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March 17th, 2009

Religion and Law


How important is religion when it comes to making laws?

We recently had an issue in California where the claim was made that marriage is a primarily religious function and therefore marriage should abide by religious law and therefore should only be between a man and a woman. Yeah, there's more to it than that, but a lot of money from religious organizations was funneled into passing proposition 8.

Now, we know that the highest laws of the most common religion in the United States is called The Ten Commandments. It's pretty important stuff. Hell, they even made a few movies out of it!

Now, let's look at the ten commandments and see where they fall in the grand scheme of civil law, shall we?

Commandment 1: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; do not have any other gods before me.

There is no civil law enforcing this. In fact, our First Amendment has been interpreted to contradict this, reinforcing that anyone can have whichever religion they want.

Commandment 2: You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Okay, so no idols. I'm unaware of any civil law that precludes them, however.

Commandment 3: You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Interesting. I don't read this as "Thou shalt not use the Lord's name in vain." I read it as "Thou shalt not do bad things in the name of the Lord." If that's the case, the entire Crusades was against a commandment. Still, there's not a single civil law to reinforce this.

Commandment 4: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Hrmmm. There might be some state laws requiring overtime for working on Sundays, but ... I'm not so sure.

Commandment 5: Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

How could you possibly legislate this?

Commandment 6: You shall not kill.

Finally. A commandment that's also a civil law!

Commandment 7: You shall not commit adultery.

Nope. I can sleep around all I want with no threat of jail time.

Commandment 8: You shall not steal.

Okay, we've got another civil law from this one...

Commandment 9: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

I suppose perjury, libel, and slander are all about bearing false witness.

Commandment 10: You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

What?! No "keeping up with the Joneses"?! I'm pretty sure our form of economy encourages breaking this one.

So, in summary, we're three for ten. Homosexuality is as important to us as killing, stealing, and lying, and it's far more important than sleeping around and respecting our parents. Or sleeping around with our parents, I suppose... Ewww.


XSG - 1 G 2 Many
miscreants 3.0

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