U.S. Law is not Based on the Ten Commandments. Get Over It.

Lynn Westmoreland

(You might remember Lynn Westmoreland from The Colbert Report last year. Image from Back Door Boy In A Front Door World)

I found a great website, The Skeptic Report. In addition to covering the usual frauds—such as psychics, UFOs, homeopathy, etc.—it has a section on creationism, which I have added to my sidebar. It also has a more general section on religion. In there, I found an article on the Ten Commandments that I was planning to write. Theirs is at least as good as mine would have been, so just go read that.

The article asks:

Is American law based upon the 10 Commandments? Let us examine them.

It then looks at each commandment in turn to determine if it’s something we built our laws on. The article concludes with [slightly reformatted for emphasis]:

Out of the ten commandments:

  • Four (1, 2, 3, 10) are counter to American laws.
  • Three (6, 8, 9) are part of our legal system, but are part of just about every legal system in history. [and predate the 10 Commandments]
  • Two (4, 5) are not a part of our laws.
  • One (7) may or may not be a part of state or local laws.

Even in a state that has laws concerning #7, that still means less than half of the 10 commandments carry any legal weight, and an equal number are illegal to enforce.

Those that claim the 10 commandments are our basis for law apparently do not know the law very well. The only thing funnier is those that want it posted illegally in schools “to teach children respect for the law”.

Go over to Skeptic Report and read the whole article. Save it to your hard drive. The next time one of your fundie relatives sends you an email about how U.S. law is based on the Ten Commandments, send them a copy of this.

12 Responses to “U.S. Law is not Based on the Ten Commandments. Get Over It.”

  1. ericsan Says:

    I was checking it out earlier and found a really well written article about the question “do you believe in evolution”.

  2. Parrotlover77 Says:

    And of course, in honor of the late, great, George Carlin, you do realize there really only needs to be ONE commandment. 🙂


  3. arkonbey Says:

    NOT defending the ‘our laws are based on the ten commandments’ at all, but #4 could be considered to have been part of some local and state laws: Blue Laws that prohibit sales of alcohol and whether certain establishments can be open on a Sunday.

  4. Ron Britton Says:


    That’s a good point. I had forgotten about the blue laws. I suspect a lot of fundies would like to reinstate them. Part of the “traditional values” they’re always going on about.

  5. LadyRavana Says:

    To sneak around the First Amendment many have adopted the tactic of calling it an “historical document” and “the basis for our system of law”, often trying to post it as part of a larger display with historical documents. To me, this is like trying to make a marijuana plant legally acceptable by planting daisies and gardenias around it and calling it a botanical display.

    LOL! I love that description. Great article.

    Yeah…I’m gonna bookmark this article. If I ever come across a Fundie that says “The only law is God’s law!” All I have to do is whip this out and shove it under their nose. :p

  6. Jeremy White Says:

    I live in Indiana and blue laws are still in effect.

    I don’t see how it’s legal to have a law strictly forbidding sales of alcohol on Sunday and CHRISTmas. It was ridiculous having to drive an hour to Illinois for beer runs in college (the beer bought on Saturday would unfailing be consumed immediately!)

    And Tennessee’s laws are even worse!

  7. LadyRavana Says:

    I found another great article: A Call to Heresy.


    I think that it’s even better than the Ten Commandments article-LOL!

  8. Parrotlover77 Says:

    The problem with blue laws is it’s hard to get them reversed. I’m not entirely sure why. I mean, yes, there is the religious component (nobody needs to drink when they should be at church, afterall), but there’s more to it than that. One possible reason may be the negative connotation it has.

    Probably the same reason why it’s SO hard to decriminalize (let alone legalize) marijuana. It’s medically no worse than alcohol (as long as it is not smoked), but the negative public view kills attempts to make more permissive laws for the use of it.

  9. Sue Blue Says:

    Sam Harris makes some excellent points about the ten commandments in “The End of Faith”. Refuting fundies who claim that American law is based on them and that there can be no morality without the sky-fairy’s stone tablets, he points out that in the first commandments God seems to be way more concerned about people showing him the proper respect rather than giving humans guidelines for better lives. Apparently god’s number one concern was not whether humans were murdering each other or banging their neighbor’s spouse – it was that they acknowledge that Yahweh’s better than Baal or Moloch or Zeus or….oh, and by the way, don’t kill or steal….Yahweh – he the Man!

  10. sus Says:

    Colorado still has the blue laws, too. No alcohol on Sunday and only 3.2 beer in grocery stores (the one Super Target in Denver permitted to sell alcohol because of some bizarre loophole about a pre-existing liquor store in the spot has to actually rope off their liquor section on Sundays). It makes it a PITA when cooking with wine on Sunday only to find out you drank it all the night before. So far all attempts to repeal them there haven’t worked. Apparently the liquor lobby wants them. And people paint it as helping small businesses. I’m no economist so I have no idea if that’s a valid argument. But when the fundies and the liquor lobby align, I’m askeered.

  11. sus Says:

    Sorry for the double post. I didn’t realize we couldn’t edit.

    Here’s another great article on the 10 commandments.

  12. cognitive dissident Says:

    Great article…thanks for posting about it!

    I saw Carlin do his “Ten Commandments” bit in concert several years ago, and I can’t help hearing his voice when reading this article.