The Seven Aphorisms of Summum

Pleasant Grove City, Utah, has a monument of the Ten Commandments in a local park. Therefore, a religion named Summum, whose Moses is named Corky Ra, is suing for the right to display ITS sacred list. Here are The Seven Aphorisms of Summum:

1. SUMMUM is MIND, thought; the universe is a mental creation.

2. As above, so below; as below, so above.

3. Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.

4. Everything is dual; everything has an opposing point; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes bond; all truths are but partial truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

5. Everything flows out and in; everything has its season; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing expresses itself in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.

6. Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is just a name for Law not recognized; there are many fields of causation, but nothing escapes the Law of Destiny.

7. Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; Gender manifests on all levels.

I invite comments are two subjects: (1) How about this as a culturally-relevant religion? (2) On what basis can the Summums be denied having their Seven Aphorisms posted next to the Ten Commandments?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • EconJeff

    (1) I don’t know.
    (2) Probably on the basis of having no historical relevance to the nation or the state of Utah or western civilization in general. That is along the lines of the arguments used to allow the 10 commandments in public places.

  • EconJeff

    (1) I don’t know.
    (2) Probably on the basis of having no historical relevance to the nation or the state of Utah or western civilization in general. That is along the lines of the arguments used to allow the 10 commandments in public places.

  • http://StevenAdkins.blogspot.com Steven

    1. The snatching of principles from an eastern religion and using them to create a new religion is very relevant for our culture. We have done that with most religions. We love religion in the United States. We typically dislike truth, but love religion.

    2. Call me a heretic, but let them post thier statements. I can’t think of a reason not to…we are not a mormon country, or Christian country.

    This doesn’t mean I will like it, but I don’t like the 10 Commandments posted everywhere either. Why? Because when I see 10 commandments, I feel condemned. I see how I have failed to keep them. I also see how some have prided themselves on keeping them, really fooling themselves.

    Thats my two cents, but what do I know?

  • http://StevenAdkins.blogspot.com Steven

    1. The snatching of principles from an eastern religion and using them to create a new religion is very relevant for our culture. We have done that with most religions. We love religion in the United States. We typically dislike truth, but love religion.

    2. Call me a heretic, but let them post thier statements. I can’t think of a reason not to…we are not a mormon country, or Christian country.

    This doesn’t mean I will like it, but I don’t like the 10 Commandments posted everywhere either. Why? Because when I see 10 commandments, I feel condemned. I see how I have failed to keep them. I also see how some have prided themselves on keeping them, really fooling themselves.

    Thats my two cents, but what do I know?

  • Bror Erickson

    It is just a new age sect from all I could tell, but the Washington Post wouldn’t let me read too much of their article. in any case these new age sects are popping up all over and becoming increasingly popular. I think this might be especially true for Utah, where the Mormons have effectively convinced everyone that they are Christian, and Christianity has to do not only with the ten commandments but what ever other list of rules you want to make up. The children chafe, and often turn to this sort of thing after a trip to Zion National Park. Nature worship is huge out west especially around the Parks.
    In any case I tend to agree with Steve, let them have it. Just another blow to the Mormon hegemony we live under in Utah.
    I also don’t like the Ten Commandments being posted everywhere. I think if we really wanted to influence people we would fight for something like the Apostles Creed. But Christian fundementalists think the Law is all their is to Christianity. I also don’t like it because they always number the commandments wrongly.

  • Bror Erickson

    It is just a new age sect from all I could tell, but the Washington Post wouldn’t let me read too much of their article. in any case these new age sects are popping up all over and becoming increasingly popular. I think this might be especially true for Utah, where the Mormons have effectively convinced everyone that they are Christian, and Christianity has to do not only with the ten commandments but what ever other list of rules you want to make up. The children chafe, and often turn to this sort of thing after a trip to Zion National Park. Nature worship is huge out west especially around the Parks.
    In any case I tend to agree with Steve, let them have it. Just another blow to the Mormon hegemony we live under in Utah.
    I also don’t like the Ten Commandments being posted everywhere. I think if we really wanted to influence people we would fight for something like the Apostles Creed. But Christian fundementalists think the Law is all their is to Christianity. I also don’t like it because they always number the commandments wrongly.

  • FullTime

    I say let them post their 7 mumble jumbles. If anything can show the value of the Ten Commandments over today’s offerings of eccentric ramblings it is seeing them face to face next to each other. I would then love to see someone stop people walking by and have them read both and offer their opinions on which ones make sense, which trouble them, and which would actually help anyone live their life in a meaningful way.

  • FullTime

    I say let them post their 7 mumble jumbles. If anything can show the value of the Ten Commandments over today’s offerings of eccentric ramblings it is seeing them face to face next to each other. I would then love to see someone stop people walking by and have them read both and offer their opinions on which ones make sense, which trouble them, and which would actually help anyone live their life in a meaningful way.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    The ‘gender is in everything’ part seems like a concept (as muddled and incomplete a concept as it’s here proclaimed) more and more embraced by our culture, in the hopes, I think, of rendering us genderless.
    It’s one of those Star Trek-type ideas, wherein humanity will only be saved by the elimination the very things that make it human. (We had to kill it in order to save it.)
    I don’t understand, though, how Summum calls itself a religion, and not simply a philosophy. It has supernatural elements and some ritual, but doesn’t appear to have any deity.
    So, maybe on that basis it could legally be excluded from the public square. Just as a town shouldn’t be required to give equal time to Marxist or Nazi slogans or symbols.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    The ‘gender is in everything’ part seems like a concept (as muddled and incomplete a concept as it’s here proclaimed) more and more embraced by our culture, in the hopes, I think, of rendering us genderless.
    It’s one of those Star Trek-type ideas, wherein humanity will only be saved by the elimination the very things that make it human. (We had to kill it in order to save it.)
    I don’t understand, though, how Summum calls itself a religion, and not simply a philosophy. It has supernatural elements and some ritual, but doesn’t appear to have any deity.
    So, maybe on that basis it could legally be excluded from the public square. Just as a town shouldn’t be required to give equal time to Marxist or Nazi slogans or symbols.

  • Greg

    The ideas on gender are standard gnosticism. This is why Simon the Magus had Helen as his counterweight. The as above so below are standard hermetic nonsense. This is not new and culturally relevant it is old, old heresy.

  • Greg

    The ideas on gender are standard gnosticism. This is why Simon the Magus had Helen as his counterweight. The as above so below are standard hermetic nonsense. This is not new and culturally relevant it is old, old heresy.

  • Jesse

    Controversies surrounding the Ten Commandments in public tend to muddy their significance. In the civil realm, they are valued as an apt summary of the natural law upon which our society is based (the Law as curb), but some who oppose their public display assume that they promote some particular religion. They are confused, because they do not realize that the Ten Commandments do not teach Christianity, nor even Judaism for that matter.

    According to the Law’s effect as a mirror, it serves an important spiritual role for Christians, but of course it doesn’t define Christianity. Yet anyone who equates a guilty conscience with Christianity, or with religion in general, will think that it does.

    My gut tells me that it would be good in the end to erect as many different “religious” monuments as citizens would like, without preference, even one to the unknown god. Then the Gospel ought to have a place, too. The pitfall would be the relativism seen in Athens, but we may be there already. However, if we’re talking about ideals here, it is rather important to educate “the masses” better about the true civil significance of the Ten Commandments.

  • Jesse

    Controversies surrounding the Ten Commandments in public tend to muddy their significance. In the civil realm, they are valued as an apt summary of the natural law upon which our society is based (the Law as curb), but some who oppose their public display assume that they promote some particular religion. They are confused, because they do not realize that the Ten Commandments do not teach Christianity, nor even Judaism for that matter.

    According to the Law’s effect as a mirror, it serves an important spiritual role for Christians, but of course it doesn’t define Christianity. Yet anyone who equates a guilty conscience with Christianity, or with religion in general, will think that it does.

    My gut tells me that it would be good in the end to erect as many different “religious” monuments as citizens would like, without preference, even one to the unknown god. Then the Gospel ought to have a place, too. The pitfall would be the relativism seen in Athens, but we may be there already. However, if we’re talking about ideals here, it is rather important to educate “the masses” better about the true civil significance of the Ten Commandments.

  • utahrainbow

    I do NOT think that they should just let them have their monument. Not because it is a strange, heretical “religion”, but as a matter of local jurisdiction (yes, even in Utah). The city should have the power to say yes to this monument and no to that monument, just on the basis of that city’s preferences. (Besides, when will it stop? Too many monuments and the kids won’t have any more grass to play on!) The Constitution did not preclude the states from having a preferred religion, and this is an example of usurption of authority from its proper constitutional place. And I suppose I would expect that if I wanted them to erect the Apostles’ Creed, they might just say no, being predominantly Mormon.

    As Christians, our concern is with free exercise, and this monument business does not threaten that. And if, in Utah, they did start to inhibit free exercise, you can choose to a) be civilly disobedient or b) vote with your feet, so to speak, and move.

  • utahrainbow

    I do NOT think that they should just let them have their monument. Not because it is a strange, heretical “religion”, but as a matter of local jurisdiction (yes, even in Utah). The city should have the power to say yes to this monument and no to that monument, just on the basis of that city’s preferences. (Besides, when will it stop? Too many monuments and the kids won’t have any more grass to play on!) The Constitution did not preclude the states from having a preferred religion, and this is an example of usurption of authority from its proper constitutional place. And I suppose I would expect that if I wanted them to erect the Apostles’ Creed, they might just say no, being predominantly Mormon.

    As Christians, our concern is with free exercise, and this monument business does not threaten that. And if, in Utah, they did start to inhibit free exercise, you can choose to a) be civilly disobedient or b) vote with your feet, so to speak, and move.

  • Don S

    Utahrainbow, I agree with you. The democratically elected government should have the power to decide what monuments to put up in a public park, as long as it does not do so unconstitutionally. The only relevant constitutional prohibition in this case is that the government shall not establish religion (1st Amendment). Putting up a monument of commandments which are not even specific to one particular faith is hardly the establishment of religion.

  • Don S

    Utahrainbow, I agree with you. The democratically elected government should have the power to decide what monuments to put up in a public park, as long as it does not do so unconstitutionally. The only relevant constitutional prohibition in this case is that the government shall not establish religion (1st Amendment). Putting up a monument of commandments which are not even specific to one particular faith is hardly the establishment of religion.

  • Bror Erickson

    putting the Ten commandmenst up is in fact a religious statement. for one christians can’t agree on how they are to be numbered. So depending on how you number them you side with one or another group over against the other in a theological argument that has been going on for centuries. 2, We can hardly say that the first three ( or four if you number them wrongly) are pointing to some natural law we all want to have as the basis for our law. Are we going to start arresting people for worshiping a different God, or a different Jesus? For worshiping Buddha, or nature? Are we going to start arresting people for haveing a Crucifix? For having a Buddha stature, or a fish symbol in their church? Are we going to start arresting people for not going to church on Sunday, or worshiping on Saturday or vice versa? and if you say it is just enough that the recognize a god, then you really don’t understand the first commandment.
    And what if I belong to a religion that does not recognize natural law? Or the Ten Commandments at all. No it is the establishment of religion.
    And no one in any state has the right to infringe on my freedom of worship in that state. If the federal government were to say that the state of Utah was right in establishing Mormonism as their state religion, well then, they would be establishing a religion. But the first amendment applies to all citizens of the United States in what ever state they reside. I have the right to be a Utah Lutheran.

  • Bror Erickson

    putting the Ten commandmenst up is in fact a religious statement. for one christians can’t agree on how they are to be numbered. So depending on how you number them you side with one or another group over against the other in a theological argument that has been going on for centuries. 2, We can hardly say that the first three ( or four if you number them wrongly) are pointing to some natural law we all want to have as the basis for our law. Are we going to start arresting people for worshiping a different God, or a different Jesus? For worshiping Buddha, or nature? Are we going to start arresting people for haveing a Crucifix? For having a Buddha stature, or a fish symbol in their church? Are we going to start arresting people for not going to church on Sunday, or worshiping on Saturday or vice versa? and if you say it is just enough that the recognize a god, then you really don’t understand the first commandment.
    And what if I belong to a religion that does not recognize natural law? Or the Ten Commandments at all. No it is the establishment of religion.
    And no one in any state has the right to infringe on my freedom of worship in that state. If the federal government were to say that the state of Utah was right in establishing Mormonism as their state religion, well then, they would be establishing a religion. But the first amendment applies to all citizens of the United States in what ever state they reside. I have the right to be a Utah Lutheran.

  • Bror Erickson

    Adn i don’t know what you meant by that last if statement UtahRainbow. Utah has long ago established it’s “state religion.” It is only slowly losing it’s grip. But it hasn’t lost enough of it as far as i am concerned.

  • Bror Erickson

    Adn i don’t know what you meant by that last if statement UtahRainbow. Utah has long ago established it’s “state religion.” It is only slowly losing it’s grip. But it hasn’t lost enough of it as far as i am concerned.

  • Don S

    The Constitution does not prohibit the government from making a “religious statement”. It prohibits the establishment of a state religion, ala the Anglican Church of England or the Lutheran Church of Germany. Unfortunately for we as believers, the courts long ago went off the rails in interpreting this clause as somehow requiring government to actually discriminate against religious expression. For example, in a recent Colorado case (see, for example, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/05/21/colorado), the courts upheld Colorado’s refusal to give student aid to students attending “pervasively sectarian” colleges, even though that aid is generally available to students attending any other type of school.

  • Don S

    The Constitution does not prohibit the government from making a “religious statement”. It prohibits the establishment of a state religion, ala the Anglican Church of England or the Lutheran Church of Germany. Unfortunately for we as believers, the courts long ago went off the rails in interpreting this clause as somehow requiring government to actually discriminate against religious expression. For example, in a recent Colorado case (see, for example, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/05/21/colorado), the courts upheld Colorado’s refusal to give student aid to students attending “pervasively sectarian” colleges, even though that aid is generally available to students attending any other type of school.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    You see I have always been a little confused about this. How does the government make a religious statement, without then supporting one religion over another?
    I don’t know that I agree with Colorado’s decision, but I don’t agree that the government should be supporting any one religion either.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    You see I have always been a little confused about this. How does the government make a religious statement, without then supporting one religion over another?
    I don’t know that I agree with Colorado’s decision, but I don’t agree that the government should be supporting any one religion either.

  • utahrainbow

    I need to clarify a bit. When I speak of the constitution I speak of its original intent. The First Amendment was intended as a restriction on the FEDERAL government to establish a NATIONAL religion (like Don S says). It did not apply to relations within the states. This is shocking to us these days, because it is interpreted so differently, but it is true. I think the Founders would not have dreamed of the Supreme Court potentially deciding whether to force a city to put up a monument against the city’s (via city council whom the people voted for) will. As you can tell, I believe that we should observe our law (the Constitution) properly, and thus more power should be given back to the states. They are a check on the federal government as well.

    I know that it is difficult to take this line in Utah when you are not a Mormon, because the Mormon culture is everywhere. But the law should be applied the way it was intended regardless. And, like I pointed out before, you have options when you don’t like what your representatives are doing. Vote, protest, etc. and if all else fails, vote with your feet or, if it becomes a matter of Utah restricting, for example, actually confessing your faith, be civilly disobedient and be prepared to accept whatever consequences for the sake of the Gospel. This is always powerful in itself.

  • utahrainbow

    I need to clarify a bit. When I speak of the constitution I speak of its original intent. The First Amendment was intended as a restriction on the FEDERAL government to establish a NATIONAL religion (like Don S says). It did not apply to relations within the states. This is shocking to us these days, because it is interpreted so differently, but it is true. I think the Founders would not have dreamed of the Supreme Court potentially deciding whether to force a city to put up a monument against the city’s (via city council whom the people voted for) will. As you can tell, I believe that we should observe our law (the Constitution) properly, and thus more power should be given back to the states. They are a check on the federal government as well.

    I know that it is difficult to take this line in Utah when you are not a Mormon, because the Mormon culture is everywhere. But the law should be applied the way it was intended regardless. And, like I pointed out before, you have options when you don’t like what your representatives are doing. Vote, protest, etc. and if all else fails, vote with your feet or, if it becomes a matter of Utah restricting, for example, actually confessing your faith, be civilly disobedient and be prepared to accept whatever consequences for the sake of the Gospel. This is always powerful in itself.

  • The Jones

    I am very partial to the statement that the way to defeat bad speech (even religious speech) is not by outlawing it, but by having more speech.

    Big question. WHO PAYS FOR THIS MONUMENT? The government or private individuals who just place it in the park?

    If it’s the government, then PROBLEM SOLVED. It’s just an appropriations matter that the police jury or town council can just say “well, we don’t feel like spending money on this.”

    If it’s individuals, well. They can put it up. Big whoop. That opens the door for the precedent that you can put whatever you want up in a public park as long as you pay for it (and it doesn’t mess up the park grounds). As long as Christians have money to spend on stuff in parks, how is this a bad thing for us?
    Is Summumism actually going to take root because of a park monument? If it does, I think we’ve got bigger problem in society than just monuments.

  • The Jones

    I am very partial to the statement that the way to defeat bad speech (even religious speech) is not by outlawing it, but by having more speech.

    Big question. WHO PAYS FOR THIS MONUMENT? The government or private individuals who just place it in the park?

    If it’s the government, then PROBLEM SOLVED. It’s just an appropriations matter that the police jury or town council can just say “well, we don’t feel like spending money on this.”

    If it’s individuals, well. They can put it up. Big whoop. That opens the door for the precedent that you can put whatever you want up in a public park as long as you pay for it (and it doesn’t mess up the park grounds). As long as Christians have money to spend on stuff in parks, how is this a bad thing for us?
    Is Summumism actually going to take root because of a park monument? If it does, I think we’ve got bigger problem in society than just monuments.

  • utahrainbow

    What I was pointing out is simply is should be up to the city what they want to put up or not, not the federal Supreme Court. Perhaps dealing with it as the Jones says is fine WITHIN the city (city council deliberations), but I would argue this is not under federal jurisdiction, and, if I remember right from the local news, the Supreme Court is considering it. If so, I hope the court delivers it right back to Pleasant Grove to decide.

  • utahrainbow

    What I was pointing out is simply is should be up to the city what they want to put up or not, not the federal Supreme Court. Perhaps dealing with it as the Jones says is fine WITHIN the city (city council deliberations), but I would argue this is not under federal jurisdiction, and, if I remember right from the local news, the Supreme Court is considering it. If so, I hope the court delivers it right back to Pleasant Grove to decide.

  • Ned

    Well if Summum is mind and the universe is a mental creation, why not enshrine that in a mental monument?

    Plus if everything according to the Summum worldview is in motion, where would we put such a monument and where would we later go to find it?

    Also, everything has its opposites. Sounds to me like this monument would be the opposite of the Ten Commandments monument. But wait, opposites are identical in nature, so why have two monuments of the same nature just differing in degress?!?!?

    If these thoughts don’t make sense at the moment, just wait. All paradoxes may be reconciled!

  • Ned

    Well if Summum is mind and the universe is a mental creation, why not enshrine that in a mental monument?

    Plus if everything according to the Summum worldview is in motion, where would we put such a monument and where would we later go to find it?

    Also, everything has its opposites. Sounds to me like this monument would be the opposite of the Ten Commandments monument. But wait, opposites are identical in nature, so why have two monuments of the same nature just differing in degress?!?!?

    If these thoughts don’t make sense at the moment, just wait. All paradoxes may be reconciled!

  • Susan aka organshoes

    yes! the mind could simply imagine — and thereby produce — the appropriate monument.
    or not.
    problem solved, seems to me.
    in fact, i cannot mentally create a better outcome.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    yes! the mind could simply imagine — and thereby produce — the appropriate monument.
    or not.
    problem solved, seems to me.
    in fact, i cannot mentally create a better outcome.

  • Don S

    Well, I think Ned and Susan have truly resolved this issue in a way that will hopefully satisfy everyone :).

    Just to clarify a point Utahrainbow made above, the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, has a due process clause which has been interpreted as applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as the federal government. So, that horse is long since out of the barn and out to pasture.

    Regarding Bror’s last comment, I would argue that merely putting up a monument displaying the 10 Commandments is not making a statement supporting one religion over another. It is merely acknowledging the foundational nature of this particular set of statutes in our country’s history. Besides, establishing a State Religion, which is what the Establishment Clause was originally intended to prohibit, involves a lot more than making a positive statement or acknowledgement about a particular faith.

  • Don S

    Well, I think Ned and Susan have truly resolved this issue in a way that will hopefully satisfy everyone :).

    Just to clarify a point Utahrainbow made above, the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, has a due process clause which has been interpreted as applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as the federal government. So, that horse is long since out of the barn and out to pasture.

    Regarding Bror’s last comment, I would argue that merely putting up a monument displaying the 10 Commandments is not making a statement supporting one religion over another. It is merely acknowledging the foundational nature of this particular set of statutes in our country’s history. Besides, establishing a State Religion, which is what the Establishment Clause was originally intended to prohibit, involves a lot more than making a positive statement or acknowledgement about a particular faith.

  • Don S

    Well, I think Ned and Susan have truly resolved this issue in a way that will hopefully satisfy everyone :).

    Just to clarify a point Utahrainbow made above, the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, has a due process clause which has been interpreted as applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as the federal government. So, that horse is long since out of the barn and out to pasture.

    Regarding Bror’s last comment, I would argue that merely putting up a monument displaying the 10 Commandments is not making a statement supporting one religion over another. It is merely acknowledging the foundational nature of this particular set of statutes in our country’s history. Besides, establishing a State Religion, which is what the Establishment Clause was originally intended to prohibit, involves a lot more than making a positive statement or acknowledgement about a particular faith. Just because we don’t like something doesn’t make it unconstitutional. The proper democratic response is to vote the council people out next time if we don’t like their actions.

  • Don S

    Well, I think Ned and Susan have truly resolved this issue in a way that will hopefully satisfy everyone :).

    Just to clarify a point Utahrainbow made above, the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, has a due process clause which has been interpreted as applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as the federal government. So, that horse is long since out of the barn and out to pasture.

    Regarding Bror’s last comment, I would argue that merely putting up a monument displaying the 10 Commandments is not making a statement supporting one religion over another. It is merely acknowledging the foundational nature of this particular set of statutes in our country’s history. Besides, establishing a State Religion, which is what the Establishment Clause was originally intended to prohibit, involves a lot more than making a positive statement or acknowledgement about a particular faith. Just because we don’t like something doesn’t make it unconstitutional. The proper democratic response is to vote the council people out next time if we don’t like their actions.

  • Don S

    Well, I don’t know how that happened! Sorry about the double post, but the website apparently posted a portion of my comments before I was done, then re-posted the whole thing.

  • Don S

    Well, I don’t know how that happened! Sorry about the double post, but the website apparently posted a portion of my comments before I was done, then re-posted the whole thing.

  • utahrainbow

    ah, true, the 14th amendment, I guess the far reaching effects of that one is for another conversation…

  • utahrainbow

    ah, true, the 14th amendment, I guess the far reaching effects of that one is for another conversation…

  • Matt L

    I’d make an appeal to natural law (ala What We Can’t Not Know). The Ten Commandments, as they apply to Christians, reflect natural law… in other words… they reflect reality.

    So apply the same litmus to the Summum… take the last one, “gender is in everything.” My Lutheran roots show themselves and I think to myself “What (the ___) does this mean?” Taking the statement at its most basic level… I’ll grant it for the sake of discussion. But then what is the gender of a “fork.” In English this has a neuter gender. In German, Gabel, is feminine, but in Spanish, Tenedor is masculine… so the statement is inconsistent with the reality that language itself reflects.

  • Matt L

    I’d make an appeal to natural law (ala What We Can’t Not Know). The Ten Commandments, as they apply to Christians, reflect natural law… in other words… they reflect reality.

    So apply the same litmus to the Summum… take the last one, “gender is in everything.” My Lutheran roots show themselves and I think to myself “What (the ___) does this mean?” Taking the statement at its most basic level… I’ll grant it for the sake of discussion. But then what is the gender of a “fork.” In English this has a neuter gender. In German, Gabel, is feminine, but in Spanish, Tenedor is masculine… so the statement is inconsistent with the reality that language itself reflects.

  • Matt L

    I should also add… I’m not a huge fan of just posting the 10 commandments on their own… for Law/Gospel reasons… but that is another discussion.

  • Matt L

    I should also add… I’m not a huge fan of just posting the 10 commandments on their own… for Law/Gospel reasons… but that is another discussion.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Ned, you take the prize for solving this dilemma.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Ned, you take the prize for solving this dilemma.

  • Joe

    Not to turn this into a law-geek post but the magical doctrine of incorporation has only been applied one amendment at a time, but it has been applied to the first amendment so unless the Court is really ready to do something major – that horses is indeed out of the barn and grazing freely.

    That said, even under current precedent – simply displaying the Ten Commandments is not by itself enough to violate the establishment clause.

    The last time the Court looked at the ten commandments it decided two cases in one day and found that the ten commandment display violated the first amendment in one case but not the other:

    “On March 2, 2005, the Supreme Court heard arguments for two cases involving religious displays, Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. These were the first cases directly dealing with display of the Ten Commandments the Court had heard since Stone v. Graham (1980). These cases were decided on June 27, 2005. In Van Orden, the Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, the legality of a Ten Commandments display at the Texas state capitol due to the monument’s “secular purpose.” In McCreary County, however, the Court ruled 5-4 that displays of the Ten Commandments in several Kentucky county courthouses were illegal because they were not clearly integrated with a secular display, and thus were considered to have a religious purpose.””

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Establishment_Clause_of_the_First_Amendment (a surprisingly decent summary)

    It is all about context. I have no idea what the context of this display is but that is what matters. Also, I think an order that the local gov’t would be forced to erect a particular monument would be a first.

  • Joe

    Not to turn this into a law-geek post but the magical doctrine of incorporation has only been applied one amendment at a time, but it has been applied to the first amendment so unless the Court is really ready to do something major – that horses is indeed out of the barn and grazing freely.

    That said, even under current precedent – simply displaying the Ten Commandments is not by itself enough to violate the establishment clause.

    The last time the Court looked at the ten commandments it decided two cases in one day and found that the ten commandment display violated the first amendment in one case but not the other:

    “On March 2, 2005, the Supreme Court heard arguments for two cases involving religious displays, Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. These were the first cases directly dealing with display of the Ten Commandments the Court had heard since Stone v. Graham (1980). These cases were decided on June 27, 2005. In Van Orden, the Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, the legality of a Ten Commandments display at the Texas state capitol due to the monument’s “secular purpose.” In McCreary County, however, the Court ruled 5-4 that displays of the Ten Commandments in several Kentucky county courthouses were illegal because they were not clearly integrated with a secular display, and thus were considered to have a religious purpose.””

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Establishment_Clause_of_the_First_Amendment (a surprisingly decent summary)

    It is all about context. I have no idea what the context of this display is but that is what matters. Also, I think an order that the local gov’t would be forced to erect a particular monument would be a first.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert

    The Summum people have the right to POST their beliefs. But they don’t have the right to have a taxpayer-funded monument enshrining them. If they want the latter, they’ll need to petition the Utah government for it, and my guess is that would be a pretty brief process.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert

    The Summum people have the right to POST their beliefs. But they don’t have the right to have a taxpayer-funded monument enshrining them. If they want the latter, they’ll need to petition the Utah government for it, and my guess is that would be a pretty brief process.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com tickletext

    “For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

    ‘Blessed are the merciful’ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”

    –Kurt Vonnegut

  • http://viz.tumblr.com tickletext

    “For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

    ‘Blessed are the merciful’ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”

    –Kurt Vonnegut

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Tickletext (@28), amen to that! I’ve often felt that the whole push for Ten Commandments monuments isn’t entirely straightforward.

    On the one hand, Christians defend such monuments by saying these words are the basis for Western secular law. But Christians aren’t pushing for any other texts to be made into monuments. I’ve never heard of someone in the South suing so he can install the Code of Hammurabi in a courtroom. So why is all the focus on the Ten Commandments? It seems to me it’s because it’s something acceptable to Christians.

    Besides, who is served by hearing that we must observe the Sabbath? I think the people pushing for such monuments probably don’t understand how that commandment relates to Christians — that is, it doesn’t. I imagine they think that Sunday is the new Sabbath or something similar but wrong.

    Much better to have monuments bearing Jesus’ summary of the commandments (and the law): “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Tickletext (@28), amen to that! I’ve often felt that the whole push for Ten Commandments monuments isn’t entirely straightforward.

    On the one hand, Christians defend such monuments by saying these words are the basis for Western secular law. But Christians aren’t pushing for any other texts to be made into monuments. I’ve never heard of someone in the South suing so he can install the Code of Hammurabi in a courtroom. So why is all the focus on the Ten Commandments? It seems to me it’s because it’s something acceptable to Christians.

    Besides, who is served by hearing that we must observe the Sabbath? I think the people pushing for such monuments probably don’t understand how that commandment relates to Christians — that is, it doesn’t. I imagine they think that Sunday is the new Sabbath or something similar but wrong.

    Much better to have monuments bearing Jesus’ summary of the commandments (and the law): “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • Don S

    I agree that the Beatitudes would certainly be more appropriate for Christians. I think, however, that the 10 Commandments are more commonly posted for two reasons. First, they were given to us by God as The Law, and in the courtroom it is the law which is to be enforced. The 10 Commandments were, necessarily, foundational to our law today. Second, unfortunately, one would never be able to get the words of Jesus Christ posted anywhere in the public square in the U.S. today. On the other hand, since the 10 Commandments are the basis for Judaism as well as Christianity it is a lot more feasible to get them posted.

    One of the strongest evidences of the truth of Christianity is the hatred the world has for the name and words of Jesus.

  • Don S

    I agree that the Beatitudes would certainly be more appropriate for Christians. I think, however, that the 10 Commandments are more commonly posted for two reasons. First, they were given to us by God as The Law, and in the courtroom it is the law which is to be enforced. The 10 Commandments were, necessarily, foundational to our law today. Second, unfortunately, one would never be able to get the words of Jesus Christ posted anywhere in the public square in the U.S. today. On the other hand, since the 10 Commandments are the basis for Judaism as well as Christianity it is a lot more feasible to get them posted.

    One of the strongest evidences of the truth of Christianity is the hatred the world has for the name and words of Jesus.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@30), I disagree with some of what you wrote. You said “they were given to us by God as The Law”, but they neither comprise the whole of the law (that is, God’s will), nor were they given to us — they were given to the people of Israel (note the preface “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”) That is why the one commandment not found reiterated by Jesus does not apply to Christians — that of observing the Sabbath.

    I also disagree that “The 10 Commandments were, necessarily, foundational to our law today.” Some of them were. Many of them weren’t (notably, the first several).

    And saying that “the 10 Commandments are the basis for … Christianity” just sounds wrong to me. How can the basis of Christianity not be in Jesus alone, and the gospel of what he did for us? The basis of Christianity isn’t in law. Maybe that’s just semantics to you, but it’s important.

    But I get the feeling you’re confirming my suspicions: that the movement behind the Ten Commandments monuments is, ultimately, more about sneaking Biblical texts (no matter what message they might actually send) into public area, to expose people to them, rather than about some notion of teaching about our law’s foundations. I hope I have made clear why I don’t think this works like people hope it would.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@30), I disagree with some of what you wrote. You said “they were given to us by God as The Law”, but they neither comprise the whole of the law (that is, God’s will), nor were they given to us — they were given to the people of Israel (note the preface “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”) That is why the one commandment not found reiterated by Jesus does not apply to Christians — that of observing the Sabbath.

    I also disagree that “The 10 Commandments were, necessarily, foundational to our law today.” Some of them were. Many of them weren’t (notably, the first several).

    And saying that “the 10 Commandments are the basis for … Christianity” just sounds wrong to me. How can the basis of Christianity not be in Jesus alone, and the gospel of what he did for us? The basis of Christianity isn’t in law. Maybe that’s just semantics to you, but it’s important.

    But I get the feeling you’re confirming my suspicions: that the movement behind the Ten Commandments monuments is, ultimately, more about sneaking Biblical texts (no matter what message they might actually send) into public area, to expose people to them, rather than about some notion of teaching about our law’s foundations. I hope I have made clear why I don’t think this works like people hope it would.

  • Bror Erickson

    Right on! tODD!
    Neither was it necessary that the Ten Commandments were the basis of our law! I like the suggestion though of putting up Hammurabi’s code especially as it has a law against the over charging for beer. I think that is a good law, a much better law to base a secular society on than “You shall have no other God’s before me.”
    And I often wonder how our forefathers who were alive at Mt. Sinai, were some how still able to fight the revolutionary war in their extreme old age!
    Don S,
    What do you make of non-Christian countries, meaning those countries where the majority of the population is say Buddhist. many of them have laws awfully similar to ours, and yet do not recognize the Ten Commandments. And the people often live peacefully. What do you make of that. What do you make of the fact that when Paul wrote the 13th chapter to Romans he was not referring to Christian, or even Jewish authorities?
    We don’t need the Ten Commandments placated everywhere. It actually does more harm to the Christian cause than good. It confuses Christianity with being another religion of law, which it is not. As is often said in Lutheran circles there are two religions in this world, Law and Gospel, or law and Christianity.

  • Bror Erickson

    Right on! tODD!
    Neither was it necessary that the Ten Commandments were the basis of our law! I like the suggestion though of putting up Hammurabi’s code especially as it has a law against the over charging for beer. I think that is a good law, a much better law to base a secular society on than “You shall have no other God’s before me.”
    And I often wonder how our forefathers who were alive at Mt. Sinai, were some how still able to fight the revolutionary war in their extreme old age!
    Don S,
    What do you make of non-Christian countries, meaning those countries where the majority of the population is say Buddhist. many of them have laws awfully similar to ours, and yet do not recognize the Ten Commandments. And the people often live peacefully. What do you make of that. What do you make of the fact that when Paul wrote the 13th chapter to Romans he was not referring to Christian, or even Jewish authorities?
    We don’t need the Ten Commandments placated everywhere. It actually does more harm to the Christian cause than good. It confuses Christianity with being another religion of law, which it is not. As is often said in Lutheran circles there are two religions in this world, Law and Gospel, or law and Christianity.

  • Don S

    tODD & Bror — I think you guys misunderstand my position a bit. I’m not advocating plastering the 10 Commandments everywhere. I think it has become a somewhat silly symbolic fight waged largely by Christians to try to gain a victory over the secularists, and it’s not really worth the candle. In fact, I agree with tODD that this is all about trying to sneak it in. The initiatives to place “In God We Trust” everywhere are even worse, because they basically have to say “we don’t really believe that” in order to pass muster.

    tODD, as for your other points — Strictly speaking, the 10 Commandments were given to the Israelites, not to Gentiles/Christians. However, their main point, in God’s plan, was to reveal to us our hopelessly sinful natures, and the impossibility of ever meriting our own salvation. That lesson applies to all Christians, and the O.T. is certainly relevant to us for what it reveals about God’s plan of salvation. You are right that there are a number of commandments that are not foundational to our law, to the extent that they regulate human relationships with God rather than civil society. What I meant by the statement was that in historical western civilization the 10 Commandments are identified as “the law”, so they would be probably considered more appropriate to post in a courthouse than the Beatitudes. You’re right that it is wrong to say that the 10 Commandments are “the basis” for Christianity. Of course they aren’t, since we are condemned by the law, but thankfully saved by grace. “Important to” Christianity would have been a more appropriate statement.

    Bror — I think my comments above answer the questions you ask in your last paragraph. I completely agree with you.

    HOWEVER, the above having all been said, I utterly DISAGREE that the 1st Amendment of the Constitution forbids governments from voting to post the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Code of Hammurabi, or anything else they democratically decide to post, build, etc. This was the main point of my earlier posts. The government is only prohibited from establishing a state religion. Short of that, they can and should be able to do anything they please in this area, silly or not, as long as what they do does not prevent or restrict any citizen or legal resident of this country from freely exercising their religious beliefs.

  • Don S

    tODD & Bror — I think you guys misunderstand my position a bit. I’m not advocating plastering the 10 Commandments everywhere. I think it has become a somewhat silly symbolic fight waged largely by Christians to try to gain a victory over the secularists, and it’s not really worth the candle. In fact, I agree with tODD that this is all about trying to sneak it in. The initiatives to place “In God We Trust” everywhere are even worse, because they basically have to say “we don’t really believe that” in order to pass muster.

    tODD, as for your other points — Strictly speaking, the 10 Commandments were given to the Israelites, not to Gentiles/Christians. However, their main point, in God’s plan, was to reveal to us our hopelessly sinful natures, and the impossibility of ever meriting our own salvation. That lesson applies to all Christians, and the O.T. is certainly relevant to us for what it reveals about God’s plan of salvation. You are right that there are a number of commandments that are not foundational to our law, to the extent that they regulate human relationships with God rather than civil society. What I meant by the statement was that in historical western civilization the 10 Commandments are identified as “the law”, so they would be probably considered more appropriate to post in a courthouse than the Beatitudes. You’re right that it is wrong to say that the 10 Commandments are “the basis” for Christianity. Of course they aren’t, since we are condemned by the law, but thankfully saved by grace. “Important to” Christianity would have been a more appropriate statement.

    Bror — I think my comments above answer the questions you ask in your last paragraph. I completely agree with you.

    HOWEVER, the above having all been said, I utterly DISAGREE that the 1st Amendment of the Constitution forbids governments from voting to post the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Code of Hammurabi, or anything else they democratically decide to post, build, etc. This was the main point of my earlier posts. The government is only prohibited from establishing a state religion. Short of that, they can and should be able to do anything they please in this area, silly or not, as long as what they do does not prevent or restrict any citizen or legal resident of this country from freely exercising their religious beliefs.

  • http://EspeciallyForYougiftshoppeandboutique sweetromance

    I’ve read everyones comments. What I don’t get is how this could even come up. Suppose someone came along with the idea of erecting a monument to Satan? Would you wonder if this monument might confuse your children? This is supposed to be a country that is 85% christian. I truly believe in my heart, that when our founding fathers introduced the concept of freedom of religion, it was so the various christian sects could worship in an atmosphere of safety. Back in those days people who weren’t catholic were descriminated against, to put it mildly. Many left England for just that very reason. They sought to prevent it from ever happening again. It wasn’t done so that people in miami could start smoking pot and calling it a religion, or we should suffer Jimmy Jones to take a slew of people off to an island and kill them, calling that a religion. Forget about those guys who commited suicide in a bunker so they could meet the mothership. This whole freedom of religion thing has gotten entirely out of hand when we’re asked to accept something that smacks as witchcraft, erected to confuse our young.

    Since I am part of this culture in the United States, this is my cultural response. No, I don’t believe these folks are culturally relevant. But, regardless, I still expect to be forced to endure them because love has no value unless it’s freely given. In the end I believe this fact will mean everything.

  • http://EspeciallyForYougiftshoppeandboutique sweetromance

    I’ve read everyones comments. What I don’t get is how this could even come up. Suppose someone came along with the idea of erecting a monument to Satan? Would you wonder if this monument might confuse your children? This is supposed to be a country that is 85% christian. I truly believe in my heart, that when our founding fathers introduced the concept of freedom of religion, it was so the various christian sects could worship in an atmosphere of safety. Back in those days people who weren’t catholic were descriminated against, to put it mildly. Many left England for just that very reason. They sought to prevent it from ever happening again. It wasn’t done so that people in miami could start smoking pot and calling it a religion, or we should suffer Jimmy Jones to take a slew of people off to an island and kill them, calling that a religion. Forget about those guys who commited suicide in a bunker so they could meet the mothership. This whole freedom of religion thing has gotten entirely out of hand when we’re asked to accept something that smacks as witchcraft, erected to confuse our young.

    Since I am part of this culture in the United States, this is my cultural response. No, I don’t believe these folks are culturally relevant. But, regardless, I still expect to be forced to endure them because love has no value unless it’s freely given. In the end I believe this fact will mean everything.

  • Dave

    Give them, say, 200 years. If they get a movement going, let them have their monument. Otherwise, open a park of monuments. I would probably want to erect something to Zorastrianism.

    When a religion has only 20 followers, they should probably stick to erecting monuments on their own property.

  • Dave

    Give them, say, 200 years. If they get a movement going, let them have their monument. Otherwise, open a park of monuments. I would probably want to erect something to Zorastrianism.

    When a religion has only 20 followers, they should probably stick to erecting monuments on their own property.

  • Will

    Just a “new age” remake of Buddhist philosophy, without an aphorism for karma. Still, just as relevant as the 10 Demandments. Gives all the folks a goal to strive for when misbehaving.

  • Will

    Just a “new age” remake of Buddhist philosophy, without an aphorism for karma. Still, just as relevant as the 10 Demandments. Gives all the folks a goal to strive for when misbehaving.


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