Living in the south or sort-of south for all of my life, I've becomed accustomed to displays of the Ten Commandments at all sorts of public buildings, usually at courthouses and in schools. I hear about this more in Georgia than I did in Virginia though.
Lately, these have been in the news as someone who has actually read the first amendment to the constitution inevitably decides this violates the establishment clause (read, separation of church and state). I don't have a problem with the Ten Commandments per se (they're a pretty good guide to living a pretty decent life), but I do have a problem with those folks who seem hell bent on retaining them in our public spaces--the beliefs of those residents be damned.
Now, I'm guessing you'll say that there aren't many Buddhists or Muslims in many of these small towns to begin with, so who's going to get offended. Well, last time I counted, there are a lot of different denominations that all claim the ten commandments, not to mention Judaism, and they all could use different translations. So what's the preferred version? The one favored by Southern Baptists? Or by Catholics (OK, I didn't even write that one with a straight face).
The thing is, people like former Judge Roy Moore in Alabama and his organization want to establish their particular brand of fundamentalist, conversative, evangelical religion, even at the expense of some more liberal strains of Christianity such as Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Catholic--again not to mention Judaism.
To a fault, their usual argument (echoed by Justice Scalia no less) is that these commandments are the basis for U.S. law. To that, I say Horsehockey! The basis for U.S. is the consitution. The same constitution that expressly forbids the establishment of a state religion.
So where did these displays come from. I'm sure a lot of them came from well-meaning public servants; others from conservative ideologues; and others from sources less clear.
Now, for my Pual Harvey moment. It seems that many of these were erected along with the marketing push for the Cecil B. DeMille film, The Ten Commandments. And now you know the rest of the story. Stolen shamelessy from Mefi.
*excluding Charlton Heston of course.