government should not force it.

      Reply
    • frank stetson

      Bob: Constitution’s first amendment Establishment Clause. See below. HAGD.

      Reply
  3. frank stetson

    I am take aback lately as the thirst for technology’s gee-whiz surpasses the ability to test for customer satisfaction. Hey, split-screen tennis matches means you can’t see the ball in either…… Putting singers in front of the fireworks blocks the fireworks. And bouncing around with different camera shots means you can’t see the big show either. What a loss. Drones were cool. More drones.

    OK, I misspoke. Hopefully the Louisiana Supremes with turn this down and the buck will stop there.

    Reply
    • Harold blankenship

      Why are the left afraid of the 10 commandments?

      Reply
      • Tom

        Maybe for the same reason that the right, specifically Trump, violates all of them and MAGA people bless it with their silence and funding donations 🙂
        (Just an Independent’s point of view)

        Trump:

        Did not attend the national day of prayer but holds a bible up to make MAGA think he loves God and is religious.
        Trump does not love his neighbor – he plans retribution and revenge, he plans to take their medical away, he saddles them with public debt, he calls them horse face and many other names.
        Trump does not honor parents – he insults gold star parents and immigrant parents looking to make better lives for their children.
        Trump does not refrain from lying – he lies 78% of the time according to most fact check sites.
        Trump does not refrain from killing – he has killed the reputations and careers of many
        Trump does not refrain from adultery – he is the poster child for it!
        Trump does not refrain from coveting the wealth and goods of others – he has screwed many out of money by filing bankruptcy on unfinished retirement condos, including senior citizens, imported workers from Poland, Lithuania, etc.

        I have yet to hear of a single parent telling other parents that they hope their child turns out like Trump! 🙂

        Reply
        • Susan Robbins

          This is not about Trump but:
          Biden wants to saddle us with student loan for people who went to Harvard.
          Biden insulted parents of those lost in his statement that he did not lose the life of any military.
          Biden committed adultery with Jill when she was still married to her ex.
          Biden and the left saddle seniors with going bankrupt allowing children of illegals attend out schools at our expense. Forces us to house these people while Veterans go homeless.
          Took money from foreign countries filtered through his son Hunter.
          Refuses to recognize a child Hunter had refused to pay support for.
          And showered with his daughter and wants all men to be able to enter a woman’s locker room to shower with our daughters.
          Hardley the epitome of one with a moral compass.

          You want a someone without sin for President? Write Jesus on a ballot.

          Reply
  4. frank stetson

    Harold: Fear has nothing to do with the concept of freedom of religion and separation of church and state.

    You see, dear Harold, the Constitution’s first amendment has the Establishment Clause which prohibits government’s actions from establishing an official religion or showing preference to any religion. IOW — it’s fucking Constitutional law that you seem afraid to follow.

    Reply
  5. Robert Berger

    If all public schools in Louisiana must now display the 10 Commandments , why don’t we also allow students who are not from Christian homes to put of quotes from the Koran , the Hindu scriptures , quotes from the Buddha etc. up in classrooms ? As well as allowing students who are atheists and agnostics to put up quotes by Charles Darwin from “The Origin of the Species ? ”
    Public schools are supposed to be places for TEACHING , not preaching . Christian parents are still free to take their children to church on Sunday and to teach them the 10 Commandments , and they can pray all they want in church and at home . If we want to teach young people about religion , this should be in classes. teaching comparative religion ; ones which do not favor one religion but tell them about. the teachings of the world’s major and minor. religions .

    Reply
  6. frank stetson

    Robert, more or less that’s what I said. Show them all or show none,

    HOWEVER, no —- if the GOVERNMENT shows the JC commandments, then the GOVERNMENT should show the rest. Or you could ask the Christian commandment lovers to post theirs as the others post theirs. But one for all and all for one is how this process is implemented.

    In the US, we should not prioritize one religion over another.

    The courts are a throw-back in this, and like the statues came a tumbling down, like the flags were lowered from public places, so should that change with time.

    Reply
    • Tom

      I agree Frank when you say, “Robert, more or less that’s what I said. Show them all or show none,…” But I would add a third which is to post a moral code that is religiously blind, intuitively explainable, actionable, and drives the behavior that the state wishes all people to embrace. And post it in all public buildings, including prisons, and not just schools!! We have a lot of adults past school age who need work in this area! And lets bring back Civics classes for all!!!

      Reply
      • frank stetson

        Tom, that’s the concept in all this, but I do like exposing kids to the various religions on the world much as I have in my travels from mosque to church to synagogue to wiccan woodland settings. I love the concept to make it a program across the land in many of our institutions.

        Same with the Christmas trappings.

        I draw the line at Kwanza though :>)

        Reply
        • Tom

          Yes I think it is good for youth to be exposed to various religions if their parents permit. This could actually be done through a class that is optional. I think it all depends on the motivation for the posting. If the motivation is to drive a good wholesome common morality, I think the religiously blind approach is better because of the ten religions I am familiar with, it dovetails into all of them easily. If the motivation is to recruit Christians at a young age, then the schmorgazborg approach you advocate is probably better. Its really all about motivations. As an Indpendent, I suspect since the legislature of LA is heavily GOP / MAGA Trump supporters (as evidenced by their ban on abortion), the motivation is to be the moral police and return the entire population to a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible, even if they have to drag them kicking and screaming! 🙂

          Reply
    • Susan Robbins

      Again, Jesus and Muhammed had not be born when the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, a Jewish man. Christians and Muslims did not exist. They are not Christian but Jewish laws Christians adopted since Jesus was a Jew.

      Reply
  7. Tom

    This article gets a Stop The Spin rating (STS) of 0. It is simply a good thought provoking article.

    I agree with those that feel public schools are not the place for “The Ten Commandments” or any other morality code that is an integral part of a specific religion.

    To Harold and others: Schools are a place for learning and exchange of ideas. Learning morality is probably more important that learning math or science or music or any other topic. If we cannot learn how to treat others, and how to know what we can and cannot due in a civil society, then what is the value of all the other topics? So learning a morality code is a legitimate subject to learn – but in the USA it should be a code that is blind to religion just like the lady holding the scales is blind.

    I think the essence of LA’s action is to bring back a moral code into the public schools because of the lack of moral code elsewhere, especially in view of a potential POTUS that has no moral code. What LA could have done was to design a public moral code that includes wholesome moral statements from all religions but is not religion specific.

    Example: In LA, WE…..

    HAVE THE RIGHT TO HONOR THE GOD OF OUR CHOICE
    HAVE THE RIGHT TO NOT HONOR ANY GOD
    WE HONOR PRAYER AND SPIRITUALITY OF ANY FORM AND MAKE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ALL
    WE HONOR TRUTH FOR ITS INHERENT VALUE, AND ACCURATE ACCOUNTS OF EVENTS AND FACTS ABOUT OTHERS
    WE HONOR AND RESPECT ALL OF OUR NEIGHBORS
    HONOR OUR PARENTS, STEP PARENTS, AND CAREGIVERS AND ALL THOSE WHO PERFORM SERVICES FOR US
    WE HONOR AND RESPECT THE LIVES OF OTHERS TO LIVE FREE FROM HARM
    WE HONOR ALL RACES, CREEDS, AND NATIONALITIES
    WE HONOR THE PROPERTY RIGHTS OF OTHERS
    WE HONOR THE RELATIONSHIP RIGHTS OF OTHERS
    WE HONOR THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE AND WORK
    ALL WORK IS HONORABLE

    Most teachers of any grade level can easily explain any line in the above code of honor. And there is no mention of religion! I suggest this as a former engineer and teacher. I taught for ten years in schools that had religious diversity. I had a version of these rules posted in my public school classroom.

    Reply
    • Archie

      We are discussing the Ten Commandments and idiotic Frank turns it back to Trump. He needs a vacation. He will probably be suicidal WHEN Trump gets re-elected

      Reply
      • Tom

        Actually Archie, to be fully accurate, we are discussing the posting of the ten commandments in public schools in Louisianan. Since the legislature of LA is comprised of many MAGA (whom are Christian Nationalists and advocate Trump) it seems legitimate to this Independent voter to bring in the SCOTUS which is predominately Trump and their recent decisions (recall the article says that there will most likely be a SCOTUS challenge) . So Frank’s comment is justified. May I also remind you that abortion is completely banned in Louisiana because of a state law that went into effect June 24, 2022 after the SCOTUS ruling on abortion. Its the same legislature trying to be the moral police. And that legislature is beholding to Trump. So Frank’s comment is confirmed.

        I have been reading Franks posts for years. He will survive Trump just like he did before.

        Reply
      • Tom

        By the way Archie, our Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” It never said they must be Christians or that they must sign up to the Ten Commandments instead of The Tao.

        Reply
        • Susan Robbins

          And it also never said we were to support them with welfare and freebies.

          Reply
  8. frank stetson

    Except the only mention of Trump by me is “Trump’s scotus” which is really not a turn back or even about Trump.

    I fear Archie either suffers Bidementia or an overdose of his favorite drug.

    Open mouth, insert shoe, taste good Arch?

    He probaby needs a vacation but gets suicidal as he realizes he does not make enough cash to take one. Well, a stacation at his castle on wheels will have to suffice.

    Reply
    • Tom

      Yeah I agree. I had to go back through the thread to see where you mentioned Trump. Your only mention was the political leaning of the SCOTUS. I think I did more to mention Trump when I checked Trump’s behavior against the Ten Commandments. Maybe Archie got mixed up.

      Reply
    • Archie

      Open mouth insert Biden’s dick And I can afford to take vacations in spite of retard Joe’s inflation

      Reply
      • frank stetson

        You don’t have to do that for Biden, Arch. But good to see you coming out of the closet. Explains your perversion about my fictional daughter you want me to shower with. I get it, you don’t like the girls, just Biden. Happy to hear you getting out of the trailer park for a vaca. Bet it’s not DisneyWorld :>)

        Reply
        • Archie

          Not Disney world. Not supporting queers.

          Reply
          • frank stetson

            Archie, you support queers everyday. It cannot be avoided. Disney is not anymore “queer” than any other big business in America. And guess what, all those Chinese goods —- could be gay…. legal since 1997 but still socially pretty much underground, but accepted.

            So, you better start tossing all that gay shit out.

          • Tom

            Archie, I would like to believe you but when you cite homosexual acts upon Biden, then what is this Independent to think?

  9. Tom

    I did have a second thought. The hypocrisy of this new LA law is funny. According to the Pew Research Center on Adults in LA, it seems funny that they want to post the Ten Commandments in all schools but according to the research only 50% of all LA parents go to church (and this includes all religions including Jewish, Muslim, etc) and 45 % seldom or never engage in any religious study, classes, reading, or education groups. See *https://www.pewresearch.org/religious-landscape-study/database/state/louisiana/*. Seems like Christian Nationalists which are GOP folks have control of the state legislature and plan on being the moral police!

    Reply
  10. Darren

    Just Imagine how different the Constitution would have been written 250 years ago if all
    the founding fathers only believed in the Koran!
    Imagine how many people to this day would NOT have any rights at all!
    The 10 Commandments and the Constitution go hand in hand.
    There for as part of telling history no less, the Commandments should be posted.

    Reply
  11. frank stetson

    “The 10 Commandments and the Constitution go hand in hand.” Darren says this weird notion given the Founder’s fears of both Church and State. For the State, fear of powerful central government led by a King immune from crime for all Kingly actions. For the Church, separation of church and State.

    Not sure the hand in hand part you believe is there. But hey, they have their version of the Ten Commandments found in Quran 6:151–153.

    Implementations differ but the Knights Templar were not too fond of the Church’s vision for the ten commandments……….

    Reply
    • Harvey

      I f you’re not a Baptist you ain’t shit.

      Reply
    • Jim wampler

      The Quran is a book inspired by satan. It’s perverse and should never be taken seriously. Or read at all.

      Reply
    • Tom

      Frank, I heard an interesting objection to the display of the Ten Commandments today on Michael Cohen’s Mea Culpa show today. Remember Cohen was Trump’s personal attorney and star witness in Trump’s NY Manhattan business fraud and election interference case.

      Cohen and his guest asserted something that maybe as a white Christian Independent I never thought about so I thought I would share it.

      You may have read one of my previous responses where I said “Its all about motivation.” And where I noted that LA legislature is very red GOP/Trumpian MAGA infested Christian Nationalists as they have a total ban on abortion.

      Well Cohen and his guest said something today that plays into my above evaluation of the LA legislature. Cohen and his guest said that posting the Ten Commandments in every school says “If you do not believe in this, then you do not belong!” . And I agree with their claim. Its another way MAGA/Christian Nationalists are staking their claim and putting their mark, i.e. Ten Commandments, on their territory. And Christian Nationalism is at the heart of The Heritage Foundation’s Project 25. Truth is, this group of MAGA/Christian Nationalists only care about power.

      Reply
      • frank stetson

        I’m thinking “Cathedral” by CSNY.

        My father, and I think my mother’s DNA, taught me: people are generally good, groups generally turn bad. It’s a truism that I have lived by although humorously being employed by one of the largest corporations around…, Well, I started in a small consulting group, and trust me, those little fiefdoms with their strutting cock leaders, can be worse. At least in the corp, there is a set of rules and a “vison” of success by the metrics, not the politics. Yeah, right.

        I have another issue; whenever I join a group, as much as I try to hide, they keep calling me out to lead. Since I firmly fear that the pioneers take the first arrows, I do not like it.

        So, I am not a joiner and feel that most groups have to be watched because sooner or later the group will choose an unwise path supposedly for either survival or expansion. It’s an organic thing, the need to expand and reproduce. So, if your “business” is covid cures, and you find one, you don’t close the doors and say: mission accomplished. You change your name to covid and colds cures. That’s a good one cuz you will never cure the cold and therefore can live and expand forever. Then, some guy in the group figures out if they can give people colds, they will be even stronger, better, and that’s better for the world so it must be right.

        Or something like that. I am not a joiner and don’t trust most groups. And the longer they are around, the more oversight I think they need.

        There’s a lot of intimidation and exclusionary actions going on attempting to return to a white, Christian, America that never was. It seems we are more into making ideas than we are making things anymore.

        Reply
  12. SeymourCob

    In need of a top-notch agency for marketing? Your search ends here! [url=https://seo-sea.marketing/] Contact us today and we’ll elevate your online presence together.[/url]

    Reply

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. You want me to take a 4.5 hour drive for you? For what? Give us the location, row, section, etc.…

  2. FS, here you go again. You just cannot stand it that someone else has the intelligence to show proof. You…

  3. AF Way to stay on point. Where did this come up. This is debunked many tims. Joe did mot serve…

  4. Franky, baby, do you know what ID #267327344 is? Go to Arlington National Cemetary, you don't really live all that…

  5. AF, D, and JSB --- never trust dictation and tired old proofer's eyes. AF --- the crowd was meant to…