|in the United States of America|
|by descendant Stanley J. Follis|
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A family's version of the Ten Commandments depends on their religion. A newspaper article from the 2003 debate over the monument with the Alabama judge was headline news. This article mentions a 1) Jewish, 2) Catholic, 3) Lutheran, 4) Charlton Heston, 5) King James Bible and 6) New Revised Standard Bible versions. The web site Which Ten Commandments lists five versions. Two different versions with different numbering sequence are found in Exodus 20:1-17 with a slightly different version in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.
The Alabama judge wanted his monument to use only four words for the Tenth Commandment Exodus 20:17 "Thou Shalt Not Covet". The King James Bible says "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." So is this six commandments, one, two or the tenth? Jew's and most Protestants use this entire passage, while Catholics and Lutheran's list two thou shalt not covet commandments against coveting your neighbors wife and against your neighbors property including his ass.
I find it so disingenuous and hypocritical with some attempts to install Ten Commandment monuments on public property. The Lone Oak Wesleyan Church in Anderson, Indiana is raising funds to install a monument on the city building lot. In the January 26, 2006 Fort Wayne Journal Gazette newspaper church member Ken de la Bastide of Lapel insists the marker "has nothing to do with religion" saying it is the basis of modern law and the church will cover installation and court costs. WISH TV Indianapolis quotes Ken FALK of the ACLU as saying "Well the Ten Commandments is not the law of the land. Obviously if one covets they are not committing a crime under Indiana law." It is about religion, and denying so denigrates our religion, lying about it doesn't help either side, if it wasn't about religion why would a church care?
An interesting email circulated in 2003 titled "Did you know?" contains a lot of statements concerning the Supreme Court, Congress and various patriots such as Patrick Henry and President James Madison. According to Snopes.com "nearly all of the information its presents is inaccurate or — when taken in its proper context — misleading".
We live in a 24:7 economy and yet Exodus 20:8-11 states to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy with no one allowed to work. How do Christian politicians and business owners justify their 24/7 operations and requiring employees to work on the Sabbath? At one time states had 'blue laws' which allowed no businesses to be open on Sunday, in spite of the Sabbath actually being Saturday. Look at a calendar, which day is the seventh?
In Exodus fathers are allowed to sell their daughters into slavery (21:7) although the King James version says maidservant and says "whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death" (21:17). Neither of these is found in the Ten Commandments used in the Alabama monument. So who decides what part of which Bible version from which religion will go on which monument? Why would his choice of passages and words be more valid than your choice or my choice of which to use and which to exclude?
I cannot help but wonder what would our ancestors think of all of this. Old Order Church of the Brethren is a "Peace" church that opposes the taking of oaths and military service similar to the lifestyle of the "Amish" although some of the Brethren use computers and the internet. Most of my ancestry would have believed similar to the Old Order before the 1881 split. They originally used the German Sauer Bible and now use the King James Version. Changing or deleting the words changes the meaning.
Like many genealogists I sometimes find family data that was totally unexpected and cannot help but wonder if someone was helping guide me to the source. A feeling like destiny or divine intervention. The whole debate over posting the Ten Commandments requires choosing which words to use. If you do not use all of the versions from all of the Religions then which ancestor do you want to insult? If you do not want to believe a certain version is correct and that was the version your ancestors used how would you explain it to them? Someday we will meet our ancestors. How will you explain to them why you chose to ignore their interpretation of the Ten Commandments and therefore their version of the Bible that guided their life? Will the version chosen today be the same that will be used 100 years from now or will it change like the language of the Church, German to English for most of my ancestors. I have a passage in "Old English" for the 1641 FOLLIS at Jamestown that is incomprehensive today. Will these monuments surfer the same fate?
Genealogy rules state to copy sources as you find them and document what you find without changing or deleting words. I photocopy everything so I do not accidentally change anything. With genealogy logic I find the debate about posting the Ten Commandments to be disingenuous. In many cases the parties are generally arguing for their version of their religions commandments and oppose posting any or all of the other versions. This argument almost guarantees no resolution to the satisfaction of anyone and why it is probably best to leave it alone with regard to government public places.
A recent ruling by a judge in Indiana with respect to a lawsuit by the ACLU concerning complaints by Quaker and Jewish members illustrates the problem with government sanctioned prayer. The ruling stops prayers mentioning Jesus before each session of the Indiana legislature. A recent comment by the Speaker of the House Brian Bosma concerning Christian's out numbering Jew's shows why religion and government can be a volatile mix leaving those involved less than satisfied. The civil war brewing in Iraq amongst waring tribes of Muslim's shows how it doesn't even have to be different religions to cause problems.
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