Louisiana Lawmakers Poised to Approve Ten Commandments Monument on Capitol Grounds

We already know Louisiana legislators want to substitute Christianity in place of science education, but that’s not the only way they’re making it abundantly clear that non-Christians should just pack their bags and get out of there.

Now, a Ten Commandments monument is set to go up on Capitol grounds:

Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, approved after more than 40 minutes of debate by the Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs, would direct the governor’s Division of Administration to find a location for the monument, to be paid for with private funds.

Without objection, a House committee on Tuesday gave its support to a bill that would authorize state officials to find a spot on state Capitol grounds for a monument to the Ten Commandments.

The unanimous vote by the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs for House Bill 277 by Rep. Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport, sends the measure to the full House for debate.

The monument would normally be illegal, but Christians have gotten around that problem by saying the Ten Commandments is the basis for our country’s laws.

“It is an historical display to inform and enlighten the public on the role of law” in public policy, Williams said, “The context is everything. . . . The monument will show how the commandments have played a part in our national history and in our state.”

Williams said he is not trying to establish a religion in the state but show the commandments as a source of all laws.

Right… tell me again how these are laws?

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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

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

4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.

5. Honour thy father and mother.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

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

10. Thou shalt not covet

I know George Carlin already made mincemeat of these “rules,” but the only commandments that are the basis for laws in our country are the ones involving stealing and killing. So let’s not pretend like the rest of them are legally relevant.

(Hell, we already know how seriously Louisiana Senator David Vitter takes the adultery one…)

When the Louisiana House is set to debate this issue, I hope there’s a crowd of people, religious and non-religious, ready to start a ruckus. It didn’t happen on Tuesday:

No one testified for the measure besides Williams; no opponents showed up to testify against it.

Reader Randall explains why this monument may be illegal even if it gets approved:

Rep. Williams tried to write his Ten Commandments bill in a way that satisfies the requirements of Van Orden v. Perry, which allowed a Ten Commandments monument to remain on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. He did this by making the language on the proposed Louisiana monument the same as the language on the Texas monument.

However, I don’t think that will work. In the Texas case the deciding factors were not intrinsic to the monument. They were the circumstances surrounding the monument. The large number of other monuments near the Ten Commandments monolith and the 40 years that had passed before the monument had been challenged were both cited prominently in the Court’s opinion. For example: “The determinative factor here, however, is that 40 years passed in which the monument’s presence, legally speaking, went unchallenged (until the single legal objection raised by petitioner). Those 40 years suggest more strongly than can any set of formulaic tests that few individuals, whatever their belief systems, are likely to have understood the monument as amounting, in any significantly detrimental way, to a government effort to establish religion.”

The Louisiana monument will, obviously, not have the defense of age. If the bill passes, its constitutionality will surely be challenged right away. (I’m a Louisiana resident who visits the capitol building often and I’m willing to be the plaintiff, if it comes to that.)

Why are these lawmakers still being coy about the fact that foisting Christianity onto everybody is their new priority? At least it would make it a bit easier when our side files the impending lawsuit…

  • Brice Gilbert

    I still find the courts decision to allow these monuments if they have been on the site for a specific time frame absurd. Just because it’s been there for a while it’s okay to break the law? Just because someone didn’t complain in that time frame makes any complaints afterward irrelevant? New people don’t move into cities? Children aren’t born?

  • Rich Wilson

    @Brice Gilbert
    I think I’m ok with the age at least being a factor. Maybe it’s apples and oranges, but I’m still outraged over the Buddhas of Bamiyan
    or maybe it’s more like censoring offensive words from the works of Mark Twain. I think we should have the ability to put things into historical context.

    This of course has nothing to do with a new monument.

  • Douglas Kirk

    I still have yet to hear any of the “Our country is based on christian values” contingent explain how the first 3 commandments do not directly contradict the first ammendment in any possible way…..

  • Shannon Cunningham

    It’s disheartening that no one appeared to testify against the measure. It’s shocking to think that monuments like these are being built: I’m from the Midwest, and I can’t think of a time when the separation of church and state wasn’t upheld.

    Thank you for posting a link to the George Carlin video.

  • JD

    Rich Wilson, I don’t understand how Mark Twain’s works figure in here. He wasn’t writing on the government dime that I’m aware of. If curricula require Mark Twain, then they should have it rather than an altered form of it. If there are objections, change the standard to swap in a new work, don’t “fix” the work to your understanding.

    It’s a pretty sleezy workaround to say the country was founded based on the 10 commandments. It’s not really true. Precious little, if anything, in the bible lends better understanding of how the constitution was laid out. It was written drawing from the lessons learned up to that time, largely from ancient Greece, Roman republic, Roman Empire, British Empire, among others. There’s nothing in the constitution that reminds me of the 10 commandments or vice versa.

  • Stephen P

    Hemant, you’re slipping. The Ten Commandments are:

    Observe thou that which I command thee this day:

    1. behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

    2. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, 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 do sacrifice unto their gods, and one 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.

    3. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

    4. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

    5. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

    6. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

    7. And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end. Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

    8. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

    9. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.

    10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

  • Sheridan

    This has nothing to do with the 10 commandments per se. It is all about marking their territory. Just as a dog marks his territory, Christians are marking their territory. In other words, they are saying “Christian spoken here.” They are telling everyone that this is their territory and outsiders are not welcome.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    At least in Louisiana the black man and the white man can gang up the evil atheists.

  • Marguerite

    “The monument would normally be illegal, but Christians have gotten around that problem by saying the Ten Commandments is the basis for our country’s laws.”

    This is one of the most absurd arguments ever. As mentioned above, the first three commandments are about as un-Constitutional as you can get. They have nothing to do with present American law.

  • Rich Wilson

    @JD Mark Twain was a poor example.

    I’m just saying that the historical value argument can have merit. Not in that the 10 commandments are any part of our legal system, because that’s hogwash. But a particular monument shouldn’t be tossed just because it has religious aspects (or is even completely religious) and is on government property, without at least considering the historical value.

    As for this new one, maybe if they showed ‘the 10′ in historical context, by highlighting which of them are NOT laws. And listing a few things that the OT condones which are specifically AGAINST the law today *cough*slavery*cough*

    You know, sort of a “look how far we’ve come from the bronze age idea of morals”

  • littlejohn

    I realize I’m nitpicking, but it’s not just stealing and killing. Adultery is illegal for members of the U.S. military. And perjury (“bearing false witness”) is illegal in court and it is illegal to lie to the cops in most states. As for keeping the Sabbath, here in Indiana I can’t buy a bottle of beer on Sunday (But, oddly, I can go to a bar, drink two dozen beers, then drive home impaired). The law exempts bars and restaurants, which has the effect of filling the roads with drunken drivers every Sunday evening. No danger of coveting my neighbor’s wife. She’s a troll. Really. She lives under a bridge.

  • Richard P.

    I think this shows the desperate attempts of something trying to be relevant. In ten to twenty years, those of us still alive, will see this for what it really is a cry of the dying.

  • Flixis

    The main issue that everone skips, is… which 10 commandments? By choosing one, the government puts it’s official stamp on that particular religion:
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/crt/whichcom.htm
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_10c4.htm

  • ephymeris

    Oh northeast Louisiana (my home turf), I’m so glad that your constitution-defying attempts to institute a government supported religion (evangelical christianity) are finally getting media attention. Those of us who love freedom are on to you and won’t turn a blind eye!

  • Steve

    @littlejohn
    You can find laws to that effect in the oldest legal codes known to mankind. They are hardly unique to the Ten Commandments, Christianity or the Bible.

  • Tom

    I don’t think age should be a factor in the way I understand it to be (haven’t read the ruling) in the Texas case. If you’re upset because the monument is old, move it to a church. It doesn’t belong on public property (especially a courthouse).

    The example of the Buddhas of Bamiyan that was mentioned earlier in the comments doesn’t seem to apply to this type of thing. Those statues were treasures of history and “one of a kind” they also weren’t implying that “these laws are the laws we follow”. A 40-year-old “Ten Commandments” monument isn’t a treasure of history or one of a kind. It also implies that we follow the laws it depicts.

  • http://skepticat.blogspot.com Skepticat

    “Those 40 years suggest more strongly than can any set of formulaic tests that few individuals, whatever their belief systems, are likely to have understood the monument as amounting, in any significantly detrimental way, to a government effort to establish religion.”

    Or it could simply mean that the monument was generally understood to mean that outsiders (non-Christians) were not permitted a voice in the community government and should keep their mouths shut OR ELSE. That would also satisfactorily explain why no one had come forth to complain until that time.

  • Stephen P

    @Sheridan: yes, that’s it precisely.

    @Richard P: well, we can hope. But I fear that it isn’t a foregone conclusion just yet.

  • http://www.happyatheists.com Slickninja

    Seriously, the ten commandants DIFFER in different chapters of the bible. IF THEY READ THE DAMN THING….

  • Benjamin

    I can kind of see how Americans can downplay the influences the British law system and the British laws had on American laws although it still is obvious today if you compare the two. I can see them ignoring the Magna Carta Libertatum and the British bill of rights although they obviously influence the American constitution. What I can’t understand considering how proud they are about their declaration of Independence, their Constitution and their bill of rights(and rightfully so) is how they can let these Documents take a backseat in favor of an Foreign document that doesn’t even agree with Democracy or Capitalism.

  • xpastor

    As a Canadian I’m astonished to learn that the 10 commandments are the basis of your legal system.

    That would mean that you stone people to death for sabbath-breaking, adultery and rebellion against parents—the prescribed penalties in the OT.

    But this has never made the news on CNN, let alone on the CBC.


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