I don’t normally like his writings, but Alan Dershowitz really hit one out of the park earlier today. Huckabee had been working overtime to make an ass out of himself (not that that is hard work). He has certianly been placing himself at the forefront of the "Christian America" bandwagon, and here comes Mr. Dershowitz to let some more air out of his tires, this time, with the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments have been amended on numerous occasions, especially by Hukabee’s personal savior, Jesus. Let’s start with the Commandment that mandates a day of rest. It specifically mandates the Seventh Day, namely Saturday, as "a Sabbath unto the Lord." And it gives a specific reason for picking Saturday: "For in Six Days the Lord made Heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
Along came Christianity and amended that Commandment, changing the day of rest from the seventh day to the first day — Sunday. The reason for sanctifying Sunday was also changed.
Jesus also amended the prohibition against adultery. When God told the Jewish people not to commit adultery, He was very clear about its definition. It prohibited sex with or by a married woman. Married men, however, were totally free to have sex with as many single women as they chose. Jesus improved on that and made the adultery prohibition gender neutral.
And what about the Commandment that says: "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation on them that hate me." When’s the last time a minister quoted that commandment? As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, it is the most un-American of all commandments since we believe in personal guilt and not guilt being passed from generation to generation. Indeed our constitution specifically prohibits Bills of attainder which are based on the Ten Commandments.
Finally, the Ten Commandments mentions slavery twice, requiring that slaves be given a day of rest and prohibiting the coveting of a neighbor’s slave. You don’t see those commandments ever quoted in full in the bumper sticker version that adorns churches and synagogues and that the Hukabees of the world want to see in our schools and courtrooms.
Yes!, once again, the Bible shows itself to be a document much older than our current sensibilities might prefer. In mentioning Thomas Jefferson, Dershowitz brings up another reinforcement that most ovberlook against the "Christian America" meme. Jefferson, in addition to being one of the core Founders, and a Deist, he edited out his own version of the bible, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth"
(the text of Jefferson’s Bible can be found here)
Now in a funny way, that actually brings him closer in a way to the actions of Huckabee and other Christian revisionists, but instead of using his beliefs as a lever and forcing them on others, he only shared his ideas with his closer friends. He did not allow this to be published in his lifetime.
Moreover, he sought the core philosophy of Jesus as a teacher, but chose not to take the divinity. I think that good ideas come from many sources, and don’t need to be enforced from divinity, and I imagine that Jefferson thought along similar lines. He also kept other religion’s texts, including the Koran used to swear in Rep. Keith Ellison.
Again, it isn’t too hard to take these examples and knock down many of the BS arguments that we are Christian only – Christian first, and that it is embodied in our laws.
Our Laws run counter to "God’s Laws" in far too many places. And for good reason. In 1776 great men understood that some ideas were past their prime (Theocracy and Monarchy), and throughout our history, as further ideas have aged as well, (Slavery, Women’s Suppression) we have gone against "God’s Laws". Perhaps Folks of Huckabee’s ilk just need to be reminded a few more times of this.
Like every day.
crossposted at Daily Kos