The Ten Commandments Of Republican Hypocrisy

“Black Vote, Black Power,” a collaboration between Keith Boykin and Word In Black, 
examines the issues, the candidates, and what’s at stake for Black America in the 2024 presidential election.

Republican Governor Jeff Landry has signed a blatantly unconstitutional law requiring “the display of the Ten Commandments in every classroom in public, elementary, secondary, and post-education schools in the state of Louisiana.”

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The announcement didn’t go over well with the 10-year-old girl who fainted as the governor was speaking. Maybe she knew the Republicans were full of something other than the holy spirit.

But convicted criminal and serial adulterer Donald Trump quickly chimed in. “Who likes the Ten Commandments?” Trump asked a crowd at a Saturday rally. The crowd roared. “Has anybody read this?” he asked.

White evangelicals weaponize religious dogma to protect white supremacy.

So, let’s look at how Republicans stack up on those commandments.

Number 1. You shall have no other gods before me. But Republicans have developed a bizarre cult-like worship of Donald Trump as a messianic figure in American politics. “I am the chosen one,” says the man facing three additional criminal trials in the coming months.

Number 2. You shall not make any graven image. But Republicans are making golden statues to idolize Donald Trump. 

Number 3. You shall not use the Lord’s name in vain. Somebody forgot to tell Donald Trump. “If you don’t support me,” Trump said at a campaign rally, “you’re going to be so goddamn poor you’re not going to believe it.”

Number 4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. But when Trump was in office, it seems he never attended church — except for holidays, funerals, and photo ops. He was too busy golfing, tweeting, and attending parties instead.

Number 5. Honor your father and your mother. In 1927, Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in New York City. I’ll give him a pass on that commandment. Like father, like son. 

Number 6. You shall not murder. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody,” Trump once said, “and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” I don’t know if he’s done it, but he’s certainly thought about it. And Trump has no problem celebrating killers like Kyle Rittenhouse, the man who gunned down two Black Lives Matter protesters.

Number 7. You shall not commit adultery. Is there anybody in politics today who’s committed more adultery than Donald Trump? The man had an affair with a Playboy Playmate while his wife was pregnant. He was just ordered to pay $83 million for defaming a woman he sexually abused. And he was just convicted of 34 felonies after paying hush money to a porn star.

Number 8. You shall not steal. The guy stole money from the students of his fake university, ripped off his fake charity, and was just fined nearly half a billion dollars for business fraud

Number 9. You shall not lie. In four years as president, Trump told 30,000 lies in office. Do you know how efficient you have to be to tell that many lies in public in one term? That’s 21 lies a day. Trump is like the Tom Brady of lying. Even if he only slept three hours a night, that’s a lie every hour. And who knows how many lies he told in private?

Number 10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s property or your neighbor’s wife. In the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, Trump told Billy Bush that he once met a married woman and “moved on her like a bitch.”

By my count, Trump and the Republicans don’t follow nine of the Ten Commandments. I think they skipped most of those rules in Trump’s new $59.99 Bible. But to quote Trump, “How stupid are the people of the country” to buy a Bible from a guy who doesn’t go to church, never asked God for forgiveness, and can’t quote a Bible verse

Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump cheered on Republican Governor Jeff Landry for signing an unconstitutional law requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in every classroom in Louisiana public schools. (Photo by Allison Bailey / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP) 

But their hypocrisy serves a purpose. Many white evangelicals weaponize religious dogma to protect white supremacy, while Black evangelicals tend to use religion to protect the oppressed. For many Black Christians, spirituality is not just a rulebook to impose on other people but a manual for liberation that grows out of the Black prophetic tradition — a tool for love, not a weapon of hate.

So, why are Republicans doing this? 

They need an election-year diversion.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that Ten Commandments displays in public schools violate the Constitution, which says the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Republicans know this, but they need an election-year diversion. They’re fighting against universal pre-K, free school lunches, a permanent child care tax credit, and protecting kids from school shootings, so they want to distract you with hot-button social issues like the Ten Commandments and transgender students instead of doing their jobs.

Louisiana ranks 48th out of 50 states in child well-being, and instead of fixing the schools, they’re banning books and requiring parental consent for students to have access to knowledge. But when it comes to having somebody else’s religion shoved down your throat, there is no parental consent for parents who are Muslim, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, or even Christians who believe in the old-fashioned separation of church and state.

So when that schoolgirl fainted during Jeff Landry’s self-congratulatory speech, that should have been a sign. Maybe God is trying to tell you something.

Keith Boykin is a New York Times–bestselling author, TV and film producer, and former CNN political commentator. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Keith served in the White House, cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, cohosted the BET talk show My Two Cents, and taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. He’s a Lambda Literary Award-winning author and editor of seven books. He lives in Los Angeles.

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