Are we a Judeo-Christian nation? Glenn Beck seems to think so; enough so that he thinks it’s okay to unconstitutionally hand out Bibles in an Orange County, Florida public school, but not Satanic texts. But Christianity should be given preferential treatment, because we’re a Judeo-Christian nation. Our laws are founded on that. Right? Back to that in a moment: first, Beck.
On last night’s television program, Beck went off on a tear about the news from Florida. The long and short of it is that Orange County (Orlando area) schools have long been allowing Evangelical Christian groups to come into schools and hand out religious materials. The practice has largely flown under the radar until recent days, when Satanic groups in Orlando decided to troll the school board by demanding that they, too, be allowed to distribute coloring books and activity sheets to students. The school board reacted by kicking all religious denominations and materials out of schools — which they should have done all along.
Beck sees it differently, though. He’s upset that the school board didn’t (in violation of the Constitution he loves) have “enough spine left to stand up to the Satanists.” Said Beck, a converted Mormon who believes in magic underwear:
“We are clearly a Judeo-Christian nation. [Society has begun to] coddle those who disagree with Judeo-Christian values. We are becoming openly hostile to our own foundation…We have tolerated and excused and embraced the ideals that are in direct opposition to our founding principles.”
Beck is, of course, referring to the popular myth that United States laws are based on the Ten Commandments. And some people, even in the legal system, believe that they are; enough so that there is in fact a visage of Moses behind the Supreme Court. Which is an entirely separate issue. But, fair enough — if all of our laws were based on the Ten Commandments, as an originating document, then there would certainly be some meat to the claim that we are, in fact, a “Judeo-Christian nation.”
Except…the Ten Commandments were derived from something earlier.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead, which Moses (like all Egyptians at the time) would have been quite familiar with.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead details the trials that a soul will have to go through in the afterlife. One of those trials is to stand before a judge in the Hall of Two Truths. There, the soul will have to recite a “negative confession.” Among those negative confessions, you can find about half of the Ten Commandments:
I have not reviled the God
I have not laid violent hands on an orphan.
I have not done what the God abominates.
I have not killed; I have not turned anyone over to a killer.
I have not caused anyone’s suffering
I have not copulated (illicitly); I have not been unchaste.
I have not increased nor diminished the measure, I have not diminished the palm; I have not encroached upon the fields.
I have not added to the balance weights; I have not tempered with the plumb bob of the balance.
I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth; I have not driven small cattle from their herbage
I have not stopped (the flow of) water in its seasons; I have not built a dam against flowing water.
I have not quenched a fire in its time
I have not kept cattle away from the God’s property.
I have not blocked the God at his processions.
Among those negative confessions (which every Egyptian knew by heart) you can find the commandments against murder, theft, bearing false witness and adultery. And those are the ones that influenced our laws. The remaining commandments (covetousness, honoring parents, the sabbath day, graven images, taking the Lord’s name in vain) that aren’t found in The Book of the Dead never made it into law in the United States.
However, in the Book of the Dead you will find a few other things that did make it into law here. Like prohibitions against child abuse, cheating in transactions, causing suffering (applicable mainly in civil court) and even environmental regulations about not diverting water, building illegal dams and keeping cattle from their rightful grazing grounds. Going by that alone, the Egyptians practically invented the concept of the EPA, civil court and Child Welfare Services.
So, are we a Judeo-Christian nation? It certainly looks like Moses knew to pick up on a few good ideas when he heard them. But, in terms of his likeness being behind the Supreme Court…well, maybe this would be more appropriate:
H/T: Right Wing Watch