June 21, 2024

When a Nation Abandons the Ten Commandments

Louisiana’s new law reignites a critical debate about the foundation of Western Civilization.

The Ten Commandments are the foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics, which, in turn, are the foundation upon which our nation was built. “Our Constitution,” wrote John Adams, “was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The Rule of Law depends on moral people abiding by it and enforcing it. Today, we’re short on both.

Part of that is because people don’t even know what the Ten Commandments say, much less abide by them. Jews have never made up more than a tiny minority of Americans, and Christians have become a minority in recent years.

Earlier this week, Louisiana passed a law mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms. The law intentionally targets Supreme Court precedents, such as its 1980 Stone v. Graham decision striking down a similar Kentucky law. Republican Governor Jeff Landry said, “I can’t wait to be sued.”

Naturally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately obliged because the only religious displays allowed in public school classrooms are rainbow tributes to a deviant sex cult.

Not that the ACLU put it quite that way…

Naturally, the law provoked much debate, and two particular columns caught my eye — the first by Ben Shapiro, a Jew who supports posting the Ten Commandments, and the second by David French, a Christian who opposes doing so.

Shapiro begins by considering the secularist argument that some commandments are fine, like don’t kill or steal, but that some are inherently religious, such as God’s prohibition on worshiping other gods, which therefore prohibits any government posting. “Here is the problem with this particular argument,” Shapiro says. “The United States is not a fundamentally secular country.” He rejects, as have we, the “wall of separation” argument, which was never the intent of the First Amendment.

“In fact,” he adds, “nine of the 13 colonies had established churches at the time of the Revolutionary War.” Conversely, “The idea that secularism was supposed to predominate in the United States is obviously untrue; none of the Founders believed that.”

Indeed, God’s commandments about worship imply that we will worship something, not nothing. Again, most public schools actively promote a sex cult, which, by the way, violates several of the Commandments and reveals the real objection for most leftists — God’s insistence that He alone receive worship violates the leftist commandment that only their self-serving fetishes deserve such devotion.

What about the objections of someone like French, then? As anyone who has read his work over the last eight years will be painfully aware, French is afflicted with an acute case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. His mission in life became not promoting conservative values at National Review but rhetorically ripping to shreds his former allies as the token “conservative” at The New York Times. Then he plays the victim when people don’t like it. It’s quite sad, actually.

French’s article, “Thou Shalt Not Post the Ten Commandments in the Classroom,” seems to be an extension of this. It’s a short piece, but he spends all his time attacking the Right instead of the Left. He makes no mention of the left-wing religious displays in schools, instead focusing on condescending assertions about Republicans. They are hypocrites on the Rule of Law, he says, and this is little more than a “Christian mysticism” belief “that the Ten Commandments have a form of spiritual power over the hearts and minds of students and that posting the displays can change their lives.”

Surely, French knows that the revealed Word of God does, in fact, have spiritual power. He certainly seems to think Supreme Court precedents do. Surely, this New York Times scribe knows that Western Civilization itself was built on Judeo-Christian values, the cornerstone of which is the Ten Commandments.

Yet he testifies of his own experience growing up in Kentucky before 1980 that seeing the Ten Commandments posted on the walls of his school “had no impact on our lives.” Posting without teaching is indeed insufficient, though I don’t think that’s his point. (It is the point for The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson.)

My questions for French are simple: Were public school kids better behaved then or now? Were they better educated then or now?

Those are rhetorical questions.

Now, I’m not arguing that posting the Ten Commandments in 2024 in one state will fix that. It certainly won’t in a nation that increasingly rejects the Bible and the morality it teaches. Even huge numbers of Christian churches flagrantly violate these things.

Our Brian Mark Weber wrote about political divisions today. One reason I’d add is that Americans no longer even agree that the Ten Commandments are a good thing. It’s one thing to argue over where they should be displayed or to fail to fully adhere to them. It’s another thing entirely to view them as a symbol of oppression, which seems to be where today’s Left is.

Ignoring or even fighting against the Ten Commandments doesn’t make them less important. In fact, Shapiro rightly notes, “A society that abides by the Ten Commandments is going to be better than a society that does not.” That’s not a prediction. It’s a survey of the last 50 years.

P.S. You can always visit The Patriot Post Shop to buy a Ten Commandments magnet.

Follow Nate Jackson on X/Twitter.

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