As the campaign unfolds, Mike Huckabee sounds less like a former governor, and more like a religious right activist with reporters following him around.
[W]hen he was pressed on whether he would continue certain practices he began in the Arkansas state house, such as a Christian Heritage Week or hanging the Ten Commandments in his office, Huckabee said, “[I] don’t know why I wouldn’t.”
As for the Ten Commandments in the Oval Office, ‘the Ten Commandments are in the Supreme Court,’ Huckabee said, adding that he ‘wouldn’t hesitate’ to hang them in the White House. ‘The Ten Commandments form the basis of most of our laws and therefore, you know if you look through them does anybody find anything there that would be all that objectionable? I don’t think most people would if they actually read them,’ he said.
The problem here, though, is that the candidate who doesn’t know anything about foreign policy, national security, immigration policy, economic policy, or history also is confused about the Ten Commandments, which presumably should be his specialty.
First, the notion that the Ten Commandments ‘form the basis of most of our laws’ is transparently ridiculous. I don’t know if Huckabee has looked at the Commandments lately, but just the opposite is true.
The Ten Commandments, for example, make several religious commands: no false gods, honor the Sabbath, no idolatry, no using the Lordâ€™s name in vain. They also include plenty of tips for good living: honor your parents, don’t commit adultery, don’t covet a bunch of stuff, don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.
Are any of these reflected in our laws? Of course not. There are laws against stealing and killing, but it’s fair to say those laws originate more from common sense than the Book of Exodus.
As for Huckabee’s assertion that the Ten Commandments are ‘in the Supreme Court,’ this, too, is just religious right claptrap, which reasonable, informed people usually avoid.
Here’s the story: there’s a frieze just below the ceiling in the court’s main chamber that depicts the evolution of the law over the past several centuries. As part of the decorative horizontal band, there’s a depiction of Moses cradling two tablets, which is obviously meant to represent the Ten Commandments.
Does this mean the Commandments are ‘in the Supreme Court’? Hardly. The text of the Decalogue isn’t even part of the frieze. Besides, Moses is hardly the only figure on the display.
Also included are Confucius, Mohammad, the Old Testament’s Solomon and Hammurabi, founder of the ancient Babylonian Empire. (Ironically, Hammurabi is depicted being given his famous law code by Shamash, the Babylonian sun god, meaning that the sole depiction of a deity at the high court is a Pagan god.)
The frieze also contains non-religious figures who shaped the law, such as Napoleon, Charlemagne and ancient Greek and Roman figures. The clear purpose of the frieze is to educate about how the law developed, not endorse religion or state that U.S. law is based on a specific religious code.
It’s another one of those examples in which a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Huckabee probably heard some TV preacher mention the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court and immediately accepted it as fact. He seems to do that quite a bit.