New debate over old laws
The Ten Commandments delivered by God to man well over 3,000 years ago, have become the focus of controversy across America. It seems strange that the legal code which has served as the basis of civil law in the Western World for over 2,000 years should now be the center of legal battle.
Previous generations never questioned the use of, display of, and reliance on the Ten Commandments; rather they heartily endorsed their use. For example:
In an even broader affirmation, several Founders of America declared that not just the Ten Commandments, but also Biblical principles in general were inseparable from law and society. For example:
Numerous others echoed similarly strong sentiments (see the section on the Ten Commandments in our book Original Intent); and significantly, so important have been the Ten Commandments to civil society that today an individual is more likely to find a copy of them hanging in a government building than in a church building.
The display of the Ten Commandments in public was first questioned in Stone v. Graham when the Supreme Court ruled that students could not be permitted—even voluntarily—to see a display of the Ten Commandments. Since that proverbial “crack in the dike,” activist legal groups, in a systematic series of cases, have successfully challenged and caused the removal of the Ten Commandments in public locations across the nation. Yet, although many of these cases have been lost, many have also been won.
Many are familiar with the plight of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama, who, despite a legal order, refused to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. That widely publicized case reached a successful termination. The State Supreme Court, in a remarkable and admirable display of judicial restraint, refused to rule on anything other than those specific and narrow issues which had reached the Court. The Court then dismissed those issues as having no merit and vacated all proceedings against Judge Moore. The results is that Judge Moore is once again free to display the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and to permit ministers to pray over the jury pools.
A similar suit against Judge John Devine of Texas was also dismissed.
Not only have cases been won on the legal front, but efforts to protect displays of the Ten Commandments have progressed on other fronts as well. For example, in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Cliff Sterns (FL) introduced H. Con. Res. 35, a very simple and succinct bill declaring:
The Indiana legislature has passed a similar resolution declaring:
Also in Indiana, George Hall of the Christian Family Association of Indiana and Ohio successfully encouraged individual counties to pass a resolution to post the Ten Commandments in each county’s government office buildings. (For more information on this work, to help support their efforts, or to find out how you can do the same in your area, contact George Hall, P.O. Box 261, Auburn, IN 46706, 219-927-1364.)
As you can see, there are many good things occurring across the nation, both at the federal and the State levels. Be encouraged, Christians—and stay involved.
Further information on the practical importance of teaching the Ten Commandments
Author: David Barton of WallBuilders. Photos supplied by Films for Christ. Article used with permission. Copyright © 1998, WallBuilders, Inc., All Rights Reserved—except as noted on attached “Usage and Copyright” page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schools.