My friend Andrew Seidel, lead counsel for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has written an open letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt about his absurd defense of the Ten Commandments monument that the OK Supreme Court ordered to be taken down this week. Here’s my favorite part:
After the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared the decalogue monument on capitol grounds unconstitutional, you said, “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.”
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?”
The whole thing is worth reading.