The Missing Eleventh Commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Commit Politics

Published in the Rocky Mountain News, February 20, 2000.


I write in response to Etta Hulme's classic cartoon, which appeared in your commentary section of February 12. In it, Moses is coming down Mt. Sinai wondering if anything could be missing after God had given the Ten Commandments. In the background, a tablet falls from the sky, which reads: "XI. Thou shalt not commit politics."

Perhaps the reason that politics brings out the worst in us is that so much political activity violates the Ten Commandments. God ordains government, but on nowhere near the scale of that to which we are accustomed. Our Bill of Rights is more accurately a bill of prohibitions, which forbids our federal government from violating the Ten Commandments in the exercise of its functions. How do governments do this? Let us count down and see.

With the Eighth and Tenth Commandments, God put His stamp of approval on private property. The desire to have that which belongs to someone else is so strong that God devoted two commandments to it. Our oppressive tax system and lavish welfare state are symptoms of this desire. If enough people would internalize these commandments in their own lives, we could turn Washington, D.C., into a ghost town.

The Ninth Commandment forbids lying, which is the defining trait of so much political activity.

The Seventh Commandment forbids adultery. That man in the White House is not at all unique among politicians.

The Sixth Commandment forbids murder. In the twentieth century, almost 200 million people died at the hands of their governments.

The Fifth Commandment ordains the family as the primary form of government. Rogue governments seek to destroy the family, as loyalty to family subverts loyalty to the state.

The First through Fourth Commandments deal with our faith in God, which runaway governments ultimately seek to suppress, as it undermines faith in the state. If state power is to be total, the state must crush anything that stands in its way. This is why institutionalized atheism and religious persecution are key characteristics of totalitarian regimes.

It matters not how good the intentions behind this or that political program might be. When governments go beyond those very few things of which they are capable, they not only violate the Ten Commandments, they are doomed to failure. How can they make us better people and improve our lives when they themselves act so wickedly?

Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman

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