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Jul 16 2013

WV County Keeps 10 Commandments Monument

After the ACLU wrote a letter to authorities in Wyoming County, West Virginia, officials there have decided not to take down the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the courthouse. Predictably, the local elected officials are pretty much completely clueless.

Cochrane said the issue is whether the monument promotes Christianity over other religions, and he doesn’t think it does.

The group who raised money and erected the monument wanted to spread a message of good morality and not Christianity, he said.

“I researched different religions as far as whether the Ten Commandments is discriminatory or not,” Cochrane said. “Basically a type of Ten Commandments is cut across a lot of religions.”

The Ten Commandments have origins in Judaism and parallel scriptures appear in Islamic texts, he said.

Well yes, Christians, Muslims and Jews all consider the Ten Commandments to be God’s commands. But that rather obviously misses the point. “We’re not endorsing one religion, we’re endorsing three religions” is hardly a compelling argument.

Cochrane asked his Facebook friends for feedback and about 280 people of 300 responded in favor of the monument. Those who opposed feared it violates separation of church and state, he said.

“The true sense of what is the separation of church and state is the idea of the government putting one religion over another,” he said. “This case is a little bit different than what most people think of separation of church and state.”

The monument promotes laws that are based on some of the commandments and not any religion, he said. Also many people recognize the Ten Commandments as a universal code of conduct.

And so what if many people recognize them as such? They have every right to do so. That does not mean the government should be endorsing their religious beliefs. He says he’s open to putting up more monuments, so American Atheists has an opening there. But a suit should be filed first to see if it can be removed instead.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    theschwa

    “Also many people recognize the Ten Commandments as a universal code of conduct.”
    And what a good code it is!

    “I am thinking about raping this girl. But first, let me check my code of conduct….nothing there. OK, let the raping commence.”

    “Now, I am going to punch this baby in the face. Again let me consult my code of conduct…”

  2. 2
    eric

    I believe this is the case where county officials said that some outside group put up the monument without their permission. Evidently, giant stone plinths set in a concrete base in well-traveled public workplaces just magically appear, and nobody ever sees it happening.

  3. 3
    holytape

    “I researched different religions as far as whether the Ten Commandments is discriminatory or not,” Cochrane said. “Basically a type of Ten Commandments is cut across a lot of religions.”

    When later asked about his musical taste, he replied. “I like all music, you know, Country and Western.”

  4. 4
    dogmeat

    Evidently, giant stone plinths set in a concrete base in well-traveled public workplaces just magically appear, and nobody ever sees it happening.

    Oh sure, now you’re going to tell me that the monument fairy doesn’t exist. What next, the Easter Bunny??!?!?!

  5. 5
    Gregory in Seattle

    Because “You shall have no other gods before me,” “You shall not make or worship idols,” “You shall not take the name of Yahweh in vain” and “Observe the Sabbath or else” have absolutely nothing at all to do with religion. And don’t get me started on how well these Bible-thumpers keep the commandments about coveting and bearing false witness.

  6. 6
    pacal

    “Also many people recognize the Ten Commandments as a universal code of conduct.”
    And what a good code it is!”

    Universal? Really? I guess this dweeb hasn’t read the Ten Commandments in a while.

    “You shall have no other gods before me”

    “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

    “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”

    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.”

    Aside from the fact that the Constitution of the United States clearly guarantees freedom of Religion and that clearly violates some of the Ten Commandments. The above Commandments are clearly not “Universal”, but clearly the dictates of a particular religion.

  7. 7
    Randomfactor

    In the spirit of cooperation, I offer the two following compromises:

    1. Redo the monument in either Hebrew or Arabic, since one language apparently substitutes for any other. (I recognize this may involve replacing the whole thing, hence suggestion #2):

    2. The monument can stay, but any commandments which have not been implemented in secular law should be crossed out with a line through them.

  8. 8
    matty1

    I’ve often wondered if people who claim the 10 commandments as universal moral ideas have actually read them. Going by comments they seem to imagine the list reads.

    1. Don’t murder
    2. Don’t steal
    3. um…
    10. Be nice m’kay

  9. 9
    Acolyte of Sagan

    1.
    theschwa
    July 16, 2013 at 10:17 am (UTC -4) Link to this comment

    “Also many people recognize the Ten Commandments as a universal code of conduct.”
    And what a good code it is!

    “I am thinking about raping this girl. But first, let me check my code of conduct….nothing there. OK, let the raping commence.”

    “Now, I am going to punch this baby in the face. Again let me consult my code of conduct…”

    Yeah, but at least your neighbour’s ass is safe ;-)

  10. 10
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Acolyte of Sagan #9 – Safe from being coveted. Shot, poisoned, beaten and sexually abused are issues not covered (unless you are married, in which case adultery may or may apply.)

  11. 11
    Moggie

    The monument promotes laws that are based on some of the commandments and not any religion, he said.

    By “some”, I think he means “two”. So what are the other eight doing there?

  12. 12
    theschwa

    “The monument promotes laws that are based on some of the commandments and not just any religion, he said. But the one TRUE religion – which just happens to be mine.”
    I added the rest of the quote that was inadvertently omitted.

  13. 13
    John Pieret

    This Cochrane dufus is apparently a lawyer. I wonder what mail-order school he got his J.D. from?

    BTW, adapted from Justice Black’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education, here are the:

    10 Commandments of the Separation of Church and State:

    1. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church.

    2. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.

    3. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will.

    4. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.

    5. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs.

    6. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious disbeliefs.

    7. No person can be punished for church attendance or non-attendance.

    8. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

    9. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups.

    10. No religious organizations or groups can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of a state or the Federal Government.

  14. 14
    Marcus Ranum

    The Ten Commandments have origins in Judaism and parallel scriptures appear in Islamic texts, he said.

    So why didn’t he put up the relevant selections from the koran?
    Could it be because he’s a christian? (and a lying asshole)

  15. 15
    Skip White

    John Pieret @13:

    For some reason, I read all that with H. Jon Benjamin’s voice in my head.

  16. 16
    d.c.wilson

    Evidently, giant stone plinths set in a concrete base in well-traveled public workplaces just magically appear, and nobody ever sees it happening.

    Monuments flow in, monuments flow out. You can’t explain it.

  17. 17
    chilidog99

    I REALY want to see how the judge reacts to the argument that the first amendment does not apply to the county because the monument was built without government permission

  18. 18
    Modusoperandi

    It was me. I’ve been dumping Ten Commandments monuments outside courthouses and city halls for decades.

  19. 19
    Synfandel

    Modusoperandi, the mask and the cape are cool, but if you’re going to wear tights when you slip these monuments in, get a gym membership.

  20. 20
    Modusoperandi

    Synfandel, I have a gym membership. In fact, several, but no matter how many membership cards I have I’m still not in shape. And you’d think I would be from carrying around all those damnably heavy monuments.

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