The Ten Commandments have been central tenets of Biblical teaching for several millenia. But how many Britons believe that they are good rules for life in the 21st century?
Now new YouGov research reveals that only six of the original Ten Commandments are still seen by most British people as important principles to live by.
This is even true of Britain’s Christians, although they are more likely than the general population as a whole to think any given Commandment remains important.
Unsurprisingly the Commandment that the most Brits think is still important to live by is thou shalt not kill, at 93%, joint with thou shalt not steal. In the case of both Commandments, they were seen as still important by 94% of Christians and 93% of those with no religion.
Not bearing false witness (telling lies) about others came third among all groups, with 87% of all Brits, 90% of Christians, and 86% of those without a religion saying that it is still important to live by.
Close to three quarters (73%) of the population at large say that not committing adultery is still a top life principle, including 69% of non-religious Brits and 76% of Christians.
Honouring thy father and thy mother is still an important rule to follow for 69% of all Britons, including 78% of Christians and 60% of the non-religious.
The final Commandment that holds majority support is the Christian God’s instruction that people not covet the possessions of others. Six in ten (61%) of the public as a whole say this is still a good rule to live by, including 72% of Christians and 52% of those with no religion.
Even most Christians don’t see the more religious Commandments as relevant today
The four Commandments that do not have a majority of Brits saying they are still important are the ones most related to the practice of religion. Unsurprisingly, it is on these Commandments that opinion between Christians and the non-religious differs the most.
Fewer than a third of Britons (31%) say that people should not worship idols (defined in the survey as statues or symbols). Christians are split on whether they still consider this to be an important commandment, with 43% saying it is and 44% saying it is not. Meanwhile, only one in five non-religious Brits (20%) say it is still an important rule.
Most people no longer mind taking the Lord’s name in vain. Just under a quarter (23%) of the overall population say that you may not use the word “God” in or as a curse, including 38% of Christians and just 7% of the non-religious.
The first of the Ten Commandments – that I am the Lord thy God, You shall have no other God before me – is one of the least important according to the public. Only one in five Britons (20%) still believe that the Christian God’s monopoly on worship is still relevant in modern Britain (including 36% of Christians and just 5% of non-religious Brits).
Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is seen as the least relevant of the Commandments in the modern era. Fewer than one in five (19%) Britons say keeping Sundays holy is still an important principle to live by, including fewer than a third of Christians (31%) and 7% of the non-religious.