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Are The Ten Commandments Making A Comeback?

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Jeff Landry, the governor of Louisiana, has been stirring a hornets nest recently by signing a law that mandates the Ten Commandments be displayed in that state’s public schools. Already the ACLU is suing to block the new law on behalf of some parents.

Fox News reports on the controversy Gov. Landry has sparked. The governor said: “I didn’t know that it was so vile to obey the Ten Commandments. I think that speaks volumes about how eroded this country has become. I mean, look, this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and every time we steer away from that, we have problems in our nation.”

Landry wondered why people object so much. He adds, “Most of our laws in this country are founded on the Ten Commandments. What’s the big problem?”

A big part of the problem came when an activist Supreme Court turned away from all of American history to impose a new secularism. Included in this new “secular fundamentalism,” as Rabbi Daniel Lapin would call it, was the 1980 decision Stone v. Graham, where the high court said that the Ten Commandments should not be seen in public schools.

Here’s what they actually said in that case: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to readmeditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments. However desirable this might be as a matter of private devotion, it is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause.” [Emphasis added]

Think about these words – written long before school shootings became virtually commonplace. We can’t have the children reading, meditating on, venerating and obeying commands like, “Thou shalt do no murder” or “Thou shalt not steal” or “Thou shalt not lie.”

Before the Supreme Court in the mid-20th century went on a crusade against Judeo-Christian expression in the public arena, it was common to support public acknowledgment of God, including the Ten Commandments. Author and historian Bill Federer compiled many examples in his book “The Ten Commandments and Their Influence on America.” Here’s a small sampling:

  • John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson (Nov. 4, 1816): “The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.”
  • President Harry S. Truman said in 1950, “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul.”
  • Ronald Reagan stated in 1973: “With freedom goes responsibility. … We might start with the Ten Commandments. If we lived by the Golden Rule, there would be no need for other laws.”

And on it goes.

For this column I asked for comments from a couple of constitutional attorneys. One is David Gibbs III, the founder and president of the National Center for Life and Liberty. He provided me with this statement: “The Ten Commandments serve as the foundational principles of American law, and that is why they are etched in the stone above the Supreme Court. Allowing school children to be exposed to these historical documents is imperative to preserve culture and law for future generations. Schools can teach history without violating the Constitution, and nations that forsake their heritage are doomed to forget their foundational principles upon which their continued success depends.”

Another comment came from Judge Darrell White of the state of Louisiana, who said that the new law definitely passes constitutional muster: “Louisiana’s new Ten Commandments Law follows in the fine tradition of the majestic ‘Judicial Oath’ (28 USC 453) that dates back to 1789 and necessarily concludes ‘so help me, God.’ Every justice of the United States Supreme Court has taken that Oath before God.”*

White noted that we should listen to the words of James Madison, a key architect of the Constitution. While this 1825 quote doesn’t directly mention the Ten Commandments, it has the same effect: “The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it.”

It’s a shame that tens of millions of children in America are somehow left with the notion that to acknowledge God in the schools is somehow not permitted. And so, God was kicked out of the public schools, and the metal detectors were put in place instead.

Good for this governor and his attempt to restore the moral foundation that helped create the framework of the United States of America in the first place.

* Darrell White said his source for this is on p. 81 of John Stormer’s 1998 book, “None Dare Call It Education.”

Article posted with permission from Jerry Newcombe

The Washington Standard

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