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 The Ten Commandments

Modern rewrites of the Ten Commandments

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Alternative sets of Ten Commandments:

Many people have suggested replacements for the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. These should be more acceptable to persons of diverse faith groups. They are compatible with the multi-faith culture in North America. They promote religious freedom, religious tolerance, and an end to sexism and racism. Because of their lack of religious exclusivity, a school might be able to post one of these sets without risking the division of the student body on religious grounds. They would not marginalize religious minorities, and would thus not add to the risk of school violence. Many of the individual commandments are derived from the Ethic of Reciprocity which is a part of almost all religions. This Ethic is expressed in Christianity as the Golden Rule.

It should be constitutional to post versions of these Ten Commandments in public schools or government offices. However we are not legal experts, and in particular are not experts in constitutional law. Do not post them without obtaining a ruling from a reliable legal source.

  • The Standard Ten Commandments: Believed to have been written by the Long Island Secular Humanists in 1999:

    We, the members of the human community speak these words, saying.

      1. We shall not limit freedom of thought.
      2. We shall not cause unnecessary harm to any living thing or the environment.
      3. We shall be respectful of the rights of others.
      4. We shall be honest.
      5. We shall be responsible for our actions.
      6. We shall be fair in all matters to all persons.
      7. We shall be considerate of the happiness and well being of others.
      8. We shall be reasonable in our actions.
      9. We shall nurture these values by word & deed in our children, family, friends and acquaintances.
      10. We shall not limit inquiring or testing by their consequences, on any matter, including these Commandments.

  • Ten Commandments for the Third Millennium: Written by a person who would prefer to remain anonymous. It is obviously a religiously inclusive restatement of the Biblical Ten Commandments which would be acceptable to followers of most religions and to secularists as well:

    1. Respect and worship any deity within your faith tradition, if you follow one. Value and support the right of others to do the same. 
    2. Enjoy and support legal guarantees of freedom of religious belief, religious practice, assembly and speech for all.
    3. Do not use obscene speech in the name of the deities of any religion.
    4. Follow the guidance of your faith or secular tradition every day of the week, because every day is important.
    5. Help to establish social safety nets so that the very young, the elderly, the sick, mentally ill, physically disabled, unemployed, poor and broken will receive adequate medical attention and enjoy at least a minimum standard of living.
    6. Minimize the harm you do to others and yourself. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. 
    7. Do not engage in sexual activity with another person, which is coercive, unsafe, manipulative, public, or outside of a committed monogamous relationship.
    8. Do not steal the property of others, except in case of emergency (and then only if you attempt to replace or pay for it later).
    9. Do not lie, either in or out of court. Be honest and truthful at all times.
    10. Attempt to be satisfied with your current standard of living; do not obsess over the possessions of others; that path leads to unhappiness.

  • New versions of five of the commandments by Marylin Vos Savant: In her column in Parade Magazine for 1994-MAR-20, she reverses the last five commandments in interesting ways:
    1. bullet 6: "Thou shalt not kill" becomes "Heal those who have been harmed."
      bullet 7: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" becomes "Respect everyone."
      bullet 8: "Thou shalt not steal" becomes "Give more to the world than you take."
      bullet 9: "Thou shalt not bear false witness" becomes "Value the dignity of truth."
      bullet 10: "Thou shalt not covet" becomes "Be content with the necessities of life."
  • The Ten Commandments by Lord of Heaven: This set has appeared on a fascinating spiritual/mystic/humor/religious web site called Heaven Hell and Purgatory. 1 Noting that the "first draft" of the Decalogue was excessively negative, the "latest edition" is balanced between prohibitive and motivational commandments:

The "Shalt Nots"

bullet Thou shalt not kill.
bullet Thou shalt not steal.
bullet Thou shalt not lie.
bullet Thou shalt not hate.
bullet Thou shalt not oppress.
The "Shalls"
bullet Thou shall love.
bullet Thou shall create.
bullet Thou shall seek knowledge.
bullet Thou shall have courage.
bullet Thou shall know thyself.
  • Richard Dawkins, a famous evolutionary biologist, wrote a set of commandment in his book: "The God Delusion:"
    1. Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
    2. In all things, strive to cause no harm.
    3. Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
    4. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
    5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
    6. Always seek to be learning something new.
    7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
    8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
    9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
    10. Question everything.

To which he added four more:

11. Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else) and leave others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none of your business.
12. Do not discriminate or oppress on the basis of sex, race or (as far as possible) species.
13. Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.
14. Value the future on a timescale longer than your own. 3

Webmaster's opinion:

    I regard #1, a version of the Golden RuleI, as the prime, universal commandment, for everyone. I would add additional categories to his 12th commandment: sexual orientation, gender identity, age, various disabilities, and perhaps others.

  • Native American Ten Commandments: This has been published in many places on the Internet. The author is unknown:
  1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
  2. Remain close to the Great Spirit.
  3. Consider the impact on the next six generations when making decisions.
  4. Work together to benefit all humanity.
  5. Freely give help and kindness wherever needed.
  6. Do what you believe to be right.
  7. Look after the well-being of your mind and body.
  8. Contribute a share of your efforts to the greater good.
  9. Be truthful and honest at all times.
  10. Take full responsibility for your actions.

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More rewrites....

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Reference used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The Society for the Practical establishment and Perpetuation of the Ten Commandments has a web page at:
  2. Other sets of Commandments are shown on the Quora web site at:
  3. book cover Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion," Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store Available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, kindle, MP3 CD formats.

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Copyright 2000 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-06
Latest update: 2018-DEC-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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