Ten Commandments broken in many ways

Less than 24 hours after a granite monument of the Ten Commandments was placed on the Arkansas Capitol grounds, a man plowed his car into it, destroying the marker. Here are my thoughts from a newspaper column from 2003 when another Ten Commandments monument again made news:

From News Sun

Last week a 5,280-pound granite marker of The Ten Commandments was removed from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building—but not before protestors, well, protested.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who installed the monument two years ago, said he was “profoundly disappointed” with the action. “It is a sad day in our country when the moral foundation of our law and the acknowledgement of God have to be hidden from public view to appease a federal judge,” Moore said.

Moore had refused to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove the monument, so eight associate justices voted to have Moore suspended.

While I have no doubt in the sincerity and good intentions of Moore and the protestors, I’m not sure two tons of granite will make a dent on the morality of the United States. Having those who believe in God actually obey God’s top ten would probably make a much greater impact. Here are the rules and the results from various Barna Research, Ltd. studies:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Desiring to have a close, personal relationship with God ranks sixth among the 21 life goals tested among “born-again? believers, trailing such desires as “living a comfortable lifestyle.”

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image

As the Ten Commandment monument was being removed, one of the protestors yelled, “Get your hands off our God, God haters!” A block of rock is our God?!

I hope it was just something blurted out without thinking, but it did make a damning sound byte!

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

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy

Less than half of those who consider themselves Catholic and Protestant attend church in a typical week (49 percent and 47 percent respectively).

A 1997 American Bible Society study reported that only 16 percent of regular churchgoers read something from the Bible every day. Another 10 percent claimed to read several times a week. But three-fourths rarely read the Good Book. Yep, 42 percent read less frequently but at least once a year while the remaining 32 percent hadn’t read it outside of church services during the last year.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother

6. Thou shalt not kill

While over 90 percent of conservative Christians oppose abortion, an Ellison Research documented that 88 percent of pastors from churches belonging to the National Association of Evangelicals support the death penalty.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery

Recent statistics have revealed that 50 percent of partners in marriage have committed adultery. Thirty-seven percent of pastors have done the same.

On a somewhat related topic, born again church members are more likely to get divorced than non-church members! Some 25 percent of all adults have been divorced, but 29 percent of Baptists and 34 percent of non-denominational church members have divorced. Mainline churches had a similar rate to the general public. Only Catholics and Lutherans were below the national average with 21 percent each.

8. Thou shalt not steal

Don’t get me started on fraudulent TV evangelists bilking their followers out of millions of dollars?!

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour

Nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of the “born again” population believe that lying is sometimes necessary

10. Thou shalt not covet

Protestants are 50 percent more likely than Catholics to say they are “in debt? (40 percent to 26 percent, respectively) The total number of adults in the general population who say they are in debt is 37 percent. Not a lot of difference between believers and unbelievers.

Nearly one out of five (19 percent) Christians and non-Christians (20 percent) believe “you can usually tell how successful a person is by examining what they own.”

Most surprising, in 2002 Barna reported that only 6 percent of born again adults gave their church a “tithe? or 10 percent of their income.

It appears that many who subscribe to the Ten Commandments have let their subscription expire! Better than a granite monument would be those who profess to follow God to actually follow God’s “Top Ten.”

© Copyright 2003 James N. Watkins

Photo: TheHill.com

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