In discussions on whether it’s appropriate for government agencies and/or courts to display religious documents such as the Ten Commandments, people often suggest that doing so is legitimate because The Founders were all deeply religious men, their beliefs — and the Constitution — ultimately shaped by Christianity.
At Common Dreams, in Moses Didn’t Write The Constitution, Thom Hartmann makes the case that, Christian or not, Jefferson was adamant about not including the Commandments in the Constitution, and that they are not, in fact, “the very basis of American law.”
The reason was simple, Jefferson said. British common law, on which much American law was based, existed before Christianity had arrived in England … In a February 10, 1814 letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, Jefferson addressed the question directly. “Finally, in answer to Fortescue Aland’s question why the Ten Commandments should not now be a part of the common law of England we may say they are not because they never were.”
More interesting stuff in the piece…