Representative Wants Ten Commandments in Federal Buildings; Can Only Name Three

Westmoreland on Colbert Report - ten commandmentsRep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), during a clearly uncomfortable interview on the Colbert Report, was pushed into a tight corner when questioned about a bill he co-sponsored requiring the display of the ten commandments in the House of Representatives and Senate. Link to Crooks & Liars video (via Political Wire):

Stephen Colbert: You co-sponsored a bill requiring the display of the ten commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: mmm-hmm.

Colbert: Why was that important to you?

Westmoreland: Well, the ten commandments is not a bad thing for people to understand and to respect.

Colbert: I’m with ya.

Westmoreland: Where better place could you have something like that than in a judicial building, or in a courthouse?

Colbert: That is a very good question. Can you think of any better building to put the ten commandments in, than in a public building?

Westmoreland: No. I think that if we were totally without ’em we may lose a sense of our direction.

Colbert: What are the ten commandments?

Westmoreland: What are all of em? You want me to name ’em all?

Colbert: Yes, please.

Westmoreland: Hmmmm [looking at ceiling]… [Colbert holds up hands for counting]… Don’t murder… Don’t lie… Don’t steal… Uhhhhh…. I can’t name ’em all.

It’s an anti-idiotarian campaign ad in the making folks.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

33 Comments
  1. Geez, I’ve attended one church service in my life and I can do better than that.

    Don’t murder
    Don’t lie
    Don’t steal
    Don’t commit adultery
    Don’t worship graven images
    Honor your father and your mother

    Three more than that dude.

  2. Westmoreland: Where better place could you have something like that than in a judicial building, or in a courthouse?

    Colbert: That is a very good question. Can you think of any better building to put the ten commandments in, than in a public building?

    Westmoreland: No.
    ———————–
    I guess we won’t even need churches anymore.

  3. Aside from the obvious flaw (none of the commandments are “don’t” anything), he only got 2. Don’t lie isn’t one of the Ten Commandments, even if you were to phrase it “thou shalt not lie” it just isn’t in there. (Oh, and Nigel, it’s don’t MAKE any graven images, so you only got two more than that dude, as long as we’re being technical.)

  4. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” is commonly understood as “Don’t lie.”

  5. No, I’m wrong. Just one.

    The ones we didn’t mention yet are:
    Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me.
    “Thou shalt not swear falsely by the name of the LORD…”
    “Remember [zachor] the Sabbath day and keep it holy”

  6. The Protestant 10 Commandments, the somewhat different Catholic 10 Commandments, or the Jewish 17 Utterances of Moses which are no more or less valid than the iirc 599 other Biblical Commandments?

    We also get to interpretations, such as ‘Thou shalt not commit murder’ implies ‘thou shalt not commit suicide’ implies ‘if someone is planning to kill you, rise up and deal with him first’.

  7. No kidding. There are actually two different versions of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. The alternative version, which is often ignored, includes the commandment: “Thou shalt not seeth a kid in it’s mothers milk.”

  8. I wonder how many of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, our Bill of Rights, he could name. That’s what should be posted in the House and Senate, visible from where votes are cast.

  9. If a person is about to kill you will a gun, can defending yourself be interpreted as suicide? Of course, since killing is not allowed, you can not kill your attacker.

    Just having fun twisting things around.

  10. The word is unambiguously ‘murder’ not ‘kill’ in the original, and a standard though not uniform rabbinical interpretation–my friend the synagogue president tells me–mandates killing people who are trying to murder you.

    When I said ‘two versions of the ten commandments’ I meant that the translations vary a great deal from each other.

  11. Despite the fact that I disgree with Westmoreland on this and most other social issues, he has been a decent Congressman (he represents me).

    Not to mention he co-sponsored our ballot access legislation when he was in the Georgia General Assembly.

  12. re: “In fact, I did a version of those about 5 or 6 years ago.”

    It would be interesting to post your version in an Alabama courthouse and see what happens.

  13. jason–
    how has he been a decent Congressman? what has he done? I mean, he’s managed not to get indicted, but hopefully your bar is higher than that.

  14. …during a clearly uncomfortable interview on the Colbert Report, was pushed into a tight corner…

    IMO, if Westmoreland felt this Bill was worthwhile and pandering to everyone’s interests and not just his and his cronies own, he would be more specific and confident and not to wishy-washy.

    Besides that, Westmoreland should go to Bible Study and learn something, and not just go for the coffee and donuts.

  15. Two observations…

    1) I consider a Congressman who sits around and does nothing to be a pretty good Congressman in this age…

    2) The Commandment is murder, not kill, there’s a huge difference.

  16. there are two versions of the 10 commandments in the Bible.

    One starts at Exodus 20:1 and the other at Deuteronomy 5:6.

    One is from the J source and one is from the E source.

    Notice that one of the commandments contains ‘bills of attainder’ where it provides punishments down to the third and fourth generation.

    In other words, one of the 10 commandments is unconstitutional.

  17. Westmoreland states he got 7 out of 10, according to his press guy – but states that part was edited out – which is the reason why you are watching comedy and not fact. Remember, Colbert is a parody of Fox, so likewise, he is going to edit similarly to make his case. He is brilliant.

    Either way, I think the guy is an absolute imbicile for trying to force religion on state, especially when he doesn’t even know what he is talking about. He should know those commandments inside out in order to remain credible. And credible, he most certainly isn’t!

    Thank you Colbert for bringing the truth out!

  18. You gotta like that, a religious right-winger bragging that he knows 7 of the 10 commandments.

    How much you wanna bet he left the adultery one out? :-)

  19. People should actually read the ten commandments. There are at least two incompatible versions, and in both the penalties for violation are clearly spelled out, and it is in nearly all cases, death. Steal a loaf of bread, sass your parents, play hookey from church; all death, usually by stoning. Yeah, these are a great basis for civilized behavior all right!
    People who want to impose their religion by means of the state, should at least know what it claims.

  20. I suspect politics crept into the ten commandments as soon as the crowd gathered to hear them the first time. The authoritarians probably tried to lend gravity to rules that really didn’t need any more of it, by making violation a stoning offense. And so, the trend to pass magical, problem-ending laws, and get people to follow them when that doesn’t work, continues…

    I’m not saying we don’t need them, just that authoritarians are doomed to failure, especially with a new crop of teenagers every year.

  21. I think these are some of the ones he missed:

    Thy shalt not run with scissors
    Thy shalt not drink milk after the expiration
    Thy shalt not remove the tag from your mattress
    Thy shalt not squeeze the Charmin

  22. “The Ten Commandments” in whatever form was part of the body of law that the ancient Hebrews accepted in order to make a covenant with the god Yahveh for him to be their god and for them to be his people. The only people nowadays in any way would be bound by them are descendants of those Hebrews. Gentile Chrisians are not bound to obey them (Epistles of Paul, passim, and Acts chapter 15 so state).