in an old study from 1933, “attitudes toward the ten commandments,” ray mars simpson made some startling findings. he surveyed college students and prisoners and had them rank the ten commandment with respect to their relative importance to themselves.
the results were shocking. both prisoners and college students ranked the relative importance of each individual commandment almost identical. both prisoners and college students found that “shall not kill” ranked number one. they both “remember the sabbath and keep it holy” last.
mr. simpson reviewed the data and concluded that there was a marked degree of agreement in the attitudes among college students and inmates towards the ten commandments. he found that college students and prisoners tended to rate commandments which dealt with the duties of “man to man” higher than those which deal with the duties of “man to god.” essentially, their rankings constituted a reversal of the biblical order.
what explains this? what do both prisoners and colleges students have in common? both are constituents within institutions. the institutions takes care of all of their needs. the institutions feeds them, educates them, entertains them, provides rules for them, rewards them and punishes them. the institutions essentially function as gods to the constituents. therefore, already having a god, the institution, there is no need to appreciate god. again, they stand in judgment by their institutions.
in sum, being part of an institution can shift one’s values with respect to the ten commandments.
another argument could be made with respect to the devaluing of the sabbath. assuming that assuming that neither students or prisoners are labor for the week, the appreciation of of celebrating a sabbath would be lost and not of import.