The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
Welcome Contents What's New Search this site
View Our Stats
Visitors since 7/15/1998
Links   Guest Book Contact Us
This site is eye friendly: Use your browser's view options to increase or decrease font size

The Complete Ten Commandments

The hottest issue in the United States Court System over the past couple of years has been displaying the "Ten Commandments" in various public places from schools to the courtrooms themselves.

The following information provides a study guide to the issue.

Researched and edited by Jim Allison.

The Bible, the Commandments

[From several sources]

The Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:1-17

from the Complete Jewish Bible, Translation by David H. Stern

  1. Then God said all these words:
  2. "I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.
  3. "You are to have no other gods before me.
  4. "You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline.
  5. "You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
  6. "but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.
  7. "You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.
  8. "Remember the day Shabbat, to set it apart for God.
  9. "You have six days to labor and do all your work,
  10. "but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work-not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property.
  11. "For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.
  12. "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.
  13. "Do not murder.
  14. "Do not commit adultery.
  15. "Do not steal.
  16. "Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.
  17. "Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor".

Judaisin 101 explains the Jewish view of the "Ten Commandments"

Which Ten Commandments, Part I

The Ten Commandments

The passages we erroneously call the "Ten Commandments" are listed twice in the Bible, at Exodus 20:1-17 and at Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

The following, from is reproduced here for your convenience if you do not use Microsoft Word.

The First Ten Commandments
Were not carved on the stone tables

  1. (Ex. 20:2-6) I [am] the Eternal thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of servants. Thou shalt have no other gods before my face. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in the heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not prostrate thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Eternal thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;And shewing mercy unto thousand [generations] of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
  2. (Ex. 20:7) Thou shalt not take the name of the Eternal thy God in vain; for the Eternal will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  3. (Ex. 20:8-11) Remember the Sabbath day, to sanctify it. Six days mayest thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the Eternal thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy [man]servant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beasts, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the Eternal made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Eternal blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it.
  4. (Ex. 20:12) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the ground which the Eternal thy God giveth thee.
  5. (Ex. 20:13) Thou shalt not murder.
  6. (Ex. 20:13) Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  7. (Ex. 20:13) Thou shalt not steal.
  8. (Ex. 20:13) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy fellow[-man].
  9. (Ex. 20:14) Thou shalt not covet thy fellow[-man]?s house.
  10. (Ex. 20:14) Thou shalt not covet thy fellow[-man]?s wife, nor his [man]servant, nor his maidservant, nor any of his herd, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy fellow[-man]?s.

(Direct translation from Hebrew according to: Pentateuch with Rashis Commentary, book of Exodus, Translation from Hebrew by Rev. M. Rosenbaum and Dr. A. M. Silbermann, Hebrew Publishing Company, New York, 1946. Rashis commentary has been omited, except for the injection of bracketed words.)

Moses, Mount Sinai, and Writing the Tables

Chapters 20-23

The Ten rules are simply the first ten, out of dozens written in chapters 20-23. Many of these are contrary to modern law, especially the rules for slavery, and for punishing crimes by death or bodily injury. If you've never read them, please just know that it can be very interesting.

Chapter 24

The Lord said to Moses, I will give you the tablets of stone, and commanded Moses to ascend Mount Sinai, where he remained for 40 days and 40 nights.

Chapters 25-30

The Lord describes details of the altar and rituals by which to offer a sacrifice.

Chapter 31

He gave the tablets to Moses.

Chapter 32

Moses returned to the people and saw that they had worshipped a golden calf. In a fit of anger, he destroyed the tablets. The people never saw them. Moses ordered everybody to kill their fathers, sons, and brothers, until about three thousand of them fell, as penance for their sin. Then the Lord cast a plague as punishment for worshipping the calf.

Chapter 33

The Lord sent them forth to the land of milk and honey, but He would not walk with them, lest He consume them

Chapter 34

In Chapter 34, the Lord commanded Moses to get two new blank tablets, and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. Moses returned to Mount Sinai with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights, and the tablets were carved by the finger of God with the Ten Commandments.

The Second Ten Commandments

The tables of stone

  1. (Ex. 34:14-16) Thou shalt prostrate thyself to no other god: for the Eternal, whose name [is] Jealous [is] a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and sacrifice unto their gods, and call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
  2. (Ex. 34:17) Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
  3. (Ex. 34:18) The festival of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the appointed time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou wentest out from Egypt.
  4. (Ex. 34:19-20) Every first offspring of the womb [is] mine; and of all thy cattle that is male, the first offspring of any of the herd or of the flock. But the first offspring of an ass thou shalt redeem with one of the flock: and if thou redeem it not, then shalt thou break its neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
  5. (Ex. 34:21) Six days thou mayest work, but on the seventh day thou shalt leave off: in ploughing [time] and in harvest thou shalt leave off.
  6. (Ex. 34:22-24) And thou shalt observe the festival of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the year's circuit. Thrice in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord Eternal God, the God of Israel. For I will drive out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy boundaries: neither shall any man covet thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Eternal thy God thrice in the year.
  7. (Ex. 34:25) Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice upon leaven;
  8. (Ex. 34:25) neither shall the sacrifice of the festival of the Passover remain over night unto the morning.
  9. (Ex. 34:26) The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Eternal thy God.
  10. (Ex. 34:26) Thou shalt not seethe a [goat's] kid in its mother's milk.

In Search of the Real Ten Commandments

The Real Ten Commandments By Richard Carrier

American Founding Era

Adams & Jefferson Questioned The Source of The Ten Commandments

November 14, 1813

Quincy Nov. 14, 1813

Among all your researches in Hebrew History and Controversy have you ever met a book, the design of which is to prove, that the ten Commandments, as We have them in our Catechisms and hung up in our Churches, were not the Ten Commandments written by the Finger of God upon tables, delivered to Moses on mount Sinai and broken by him in a passion with Aaron for his golden calf, nor those afterwards engraved by him on Tables of Stone; but a very different Sett of Commandments?

There is such a book by J. W. Goethens Schristen.84 Berlin 1775-1779. 1 wish to see this Book.

You will see the Subject and perceive the question in Exodus 20. 1-17. 21-28. chapter 24- 3 etc. ch. 24- 12. ch. 25. 31 ch- 31. 18. ch- 31- 19. ch. 34. 1. ch- 34. 10 etc.

I will make a Covenant with all this People. Observe that which I command this day.


Thou shall not adore any other God. Therefore take heed, not to enter into covenant, with the Inhabitants of this country; neither take for your Sons, their daughters in marriage. They would allure thee to the Worship of false Gods. Much less shall you in any place, erect Images.


The Feast of unleavened bread, shall thou keep. Seven days, shall thou eat unleavened bread, at the time of the month Abib; to remember that about that time, I delivered thee from Egypt.


Every first born of the mother is mine; the male of thine herd, be it Stock or flock. But you shall replace the first born of an Ass with a Sheep. The first born of your Sons shall you redeem. No Man shall appear before me with empty hands.


Six days shall thou labour: the seventh day, thou shall rest from ploughing and gathering.


The Feast of Weeks shall thou keep, with the firstlings of the Wheat Harvest: and the Feast of Harvesting, at the end of the year.


Thrice, in every year, all male persons shall appear before the Lord. Nobody shall invade your Country, as long as you obey this Command.


Thou shall not sacrifice the blood of a Sacrifice of mine, upon leavened bread.


The Sacrifice of the Passover shall not remain, till the next day.


The Firstlings of the produce of your land, thou shall bring to the House of the Lord.


Thou shall not boil the kid, while it is yet sucking.

And the Lord spake to Moses: Write these Words; as, after these Words I made with you, and with Israel a Covenant.

I know not whether Goethens translated or abridged from the Hebrew, or whether he used any translation Greek, Latin, or German. But he differs in form and Words, somewhat from our Version. Exod. 34. 10. to 28. The Sense seems to be the same. The Tables were the evidence of the covenant, by which the Almighty attached the People of Israel to himself. By these laws they were seperated from all other nations, and were reminded of the principal Epochas of their History.

When and where originated our Ten Commandments? The Tables and The Ark were lost. Authentic Copies, in few, if any hands; the ten Precepts could not be observed, and were little remembered.

If the Book of Deuteronomy was compiled, during or after the Babilonian Captivity, from Traditions, the Error or Amendment might come in there.

But you must be weary, as I am at present, of Problems, Conjectures, and paradoxes, concerning Hebrew, Grecian and Christian and all other Antiquities; but while We believe that the finis bonorum will be happy, We may leave learned men to this disquisitions and Criticisms.

I admire your Employment, in selecting the Philosophy and Divinity of Jesus and seperating it from all intermixtures. If I had Eyes and Nerves, I would go through both Testaments and mark all that I understand. To examine the Mishna Gemara Cabbala Jezirah, Sohar Cosri and Talmud of the Hebrews 85 would require the life of Methuselah, and after all, his 969 Years would be wasted to very little purpose. The Daemon of Hierarchical despotism has been at Work, both with the Mishna and Gemara. In 1238 a French Jew, made a discovery to the Pope (Gregory 9th) of the heresies of the Talmud.86, The Pope sent 35 Articles of Error, to the Archbishops of France, requiring them to seize the books of the Jews, and burn all that contained any Errors. He wrote in the same terms to the Kings of France, England Arragon, Castile Leon, Navarre and Portugal. In consequence of this Order 20 Cartloads of Hebrew Books were burnt in France: and how many times 20 Cartloads were destroyed in the other Kingdoms? The Talmud of Babylon and that of Jerusalem were composed from 120 to 500 Years after the destruction of Jerusalem. If Lightfoot derived Light from what escaped from Gregorys fury in explaining many passages in the New Testament by comparing the Expressions of the Mishna, with those of the Apostles and Evangelists, how many proofs of the Corruptions of Christianity might We find in the Passages burnt?

John Adams

84. JA misread the f in Schriften for a long s and took the title for part of the author's name (Goethens was a possessive form already obsolescent). One of the earliest collected editions of Goethe's Writings, unauthorized by him, was first issued by C. F. Himberg in 3 vols. (Berlin, 1775). A fourth volume (1779) included two tracts on religious subjects, in part an early application of historical criticism to the Old Testament. The derivation of JA's translation of Goethe's selection from Exodus 34: 10-27 has not been determined.

85. The principal literary expressions of the Hebrew religion. The Talmud as the main teaching of Judaism was under attack by the Catholic Church from the thirteenth century on and at times copies by the cartload were burned; hence manuscripts of the Talmud are extremely rare.

86. These burnings were ordered under Pope Innocent IV, not Gregory IX.

Source of Informtaion:

Excerpt of letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 14, 1813. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, Edited By Lester J. Cappon, The University of North Carolina Press, (1959; 1987) pp. 395-97

January 24, 1814

Monticello Jan. 24, 1813

Dear Sir

I have great need of the indulgence so kindly extended to me in your favor of Dec. 25. of permitting me to answer your friendly letters at my leisure. My frequent and long absences from home are a first cause of tardiness in my correspondence, and a Id. the accumulation of business during my absence, some of which imperiously commands first attentions. I am now in arrear to you for your letters of Nov. 12. 14- 16. Dec. 3. 19. 25.

I, have made some enquiry about Taylor's book, 24 and I learn from a neighbor of his that it has been understood for some time that he was writing a political work. We had not heard of it's publication, nor has it been announced in any of our papers. But this must be the book of 630. pages which you have recieved; and certainly neither the style nor the stuff of the author of Arator can ever be mistaken. In the latter work, as you observe, there are some good things, but so involved in quaint, in farfetched, affected, mystical conciepts, and flimsy theories, that who can take the trouble of getting at them?

You ask me if I have ever seen the work of J. W. Goethens Schristen? Never. Nor did the question ever occur to me before Where get we the ten commandments? The book indeed gives them to us verbatim. But where did it get them? For itself tells us they were written by the finger of god on tables of stone, which were destroyed by Moses: it specifies those on the Id. set of tables in different form and substance, but still without saying how the others were recovered. But the whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been plaid with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills. The matter of the first was such as would be preserved in the memory of the hearers, and handed on by tradition for a long time; the latter such stuff as might be gathered up, for imbedding it, any where, and at any time.

24. Taylor, An Inquiry into the Government of the United States.

Source of Information:

Excerpt of letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, Jan, 24, 1814. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, Edited By Lester J. Cappon, The University of North Carolina Press, (1959; 1987) p.. 421.

Adams Identified The Commandments as Religion, at Least His Religion

[That doesn't exactly jive with all the religious right arguments that the Commandments are the source of our laws, are historical, etc. They tend to deny that the Ten Commandments are religious or religion.]

September 30, 1816

And if you will agree with me, We will issue our Bulls, and enjoin upon all these Gentlemen to be Silent, till they can tell Us, What Matter is and What Spirit is! And in the mean time to observe the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.

J. Adams

Source of Informtaion:

Excerpt of letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, Sept. 30, 1816. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, Edited By Lester J. Cappon, The University of North Carolina Press, (1959; 1987)

p. 490

November 4, 1816

The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.

John Adams

Source of Informtaion:

Excerpt of letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 4, 1816. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, Edited By Lester J. Cappon, The University of North Carolina Press, (1959; 1987)

p. 494

The Rev. John Leland Stated That The Ten Commandments Were Unique to And Applied Only to the Ancient Hebrews

Rev. John Leland on the Ten Commandments, Judge Moore and other related things

A Baptist minister and follow warrior with Jefferson, Madison and others in the struggle for religious freedom gave this advice about electing public officials: "...Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, when choosing your representatives"

John Leland: . . . Guard against those men

Some Modern Types Wanted to Make a Beneficial Link (To Their Cause) Between The Ten Commandments and a Founder So They Invented One

Is it true that Madison said "Our future is staked on the 10 commandments?"

Is it true that Madison said "Religion is the foundation of government?"

Madison's Arguments Against Special Religious Sanction of American Government

The Ten Politically Correct, Sanitized, Edited, Bumper Stickers or Sound Bites

[Commentary by a variety of sources]

The Popular Commandments Are not directly from the Bible.

Again from

This is what remains after the church edited Chapter 20 of Exodus.

  1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  3. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.
  4. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.
  5. Thou shalt not kill.
  6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  7. Thou shalt not steal.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods.

(Catholic Catechism by Peter Cardinal Gasparri, "published with Ecclesiastical approval" and bearing the imprimatur of Patrick Cardinal Hayes, Archbishop, New York. P. J. Kennedy & Sons, 1932.)

A Commentary on Church and State

1. Clearly this rule directly defies the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

2. Any god other than the Judeo-Christian god may determine for themselves whether their name may be taken in vain. This rule applies only to the Judeo-Christian faiths, and clearly defies the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

3. Again, First Amendment, Bill of Rights.

4. Tell that to the child who has been molested and beaten by his or her father or mother, and seeks refuge in the judicial system.

5. It is commonly accepted law, that people should not murder.

6. Many religions and cultures accept polygamy, and this rule has no place in the courts.

7. It is commonly accepted law, that people should not steal.

8. It is already law, that one may not bear false witness.

9. There is no law against thought. Please, covet.

10. Again, there is no law against thought. Please, covet.

Fourth of July Special: The Seven Lost Commandments By Eldon Goopnik 03 Jul 2003

Bryan Zepp Jamieson stated in a Usenet post: Half don't know what the Constitution says. The other half don't know what the ten commandments say. I wrote a piece on it and post it from time to time:
Ten Commandments v. American Law by The Fair and Balanced Weasel 28 Aug 2003 -0700

The Ten Commandments in Public Schools

Sermon given January 28, 2000, by Rabbi Samuel M. Stahl

Last May, Darrell Scott's daughter, Rachel, was gunned down in the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado. Recently, Scott spoke to a sub-committee of the House Judiciary Committee. In an excruciatingly painful testimony, he groped for reasons for the senseless murder of his daughter and eleven other students.

In his introductory comments, he mentioned that he is not a hunter nor a member of the National Rifle Association. Yet he admonished the group of lawmakers he was addressing not to point their fingers at the NRA for opposing stricter gun control legislation. He essentially absolved the NRA and other kindred organizations from any responsibility for this tragedy by asserting that weapons are not the problem.

Rather, he emphasized that the cause of these murders at Littleton, Colorado was a spiritual one. He wrote this poem to clarify his feelings:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere
And ask the question "Why."
You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand
That God is what we need!

In short, Darrell Scott is saying that by removing God from the classroom, we become vulnerable to violence. Only by restoring God to our public schools will such wanton and senseless killings be prevented.

Darrell Scott has clearly articulated the basic philosophy of the Religious Right. To them, religion in schools is essential for character development. Religion is an antidote to classroom murders. Without religion, students are courting disaster. Such reasoning has led the Religious Right to initiate a new project called, "Hang Ten." It encourages public school authorities and other government officials to post the Ten Commandments in public buildings, supported by our tax dollars. In fact, the "Hang Ten" movement has spread wildly throughout the state of Kentucky, and the Religious Right wants to make it a national phenomenon.

On the surface, the suggestion to post the Ten Commandments in government-sponsored institutions seems innocuous and benign. After all, the Ten Commandments, which come from this week's Torah portion, is the chief code of ethical and moral conduct both for Christians and Jews.

Centuries ago, in fact, the Ten Commandments were read at every worship service in the synagogue. Later, the Rabbis banned this practice, since Jews might conclude that following the Ten Commandments is all there is to practicing Judaism. Indeed, there is so much more. There is a whole range of rituals and ceremonies that we must observe, as well.

But why not display such sound ethical wisdom in the classroom? Would not our young people benefit from an encounter with this remarkable listing of moral laws? In fact, some of our presidential candidates are now clamoring for the Ten Commandments to be brought into the public schools in their campaign speeches.

I believe their plan, however, is dangerously misguided. Whether it is in public schools, city halls, courtrooms, or other government arenas, displaying the Ten Commandments is wrong for several reasons:

First of all, the Ten Commandments is a religious document. Posting these words violates the separation of church and state. Promoting religious behavior is the job of the home and the house of worship, not the public school.

In addition, the federal court system has already ruled that requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments is illegal. The Supreme Court overruled a Kentucky law that demanded that public schools exhibit the Ten Commandments. Those school officials who choose to ignore the decision of the highest court of our land are asking for a lawsuit. This would involve their squandering thousands, if not millions, of dollars in legal fees taken from taxpayers' pockets to defend themselves in court.

Then, too, the Ten Commandments are sacred only to Christians and Jews. They are not part of the Sacred Scriptures of other faith communities. In fact, today, the United States is far more diverse than it was decades ago. There are hundreds of religious groups, besides Christians and Jews, who now make up America's spiritual landscape.

For that reason, the organization once known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, founded in 1927, has recently changed its name. While keeping the same initials, its leaders now call their organization the National Conference of Community and Justice to reflect its broader religious and ethnic constituency. In fact, there are probably as many, if not more, Muslims than Jews in the United States at the present moment.

Because of this new reality, when we gather at the San Fernando Cathedral for our interfaith Thanksgiving service every November, we include not only representatives from the Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant faiths, but also those that hail from the Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, and Native American communities. Because of this diversity, our United States government cannot play favorites among religious communities and choose one set of religious texts over another.

In addition, even among Christians and Jews, there is no one standard version of the Ten Commandments. We Jews number the Commandments differently from our Christian neighbors. We consider the first Commandment to be: "I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Christians start the first Commandment with the next verse: "You shall have no other gods before Me." At the end of the Ten Commandments, Christians consider: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house," to be Commandment Nine, while "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife," to be Commandment Ten. We Jews combine both of these into Commandment Ten.

Furthermore, which edition of the Ten Commandments should we post? The one found in Exodus or the one in Deuteronomy? Though quite similar, there are marked differences in some of their particulars. In Exodus, the commandment to mark the Sabbath begins with the word "Remember," while the Deuteronomy version commences with the word, "Observe."

Even among Jewish groups, there may be disagreements about the Ten Commandments. For instance, should we spell God with an "o" or with a hyphen? Should we post them in their original Hebrew together with English translation, or just in Hebrew or just in English translation? Those are issues for religious groups to settle among themselves, without government assistance or interference.

In addition, certain words, phrases, and concepts in the Ten Commandments are open to different interpretations. In Hebrew, we distinguish between "murder," which comes from the verb form "Ratzach," and "kill," which comes from "Harag." According to the Jewish understanding, the sixth Commandment which uses a form of the verb ratzach, means: "You shall not murder."

Judaism does permit taking a life under certain circumstances. Killing in self-defense or in authorized military campaigns is sanctioned within the Jewish tradition. However, as we know, some English versions of the Ten Commandments read, "You shall not kill," rather than "You shall not murder."

I am grateful to the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State for raising my consciousness about the monumental problems of displaying the Ten Commandments in the public arena. The Americans United, which was founded in 1947, is based in Washington, D.C. It is a watchdog group that protects our religious liberties, often through litigation.

In an outstanding editorial in its monthly publication called Church and State, Americans United issued the following admonition, which sums up the problem succinctly:

So, to any government official who is tempted to "Hang Ten" at the Religious Right's urging, we advise a little research into basic American Principles.

And remember, Americans United has litigated several of these cases before and won them all.

In short, there's a big wave up ahead that will probably knock the Religious Right's "Hang Ten" scheme right out of the water. It's called the Constitution.


Rabbi Stahl

How far the Judiciary has come to annoy the Constitution by its lack of 'separation' By (Cary Kittrell) 10 Sep 2003

. . . Everyone keeps repeating the claim that the Ten Commandments form the basis of our Judicial system, but no one -- noooo one -- will reply to the following logical examination of this claim. Here, let me try again and perhaps you'll be brave enough to step forward?

If the Ten Commandments historically underpin our legal system, then we will perforce find them embodied in our laws. That would seem particularly to be true of the First Commandment, which was the only one Jesus singles out as necessary. So, can these essential and absolutely fundamental principles of all American jurisprudence actually be found embedded prominently in American laws?

If they are not, then the claim that they have led to our system of laws is clearly bogus, however reassuring it may feel to repeat it. You do not build a legal system on a certain foundation and then rip out that foundation.

1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Do we outlaw worshipping other gods? If not, why not?

2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."

Is statuary a misdemeanor or perhaps a felony? If not, why not? God clearly seems to think it should be.

3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain"

Can I be fined for a "goddamit!" on hitting my thumb? If not, then why does our legal system, founded on the Ten Commandments, not mandate this?

4. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

There are so-called Blue Laws still on the books, but the Supreme Court has said they may stand only if they are demonstrably there for secular, and not religious, reasons.

Needless to say, this rules out stoning, which God elsewhere in the Bible clearly designates as the necessary penalty for violation of this commandment.

5. "Honor thy father and thy mother."

The Bible makes clear that flouting this is a capital crime.Is it a capital crime in our system? Is it a crime at all? If not, then how does this underpin our legal system?

6. "Thou shalt not kill."

This one we do encapsulate. As does ever other, non-Judeo-Christian culture. It's not specific to the Ten Commandments, it's universal.

7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery"

Are there still laws such as this on the books, or have they all been repealed by now? In any event, our legal system NEVER enforces this, except as grounds for divorce.

8. "Thou shalt not steal."

Check. We have this one. So does every other culture.

9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Is lying a crime in our system of laws? It is, but only in very limited circumstances, involving the police and the courts. Everyday lying is not even a misdemeanor.

10. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

Obviously there are no laws against coveting. If there were, our entire consumer-based capitalilstic system would be in serious jeopardy.

So here you have the ten that historically underlie our system of laws. Or so it is claimed. Why, then, are only two of them fully realized in our actual laws (the universal two), five of them entirely absent -- including the most important one -- and the remaining three weakly represented at best?

-- cary

What's Wrong With the Ten Commandments?

Which Ten Commandments, Part II

Which Ten Commandments? by Cliff Walker and Jyoti Shankar

The Hebrew Ten Commandments Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow

This was forwarded by a reader who inquired in response to our July, 1999, feature, "Which Ten Commandments?" The issue in question is, does the Seventh Commandment say "Thou shalt not kill" or is the word "murder"?

Note, though, a possibility with the Eighth Commandment that we didn't know about. This is the very case we are attempting to make in "Which Ten Commandments?": the religions do not agree as to what the Ten Commandments say or how they are numbered; thus, "the" Ten Commandments have no business being posted -- either authoritatively or inspirationally -- in our public schools or our public buildings. This includes the United States Supreme Court.

From: Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow
Organization: Temple Judea
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 14:12:18 -0400
Subject: Re: 10 Commandments


Catholics and Protestants have two different versions of the Ten Commandments. One agrees with us and the other does not, but I cannot remember which is which. This is in regard to how they are numbered. In any case, lo tirtzach means Do Not Murder, not do not kill.

Remember INVSHMASWC (pronounced INViSHMASWiCk)

1. I am the Lord your God...

2. No other gods, including images...

3. Don't take God's name in vain...

4. Shabbat

5. Honoring parents

6. No adultery

7. No murder

8. Usually rendered Don't Steal, but you can make a very strong case that it is Don't Kidnap

9. No false witness

10. Don't covet.

Hope this helps...

Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow
Temple Judea
Fort Myers, FL 33908

And God saw that the light was good!

Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments: Does posting them violate the separation of church and state?

Menu: the Ten Commandments: Many Topics and Viewpoints

The Ten Commandments (A.k.a. the Decalog): Its text, authors, & groupings

The Ten Commandments (A.k.a. the Decalog): Their current status

The Ten Commandments Issues: Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting the Establishment of Reason. Neal Blanchett, Esq. comments on the Ten Commandments controversy.

The United StatesSupreme Court Building and the Ten Commandments

Our Legal History as Depicted in the Supreme Court Artwork

Supreme Court of the United States

The Court Building

The West Pediment

The East Pediment

Courtroom Friezes: North and South Walls

Courtroom Friezes: East and West Walls

The Bronze Doors

The Oak Doors leading into the courtroom,Entire door

Close up of door

The US Supreme Court Building

Biography of Cass Gilbert (Cass Gilbert - Skyscraper Pioneer born November 29, 1859 - died May 17, 1934)

Neoclassical Architecture: Neoclassical and Federalist and Idealist

History of the US Supreme Court

Additional Comments by Others

From: forlornh@aol.commode (Lord Calvert)

Date: 12 Sep 2003 18:08:10 GMT

Subject: Re: 10 Com, USSC, Founding FACTS

Yes. I'd like him to go to the USSC building and quote for us the text of the commandments which appear in the building and just how meaningful that text is. Here, I'll even quote the text which is used on the US Supreme Court display.


Impressive, isn't it??

From: (Dave)

Subject: Re: 10 Com, USSC, Founding FACTS

Date: 12 Sep 2003 21:51:00 -0700

I think it's nice that the U.S. Supreme Court building contains graven images of Moses, which thus ignores Commandment #2, and also includes graven images of Muhammad (pox be upon him), an image which Islam strictly forbids. It is also nice to see Moses standing in a line of dull personages looking like just one more forlorn joker. Not surprising that the fundies keep cropping the photos to make Moses seem more important. It is rather sad that on the East Pediment (back entrance) of the Supreme Court building the image of Moses is indeed central and slightly larger than the other figures, although he does not seem very much larger, and of course the building was only constructed in the 1930's.

Take a look at what the architect and sculptor say they considered in the design and building of the United States Supreme Court Building. here.

I have to add a comment to the above.

I see they have a made a change in the online version versus the booklet that we received from them in 96 or 97

I don't know which of the two versions, the one from the printed booklet:

In the frieze located directly above the Bench, on the East wall, two male figures in the center represent "Majesty of Law" and "Power of Government." The tablet between them symbolizes early written laws. The allegorical figures on either side symbolize "Wisdom" and "Justice." Grouped on the right side are figures that, according to sculptor Weinman, embody the "Safeguard of the Liberties and Rights of the People in their pursuit of Happiness," while those on the left side depict "The Defense of Human Rights and Protection of Innocence."

or this from the website at

The East wall frieze is located directly above the Bench and focuses on two male figures that represent the Majesty of Law and the Power of Government. According to a letter from Weinman to Gilbert, the tablet between them symbolizes the first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights. The allegorical figures standing on either side of the central figures symbolize Wisdom, on the left, and Justice, on the right. Weinman described the figures grouped to the right side as the Safeguard of the Liberties and Rights of the People in their pursuit of Happiness and those on the left side as The Defense of Human Rights and Protection of Innocence.

actually best represents what the letter from Weinman to Gilbert says.

Addenda (December 3,2006) Here is a copy of the letter from Adolphus A Weinman to Cass Gilbert:

October 31, 1932.

Cass Gilbert Esq.
244 Madison Avenue
New York City.

Dear Mr. Gilbert:

I am sending you herewith two photographs of my sketch models and two plaster casts of the same, for the East and West wall friezes for the Supreme Court Room.

The titles of these friezes, as indicated on beck of photographs are, East wall "Majesty of the Law and the power of Government", showing the figure of Law, resting on the tablet of the ten amendments to the Constitution known as the "Bill of Rights: (bold by mh) and Government with the faces, symbol of executive power. Besides these figures are the Genii of Wisdom and of Statecraft.

The group at left represents the Defense of Human Rights.

The group at right represents the Safeguard of Liberty.


West wall frieze: The central group shows Justice resting upon her sword with the winged figure of Divine Inspiration balancing the scales. Seated at right and left of this group is Truth with mirror and rose and Wisdom with owl.

The group at left represents "The Power of Good" with the Defense of Virtue, Charity, Peace, Harmony and Security.

The group at right represents "The Power of Evil" with the Bondage of Evil, Corruption, Falsehood, Deception and Despotic Power.

I am proceeding with the enlargement of these sketches and will prepare sketches for South and North walls as soon as l have completed my search for necessary data.

Sincerely yours,

The booklet version that we received back in the mid 90s gave a little more support to those who claimed it represented the 10 Commandments since it depicted Roman Numerals I-X and the Bill of Rights was not numbered that way as originally written

Originally the Bill of Rights was Article the First, Article the Second, through Article the twelfth

Now they are called Amendment I through Amendment X. At any rate the online version is more secular leaning than the booklet sent out in the 90s. The booklet version of ancient laws symbolized how ancient laws were originally written. Perhaps not on stone tablets, per se, but scrolls, parchment, etc. Thus, the depiction could symbolize all ancient laws or just the 10 Commandments. Nothing in the Supreme Court building highlights the 10 Commandments for special attention, etc. Some Additional Comments with Regards to the Ten Commandments and the United States Supreme Court Building

The East Pediment is another target that the other side likes to use. In the very center are three figures which are suppose to be Moses Confucius and Solon. Of the three Moses is standing in the center and appears to stand out to the forefront of the other two. Well to the other side this is super important, for they claim it places Moses, who is depicted holding two tablets which they claim is Ten Commandments as being the all important person/figure. etc. BTW Moses is sitting while the other two stand one on either side of him.

What they don't tell you is this: The tablets are totally blank, not even Roman numerals; but since it is Moses, all one call say is "What else would he be carryng?" (Grocery list?) Ok, I can buy that; but neither do they point out that he is holding a tablet in each arm, with the bottom of each tablet resting on the thigh of each leg, and it is for that reason and only for that reason that he appears to be out ahead of the other two figures. In short, the artist did not place Moses in any position that would appear to make him more important than the other two because he felt he was more important. The Composition of the whole work required it to be that way because of the way he depicted the tablets. BTW both Confucious and Solon are also carrying tablets, but they are carrying them in one arm and it is the outside arm in relation to the center of the work.

So we have Moses sitting in the center holding TWO blank tablets one on each side of him, and the other two fellows standing on either side of him each holding ONE tablet but holding it in the arm farthest from the figure is the center.

It is the fact that the two tablets that the center figure is holding and they come out in front of the other two figures that the center figure appears to be sitting in front of the other two figures, and they appear to be behind him.

Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2003 13:14:09 -0700

From: Gregory Gadow

Subject: Re: 10 Com, USSC, Founding FACTS

Gregory Gadow commenting on the south wall frieze in the court room of the USSC building:

Among the other lawgivers are Hammurabi (god-king of Babylon), Confucius (expounder of Confucianism) and Mohammad (founder of Islam.) I demand, therefore, that all government placements of the 10 Commandments include extracts of the Enuma Elish, the Analects, and the Koran.

Lycurgus, founder of the _polis_ of Sparta, is also depicted. Sparta strongly encouraged homosexuality among its warriors and allowed men to live with women and marry only after they retired from the miliary... at the age of 50. Any presentation of the 10 Commandments must also promote homosexuality and same sex marriage.

The frieze also includes Menes, the legendary founder of the Egyptian empire, and Octavian, the first Emperor of Rome. Both were worshipped as gods (as was Hammurabi, but I've already covered him.) All government sponsored monuments proclaiming the 10 Commandments must therefore also proclaim the godhood of the sitting President, and all citizens may be required, at any time, to prove their loyalty by making sacrifice to the President. Failure to do so will be taken as de facto proof of treason and will be dealt with appropriately.

The problem is that Hugo Grotius, the Dutch scholar who wrote one of the first books on international law, is also depicted. Having seen the religious wars that had ravaged the Netherlands and which continued to sweep through Europe, he was a very strong advocate against any and all religious expression of government. Perhaps it would be best to prohibit government display of the 10 Commandments altogether.

That is the entire point, the Ten Commandments (their representations) are totally removed from their religious setting and placed in a accurate and proper setting of the development ofsecular law throughout history.

Great Figures Gaze Upon the Court By Joan Biskupic, Washington Post Staff Writer; Wednesday, March 11, 1998

Cass Gilbert, designer of well-known buildings, deserves higher profile 10/1/2000

Moses and the 10 Commandments are featured prominently in the Supreme Court Building.

Where do Moses and the 10 Commandments appear in the Supreme Court building?

The Supreme Court Building Commission deferred to the artists of the Supreme Court in making decisions.

A critique of Catherine Millard's interpretation of the artistic embellishment of the Supreme Court building.

Judge Moore, the Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments Judge' hit with lawsuit over monument By freedomfor staff, The Associated Press 11.03.01

'Ten Commandments judge' says monument doesn't endorse religion By The Associated Press 01.10.02

SHOW AND TELL TIME: The Fedral Distritct Court Ruling in Moore Ten Commandments Case

[Judge Thompson]

... In each of these displays, the Ten Commandments are situated in a secular context and the secular nature of the display is apparent and dominant.


Courtroom Friezes: North and South Walls

[Judge Thompson]

In a mural on the United States Supreme Court building, the Ten Commandments are displayed as two blank tablets, held by Moses sitting amongst many other historical lawgivers.


[Judge Thompson]

The Commandments displayed on the door to the Supreme Court's courtroom are so small as to be almost unnoticeable, are among many other decorations such as a lion's head and a head of wheat, and are simply two tablets containing the Roman numerals I through X.


Entire door

Close up of door

An Added Attraction

BurtLaw's Court Gazing II, (Scroll down to Section 4, The "Ten Commandments movement" revisited.

The "Ten Commandments Judge" the ACLU helped elect.

U. S. Courts and the Ten Commandments


Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Found the posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional even when costs are absorbed by private individuals


DiLorento v. Downey USD (1999) The Supreme Court let stand, without comment, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that a school district was within its rights to discontinue a program of paid advertising signs on school grounds rather than accept a sign promoting the Ten Commandments.

December 13, 2000: 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Books V. City of Elkhart, Indiana (12/13/00 - No. 00-1114)

Monument inscribed with Ten Commandments displayed on lawn of municipal building violates the Establishment Clause because plaintiffs exercising right or duty to attend government building must view religious object they wish to avoid.

May 29, 2001: High Court Refuses Ten Commandments Case, City of Elkhart v. William A. Books ET AL 00-1407 May 29. 2001

May 29, 2001

Court Refuses Ten Commandments Case


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court said Tuesday it wouldn't hear a case

involving display of the Ten Commandments -- the kind of no-decision decision the justices almost always make without comment. This time was different, opening a window on their own dissension.

Three justices, the court's most conservative, suggested that the majority didn't need to gaze toward the heavens to understand the right stance on the commandments. A wall carving of Moses holding the tablets was right there in the courtroom.

Then Justice John Paul Stevens weighed in, writing in rebuttal that such dissents on decisions to pass a case by "are totally unnecessary " -- and potentially misleading.

Stevens, who voted with the otherwise silent majority this time, had written his own dissent last December when the court agreed to decide the disputed presidential case.

The court on Tuesday decided not to rule on the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments display in front of the Elkhart, Ind., Municipal Building.

The justices almost never release the vote when they agree or refuse to take a case. The action comes in an order of just a few words. The affirmative votes of at least four justices are needed to get a case heard.

The court's action this time let stand a lower court ruling that the marker violated the constitutional boundaries between church and state. A federal judge now will decide what to do with the granite monument, which has been in Elkhart since 1958.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, in a dissent joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, argued the case should have been accepted.

He wrote that Elkhart's display had a secular as well as a religious purpose. By displaying the monument outside the building housing local courts and prosecutors, the city sought to reflect the cultural, historical and legal significance of the commandments, Rehnquist wrote.

Then he added:

"Indeed, a carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, surrounded by representations of other historical legal figures, adorns the frieze on the south wall of our courtroom."

The carving "signals respect not for great proselytizers but for great lawgivers," Rehnquist wrote.

Stevens cried foul, writing that the silent majority in denials of petitions don't state members' reasoning. Furthermore, an unanswered dissent may leave out important material, he complained -- contending that's what happened in this case.

"Even though the first two lines of the monument's text appear in significantly larger font than the remainder, they are ignored by the dissenters," Stevens wrote. "Those lines read: "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS-- I AM the LORD thy God."

"The graphic emphasis placed on those first lines is rather hard to square with the proposition that the monument expresses no particular religious preference," he wrote.

From: "Ayn Rand"

Newsgroups: alt.atheism,milw.general

Subject: Re: SCOTUS refuses to hear 10K appeal

Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 15:55:21 -0700

If you read the *entire* article, you'll notice that Steven's had much more too say, to wit:

"Even though the first two lines of the monument's text appear in significantly larger font than the remainder, they are ignored by the dissenters,'' Stevens wrote. ``Those lines read: "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS- I AM the LORD thy God."

"The graphic emphasis placed on those first lines is rather hard to square with the proposition that the monument expresses no particular religious preference," he wrote.

From: (Arturo Magidin)

Newsgroups: alt.atheism,milw.general

Subject: Re: SCOTUS refuses to hear 10K appeal

Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 23:56:07 +0000 (UTC)

In article <3b142876$>,

Ayn Rand wrote:

>If you read the *entire* article, you'll notice that Steven's had much more too say, to wit:


Let me echo the sentiment, and suggest that people go over to the Supreme Court Web Site and read Stevens entire piece. He pretty much trashes Rehnquist for misrepresenting the issue, and for taking a forum in which he expects to speak without anybody to contradict him, when the issue is entirely moot, since failure to grant certiorari by the Supreme Court does not establish any precedents.

Go to

Click on Opinions Then click on "2000 Term Opinions relating to orders" Then click on docket 00-1407 (either link) to get the full text, both Stevens' and Rehnquist's opinions on the denial of certiorari. The document is a PDF, so you need acrobat to read it.

(You can access the menu directly at

Here are some quotes:

"Statement of JUSTICE STEVENS respecting the denial of the petition for writ of certiorari.

"As I pointed out some years ago, one reason that dissents from denial of certiorari should be disfavored is that they are seldom answered, and therefore may include a less than complete statement of the facts bearing on the question whether the case merits review[1]. The dissent in this case illustrates my point because it omits one extremely significant fact and discounts another.

"Even though the first two lines of the monument's text appear in significantly larger font than the remainder they are ignored by the dissenters. Those lines read: "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS -- I AM the LORD thy God." The graphic emphasis placed on those first lines is rather hard to square with the proposition that the monument expresses no particular religious preference - particularly when considered in conjunction with those facts that the dissent does acknowledge - namely that the monument also depicts two Starts of David and a symbol composed of the Greek letters Chi and Rho supreimposed on each other that represent Christ.

"Moreover, the dissent also gives short shrift to relevant details about the monument's origins. At the dedication ceremony, three of the principal speakers were a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, and a Jewish rabbi.[2] 235 F. 3d 292, 303 (CA7 2000=. All three spoke not of the 'cross cultural ... significance) of the Ten Commandents, post, at 2 (opinion of REHNQUIST, C.J.), but of the need for every citizen to adopt their precepts so as to obtain 'redemption from today's strife and fear,' 235 F. 3d at 295. To dismiss that history in favor of a resolution issued by the Elkhart Common Council on the eve of litigation is puzzling indeed.

"The reasons why this case is not one that merits certiorari are explained in detail in Judge Ripple's thoughtful opinion for the Court of Appeals."


"1. 'One characteristic of all opinions dissenting from the denial of certiorari is manifest. They are totally unnecessary. They are examples of the purest form of dicta, since they have even less legal significance than the orders of the entire Court which, as Mr. Justice Frankfurter reiterated again and again, have no precedential significance at all

'Another attribute of these opinions is that they are potentially misleading. Since the Court provides no explanation of the reason for denying certiorari, the dissenter's arguments in favor of a grant are not answered and therefore typically appear to be more persuasive than most other opinions. Moreover, since they often omit any reference to valid reasons for denying certiorari, they tend to imply that the Court has been unfaithful to its responsibilities or has implicitly reached a decision on the merits when, in fact, there is no basis for such an inference.' Singleton v. Commissioner, 439 U.S. 940, 944-945 (1978) (STEVENS, J. opinion respecting denial of certiorari)

"2. In planning the monument, representatives of Judaism, Protestantism, and Catholicism developed a nonsectarian version of the Ten Commandments. Making a religious text nonsectarian, however, does not make it secular or strip it of its religious significance. "

You should also read Rehnquist's opinion, which commits all the sins attributed to him by Stevens above. In essence, his argument is that if the monument has stood there for 40 years, why should there be a problem with it now?

I will also be going to Findlaw tomorrow to read Judge Ripple's opinion for the Court of Appeals. If anything is worth quoting, I shall post a link and quotes.

Arturo Magidin

February 25, 2002: U. S. Supreme Court

O'Bannon v. Indiana Civil Liberties Union et al. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday Indiana's appeal that it should be allowed to erect a limestone monument with the Ten Commandments on the statehouse lawn in Indianapolis.

March 7, 2002: Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia -- A U. S. District judge ruled Wednesday that the Ten Commandments plaque posted outside the Chester County Courthouse is unconstitutional and must be removed.

July 19, 2002: U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Summum V. City of Ogden (07/19/02 - No. 01-4022)

Under the free speech clause of the First Amendment, a city cannot display a Ten Commandments monument on its property, while declining to display a "Seven Principles" monument proferred by the Summum religion.

To read the full text of this opinion, go to:

August 23, 2002

A US District Court in Lexington, Kentucky, has ruled against the American Civil Liberties Union in their suit to have the Ten Commandments removed from their display in the Mercer County Courthouse. The Commandments were displayed along with other historical and legal texts.

US District Judge Karl Forrester denied the legal group's motion for a preliminary injunction, noting that the historical influence of the commandments was beyond "rational dispute," even though "plaintiffs might wish it were so." He concluded that "plaintiffs' wishes cannot change history."

The facts recited in this case come from, posted on the Internet on August 23, 2002.

October 11, 2002: U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Adland V. Russ (10/09/02 - No. 00-6139)

A provision of a Kentucky Senate Resolution, directing that a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments be made part of a historical and cultural display on Capitol grounds, under the facts is an impermissible endorsement of religion under the Establishment Clause.

To read the full text of this opinion, go to: Opinion

November 18, 2002: In The District Court of The United States For The Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division

Glassroth v. Moore, (11-18-02) CIVIL ACTION NO. 01-T-1268-N.

A Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of Alabama's judicial building violates the constitution's ban on government promotion of religion, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who had had the 5,300-pound granite monument installed in the state building, 30 days to remove it.

To read the full text of this opinion, go to:[PDF File]

November 19, 2002: U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Baker v. Adams County/Ohio Valley School Board, (11-19-02) No. 02-3777

Granite monuments displaying the Ten Commandments must be removed from the grounds of four public high schools in southern Ohio, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a federal court's June decision.

Mon Apr 28 By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) on Monday rejected an appeal by Kentucky of a ruling that barred the display of a large granite monument with the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol grounds in Frankfort.

Without comment, the justices let stand a federal appeals court ruling that the display would violate church-state separation under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

April 28, 2003: United States Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal on Ten Commandments

June 26, 2003: U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

Freethought Soc'y V. Chester County (06/26/03 - No. 02-1765)

A permanent injunction ordering the removal of a Ten Commandments plaque affixed to a courthouse in 1920 is reversed where the plaque is not "real threat," but is instead "mere shadow."

July 1, 2003: U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

Glassroth V. Moore (07/01/03 - No. 02-16708, 02-16949)

A Ten Commandments monument installed in the Alabama State Judicial Building by the Chief Judge of the Alabama Supreme Court violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and the monument must be removed.

July 15, 2003

Wis. City Must Remove Religious Monument

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal judge ruled that the city of La Crosse must remove a Ten Commandments monument from a public park, saying it tried to "disguise its intent" to advance religion by selling the parcel of land to a private group.

The display still violates the separation of church and state, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in an opinion handed down Monday.

The constitutionality of the monument, installed by the Eagles Club in 1965, was challenged by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

After the foundation filed its lawsuit in July 2002, the city erected a fence around the monument and sold the parcel to the Eagles Club. A municipal resolution stated the intention to keep the monument "in its present location by any and all means available."

In 2000, the city of Marshfield was ordered by another federal judge to sell the land beneath a statue of Jesus in a public park. The constitutionality of that display also had been challenged by the religion foundation.

Crabb, however, found that the sale was simply an attempt by the city to "disguise its intent" to advance religion.

August 20, 2003

U. S. Supreme Court Denies Request to Block Removal of Alabama Commandments Display

The U.S. Supreme Court today turned away another last-ditch effort by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to thwart a federal court order that he remove his granite Ten Commandmentsmonument from the state Judicial Building.

This morning Moore filed a request with the Supreme Court to block U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's order that the granite Ten Commandments be removed from the rotunda of the judicial building by Aug. 20. Thompson's order indicated that if Moore refused to comply, he could be found in contempt of court and substantial fines could be levied against the state.

In a one-sentence statement issued late today, the high court denied Moore's request to nullify Thompson's order for removal of the monument.

November 3, 2003

United States Supreme Court refusals to accept 10 Commandment cases

Justices Reject Judge's Ten Commandments Appeal By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) rejected on Monday appeals by Alabama's embattled top judge, Roy Moore, who has waged an unsuccessful legal battle to display the Ten Commandments at the state judicial building.

Without comment, the high court refused to hear two appeals by Moore, who was suspended after refusing to comply with a federal judge's order in August to remove the granite monument inscribed with the commandments because it violated constitutional church-state separation.

The high court in recent years has let stand other U.S. appeals court rulings that have barred the display of large granite monuments engraved with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of state capitals.

November 12, 2003: U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Van Orden V. Perry (11/12/03 - No. 02-51184)

Judgment to defendant affirmed where the Texas Legislature had a valid secular purpose for authorizing the installation of the Ten Commandments monument and the display has neither the purpose nor the effect of endorsing or disapproving of religion.

December 18, 2003: U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Am. Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky V. Mccreary County (12/18/03 - No. 01-5935)

District court did not err in granting a preliminary injunction against two county courthouses and one public school displaying framed copies of the Ten Commandments. The displays likely violate the Establishment Clause because their content, context, and evolution show defendants' predominant purpose to be religious, and their effect is an impermissible endorsement of religion.

Federal appeals court upholds Kentucky order to remove Ten Commandments

January 8, 2004: U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

Christian Coalition of Alabama V. Cole (01/08/04 - No. 03-11305)

Defendants cannot reasonably be expected to issue another advisory opinion enforcing certain Canons of Judicial Ethics that the US Supreme Court recently found to violate the First Amendment. The case is therefore moot.

Legal Developments: Year 2002

Legal Developments: Year 2001

Legal Developments: 1999 & 2000

Additional Information

The roots of American law come from a variety of sources:

The Roots of American Democracy [This one contains a good many additional URLs as well.]

Roots of American Law

How often did the founders quote the Bible?

Did Madison ever say that religion is the foundation of government?

Madison's Arguments Against Special Religious Sanction of American Government

Did Montesquieu base his theory of separation of powers on the Bible?

The Ten Commandments Amendment June 1999

The Actual House Debate on the Ten Commandments In case you weren't up late that night.

The Text of Amendment No.28:

The Actual House Debate on the Ten Commandments In case you weren't up late that night.

Changing The Constitution: A Commentary by Wren Walker

The Ten Commandments and the U. S. Constitution

Against Displaying Ten Commandments in Government Center

Some links of importance

Sects, Lies and Videotape: David Barton's Distorted History

Consumer Alert! Wallbuilders Shoddy Workmanship

The Constitution and Christian thought

Religion and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1999

First Amendment -- Establishment of Religion