Ten Commandments

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The Ten Commandments are rules which, as Jews, Christians and Muslims believe, were given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai.

While Jews, Catholics and Protestants all agree on there being ten commandments, the three differ as to how to divide the text into commandments.

They are recorded in the Bible in the book of Exodus (chapter 20):

20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,
20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

These can also be found in Deuteronomy 5:1-22.

There is an ongoing dispute in the United States concerning the posting of the Ten Commandments on public property. Conservative religious groups, angry about the banning of officially-sanctioned prayer from public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court, desire to increase the influence of religion in public life and test the boundaries of the separation of church and state. As a result they have succesfully lobbied many state and local governments to display the ten commandments in public buildings. Liberals oppose this, arguing that it is violating the separation of church and state. Conservative groups claim that the commandments are not neccessarily religious, but represent the moral and legal foundation of society. Liberal groups counter that they are explicitly religious, and that statements of monotheism like "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" are unacceptable to many religious viewpoints, such as atheists or followers of polytheistic religions. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have therefore launched lawsuits challenging the posting of the ten commandments in public buildings. Many commentators see this as part of a wider kulturkampf (culture war) between liberal and conservative elements in American society.

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