Government Posting of the Ten Commandments: ‘bad policy’?

supreme court building_engraving of Moses

Three historical lawgivers: Confucius wearing a robe and long beard; Athenian lawgiver, Solon; and Moses in the center who introduced the Ten Commandments, engraved on the white exterior wall of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Anti-Defamation League posts this information on their website:

The Ten Commandments Controversy: A First Amendment Perspective

The Anti-Defamation League believes that the increasing call by private citizens and public officials for the government to post the Ten Commandments in schools, government buildings, courts and other public places — while often well-intentioned – is bad policy and often unconstitutional. Governmental posting of the Ten Commandments can lead to the kind of religious divisions within otherwise harmonious communities that our founding fathers sought to avoid by constitutionally mandating the separation of church and state. Before embracing this easy fix for some of society’s most intractable problems, communities should consider its consequences for one of America’s most precious traditions: religious tolerance. http://archive.adl.org/10comm/print.html

When I read this introduction, I thought how absurd to blame the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places on causing “religious divisions in otherwise harmonious communities.” I find this assertion seriously wrong. Shootings and other forms of violence in public places, like schools and government buildings, have occurred even where the Ten Commandments are NOT posted. Moreover, it sounds contradictory to me to call the posting of the Ten Commandments “an easy fix for some of society’s most intractable problems” on one hand, and on the other hand say that it is “bad policy.”

But the biggest lie of them all is that government posting of the Ten Commandments violates the constitution in regard to the separation of church and state. For one thing, “separation of church and state” is not in the U. S. Constitution. The First Amendment simply reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is not saying there is a separation of church from the state but that congress cannot establish a national religion nor can it create a national church. The United States was never intended to be like Russia which has established the Russian Orthodox Church as its state religion.

The Christian Post has posted an intriguing article titled, “Separation of Church and State” that goes into more detail on this issue. The author explains how the Supreme Court made a landmark decision in 1947 based on a misinterpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s words in a letter he’d written to the Danbury Baptist Church in 1802 (http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html) where he used the words “wall of separation between church and state.” Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/separation-of-church-and-state-is-not-in-the-u-s-constitution-122657/#QakpHhzVAJgglYgI.99

For another thing, if Christians truly believe in God’s Word, they know the Ten Commandments are not the cause of religious divisions but people are. Some like to agitate just for the sake of agitating no matter what the majority believe and accept including belief in God and his directives. But we must not forget who first gave these commandments and through whom they were established.

This reminds me of a joke:

A Methodist minister, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi were talking. The Methodist bragged, “One of my ancestors wrote over a hundred hymns.” Not to be outdone, the priest responded, “One of my ancestors translated the Bible into English.” “That’s nothing,” said the rabbi. “One of my ancestors wrote the Ten Commandments.”

The Ten Commandments were God’s rules of order given to Israel through Moses. Their purpose was, and remains to be, the foundation for providing an awareness between what is wrong and what is right. While the Mosaic law doesn’t provide salvation (it’s through God’s grace that we are saved, Ephesians 2:8), it does act as our tutor, instructing us on how to live and act in a decent and orderly manner (Gal. 3:24). Paul declared, “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted,” (1 Timothy 1:8-11, New American Standard Bible).

Think about these words in the context of our society and the problems we have with crime today. Do you think the Ten Commandments are to blame or could it really be that the root cause is due to ignoring them? When they are not posted, they are out of sight. And just like the saying goes, “Out of sight; out of mind.” You could say that some people are out of their minds because God’s laws are out of their sight (and not in their minds or hearts, either).

Obviously, posting the Ten Commandments will not remove all crime and violence. But the Bible says it should never be removed from our sight, as well, and for a good reason—namely, because God instructs us to keep his commandments in front of us always, and never forget them (Deut. 6:9; 11:18). Thankfully, there is no law yet telling us we can’t display them in places other than in schools, court buildings, and the like. We can still display them on our own property, for example. But I don’t doubt that there are those who would like to have this right removed, as well.

When the founding fathers established the United States of America they knew full well about the importance of the Ten Commandments. The framers of the constitution believed in the rule of law and this included God’s law according to the scriptures. Men like George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry, and James Madison, as well as lesser known patriots, all referred to God and Bible texts in respect to morality, security, and social order. (see http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755) These men and many others have probably turned over in their graves more than once at the way the Ten Commandments and public prayer have literally been censored in schools and public places today.

What should be done is the reverse of what groups such as the Anti-Defamation League advocate. I propose that NOT posting the Ten Commandments is actually bad policy. Indeed, it is good policy to post the commandments if it is from God. And God will hold the nation accountable if he and his commandments are rejected.

Let us be as Peter and the other apostles who declared to the authorities of their day, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” (Acts 5:29) Proclaiming the Good News, including living according to God’s commandments, is what will keep our society in decent working order. Government cannot stop us from believing and living according to his Word even if it does make laws that prohibit or stifle the posting of his commandments in public areas.

Here is Carman with a soul stirring presentation of “America Again”: 
http://youtu.be/AnJV_SVY_uY  

Good News to YOU
Pastor Michael

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