In a recent statement in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Congressman Ron Paul had this to say:
“Real change can happen only when we commit ourselves to rebuilding civil society in America, meaning a society based on family, religion, civic and social institutions, and peaceful cooperation through markets. We cannot reverse decades of moral and intellectual decline by snapping our fingers and passing laws.”
Congressman Paul is right. Self-government is the necessary foundation for any society. But self-government must be coupled with knowledge of a higher law.
Consider the following from Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films, who steps out on stage at the beginning of his 1956 film The Ten Commandments:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, young and old. This may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the picture begins, but we have an unusual subject: the birth of freedom. The story of Moses.”
Those who watch The Ten Commandments on television never get to see DeMille make his speech.
DeMille considered the topic of freedom under God’s law to be the movie’s most important message. In his rare on-screen appearance, he explained his reason for re-making The Ten Commandments (there was a 1923 silent version):
“The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today.”
Moral conditions today are different from the mid-1950s. In the middle of the last century the majority of Americans believed in a higher law given by God. We still have our Rameses in the form of government tyranny, but there is an added dimension to that tyranny, one that contends that there are no moral absolutes. Those chickens are slowly coming home to roost in the most vulnerable places.
Posting copies of the Ten Commandments in schools, courthouses, and other government buildings was common 60 years ago. Here are some examples:
- A full-scale model of The Interpretation of Law showing Moses holding the tablets of the law is on the same floor as the Attorney General’s office.1
- A mural of Moses holding the two tables of the law is on the courtroom ceiling of the Supreme Court Chamber in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania contains a large mural that depicts Moses and the Ten Commandments that was painted by Violet Oakley and commissioned by the state of Pennsylvania and dedicated in 1927.
Chief Justice Warren Burger noted in his majority opinion of Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) that the Supreme Court Chamber where cases related to religion are heard “is decorated with a notable and permanent-not seasonal-symbol of religion: Moses with the Ten Commandments.”2
In the Georgia General Assembly Unannotated code we find the following instructions given to the state’s archivist: “Encourage the study of historical documents including but not limited to those which reflect our National Motto, the Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the Constitution of the United States, and such other nationally recognized documents which contributed to the history of the State of Georgia” (45-13-41).
The official souvenir book produced at the time The Ten Commandments was released expressed DeMille’s understanding of the importance of God’s revealed law:
“The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey as a personal favor to God. They are fundamental principles without which mankind cannot live together. . . . THE TEN COMMANDMENTS are not laws. They are THE LAW. Man has made 32,000,000 laws since they were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God’s law.”
Given the operating assumption of materialism, there can’t be a Higher Law. For example, the words “so help me God” have been stricken from the written oath of office that Notaries must take in order to serve in the state of Florida. This phrase was deleted because a South Florida atheist said it violated the separation of Church and State. “Those words never should have been there to begin with,” Ken Rouse, general counsel for the Florida Department of State, said.
Religious leaders from Miami to Jacksonville expressed disbelief. “This is frightening, that one person could sway the state to change things like that,” said Glen Owens, assistant executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention in Jacksonville. “How can they completely abolish a system of doing things for one person?” The Reverend Gerard LaCerra, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Miami understands the implications of the ruling. “What are we supposed to base our commitments on if something like this is removed? The state?”3
There is no eternal fear of the State. That’s why so many of these mass murderers kill themselves. They’ve been taught that there are no consequences beyond the grave. Famed evolutionist Richard Dawkins argues that teaching children that there is judgment after death is worse than child abuse. So what’s the big deal about killing some kids? Ultimately, there’s no one to judge the killer.
- George Gurney, Sculpture and the Federal Triangle (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985), 177. [↩]
- U.S. Supreme Court Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (decided March 5, 1984), II.C. [↩]
- “‘God’ Removed from Notaries’ Oath,” The Kansas City Star (February 18, 1992), 2A. [↩]