In today’s world, slogans often replace facts. Victims of this tendency include the Ten Commandments. Yes, everybody says the Ten Commandments are a good thing and all civilised nations believe in them. What wonderful rhetoric! But what is the reality?
Few nations give even lip service to “I am the Lord your God”. Even fewer can honestly say they have no other gods before God.
They all use the Divine Name or other pious phrases in vain. They take no notice of the Sabbath. They give honour, not to parents – or children – but to the rich, the noisy and the powerful.
The laws against killing, stealing, committing adultery, bearing false witness – none of these principles is seriously upheld, regardless of the rhetoric. Not coveting? Everyone else’s turf is greener and we all wish we had it.
Don’t talk to me about keeping the Ten Commandments.
Some would argue that the separation of Church and State makes it all harder. Personally, I think it actually helps. History provides more than enough evidence of religion using State power for its own ends, and vice-versa. Neither is constructive.
When people have to be coerced into religion out of fear of State sanctions it compromises the freedom of the individual conscience. How can I be dragooned into a religious affiliation against my conscience and convictions?
When the State uses religion as an instrument of power and social control, it compromises both the self-respect of the State and the religious duty of saying “Thus saith the Lord” even against potentates and princes.
There must be ongoing dialogue between Church and State, but neither should be an instrument of the other.