The Ten Commandments Resurface as the Personhood Amendment

Take a good look: this is the Constitution of the future

Okay, I admit this is really not news. The entire Christian fundamentalist movement(s) has as its goal “restoring” a Biblical society that never existed and basically turning back the clock to the “good old days” when the Church could punish with fiery death anyone who disagreed with it.

What the AFA has done is to promote a comprehensive agenda for this return. Supporters call it a “Personhood Amendment” which is a very positive-sounding name for something that is positively medieval in construction and intent. After all, these Christofascists aren’t really all that interested in persons if they’re gay, or Muslim, or pagan, or feminist. A lot of people, if the AFA and its cohorts on the religious right had its way, would lose their personhood.

The personhood amendment was already tried in Colorado. Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.”

They have managed to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot in Mississippi for 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial elections. According to realitycheck.org, “two prior efforts in 2005 and 2007 failed to win enough support to get the question before voters.” It reads as follows:

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

One problem is that the state’s Constitution doesn’t allow voter referendums to alter the Bill of Rights (maybe they should start calling it the Bill of Restrictions – or better, the Ten Commandments). Not at all certain how they intend to get through that except by pulling a “Dubya” and simply ignoring the Constitution. One happy coincidence for these medieval advocates: the American Family Association (AFA) is headquartered in Mississippi.

Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:

“So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.”


Bryan Fischer used the opportunity to push his usual violations of the Constitution and his vision of a medieval-style theocracy:

“One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.”


This is not just a move to ban abortion and overturn Roe vs. Wade but an attack on science and on the Constitution. It is also a violation of the Constitution because it promotes the viewpoint of a specific religion. It is the insistence at the heart of these amendments that a Christian viewpoint be the only relevant viewpoint that is the most objectionable. Most of these people, if polled, would likely react violently to any suggestion that Islamic principles govern the process; so why should Christian principles be seen as any less objectionable?
If you go to a site like personhood.net you find the following rationale:

Throughout the history of the Church the doctrinal teaching of the “Sanctity of Life” (Genesis 1:26-27) has been the belief that Man is created Imago Dei (Latin: in the image of God) and therefore has worth at all stages of life. This is the bedrock of Western civilization’s understanding and practice of human dignity.

Besides being misleading (human life was valued before Christianity) the statement is also demonstrably false. Christians slaughtered human beings of all ages with happy abandon for nearly 2000 years before the European Enlightenment freed the Western World of some of the Church’s darker practices – big killers too, like crusades, inquisitions, and witch-burnings – you know,  real pro-life activities.

Les Riely, sponsor of the Mississippi amendment, revealingly says,

Isaiah 59 tells us that ,’ the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear’ so we first give all praise and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ for hearing our prayers and giving us the victory in this round.

It’s Jesus this, Jesus that. Jesus isn’t in the Constitution. Neither is Christianity, neither are the Ten Commandments.

It’s a little late now to try to convince us you really do value life. Did you really have to kill millions to make that point? If all life is sacred, why do women have to die to save a fetus if her life is endangered by her pregnancy? That would have been the effect of the “life-loving” Colorado amendment.

There is no reason at all once you cast aside Christian insistence on being considered “True Religion” and the concomitant assertion that only their viewpoint is valid, which is exactly the determination government is not permitted to make according to the Constitution.

It is not as if Christians are being told they cannot be Christians, or hold firm to their religious convictions. No one is forcing Christians to have sex outside of marriage, or to have abortions, or to marry a person of the same sex, or to accept stem cell treatment. If you don’t believe it’s right, don’t do it. You have that right. But you positively do not have the right to force these beliefs on others by legislating them into law. The Constitution forbids this. The Constitution is about granting and defending rights; the Ten Commandments are about restricting them. Let’s not confuse them.

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19 Replies to “The Ten Commandments Resurface as the Personhood Amendment”

  1. The biggest problem with their idea of “personhood” is that their concern seems limited to the unborn. These same people are against the kind of comprehensive sex education that would greatly reduce abortions. They also consistently come out against programs that help actual children after birth (welfare of any kind), or would go a long way toward helping the sick (stem cell research). As you point out, they have no historical perspective or they would acknowledge that like all religions, Christianity has had its share of less than proud moments. It seems to completely elude them that while they are “protecting” the unborn, a number of children in this country are actually suffering, and some of them are people they consider “worthy.”
    But then again, they are completely incapable of appreciating irony.

  2. Hi Anne. Yeah, the irony seems to go right over their heads, as do facts of any kind. This is really tied to the whole idea of “restoring” the theocracy that our Founding Fathers obviously originally intended for this country. I don’t know how they missed the boat when they could have just done it then, rather than giving us the modern liberal democracy. I mean, how crazy is that?

  3. ” we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.””

    Straight out of the Koran. These people are paranoid, partially due to the fact the US is becoming the nation of many religions. The other part is simply becuase they are the US taliban.

    As far as I am concerned, politicians use christianity in the same way the crusaders did. They talk it but dont live it. Its obvious that the republican party, the party of god, puts money well before their feelings for their fellow humans. Jesus and the bible tell you what the value of your neighbor is over the value of money.

  4. What a bunch of looney people!
    We are not all believers in the Mumbo Jumbo called the Bible!
    Because some of us are SANE!

  5. Well, they know better and they just want to do it for our own souls, Lisette. Isn’t that what they’re telling us? My own opinion is that disagreeing with them weakens them and they can’t tolerate dissent because it’s a thing that spreads. Once somebody gets away with making their own choice (the definition of “heresy” by the way) they’ve gone and screwed it up for the believers. This is why Gerd Lüdemann writes that Christianity (and I suppose this includes Islam and Judaism as well) are not compatible with modern liberal democracy (Intolerance and the Gospel, 2006). There are plenty of people out there from these religions who have the flexibility of mind to make their religion compatible with the Constitution but fundamentalists can’t, and won’t, which makes it either us or them.

  6. They sure don’t see it, do they? Crusaders is indeed the most accurate term for them and they’re waging a spiritual war against us on levels most of us don’t even think about. I have sitting next to me a book of “Spiritual Warfare Prayers” published by the Moody Bible Institute in 1975. It is difficult to even fathom the thinking of these people until you are exposed to them, and most people have not been, and so laugh. But it’s no laughing matter.

  7. Georgia has also managed to get this on the ballot:
    “In 2011, GRTL will use the results of the ballot to lobby the Georgia Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 general election ballot.”

    I hear the boys in the state legislature were unable to answer questions about whether they would prosecute women who had spontaneous abortions or whether or not a period would be criminalized, but no matter. Let the women of America rest easy; so long as you don’t mind having your body governed by the religion of SOME, all is well.

    As for the stem cell aspect of this, I’m frankly beyond appalled that any state would try to restrict funding for medical science and access to the life-changing hope that stem cells can offer many people.

    I’m so glad you tackled this, Hraf. This is part of their chip away strategy. Every year they chip away at our rights and our freedoms. They have no right to dictate morality to anyone and for a “small government” party, the hypocrisy is immeasurable. When they’re not busy doing it through legislation, they (the extremist Christians) terrorize women and clinics and doctors, violating our rights again as we are entitled to unimpeded access. And yet most of the country goes on, drugged by consumerism or starved out by the neo-cons while they burn our constitution and the foundation of this country.

    Instead of trying to impose their moral beliefs re the law, why don’t they simply try to attract people to their way of thinking? I hear shame and guilt are big these days:-)

  8. They don’t want it to occur to anyone that Christians can actually live a “Christian life” (whatever that is) because there are no laws against it. It’s far easier to claim a war on Christianity because some of us don’t happen to agree with them. Pretty neat trick, huh? Saying, “No, I don’t think so” is an attack. The argument has been used, historically speaking, that the mere existence of non-believers is an attack on Christianity. We’re pretty well boned here when you’re dealing with attitudes like this.

    As you say, so much easier (and possibly more effective) to simply proselytize (and maybe lead by example?) but they’d rather do as their ancestors did and force us.

  9. Appalling! One might as well look at any other country with a theocracy form of government, stoning in Iran, Saudi Arabia, that is exactly the blue print that these religious zealots on the right would have America become.

    I have to give a huge round of congratulations to Politicususa for the team of writers that has been put together here. No matter what the subject matter might be, they always leave you thinking and feeling strong emotions about the topic. Kudos to all of you. Great job and looking forward to the year ahead and more great writing from Politicususa. Happy New Year.

  10. I seem to remember an article about how the Christos want the approval of the hated ‘elite’ because we think about things, so our opinions are rarely in favor of their ignorance.

  11. Especially when some of them use the Bible to defend slavery even now while using the Bible to condemn abortion…strange, twisted ideas of personhood

  12. Excellent work Hraf! These “person-hood” measures are on the books in 3 or 4 states and there are 13 others trying desperately to sneak them in. Even here in California they are very carefully and stealthily manuevering to get something passed. In fact, the Colorado measure that was defeated came from a California outfit.

    We always laugh and mock Christians by saying they would replace the Constitution with the big 10, but it isn’t a joke. These evil people are infiltrating the military (re: your post on atheists in the military), the schools, and the Congress. Where I live, there is a list of enemies of the church-state (their term) and because I was a minister in the past, I was sent a warning that my name is in the top 10. They also want to put women back in the Stone Age as soon as possible. This is a very real threat that will evolve quickly, and like the Nazi’s did in Germany, they will attempt to exterminate non-believers with the help of the general population. No minority will be safe.

    If Americans are not afraid, they should be. The covert actions will turn very overt and when they feel empowered, there will be a blood-bath. I am so happy you wrote this piece and only hope readers take it seriously. The Taliban will look tame compared to these Dominionist Christian Reconstructionists and no-one is safe. There is a reason George Bush used the word Crusade in his speeches. He was not only talking about Iraq and Afghanistan. We are on our way to a new Inquisition and Crusade. As an Atheist Zen Buddhist, I thank you.

  13. Rmuse, REALLY? Hmm, let’s see–the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”–Definite qualities of terrorism, right? That quote (Galations 5:22) is from the Bible, just so you know. Not sure where you’re getting the idea that Christianity will make the Taliban look tame. The above quote certainly doesn’t inspire hatred, loathing and using planes as weapons of mass destruction. If your fate was left in the hands of Islamic extremists or Bible believing Christians, can you honestly say, you’d rather trust yourself to a terrorist?

    I’ll tell you what you are afraid of however–Jesus Christ, and the idea that there really is a loving, all knowing, all powerful God who will come as both Savior and Judge. To Christians (as it should be even to unbelievers) Christ’s message is of love and grace and peace. But it is a different reality to unbelievers. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” 1Cor 1:18.

    And unfortunately, “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2Cor 4:4

    And yet this doesn’t have to be your fate. No one is born a believer; it’s why we must be born again, and that is a journey. All it takes is a heart open and searching for the truth. God is always faithful to respond.

    If ANY of you would truly study the evidence for the historicity of Christ, study the entirety of the Bible, PRAY for knowledge, wisdom and truth, you would have every opportunity to see the light. The Bible is replete with stories of unbelievers who encountered Christ and completely changed the direction of their life.

    I hope you will soberly consider what you believe and why you believe it.

  14. So if this passes, does this mean that women who’s bodies reject a fertilized egg or fetus in a miscarrage will be convicted of murder?
    Since when does the government have the right to tell a person that they can not use birth control?! What would happened to “personal rights” (as in the right to limit one’s family size)?
    Not to mention this planet is quickly becoming overpopulated, resources over-extended and there are already thousands of unwanted children living in group homes devoid of loving parents……. why make more??!!

    This is ridiculous.
    As are the religous people pushing for the law to pass.
    This country has a separation of church and state for this very reason. There are thousands of different religions, people who believe in , as well as those who do not believe in a god who make up the population of this country- therefore laws can not be erected that are bias to a particular belief or one religous book. That IS unconstitutional- and the founders of this nation knew this!

    The United States Government is a secular government, If you want a government ruled by religion then move to a country that is ruled by religion.

    Keep your religion out of my marrage, out of my right to use birth control, out of my bedroom and OUT OF the Government!

  15. John, I can tell you as a former ELCA Lutheran who has been a Heathen for 30+ years, I am not afraid of your White Christ and I very much doubt Rmuse is either.

    I say this as the descendant of men and women who were persecuted unto death to force them to worship your loving god. It wasn’t love and compassion that converted Europe to Christianity, John, it was reckless hatred and genocide on a grand scale. The only thing that freed us to talk about this after publication of the Theodosian Code in the early Fifth Century is the very secular European Enlightenment.

  16. Thank you, Rmuse. This is a topic on which I cannot ever write enough or well enough. We need all our wits and our resources to combat this evil growing in our midst. Heathenism (often referred to as Ásatrú) an en Buddhism are two different spiritual paths that have in common that they have a big ole target on them from Christian fundamentalism. The rest of us (by that I mean non-Christians) have a lot more in common with each other than we do with those who seek to take away our Constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties.

  17. Hrafnkell,

    That was my point about the crusades. Forced conversion is no kind of conversion. And predominantly, the European conversion was unforced. And here’s the proof: when it’s forced–it doesn’t stick. Those that choose to hold the sacred name of Christ on their lips do so under no compulsion, and the dominance of European conversion and the remnant that came to America is pretty irrefutable.

    That said, please remember, I said the crusades were bad! I definitely agree with you there–and anything horrific done in the name of “religion” can never be excused. I’m not saying that so called “christian” people haven’t done horrific things in the name of Jesus–they have–but what I’m saying is that those people were NOT representative of Christ, his teachings or the word of God in general. So in that sense, it’s not Christianity that is doing heinous things in the world; it’s very UN-Christian people doing heinous things under the guise of Christianity. Two very different things.

    As to my “white” Christ I’m not even sure what you’re talking about. Being born to a Jewish girl in the middle east surely made the Jesus that walked the earth very brown/dark.

    I sense that there is a deep offense towards Christianity for something that may have happened to you, your family or your ancestors and for that I’m truly sorry. Anything that drives us away from the living God and the truth is the biggest shame imaginable.

    But Jesus does remain. He absolutely and whole-heartedly loves you. And if you ever choose to open the door to him, he will enter and give you incredible peace–not to mention forgiveness and eternal salvation!!

    Peace.

  18. Why would fundamentalist Christians(A movement in Christianity that is tied more to basic Calvanism than Catholicism) be interested in turning back time to when the Church(Which is.. well Catholic.) had more power? Don’t Fundamentalists generally view Catholics as the spawn of Satan?

    I’ve read a number of your articles and they all bear similar inconsistencies. This seems rather intellectually dishonest from a man who is both historically aware and philosophically trained.

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