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Sweeting: Left Unhinged Over Commandments, but Not Moral Decay

the ten commandments stained glass image in a church and or a cathedral

Moses and The Ten Commandments. Undated photo of  stained glass image. Location unknown (Waamel/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 26 June 2024 11:22 AM EDT

OPINION

Quite recently, we were reminded that the left becomes unhinged over something more than Donald Trump as it goes apoplectic over God and the Ten Commandments.

On June 19, 2024, Gov. Jeff Landry, R-La., signed legislation requiring every public school classroom in the state to display the Ten Commandments.

The bill calls the Ten Commandments "foundational documents for our state and national government." The response has been amazing to behold.

The Guardian newspaper in England says that the U.S. Supreme Court "opened Pandora’s Box." [1] Slate.com's headline is that "Louisiana’s New Ten Commandments Law Could Not Be Any More Unconstitutional." [2] MSNBC declares that this step is "Prime Christian Nationalism." [3] The American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State have announced they will file lawsuits against the State of Louisiana.

  • What are we to make of this law and the loud reaction to it?
  • Is it a reasonable law or is it unconstitutional?
  • Is it needed or is it harmful to our republic?

More specifically:

  • Is it reasonable given our own roots in Western civilization and our own national history?
  • Is it important in the formation of young people?
  • Is it needed as a resource amid declining mental health and rising suicide rates among the young?
  • Is it necessary in an era of increased lawlessness?
  • Does it make more sense than say promoting pride flags in our classrooms?

Remember,the principles of the Ten Commandments have been fundamental to the western legal tradition.

Its prohibitions on murder, theft, and perjury have been embedded in our laws (and nearly every Western legal code).

The idea of honoring and respecting parents has been a normative rule for society.

Even the idea that adultery is wrong has long influenced our laws.

Beyond these influences, we should recall that much of the western world believed that the basis for these commands was the God who had spoken in the Scriptures.

When we talk about ethical values, the words "ought and "should" naturally come up.

People ask:

  • "Why shouldn’t I plunder my neighbor’s property?"
  • "Why shouldn’t I shoplift?"
  • "Why ought I tell the truth under oath?"

The ultimate answer to such questions appears at the beginning of the Ten Commandments with these words: "I am the Lord your God."

His righteousness, justice, and sovereignty provided the ultimate "Why."

Translation?

Remove God from morals and the issue of right and wrong become relative; ethical behavior becomes less compelling.

The American legal system is part of and was deeply influenced by this western tradition.

For most of our nation’s history, it was not controversial to have the Ten Commandments posted in classrooms. This is not to say they were posted in every classroom, but they were posted in my public grade school classroom in northern New Jersey when I was a boy.

The United States Supreme Court, operating on what I believe was a revisionist view of the First Amendment, ruled in Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980), that a Kentucky law violated the establishment clause of the Constitution. From that time on public schools were prohibited from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

Now some are challenging this revisionist understanding.

By holding a revisionist view of the First Amendment, they imposed a mid-20th century secular understanding on our nation’s Founders.

They overlooked the fact that the first amendment only put a limitation on the federal Congress, not states.

Recall that Massachusetts had a state church until 1833.

And while they did not want a national church, they did not affirm the idea of an irreligious state, that is, a state devoid of religious influences and religious morality.

George Washington and John Adams explicitly said that they could not conceive of political prosperity apart from religion and morality.

Even Thomas Jefferson’s deistic belief in God provided a crucial foundation for his political views. In 1787 congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which specifically promoted religion and morality in the Northwest territories.

Up until the middle of the last century these things were commonly understood, which explains why there have been so many displays of the Ten Commandments on federal property and in public institutions for so long.

They could be found in federal court houses, the U.S. Capitol, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, at national monuments and national park lands.

Even in the U.S. Supreme Court building Moses and or the Ten Commandments appear in three places.

Atop the entrance to the building, you'll see Moses in the very center, holding two stone tablets. As you enter the courtroom, there are two large oak doors that have the Ten Commandments engraved on them. And as you sit inside the court and look above where the judges sit, you will also see a display of Moses with the Ten Commandments.

Progressives and secularists hate this.

They have poured millions of dollars and pursued countless lawsuits to remove the Ten Commandments from public property and monuments.

They want to erase this from our collective memory.

And now they want us to think that Louisiana, its governor, and anyone who applauds their action, are a bunch of political Neanderthals.

I don’t buy it and neither should you.

Let the left hyperventilate all they want and recall what the psalmist wisely wrote: that the law of the Lord revives the soul, makes wise the simple, and enlightens the eyes (Psalm 19). To walk away from the truth of these commandments, and outlaw them, is madness.

Dr. Donald Sweeting (@DSweeting) serves as chancellor of Colorado Christian University.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Politics
Gov. Jeff Landry, R-La., signed legislation requiring every public school classroom in the state to display the Ten Commandments. The bill calls the Ten Commandments "foundational documents for our state and national government." 
adams, washiongton, moses
931
2024-22-26
Wednesday, 26 June 2024 11:22 AM
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