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Biblical laws and themes


The Ten Commandments: Many
topics, viewpoints, & interpretations

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Humorous quotes:

  • "Only 68 of 200 Anglican priests polled could name all Ten Commandments, but half said they believed in space aliens." 1

  • "Concerning the Ten Commandments in courthouses and legislatures: You cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal,' 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,' and 'Thou Shall Not Lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians...It creates a hostile work environment." 2

  • Anon: "Why is it that images of the Ten Commandments are almost always portrayed anachronistically, with English text and or Roman numerals in place of the original Hebrew?

We apologize to anyone who is offended by any of the above quotations. Including humor in a religious discussion is always chancy.

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Moses carrying the Ten Commandments About the Ten Commandments:

The Ten Commandments (a.k.a. Decalogue) is a set of behavioral rules which appears in three separate locations in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) of the Bible. These have historically been accepted by Judaism, Christianity and Islam as a summary of the most important rules of behavior that God expects of humanity. Slightly more than 50% of humans on earth follow one of these three religions.

There is considerable debate in the U.S. whether the Decalogue should be posted in public schools, public parks, government offices, etc. There is a growing consensus that monuments containing the Ten Commandments should not be displayed by themselves on government property, because that would be widely seen as promoting one religion, or a small group of religions, as superior to other religions in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, many people have no objection if they are shown in a cultural display along with other examples of ancient and modern legal codes.

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Topics covered in this section:

About the Ten Commandments (a.k.a. The Decalogue):


Introduction to the Ten Commandments:

  • Part 1: What are they? When were they written? Where are they now? Should everyone follow them?

  • Part 2: What people believe the Commandments say? Legal challenges. Attempts to remove 10 Commandment statues.

  • Part 3: Web sites with Decalogue-related images. Books on the Ten Commandments. Links to other web sites

bullet Text of the Ten Commandments: The three versions; grouping the commandments.
bullet Who wrote the Ten Commandments?
bullet Possible origin of the Ten Commandments
bullet What they are and who they are for
bulletAnalysis of the individual commandments:
bullet Commandments 1 to 3

bullet Detailed analysis of the Second Commandment Part 1  Part2

bullet Commandments 4 to 6
bullet Commandments 7 to 10
bullet Comparison of Qur'an verses with the Hebrew Scriptures' Ten Commandments
bullet Modern versions of (& replacements for) the Ten Commandments

bullet More rewrites; Alternative guides to good behavior

Problems relating to the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools, public parks, etc.

bullet Legal and constitutional aspects
bullet 2005 cases in Kentucky & Texas, before the U.S. Supreme Court
bullet 2012 to 2016 monument in Oklahoma
bullet The Ten Commandment monument project of the Fraternal Order of Eagles
bullet Posting the Decalogue in public schools: pros and cons

bullet A tongue-in-cheek discussion of their posting
bullet The "Chief Justice Moore case" in Alabama
bullet Exactly what is involved in this case?
bullet How the conflict could have been resolved legally
bullet Part 1: events from 2001 to 2003-JUL-31
bullet Part 2: 2003-AUG-1 to AUG-22
bullet Part 3: 2003-AUG-23 to DEC-31
bullet Part 4: 2004-JAN-01 to present time
bullet Display of the "Seven Aphorisms" by Summum -- a UT religious group
bullet An essay by Rabbi Allen S. Maller: "God's commandment against religious extremism"
bullet More legal and other developments concerning posting the Decalogue:
bullet 1999
bullet 2000
bullet 2001
bullet 2002
bullet 2003
bullet 2004
bullet 2005 to now

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Related essays on this web site:

bullet Local church/state conflicts
bullet The Istook Constitutional Amendment
bullet Prayer in the public schools


References used:

  1. Randy Cassingham, This is True, 1997-FEB-02, at: It is based on a UPI article. The full UPI quotation is:
    "A survey of Anglican vicars in Britain found that while some don't believe in heaven, more than half believe in life on other planets. Worse, only 68 of the 200 surveyed could name all 10 of the Bible's Ten Commandments. The only two that were almost universally remembered were the ones about adultery and coveting thy neighbor's wife; both are no-no's."

    Although the quotation may seem shocking, being asked to recite each and every commandment is a challenging question.

  2. From an unsolicited Email, 2008-MAR-04.

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Copyright © 1999 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2015-JUL-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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