PA School Lied About Reason for Canceling School Play »« Christian Privilege in Florida

Bruce Prescott’s Brief in the OK Ten Commandments Case

Bruce Prescott of the Oklahoma Faith Network, a Baptist who takes the traditional Baptist position of strong support for separation of church and state (which the Southern Baptist Convention abandoned about 35 years ago), has filed a brief in the lawsuit he filed challenging the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the state capitol grounds. He has some excerpts from it on his blog. I like that he attacks the ridiculous claim that the Ten Commandments are historical, not religious.

6. Historically, Baptists have affirmed the Divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible declares, and I affirm, the sacredness and holiness of the religious covenant being affirmed in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19), and it explicitly states that Moses recorded that God personally spoke and wrote down the Ten Commandments:

“These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. (Deuteronomy 5:22 NIV, cf. Exodus 24:12)

Historically, Baptists have affirmed the religious significance and purpose of the Ten Commandments as being the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith.

7. Many Baptists, as well as many other people of faith — Jewish, Christian and Muslim — continue to affirm that the Ten Commandments are properly understood to be the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith. Among them some, like myself, are horrified when attempts are made to have secular courts of law rule that the terms of this sacred and holy covenant no longer have any religious significance and meaning. In the long run, I believe the effect of such rulings serves to undermine sincere faith by trivializing the value of religious covenants.

8. Foremost among the terms in the covenant are those that identify Divinity. The word “God” appears six times, usually within the phrase “the Lord your God” (five times). The word “Lord” appears seven times. One of the commandments pertains to the dignity necessary when invoking Divinity and the special care necessary to assure that every invocation of God have meaning and significance:

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7 NIV)

I believe that the name of the Lord God is “misused” when declarations are made that the words “Lord” and “God” on Ten Commandments monuments are historical artifacts and no longer have religious meaning and significance. In effect, this undermines religion by negating the significance of the most sacred symbols of religious language.

And he concludes:

I have observed the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol from both within and outside the Capitol building. The placement of the monument makes viewing it unavoidable to any sighted person walking up and down the Northeast staircase of the Capitol building. The monument gives me the impression that the Oklahoma state government endorses a certain form of religion.

I have met many people walking up and down that staircase whom I know to be people of other faiths and people of no faith. People for whom both the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma State Constitution secure an equal right to freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I believe posting the Ten Commandments monument before unwelcoming eyes on government property sends a message that such persons are looked down upon as second class citizens by their government.

In other words, it is a blatant assertion of Christian privilege being defended on the ridiculous pretext that it isn’t religious at all, merely historical.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Bruce Prescott of the Oklahoma Faith Network, a Baptist who takes the traditional Baptist position of strong support for separation of church and state…

    If only more religionists were like that.

  2. says

    I believe posting the Ten Commandments monument before unwelcoming eyes on government property sends a message that such persons are looked down upon as second class citizens by their government.

    Sure, but us Real Americans have to use the monument. We tried peeing in the corner to mark our territory and it just wasn’t the same. Plus it made the corner smell like pee. The monument, thankfully, doesn’t.

  3. dingojack says

    “Historically, Baptists have affirmed the Divine inspiration and authority of the Bible.”
    “I believe that the name of the Lord God is “misused” when declarations are made that the words “Lord” and “God” on Ten Commandments monuments are historical artifacts and no longer have religious meaning and significance. ”

    So Baptists have historically believed* this is the word of god, but we get upset when people believe that that this is historical.
    Right.
    Dingo
    ———-
    * What, only affirmed? Oh ye of little faith!

  4. says

    I like how he both opposes the monument from the secular as well as the religious perspective.

    I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more religious people who object to the attempt to secular-wash these Ten Commandments monuments. I guess it’s just one more example of how religious display so often trumps sincere belief.

  5. tsig says

    If they keep insisting that the commandments have no religious value they should expect that people will treat the commandments as historical curiosities.

  6. dingojack says

    So the Baptists idea is:
    ‘ Other people might interpret these words differently from me. Indeed they might even have the temerity of thinking of this passage (one of two differing passages, and just 14 of the 615 or so ‘commandments’ god gave to those following the Jewish Faith, that we co-opted via the Catholic Church) as historical* rather than religious and the mere idea of that offends** me (and, possibly, is blasphemous). ‘
    Right outcome Bruce, but your reasoning stinks.
    Dingo
    ———
    * If being written down about 2600 years ago doesn’t make it historic — is the US Constitution non-historical too (it’s a lot younger)?
    ** And heaven forfend that a religious person might get even slightly offended !

  7. steve78b says

    They still have the WRONG 10 commandments. Remember that the ones given to the people by Moses end with …

    “34:26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
    34:27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
    34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
    I’m still trying to get an answer from the Capitol about changing to the PROPER 10 commandments.

    ……….. like herding slugs…….

    Steve….. unfortunately in OK

  8. vhutchison says

    Bruce Prescott is an energetic activist on separation issues and former member on the national board of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I consider him a friend and colleague who serves with us on the Board of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. He and I testified together against anti-evolution and attempts to place religion in public schools before the Oklahoma House Education Committee. I fully agree with his statement on the monument and his reasoning.

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    Bruce apparently doesn’t understand that the monument, like the National Motto, expresses nothing but ceremonial deism.

  10. eric says

    Modus:

    Sure, but us Real Americans have to use the monument. We tried peeing in the corner to mark our territory and it just wasn’t the same. Plus it made the corner smell like pee. The monument, thankfully, doesn’t.

    Look, there’s only so much water I can make Fluffy drink. Give me a couple more days, please. ;)

    Dingo:

    So Baptists have historically believed* this is the word of god, but we get upset when people believe that that this is historical.
    Right.

    Did I miss the [/snark] tag, or do you sincerely think your argument makes sense?

Leave a Reply