Monday, November 12, 2007

The REAL Story Behind the Ten Commandments

Every now and then, not very often (NOT!), a new school prayer or Ten Commandments case finds its way into the American courts and news media. When I read Shopping for God a couple of weeks ago, I came across this interesting tidbit regarding two of those cases.

As Cecil B. DeMille readied his costly Paramount production of The Ten Commandments for release, he happened on an ingenious publicity scheme. In partnership with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a nationwide association of civic-minded clubs founded by theater owners, he sponsored the construction of several thousand Ten Commandments monuments throughout the country. DeMille, a Jew, was interested in plugging the film, not Christianity.

A generation later, two of these DeMille-inspired granite monuments, first in Alabama and then on the grounds of the Texas capital in Austin, became the focus of the Ten Commandments case before the U.S. Supreme Court. What was essentially an advertisement for an entertainment had become a deadly seriously pronouncement of in-your-face faith (Twitchell, 2007, p.5).

This is a photo (courtesy of Wikipedia) of the monument that still stands on the grounds of the Texas state capital:

Is this hilarious or what? Religious Right fanatics, who don't or won't acknowledge that their freedom of worship entails that they allow the same privilege to folks of other faiths, and that folks of no faith must be free not to worship, tied themselves in legal knots over a couple of elaborate movie ads. I must admit, though, granite monuments are far more impressive than posters.


Barbara said...

the funny thing is that the Ten Commandments are rules that all humanity live by and it applies ti everyone.

If this was based on some aboriginal legend, then it would be OK and everyone would just view it for what it was ... wisdom. But because it's based on a Christian belief, suddenly it's being crammed down everyone's throat.

Evie said...

You have to keep in mind that the religious right in the USA is substantially more confrontational than in Canada. They talk a lot about the USA being a "Christian nation," taking the nation back for God (which means living according to their very narrow, exclusive interpretation of Christian living. The people who take these cases to court aren't promoting wisdom in general, they're promoting a very conservative Christian view that has no respect for beliefs that don't match their own.

There is a very interesting situation developing now, somewhere in the midwest or west. Last year, a conservative Christian group in some city got permission to mount a Christian display on public property. This year, a Buddhist group wants to put up a display and the Christians are howling. They never dreamed that any group other than theirs would take advantage of the concession. The fact is, however, that the US Constitution neither prohibits nor promotes any particular religion. If Christians have a right to express their faith publicly, then so do Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, etc. The Christian Religious Right does not want equal time and exposure for all faiths, it wants exclusive exposure for its brand of faith. I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way in a republican democracy. Get over it, RR.

Evie said...

The Buddhist controversy is taking place in Bloomington, Indiana.

Buddhists had a display at City Hall, some Christians protested, the city responded by taking down the 10 Commandments display, saying the Christians hadn't gone through the proper procedures to mount it!

Anotherplayaguy said...

What always cracks me up is the FACT the the Ten Commandments (at least two different versions thereof) are OLD TESTAMENT documents, i.e. Jewish, not particularly Christian. Why the evangelicals get so worked up about them is a mystery. Jesus, if he existed, said, "If you do not hate your mother and father, you cannot be my follower." Seems to violate one of those ten.