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Introduction
Prohibitions on Display of the Ten Commandments
Damage to Religious Tolerance
Argument for Posting Based on False Premises
Ten Commandments Controversies
Conclusion



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Civil Rights  
The Ten Commandments Controversy:
A First Amendment Perspective

(revised 2005) RULE
Damage to Religious Tolerance

Posted: July 19, 2005

Even if posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools, courthouses and other government property was uniformly constitutional, it would still do great damage to religious tolerance in America. Advocates of such proposals assert that these Biblical injunctions are values universally accepted by all Americans. These proponents fail, though, to take into account two crucial facts. First, not all Americans subscribe to religions that follow the Bible or the Ten Commandments. Millions of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists (among others) in America adhere to religious, ethical and moral traditions that draw from a variety of texts other than the Bible. Second, those religions that do adhere to the Ten Commandments follow very different versions of the laws. The language in the ancient Hebrew text followed by Jews is not the same as the language found in the King James Bible version accepted by some Protestant churches in America today. Further, Catholics and Lutherans follow yet another text altogether. The assumption that government-ordered posting of the Ten Commandments in public places would honor the beliefs of all Americans is itself an act of religious intolerance.

Next: Argument for Posting Based on False Premises


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2005 Anti-Defamation League