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The Ten Commandments Are Not a Foundation of Western Law, and We’re Better Off Because of It

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds was unconstitutional:

Attorney General Scott Pruitt immediately denounced the decision:

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds was unconstitutional:

Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma (via James Nimmo)

Attorney General Scott Pruitt immediately denounced the decision:

Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong. The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law. Furthermore, the court’s incorrect interpretation of Article 2, Section 5 contradicts previous rulings of the court. In response, my office will file a petition with the court for a rehearing in light of the broader implications of this ruling on other areas of state law. In the interim, enforcement of the court’s order cannot occur. Finally, if Article 2, Section 5, is going to be construed in such a manner by the court, it will be necessary to repeal it.

Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Andrew Seidel has now written an open letter to Pruitt explaining why the Attorney General is so horribly, embarrassingly wrong:

That assertion is indefensible. There is not a single legal principle that is either unique or original to the Ten Commandments that significantly influenced American law.

First, let’s identify which set of Ten Commandments that were allegedly part of our foundation. Is it the set in Exodus 20 or Exodus 34? Or perhaps it’s the sets in Deuteronomy 5 or Deuteronomy 27? For the sake of argument, I’ll assume it’s the set on the Oklahoma capitol lawn.

This is a big assumption because, as anyone who’s familiar with the bible will realize, the wording on the capitol monument is heavily edited. The monument’s precepts appear to come from Exodus 20, but apparently the original version was too barbaric (or perhaps the monument authors simply know better than god.) Either way, the monument strays heavily from the original.

For instance, the monument leaves out some integral language from the second commandment — the prohibition on graven images. The original includes, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation…” Please tell me, Mr. Pruitt, is punishing innocent children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for the crimes of their parents what you meant by “foundation of Western law?”

It just gets better from there. Read the whole letter right here.

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