Why is it that some conservatives automatically assume that Democrats are godless heathens? Or, to put it another way, why is it that some conservatives believe that only Republicans can be Christian, and Democrats can never be?

I ask this because of how our “new and improved” Milam County Commissioners Court meeting began this morning. Judge Barkemeyer told the crowd that many of his partisans had urged him to post the Ten Commandments in the county court room as soon as possible after he took office. As if, prior to Judge Barkemeyer’s ascension, the godless liberals had been running amok without regard to the tender sensibilities of all right-minded, God-fearing people.

Contrary to this thought, Barkemeyer said he found that the Ten Commandments were already posted in the court room, and had been for quite some time. He said that former Judge Frank Summers had posted a copy — done up nicely by his mother — shortly after taking office, at a time when the Constitutionality of actions like that were in question. Judge Summers agreed to leave his copy posted there for the time being.

“It probably took a lot of courage on his part to put this up there when he did,” Barkemeyer said.

That was very gracious and, hopefully, a lesson to religious conservatives that they don’t hold a monopoly on religion. Yes, Democrats go to church, too.

But, it begs this question — a question that troubled me throughout the debate about posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings: The Ten Commandments — all of the Old Testament, for that matter — represents vestiges of Judaism, of Jewish law. Christ came with a new Word, a New Covenant, laid out in the New Testament. The laws put forth there are embodied in the Beatitudes along with the twin directives of unconditionally loving one’s neighbor and treating “the least of my brethren as you would treat Me.”

So, why is it so important that the Ten Commandments be on display in every public place while the Beatitudes are never even mentioned by these supposed Christians?

I’ll stop the Sunday school lesson here but it would seem to me that our governmental leaders — especially those who are proud of how their Christianity informs their public service and especially at a time when our budgets grow thin and especially in a room where justice is meted out  — would do well to remember these three stories from the New Testament.


About Richard Stone

... is a husband, a father, a writer, a journalist, an activist, an avid reader of trash science fiction and an occasional folk/bluegrass guitar player. He loves to travel, UT sports, community theater and sharing a good bottle of wine with good friends.
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