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VOL. 7, NO. 4Mar. 18, 2005

The Courts v. the Commandments, Round 2 

By Virginia C. Armstrong, Ph.D.*, National Chairman

Recently the U. S. Supreme Court heard two cases involving challenges to Ten Commandments monuments on the Texas Capitol grounds and in two county courthouses in Kentucky. The Texas case is Van Orden v. Perry. The Kentucky case is McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. In Texas, the lower courts upheld the display. In Kentucky, badly divided lower courts outlawed the displays, which changed several times during the course of that litigation. These cases, plus the Roy Moore Ten Commandments monument controversy, provide us in the Judeo-Christian community with an arsenal of truths for repelling the Humanistic attacks on America's cultural and constitutional foundations.

  1. The Ten Commandments displays do not in any form or fashion "establish" a specific "religion." The Ten Commandments are central to at least three different religious communities — Protestants, Catholics, and Jews — no one of which would support the establishment of either of the other two as an official government "religion." Indeed, eradicating Ten Commandments monuments from public life amounts to government favoritism for Secular Humanism, defined by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1961 as a "religion."

  2. Sensible judges have consistently recognized that a monument can be both religious and secular. The Ten Commandments were understood until relatively recently in American law as having not just two dimensions — secular and religious — but three dimensions — religious, moral, and civic (public/political/legal) aspects. The Seventeenth Century philosophers, Thomas Hobbes (a strong secularist) and John Locke (an advocate of mixed secular and Christian views) cited the Commandments for their moral and civic aspects.

  3. The Second Table of the Decalogue (Commandments 5-10) promulgates standards essential to a just, ordered society. The First Table (Commandments 1-4) is also essential in the moral and civic realm. These Commandments establish the vital principle that there is an authority higher than man to which man and his law must be accountable. Without such accountability, human law will deteriorate into anarchy or autocracy — or both disasters simultaneously.

  4. Without Commandments 1-4, there is no adequate foundation for Commandments 5-10. Commandments 5-10 are personal, and they must therefore have a personal source — the God revealed to us in Commandments 1-4. Additionally, Commandments 5-10 are all-powerful, absolute rules for man's life. They must therefore have an all-powerful, absolute Source — the God of Commandments 1-4. Genuine laws, those embodying these six Commandments, embody the elements of power, absoluteness, righteousness, mercy, and judgment — the qualities of the God of Commandments 1-4. This God is the only adequate source in all of history for the standards set forth in Commandments 5-10.

  5. Ten Commandments monuments do not erode beneficial pluralism/diversity in America.

    1. A limitless pluralism is impossible in any society. Without a single worldview foundation, a nation will be jerked apart by so many competing value claims that it will destroy itself. Ultimately, one — and only one — worldview must guide America.

    2. "Pluralism" is a disingenuous term employed by Humanists bent on scouring from American public life every vestige of Judeo-Christian values and inserting their worldview as America's foundation. As English scholar E. R. Norman noted, "'Pluralism' is a word society uses as it is moving from one orthodoxy to another."

  6. Ten Commandments monuments do not undermine genuine tolerance, but rather contribute to it. If Humanists in America genuinely want tolerance, they should begin by being tolerant of America's Judeo-Christian foundations without which the Humanists would have no freedom to expound their ideas. Humanists may claim to be "offended" by the monuments. But being offended or isolated or even angry at some display or statement does not automatically amount to unconstitutionality. And certainly the personal irritation of some individual or groups cannot be allowed to govern the nation.

  7. Non-Christians in America may also cry that they are being "discriminated against" by Ten Commandments monuments. But what kind of America would we have if we were dominated by the Muslim religion as in the Near East, or the Hindu religion as in India, or the Buddhist religion as in China? These non-Christian societies are textbook examples of war, poverty, oppression, and grisly violations of human rights. America under the Judeo-Christian influence has enjoyed the opposite-personal dignity, progress, prosperity, and peace. Non-Christians living in Christian America can enjoy a far better life then they could in their non-Christian homelands.

The French author, Alexis de Tocqueville, after traveling America, wrote in the 1830s that ". . . there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of [Christianity's] utility and conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth." The Ten Commandments monuments must stay — for all the reasons stated above.

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