Aseret Had'Varim in Tension: The Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights
Journal of Church and State, Vol. 49, p. 683, 2007
26 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2007 Last revised: 26 Jan 2010
Date Written: July 15, 2007
This essay describes the way in which the Ten Commandments and the Constitution are in conflict: It is in large part the Bill of Rights which bars the Ten Commandments from serving a functional role in American criminal law. For example, the First Commandment ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me") cannot become a part of the criminal law because of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion.
This simple observation unsettles the shibboleth that The Ten Commandments are a foundation of American law, and challenges the presentation of the two as companion documents.
Keywords: constitution, bill of rights, ten commandments
JEL Classification: K14, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation