prisoner hands holding jail bars
Prisoners in one Minnesota jail may soon have no choice but to view Christian messaging.

A routine tour of Minnesota’s new Itasca County jail unveiled some pretty shocking jailhouse decor: a two-story tall display of the Ten Commandments, pro-Christian quotes from politicians painted on the walls, and more. Secular activists are demanding the publicly-funded jail remove the offending quotes, arguing they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment

Others say they should stay, insisting the religious references provide inspirational and heartwarming messages to people who need them most.

Cons and the Constitution

You’d be forgiven if you walked into the Itasca County jail and thought you’d stepped into church instead.

Christian quotes, many of them from famous politicians, are painted all over. And these aren’t just Bible verses hung up in the break room. Two quotes from Ronald Reagan are displayed directly above jail cells:

  • "Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face."
  • "If we ever forget we’re one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under."

Most notably, however, the jail also prominently features a two-story-tall display of the Ten Commandments painted on a wall in the facility’s gym. It is this massive display which has caused the most controversy.

Repaint and Repent

It’s unclear how much of the jail’s $75 million budget went to sourcing these religious quotes and painting them on the wall, but secular activists say they better find some cash to pay a painter to remove them.

“A Ten Commandments display, especially where the government holds a captive audience, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” wrote the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a letter to the jail, imploring them to remove all of the religious quotes. “Constituents – including prisoners – have the right to be free from government proselytization. Prisoners do not shed their rights by virtue of being in prison,” the group said. 

The letter asks prison officials to “repaint and repent,” suggesting they "paint over the quotes and Ten Commandments display, then apologize to constituents for wasting money on two paint jobs."

What Happens Next?

Many locals agreed the display was inappropriate. One woman who toured the jail said that "the whole time I was thinking if I were in here, it would be very clear to me that I was not in a safe place," and another agreed that it was “government imposing religion," calling the whole situation “audacious and reckless.”

But not everyone’s on the same page – including some public officials.

Itasca County Sheriff Joe Dasovich wasn’t responsible for the religious displays, but he isn’t sure he wants them taken down, either. Dasovich said he’s still weighing the decision to remove them, but he believes they were meant simply to “encourage and support” inmates, and are “not intended to offend or create division.” 

With prisoners reportedly entering the jail soon, and with no formal decision yet made on if the display will stay or go… the clock is ticking.

What do you think should happen? Are these religious displays in a publicly-funded jail blatantly unconstitutional, as critics say?


  1. Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP's Avatar Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP

    Sorry, Mr. Kester, but the Ten Commandments are clearly a religious message associated with Judea-Christian faiths and as such are inappropriate and illegal in a public venue. Although Christianity is America's dominant religion our forefathers ensured that religion and government stay separate and that all faiths can be freely embraced by Americans.

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      Sorry Robert but the SCOTUS has already ruled in the Newdow cases that you are wrong. And please look at the Constitution again, there is NO such thing as separation of church and state listed nor even mentioned in the Constitution

      1. Ari Joseph Bertine's Avatar Ari Joseph Bertine

        The phrase in the Constitution (in the First Amendment) is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," and this was described by Thomas Jefferson, one of the Found8ng Fathets, as reflecting the view of “the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall between church and State.”

        This was built into our nation deliberately to ensure freedom of religion. All religions, equally.

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          Dont care what Jefferson thinks or says. I go by what is actually IN the Constitution and nowhere does it mention separation of church and state.

      2. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

        And again, not in those specific words, no, but read it again. Ari is right. It describes the separation pretty clearly.

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          No it does not. All it says is the Federal Government cannot make a national religion, nothing more

    2. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

      I ask this not as an argument but as a face value question, is the wall of the gym in a Jail a public venue?

      Once this facility opens the only way someone can see it is to either work in the jail or be a resident inmate, not just in a holding cell. The public won't be able to access the venue.

      Just a curiosity on my part.


      White Owl

      1. Lawrence A. Benson's Avatar Lawrence A. Benson

        I can understand the delemma here, but the fact remains that once you allow "any" religious terachings to be etched into the walls, you have to let "all" religious teachings the same privledge. I'm sure that there are provisions in most religions that seperate the words of their "god" from that of private or governmental facilities.

        1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

          Whether they see it or not isn't the point. Tax money that all of the public pays should not be put into any kind of religious insignia. Period. That money can be used in other ways. I personally would much rather see that money go to mental health and some sort of reschooling or retraining in a job people who do spend time there can use, fall back on when they get out. Even local jails can use more support for short term inmates.

        2. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

          Not the answer to my question. I'm not debating the subject matter, it could be a picture of Mickey Mouse for all I care in my question.

          Mr. Hauck stated that the content is "inappropriate and illegal in a public venue". My question was and still is, is the wall of a gym in a county jail a public place?

          I challenge you to go to your local county jail and request as a member of the public that you be taken in to see the wall of their gym/rec area.

          It doesn't appear to me to be a public venue so I ask my question. If someone can give a definitive answer, with supporting evidence, that is what I seek.


          White Owl

          1. Rev. Dee's Avatar Rev. Dee

            It's worse than that, no only CAN some citizens see this in a public facility, some citizens are FORCED to see this in a public facility.

            1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

              Also, a post script for Rev Dee, no inmate is ever forced to go to the gym/rec area, they go there by choice except maybe during a tornado and even then it would only be if that is the safest place in the jail for that purpose.

            2. Lion on the Beach's Avatar Lion on the Beach

              My guess is, if most had read, studied and heeded the 10 Commandments they would not be "Guests" at this particular Cross Bar Hotel on the government dime.

            3. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

              Again, I don't care about the content, it could be a chocolate chip cookie recipe as far as my question is concerned, is it a public facility if it is not open to the public?

              I challenge you to go to your local county jail and request as a member of the public that you be taken in to see the wall of their gym/rec area.

              It doesn't appear to me to be a public venue so I ask my question. If someone can give a definitive answer, with supporting evidence, that is what I seek.

          2. Kevin Scot Thompson's Avatar Kevin Scot Thompson

            I think in this context that a "public venue" doesn't mean a facility that is open to the public, but a facility that is paid for by public money (meaning tax dollars). The argument is that a tax funded government building should not contain any religious writing or iconography due to the separation of church and state.

            1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

              Mr. Kevin Scot Thompson,

              I believe you are probably correct in your interpretation of Mr. Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP's intended meaning which would be a public building that does include your definition as well as several variants.

            2. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

              p.s. A legal definition of public venues, according to Law Insider, is

              "Public Venues means venues such as hotels, stadiums, amusement parks, shopping malls or similar locations utilized by the general public at specific events"

          3. Thomas Denney's Avatar Thomas Denney

            They've been answering your question. The jail IS a public building, built with public funds, staffed by people being paid by the public, and housing people deemed by the public to be needing a time-out. They too are members of the public, who are entitled to not be bombarded by Big Brother Christianity or any other religion. Just the selection of THAT VERSION of the 10 Commandments is the promotion of a particular religion using public funding to do so. It stinks. I believe in the Sacred Brown Beagles from the Planet Pluto, and I want OUR 10 precepts to be emblazoned on that wall!

            1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

              Actually the only one to answer my question has been Kevin Scott Thompson.

              Even you answered what you thought I asked and to what you thought Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP originally said. The subject of this thread is if a county jail gym wall is a part of a public VENUE not a public building. Mr. Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP asserts that writings such as referenced in this article "are inappropriate and illegal in a public venue." not a public building. The two are completely different entities.

              Also you should research more about convicts in the US judicial system. Incarcerated convicts, as defined by the courts,are not members of the public.

      2. Parson Golden's Avatar Parson Golden

        It is a moot point as to who can see it.

        Religious text does not belong inscribed on the wall of any state institution.

        1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

          Not the answer to my question. I'm not debating the subject matter, it could be a picture of Mickey Mouse for all I care in my question.

          Mr. Hauck stated that the content is "inappropriate and illegal in a public venue". My question was and still is, is the wall of a gym in a county jail a public place?

          I challenge you to go to your local county jail and request as a member of the public that you be taken in to see the wall of their gym/rec area.

          It doesn't appear to me to be a public venue so I ask my question. If someone can give a definitive answer, with supporting evidence, that is what I seek.


          White Owl

          1. ether_ore's Avatar ether_ore

            White Owl,

            I am not certain my thinking is correct, but to my mind, if the place is paid for with public funds, then it is a public place regardless of the numbers of the public who can see it. That seems to me to be the answer to the question, but like I said, I could very easily be wrong.

      3. taycomama's Avatar taycomama

        Aren't the prisoners also part of the puplic?

        1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

          Actually, they are not, especially if already convicted.


          White Owl

      4. Patricia Ann Gross's Avatar Patricia Ann Gross

        Owl, As a member of the "general public," all I have to do to visit the jail is to rob the corner store with a gun and plead guilty to the charge. (Extreme example, but applies.) There are many government facilities not open to the general public where this applies, and people who work there and are forced to be there (i.e. incarcerated) should not have to face this every day if it is not consistent with their religious views.

        Other examples: The Capital Building, The White House, the Pentagon, Supreme Court and equivalent state facilities. While there may be areas of these facilities that are open to the public, the bulk of the square footage is not. The provision does not apply to whether the average citizen can see enter the area or if it is under "for authorized personnel only." Every person that enters whether they work or are incarcerated there are part of "the public."

        1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

          Incorrect, the moment your plea of guilty is entered you are legally now a convict and no longer a member of the public. In fact having plead guilty you have also waived most of your rights as a citizen and therefore are subject to many things that a member of the general public is not. (One of the many problems with our plea bargain system, but that is another subject)

          A person who works in the facilities you reference does so voluntarily, they are not forced to be there. The incarcerated are not employees.

          Also you reference " The provision does not apply to whether the average citizen can see enter the area or if it is under 'for authorized personnel only.'", just what 'provision' are you referring to?

          And again, by legal definition of the courts, a convict is NOT a member of the public.


          White Owl

      5. Thomas Denney's Avatar Thomas Denney

        Yes, White Owl, and most every one of those blue laws has been stricken because they violated separation of church and state. And what did it say that these laws even existed when actual people, voters, human species type beings were unnecessarily inconvenienced by them. For what purpose? That one religion was flaunting its hegemony?

        1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

          No the blue laws were removed because they were unpopular and bit by bit across the country local cities, counties and states voted them out. None were removed by court order.

          What it said is that at one time the majority of the people believed in and supported such laws, then as the majority of the people's opinions moved away from those beliefs they voted them out. The democratic process at work, not the hegemony of a religion or religions, just the hegemony of the majority of the people.


          White Owl

      6. Heidi Gould's Avatar Heidi Gould

        So the basic mistake here was Hauck's use of the word "Venue" as opposed to building. A public Jail or Prison (not a Private Prison) is a public building, funded by taxes, employees paid by public funds, prisoners fed and housed with public funds.

        1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl


          A simple statement, question and answer; but, like so many things these days, people reacted to what they thought was being said and to what they wanted to be saying that they heard what they wanted to hear and then said what they wanted to say while the whole time they are not even in the same ball park with what the conversation is actually about.

          This is the major problem with so many arguments, debates and intellectual exchanges these days. Everyone is talking about their point and no one is hearing others points. They only hear what they want to hear, not what is actually said.

          My example is this thread, note my original post...

          "I ask this not as an argument but as a face value question, is the wall of the gym in a Jail a public venue?"

          How many people read my post and answered my question? How many thought they read my post and answered with religious rights, constitutional dos and don't s, separation or not of church and state and so many other things that had nothing to do with my simple question. And all the time telling me I'm wrong in my stance on these writings when all I actually asked was...

          "is the wall of the gym in a Jail a public venue?"

          This is a big part of why we are a country divided, everyone looking for an argument not a solution.

          Just my observation.

          Peace and wisdom to all,

          White Owl

  1. Troels Qvist's Avatar Troels Qvist

    As a european i feel like the US prison system could put the money to better use.

  1. Melinda Fulk's Avatar Melinda Fulk

    It pretty much all needs to go. Remove the first commandment and those aren't too much of a violation of one's rights, but the rest? It's blatant. It's hard to say without actually seeing who all was quoted, but I'm suspecting a particular brand of Christianity is also what is on display.

    The only other option, maybe. Just maybe, it could be tolerated, if there were quotes belonging to other religions on those walls as well. I mean, there is common ground in many of the ethics and moral codes of world religions.

    But yeah, if I somehow found myself incarcerated there, I'd be launching a lawsuit.

  1. Nathaniel Robert Hunt's Avatar Nathaniel Robert Hunt

    They are not the foundation, as they ban freedom of speech and religion

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    Stop jamming your religion down our throats. We know where to find Christianity if we're interested.

  1. J. Anderson's Avatar J. Anderson

    perhaps just add an Eleventh, and keep it wholly: "Thou shalt not get caught...".

    may we all find a better day.

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    The display of the Ten Commandments should stay. They are foundational laws of Western Societies and have historical significance.

    1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

      They're are not "foundational" laws of Western civilization. I doubt that any State's statutes include the Ten Commandments. It is grossly Unconstitutional to suggest that your God is the only one. I'm also not aware of any state that prohibits work on any particular day of the week, such as Sunday. I could go on, but your premise is patently false.

      1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

        Actually for the majority of our country's existence so called blue laws existed in all states that prohibited many things on Sundays, not just alcohol consumption and sales but even work laws. And most businesses were closed on Sundays of their own accord.

        White Owl

        1. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

          How come no one remembers the 10 COMMANDMENTS refer to Saturday as the Sabbath? All over the U.S. people drank and partied. Fornicating, changing money and working over-time on Saturdays happened all the time.

          I don't know why a prisoner would take the 10 SUGGESTIONS any more than anyone else in the country.

          1. White Owl's Avatar White Owl

            Mr. Hannon,

            Just what does that have to do with anything I've said or asked? I never said or even inferred that the sabbath was on Sunday.

            You are correct that the sabbath referred to in the 10 commandments begins at sunset Friday and ends at sunset Saturday; however that is superfluous to my comment in reference to Serenbetz' statement of " I'm also not aware of any state that prohibits work on any particular day of the week, such as Sunday." If that is what you are commenting on then your reply should be to his comment not to mine.


            White Owl

          2. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

            Because they tend to like to twisting the ones they like to fit their own interpretations of it. Shifting it to sunday surely wouldn't be too big of an offence to a commandment from God after all... right?

            1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

              Amber, as I understand it, the early Christians began meeting on Sunday because that is the day Christ is said to have arisen from the dead. I'm also thinking that many of these followers were Jews and were probably at temple on Saturdays. The pagan (gentile) converts didn't worship on Saturday and might have worked on Saturdays so Sunday was good for them. And since the New Testament scriptures give the normative prescriptions to love God and our fellow humans as well as the belief that we are justified by faith as was Abraham who existed before either the ten commandments or the laws in Deuteronomy. Thus, Christians were not required to keep Saturday as their holy day. A bit of supposition on my part but I don't think there was anything too egregious. And so no, moving it to Sunday wasn't too big of an offense.

    2. Alexander Arends's Avatar Alexander Arends


    3. Lawrence A. Benson's Avatar Lawrence A. Benson

      Nooooo, no their not.

    4. Parson Golden's Avatar Parson Golden

      That is absolutely untrue.

      They are a religious message and do not belong in a state facility.

  1. Rev. BH's Avatar Rev. BH

    The first four commandments are to keep you in line as a Christian: I am the only god (skip #2 for a minute), don't use my name to curse, go to Church. #2 however, says no graven images, in which the Christian churches, and many homes, abound. Never got that one - everyone disobeys it! Posters, statues, medallions, etc. The rest are cool, make sense: "Be nice to each other", i.e. the Golden Rule.

    But in prison, as I know of personally, there is a goodly portion of Muslims who follow other tenants. I can understand why they would be put off by the Christian "commandments" in their faces everyday. But I would suggest posting the above mentioned Golden Rule alone might be inoffensive to most all.

    1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

      BH, I doubt the first four commandments were written to keep Christians in line as all of the commandments were written long before Christianity.

  1. Robert White's Avatar Robert White

    Maybe they should have every religion have quotes on the wall. So everyone can feel some sort of comfort

  1. Mark Furnari's Avatar Mark Furnari

    Another case of citizens not understanding the strength of separation of Church and State and the security it provides to ALL, not just believers in one spiritual path or another.

  1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

    Separation of church and State. This kind of garbage should have been stopped LONG ago whenever the first effort was made toward involving religion and government. Long before adding ‘under god’ to the pledge, long before adding ‘In god We Trust’ to money. Even before the idea of ‘swearing’ to tell the truth. The religiously delusional have been pandered to for too long. But it won’t change. Politicians pander to them every election. I can think of one glaring recent political event which only happened due to insincere pandering to the cognitively challenged.

    Paint a picture of Sponge Bob over that mural.

  1. Marion Sowerby's Avatar Marion Sowerby

    Since it's beginning, the US seems to have been trying to force it's inhabitants to follow Christianity. For all those years of reinforcement, it doesn't seem to have worked. People are starting to realise that many religions and their representatives are merely looking for personal gain - and I'm not just talking L Ron Hubbard, either.

    1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      Only those who think their religion should be the one leading the country. No religion should be favored over any other. It's right there in the constitution. Read it. Read it again. Separation is the idea and it's described pretty darn clearly regardless of what zealots and control freaks insist.

      1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        Amber, the federal government is prohibited from favoring one religion over others, but people are not so prohibited. And I think one could argue that the states aren't prohibited either. Though the latter requires some serious legal understanding of the constitution and the states' rights.

    2. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      Only those who think their religion should be the one leading the country. No religion should be favored over any other. It's right there in the constitution. Read it. Read it again. Separation is the idea and it's described pretty darn clearly regardless of what zealots and control freaks insist.

    3. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      Only those who think their religion should be the one leading the country. No religion should be favored over any other. It's right there in the constitution. Read it. Read it again. Separation is the idea and it's described pretty darn clearly regardless of what zealots and control freaks insist.

      1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        Amber, see my comments above.

  1. Ari Joseph Bertine's Avatar Ari Joseph Bertine

    If it's a state institution, then the religious messages are unconstitutional as that would be government sponsorship of a religious institution. It's very inappropriate. Providing chaplains for various religious services is appropriate as that's a voluntary choice on the part of prisoners and employees. Shoving one religion's tenets into the faces of prisoners and employees creates a situation where people have no choice but to be confronted with a specific religion's dogma.

    If you ever have trouble telling whether a display of religion is appropriate or not, here is how to determine that: Imagine you are in the position of someone who must be in that venue, and imagine that the religion being displayed is one you think is awful. If you wouldn't like that for yourself, it's inappropriate for others.

    Here is an example: Let's say you're Christian, and you work in a city hall. Would you be comfortable if they had the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth painted on the lobby walls? Would you enjoy seeing that every day? Would it feel unwelcome and intrusive, and would you feel like you were safe and protected by those who put that there? These are things to consider, and putting yourself in someone else's shoes is a major component of practicing compassion.

  1. Rev. J. Blaine's Avatar Rev. J. Blaine

    In a secular country such as the USA, if you allow one faith's religious message, you must allow all. In a theocracy, it's different. Fortunately, we don't live in a theocracy in the US, although some desire this. And it sure would be different between activities to prove one was better than another. All organized religions like Christianity and Islam seek to do is exclude, isolate, and condemn. While flexing their imaginary superiority muscles.

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    If the quotes and commandments are giving comfort or enlightenment to those feeling remorse, what harm are they doing? You and I won't be seeing them, so why would we be offended? I know that I won't, but will you?

    1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      Because it actually snubs those of other religions or no religion who might also be in there. That's the point of keeping publicly funded organizations more secular. Keep it off the walls but allow an option for scriptures of their individual choosing to be brought in. That would be far more comforting and a lot easier to keep personal and private, as choices of religion should be.

    2. Ari Joseph Bertine's Avatar Ari Joseph Bertine

      They bring no comfort or enlightenment to non-Christians feeling remorse, though. And having to see those every day infringes on the freedom of religion of every non-Christian (and some Christians od different denominations) in that government building. So that does indeed do harm by adding an additional stressor and making people feel even more unsafe in a place that is already life-threatening. It sends the message that non-Christians were not considered in the establishment of this institute, and that communicates that non-Christians will not be treated fairly.

      Prisons have chaplains that are there to minister to any inmate that needs comfort and enlightenment, by request. So not having those messages on the walls, making non-Christians feel threatened, does not deprive Christians of that ministration, but also does no harm to others.

      1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        Ari, if inmates being reminded not to kill or steal causes them to feel threatened, then there are bigger things to worry about than their feelings. Also, this is a state prison, I think, so it has a wide latitude in what is does or does not put on its walls.

        Are you arguing that the ten commandments are harmful to society? Are you saying we should kill one another, steal anything we can, and covet and sleep with our neighbors wife or husband? Are those the values to which you believe we should accept as normative prescriptions for our society?

  1. Jimmy Moon's Avatar Jimmy Moon

    This is America. Not Russia or Iran. We need to get back to GOD's principles for our country. Not communist bull. Put up the 10 Commandments on every government building. Now Satan, what say you?

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. Mao Zedong

      1. “Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

      “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...” ― Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

    2. Billy Foppiano's Avatar Billy Foppiano

      Oh no you don't......Communism is protected in this country, you old fouff. So is Freedom FROM religion. Just because "John Wayne" don't like it, too bad, grampa. Go sit on yer rocking chair, with yer blankie.

      1. Jimmy Moon's Avatar Jimmy Moon

        Thank you, Satan. I knew your minions would speak up.

  1. Rolando Couce's Avatar Rolando Couce

    The people who say this is a violation they should be in prison this country has turned so ungodly

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      so you want to put people in prison who disagree with YOUR religious beliefs? i bet you call yourself a kris chen and a 'murican. so much for the constitution, amirite BUBBA?

    2. Rev. Dee's Avatar Rev. Dee

      Tell me you're a fascist without telling me you're a fascist.

    3. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      And this is exactly why the founding fathers insisted on a separation. They came from a country that jailed or even killed people who didn't practice exactly the country religion in exactly as the ruling class decided. They wanted people to make their own religious choices without fear of being thrown in jail or killed for them.

  1. Bishop William Dusenberry, DD's Avatar Bishop William Dusenberry, DD

    “Thou shalt not covet” was mandated by an anti-capitalist, ergo, communistic God; had a capitalistic God written these ten comments, it would have given the mythological Moses, a tenth commandment, mandating that “one must covet everything one wants to have, then doing everything one needs to do to obtain them.” No, the tenth commandment — making it a mortal sin to envy your neighbors greener lawn, and his 1960 fully restored bright red Mercedes convertible, with a white interior, — couldn’t have been dictated to Moses by a capitalistic God, and to believe that it was, is clearly un-American.

  1. Darrell White's Avatar Darrell White

    Given that western law is based on the Ten Commandments and Christianity has played a major role in our laws, I see no problem with them being displayed. Most politicians understand this,and displaying those references by some politicians somehow is a violation?. Establishing a certain religion by the state would certainly be a violation, but merely referencing a religious quote and calling that a violation is simply going too far. Religious speech is protected , even if it is the state , in a historical context referring to religion. The goal by anti- religious people is to rid any reference of religion (especially if it’s the Christian faith) in government, and that was not what our Founding Fathers wanted.

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      good argument. it's wrong, of course, but a good try.

      1. Todd Leslie Miller's Avatar Todd Leslie Miller

        No, it’s not wrong! So you don’t think that the commandment ‘Thou shalt not steal’ is the basis for laws against theft? Maybe seeing that commandment painted on a jailhouse wall would reform a habitual shoplifter.

        1. Ari Joseph Bertine's Avatar Ari Joseph Bertine

          I don't think laws against theft are based upon that at all, considering that theft has been against the law in every culture since there were cultures, and every religion has its own way of reiterating it. Anti-theft laws are a product of a group of social creatures cohabitating and not wanting chaos. Even apes punish theft in their groups. Laws against theft ate common sense, not religion.

          Only three of the ten commandments are reflected in law, and "bear false witness against your neighbor" is quite iffy given that slander has very specific conditions to meet criminal definition, and there's no law against lying about someone if they can't prove damages. Seven of the commandments are either thought restrictions (coveting), outright religious tenets with no practical application (exclusive worship, no idols, taking God's name in vain, keeping the sabbath), or are outright ignored at even the highest level of religious leadership (honoring parents, no adultery). Two laws (no murder, no theft) that are universal to every culture that has ever existed make no case for the ten commandments being the basis for Western law.

    2. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      Somebody didn't pay attention in history. No, that is no where near true. This country was built in part on trying not to be overcome with yet another religious controlled ruler. It's revisionist history pushed by propagandists. Dig into the federalist papers and study a bit more how the country actually did develop and why we fought to become our own country. It's all there and it's all pretty darn clear.

      1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        Amber, I found my copy of the Federalist papers, please cite the passages of which you speak. These will be most helpful to all of us.

  1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

    We wouldn't want to offend criminals with law following principles that build nations. We all know they don't need any help being model citizens, they're all innocent after all anyhow.

    1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      I would think actual laws would be on the walls of the jailhouse, and religion on the walls of the churches. They shouldn't be bleeding into one another.

    2. Todd Leslie Miller's Avatar Todd Leslie Miller

      Suuuuuuuuuure they are! Just watch any police body cam video where the shoplifter fights being arrested on the basis that they have a right to shoplift.

  1. Steven Ferrell's Avatar Steven Ferrell

    For pity sake. If more of them had some scripture or Christianity or religion in their past, they may not have ended up in prison. Maybe a little exposure there will help them in the future.

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      you understand that "scripture" (the silly meanderings of sad and incel men) has nothing to do with who ends up in jail as there are 'plenty' of scriptured people serving time. it's just plain silly to think that reading fairy tales made up specifically to control people is necessary and somehow a good thing.

      as for "scripture" and religion there are always (and have always been) ways to twist the words to suite the reader. killing in the name of goD has always been acceptable (and to many today it still is).

  1. Susan Guthrie's Avatar Susan Guthrie

    Don't take them down, add more! People in difficult situations don't need less wisdom, they need more, but balanced and non-political...

    Include useful secular wisdom such as the Stoics such as; Happiness is not attained by achieving your desires, but by eliminating them.

    Here is a great Sufi precept: There is but One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.

    This was on the wall at the in the Juvenile justice facility ward where those who murdered were held: There are reasons but no excuses.

  1. Theresa Marie Zieber's Avatar Theresa Marie Zieber

    Let the men who are incarcerated vote on it. Their voting rights are taken away when they get out, but they should be able to vote on this issue. If they had followed the teachings of the 10 commandments, they wouldn't be in there in the first place. Amen

  1. Keith Law's Avatar Keith Law

    Take it down! It is wrong in so many ways it is nearly impossible to cover it all:

    1. Separation of church and state means what it says. It includes spending out public tax dollars on religious matters.
    2. The people who forced that onto the prison gym wall do not themselves believe in it; for example:

    A. The Commandments in Exodus 20 were for those whom YAHWEY brought out of the "land of Egypt," which means Jews. B. It states thou shall make no graven images or likenesses of ANYTHING that is in the heavens or on earth, and Western culture does nothing else but. C. It states that the Sabbath day is on the 7th day of the week, which is Saturday and not Sunday. This is also when Jesus honored the Sabbath. D. It states that on the Sabbath no one is supposed to work including servants, strangers (guests), and cattle. I don't know any Christians who honor this on the Sabbath (Saturday) or on Sunday.
    E. It states thou shalt not kill, but how many Christians abide by this, especially in the prison system where capital punishment in practiced?

    As stated, I could continue...

  1. Alan Santiago's Avatar Alan Santiago

    It should stay

  1. Daniel Tressler's Avatar Daniel Tressler

    The USA was founded under God as a Judea-Christian Nation!

    This Amendment was created to clarify it covers all Judea-Christian beliefs and further established the USA as a Judea-Christian Nation.

    It allowed people of other Religions as long as they kept and followed our Judea-Christian Laws!

    Now non Judea-Christian peoples are saying it covers ALL Religions!

    The USA Laws, Polices, and Songs were established under God and Judea-Christian beliefs!

    Keep the USA as it was established as a Godly Judea-Christian Nation!

    God Bless America 🇺🇸 🙏, land that Love!

  1. Rev. Rory's Avatar Rev. Rory

    The Golden rule is shared by Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Christianity, Unitarianism, Native Spirituality, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, and Baha'i. Humanists/atheists also follow that rule. The wording by each group is different. If something is going to be painted on the wall, that large, a symbol of each group and the one sentence of their particular wording should be included. Why? Because "We are all children of the same universe." I say take down the 10 Commandments and replace it with the Golden Rule. If they can't do that, then paint over it. It's a gym in a prison, not a church. The Golden Rule is universal. The 10 Commandments are not.

  1. Merlin's Avatar Merlin

    Considering Moses most likely got them from the Egyptian Book of the Dead when was educated as a prince. Take off any reference of “religious” affiliation and just state the 10 principles of truth.

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    A small section of a wall is one thing. But this has apparently been quite overdone. The display needs to come down. The building is a jail, not a church.

  1. Robert Gagnon's Avatar Robert Gagnon

    Oh those poor criminals being subjected to such cruel treatment! Ten commandments are pretty much the same laws that will land you in jail. They don't have to stare at the walls if it offends them. In prison they dangle the bible like a carrot with promises of early release, seen it myself. If you really want to agitate criminals paint a rainbow flag.

  1. John W's Avatar John W

    I can see the validity of the arguments being made. Jails / Prisons are part of the public domain as they are funded by taxes collected from the citizens, even if their access to them is restricted. If you are going to publicly post behavior guidelines from the Judeo-Christian faiths, it would be wise to post similar religious guidelines from other religions as well such as Islam, Buddhism, Wiccan, etc. One of the objects of incarceration is to attempt to reform an inmates thoughts, beliefs and behaviors so that if released they can go on to live lives free from criminal behaviors. If the publishing of the texts of other beliefs helps to achieve that than all the better. I don't buy the full arguments from the Freedom From Religion camp as it is against all religions in general from what I have seen.

  1. John Alex Paxson's Avatar John Alex Paxson

    God is basically the same in all religions ... different name ... all the same ... good points and bad points ... common sense and good is the commandments all humans should follow ... if you cannot tell the difference between "Good and bad" (no matter what your spiritual practice consists of), then you have a very large problem.

    1. Ari Joseph Bertine's Avatar Ari Joseph Bertine

      Servant of Judgement is correct, all gods are not the same. Some do not demand sacrifices of blood and flesh, and never have. Some do not command their followers to attack other nations or to destroy the women and children of their enemies. Some do not threaten punishment to those who do not worship them. Some gods do not even think humans are inherently sinful. It is indeed a good idea to choose wisely.

    2. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

      The satanic god called moloch has followers burn their babies alive on the altar. Not that different from the abortion table minus the fire. I guess babies old enough try to scream in the womb. No air though, nobody said unborn babies are physics experts.

      All gods are not the same. Choose wisely.

      1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

        I’ve read that the Catholic church said masturbation is murder because those little fellows in the ejaculate are alive. Of course you have to keep in mind that this is also from a group of religiously delusional sheep.

  1. Allison Caroline Texture's Avatar Allison Caroline Texture

    11️⃣, 22️⃣, 33️⃣, 44️⃣, 55️⃣, 66️⃣, 77️⃣, 88️⃣, 99️⃣ It's the ten🔟 duel commandments😇🔫 It's the ten🔟 duel commandments Number one1️⃣! The challenge, demand satisfaction💦💦 If they apologize, no need for further action Number two2️⃣! If they don't, grab a friend, that's your second2️⃣ Your Lieutenant, when there's reckoning🤬🤯 to be reckoned Number three3️⃣! Have your seconds meet face to face Negotiate a peace Or negotiate a time🕰️🕰️🕰️and place This is commonplace, 'specially 'tween 👦🫃🫃recruits Most disputes die and no one shoots Number four4️⃣! If they don't reach a peace, that's alright Time to get some pistols🍆🔫 and a doctor on site You pay him in advance, you treat him with civility✈️🔥🏙️🔥 You have him turn around, so he can have deniability Five5️⃣! Duel before the sun is in the sky☀️☀️☄️ Pick a place to die where it's high and dry Number sex6️⃣! Leave a note for your next of kin Tell 'em where you been Pray that Hell🤬👹💀🫦🤭😚😈 or Heaven 🍆➡️🍑lets you in Seve7️⃣n! Confess your sins Ready for the moment of adrenaline💉💊💉💊 When you finally face your opponent Number eigh8️⃣t! Your last chance to negotiate Send in your seconds See if they can set the record straight Alexander Aaron Burr, 💊💊🧑‍🎤sir Can we agree that duels are dumb 😈😈👅and immature👁️🫦👁️? Sure But your man has to answer for his words, Burr With his life? We both know that's absurd👂, sir Hang on, how many men died because Lee was inexperienced✝️✝️ and ruinous? Okay, so we're doing this Number nine9️⃣! Look him in the eye👁️👅👁️, aim no higher Summon all the courage you require Then count🫂❤️❤️🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈 11️⃣, 22️⃣, 3️⃣3, 44️⃣, 55️⃣, 66️⃣, 77️⃣, 88️⃣, 99️⃣ Number (Ten paces!) Fire! 1️⃣0️⃣

    1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

      As Jim Jefferies says… O-o-o-kay

  1. Oyebanji Mathew Kola's Avatar Oyebanji Mathew Kola

    If you're good and not bad... If you're clean hearted and not dirty deep inside you... If you're a light and not a darkness... If you're real and not fake... If you're honest and not cunning... If you're kindly loving and not filled with hatred... If you're respectfully friendly and not disrespectfully rude... If you're caring giving making all around you happy...not making them pass through pain and hardship... If truly acknowledge the existence of creation and the Creator "God"... then you'll know that the world needs that words on the wall to make the world a better place.

  1. William J Lewis's Avatar William J Lewis

    Well there's a whole lot of outrage over a mole hill! Wars all over and we have to take a stand on a mural? Give it a break.

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      not really a mole hill, it's really about the kriz chinz overstepping, overreaching and essentially trying to make everyone (including prisoners) adhere to their beliefs. in fact, they are a lot like the taliban or hamas, trying to govern every aspect of everyone's life.


    One of the most common fallacies regarding the Ten Commandments is that they were written exclusively for Christians. The original Ten Commandments are in both the Christian Bible and the Jewish Tanakh, so both religions use them as a guidepost for their lives. Additionally, the Ten Commandments have influenced the religion of Islam.


      Some people mistakenly use the term “public” when they mean “governmental.” For instance: Erecting Ten Commandments monuments on private property (whether public or private) is constitutionally protected. A Christian cross visible from a public sidewalk in front of a church is constitutionally protected. However, if that same cross were moved across the street and placed in front of city hall, it would violate the Constitution. This is not my interpretation but the law of the land.


    Legal Status: Ten Commandments: While some argue that the Commandments influenced Western legal traditions, they are not legally binding in the United States. Displaying the Ten Commandments in government buildings can raise constitutional issues related to the separation of church and state. U.S. Constitution: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and all other laws must conform to it. It provides the legal foundation for the American legal system, including the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments). If it helps, Amen. let remember this is the United States of America.


    Christianity is the most widely professed religion in the United States, with seven in ten Americans identifying as Christian. This includes more than four in ten who identify as white Christian and more than one-quarter who identify as Christian of color. Nearly one in four Americans are religiously unaffiliated, and 5% identify with non-Christian religions1. The religious makeup of the US is predominantly composed of Evangelicals, Catholics, and mainline Protestants. Moving forward. Blessings to all

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      fortunately with modern medicine, early diagnosis and a proper education, more and more people are non-believers and for the truly educated, atheism. you count them up like they were chickens to market from which you earn your income. or maybe sheep that you fleece. hard to say since no one who professes to be religious can ever be trusted, especially with your bank account or your children. may satan bless you too

  1. Dennis Kinney's Avatar Dennis Kinney

    I think it's awesome that the jail put up the ten commandments. Hopefully all the jails will bring them back and hang them up. Not only the jail's but the county courts also. They used to be in every county jail and court houses. Bring them back. Amen

    1. Theresa Marie Zieber's Avatar Theresa Marie Zieber

      Agreed - Amen

  1. John Robert Milner's Avatar John Robert Milner

    The 10 Commandments are the basis for Christian / Judeo law which was the foundation for this Country. The Commandments are also displayed in different forms throughout the Supreme Court building! The literal application of Christianity or Jewish law is prevalent in all laws and applicable to all residents! To complain about the wall mural is simply whining!

  1. Walter J. Holbrook's Avatar Walter J. Holbrook

    This has become a point of where faith and religion can be displayed and who can or cannot read it. Is it indoctrination as some would say. Or is it a beacon of inspiration. The world we live in has turned Christianity into a weapon at times rather than the light of hope. We are all intitled to our beliefs and hopes for humanity. But we are not the judge, nor the bearer of how justice should be dealt. Are youth and some elders are leaving the church and its faith because of the hypocrisy being shown by faith leaders and some in the church.

  1. Christi Threatt's Avatar Christi Threatt

    Sit down, "Karen". If they cared about religion and followed most of the 10 Commandments, they would not be "Guests" at this institution on the tax payer's dime.

    If you are a religious person following and practicing a moral faith, you would not be in prison. The only complaints should be from the staff. ...but are they really going to? Even an Atheist should know that the last 6 are actual laws.

    It couldn't hurt to have all Theism types represented in the prison. Maybe they need something to believe in. All religion has a moral commonality.

    As far as politician's biblical quotes, well, we hear all that nonsense daily anyway. They pick and choose parts and don't actually read the whole story.

  1. Michael Anderson's Avatar Michael Anderson

    Church and state separation. State shall not interfere with church! Church however is allowed in state. If you don't think so then you should stop spending money with the phrase "in God we trust"

  1. Richard T Berry's Avatar Richard T Berry

    The term " separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. It came about in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a church group in Rhode Island regarding concerns they had. The Constitution states there will be no official state or country religion and does not state where information about any religion can or can not be posted.

  1. Nancy Mila Jean Bowsher's Avatar Nancy Mila Jean Bowsher

    Keep the TEN COMMANDMENTS displayed!! I'm so so tired of OUR RIGHTS being attacked and always having to give in to the people who TRULY NEED GOD in their lives. It's our time as soldiers of GOD to stand up and fight for our FATHER IN HEAVEN and for our rights to show our love and devotion towards our GOD and our rights to practice and show our love and devotion to the one and only GOD OUR FATHER. KEEP THE TEN COMMANDMENTS UP AND DISPLAYED!!

  1. Ed Lastinger II's Avatar Ed Lastinger II

    I hv work in many Bible studies in prison. And it's sad to say that most people that are in jail quickly turn to Christianity. In hopes that their Court Trials will go the way they want them to. Is: that they don't have to serve anymore time behind bars. And yes, the founding fathers had a separation between church and state. Meaning the state cannot impose any laws about any way a person wants to worship their God. Not the other way around. A lot of the founding fathers were Christians. People you got to know your history as well as your constitutional laws and right. Otherwise we run to Jeopardy of the being taken away from us.

  1. Howard Hill's Avatar Howard Hill

    It should stay

  1. Melaine Rae Thompson's Avatar Melaine Rae Thompson

    It is definitely a violation of the separation of church and state. That being said, if they feel the need to post it, as well as other quotes they believe are ‘inspirational and heartwarming messages’, then they need to, first of all, make it smaller and then add positive and encouraging quotes from other sources and religions. You don’t need to hit them with the proverbial hammer to help people find their way; usually that just fosters resentment. Include all or eliminate it all.

  1. Marc Douglas Jordan's Avatar Marc Douglas Jordan

    There are so many horrible things happening in prisons and we choose this to worry about... Anything positive in prison is a blessing,..Let's work together to change things for the better...May God be with us all!

  1. Charles Wesley Fuller's Avatar Charles Wesley Fuller

    no such thing as "unconstitutional."it' either conforms to the constitution or it doesn't.there is nothing in the constitution forbidding "religious displays" in/on public problem comes when it is paid for by the public.ifv you are against "religious" displays in/on public property,you need to go remove all pictures and statues from all of them.

  1. Richard H. Crofts's Avatar Richard H. Crofts

    Just change the name to the 10 rules of humanity. It stays up not religious sounding.

  1. Rocky O. Bensch's Avatar Rocky O. Bensch

    Nowhere in the US Constitution does the separation of church and state come into the discussion except in a letter that Thomas Jefferson sent to a correspondent. The US was established as a Christian nation, with Freemasonic influences.

  1. Heidi Gould's Avatar Heidi Gould

    Another definition from the Legal Information Institute: "Public building" means a structure, or part of a structure, and its land, which is generally accessible to the public, including but not limited to, schools, daycare centers, museums, airports, hospitals, stores, convention centers, government facilities, office buildings and any other building which is not an industrial building or a residential building.

  1. Brenda Sawyer's Avatar Brenda Sawyer

    Did we forget who God is? We can't tell God what he can or can't do.

  1. RFSmith's Avatar RFSmith

    Personally, I have no problem with such public displays in the jailhouse, courtroom, school grounds or elsewhere public, private, religious or non.

    We're all being proselytized everywhere every day in one form or another whether through church pulpits, labor demonstrations, social media, television, radio, newspapers, corporate advertising, political messaging, campus protests, cereal boxtops, or drunken uncle Bob at a family gathering. Hell, we're all also guilty of trying to sway others toward our personal beliefs in one way or another for one reason or another.

    And, we each individually have the freedom to peruse, protest or pursue what is being thrust into our eyes and ears 24/7. Or not. It's our choice... and, hopefully, we are sentient enough to make wise and/or intelligent decisions.

    However, in my belief, anything that "inspires" people to evaluate their lives and motivates them more toward the common good is of value both tangible and moral.

    My main gripe with these displays, though, is many of them are stuck 500 years in the past, in the era of King James. If those who paint, etch, or carve these displays would use 21st Century wording then, perhaps, critical-thinking people (prisoners or free) might appreciate the meaning and intent of those who are endeavoring to serve their God.

    If they opt not to read or heed the messages, whether 500-years old or modern day that's their right, too. In fact, we all have the option to ignore anything and everything bombarding our visual and aural senses; we can, instead, focus on more productive worthwhile pursuits. Or else be offended. Or not.

    It's our individual choice...

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