The Freedom From Religion Foundation pressured Kentucky’s Breathitt County School District to remove a copy of the Ten Commandments that had been posted in the school for years. The FFRF said it had received complaints about the displays.
This complaint thing seems to work only one way. What if a group of parents complained that their children were being taught that they are the product of millions of years of years of evolution through the process of the survival of the fittest, “nature, red in tooth and claw”?
What if the students put two and two together and reasoned that if evolution is true, then there are no moral absolutes? That would include murder, the sixth of the Ten Commandments. Consider the following from H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), a prominent supporter of evolutionary theory:
“[T]he struggle for existence went on among the lions in the jungle and the protozoa in the sea ooze, and . . . the law of natural selection ruled all of animated nature—mind and matter—alike.”1
In fact, they might reason that killing a fellow student or group of students could not be called murder given evolutionary assumptions since “murder” assumes that human beings are created in the image of God: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6). In what way is an evolved entity afforded protection from a “fitter” evolutionary “survivor”?
The Kentucky Board of Education released a statement explaining its rationale for agreeing to remove the display:
“The display of religious materials, such as a painting of a religious figure or a copy of the Ten Commandments, in a public school violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment or endorsement of religion by a public agency. A school or district that displays copies of the Ten Commandments without the inclusion of other historical documents and not as part of a historical/comparative display is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
Where does the Constitution say this? The First Amendment is directed at Congress for the purpose of allowing states to do what the Kentucky school had been doing with the display of the Ten Commandments for decades. The states called for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights to restrict the national government and afford them the freedom to govern themselves in specific areas:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”
Where’s the violation? The prohibition is directed at Congress not the state of Kentucky. In fact, the First Amendment is being violated because the removal of the Ten Commandments prohibits the “free exercise thereof” of religion toward the state of Kentucky.
Is the Preamble to Kentucky’s constitution a violation of the United States Constitution considering its direct reference to God?:
“We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
If the people of Kentucky are grateful to Almighty God for “political and religious liberties,” then how does the action of the Kentucky Board of Education square with denying the religious liberties of those people who want the Ten Commandments posted in their school and probably want the commandments to be taught?
One would think that with rapes, bullying, sexual promiscuity, and even murder taking place in our nation’s government schools that the people would be crying out for moral instruction rooted in the fear of God and the blessedness of His commandments:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Our nation is being burdened with tens of thousands of rules and regulations that godless fools will serve as a remedy to what is a problem of the heart.
- H. L. Mencken, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (Kennikat reprint of 1908 edition, 1967), 102–3. Quoted in Garry Wills, Under God: Religion and American Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 102. [↩]