News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: When the foundations are being destroyed

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Judge Roy Moore and his 5,280-pound monument of the Ten Commandments have created quite a stir. The liberal media, among others, have vilified the judge. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for example, called Moore’s efforts “shameful.” The same editorial applauded a decision by Moore’s fellow justices at the Alabama Supreme Court to remove the display, thus proving that they “understand the importance of our constitutional guarantee of separation between church and state.”

God help us. Oops, can I say that? Maybe not on government property. And especially not if I’m a state Supreme Court judge.

The U.S. Constitution does not require such an absurd result. While even supporters of a Ten Commandments display justifiably differ on whether they sanction Judge Moore’s conduct under these circumstances, that dispute should not divert us from the main issue: Can our government acknowledge the religious heritage of this nation or must we strip the public square of all things religious?

Honest men and women cannot dispute the spiritual foundations of our nation’s laws. The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (hey — isn’t he that “wall of separation” guy?), declared unequivocally that “all men are created equal … [and] endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Profound thought, but it wasn’t really original to Jefferson. Sir William Blackstone, recognized as the greatest legal mind behind the English common law — the foundation for all American law — said it this way: “… the law of nature … dictated by God himself … is binding … in all countries and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this; and all valid laws derive all their force…from this original.”

Though many liberals would paint Judge Moore as a pariah, he is not alone in thinking that our public places should be adorned with a reminder of our spiritual heritage. Inscribed on the walls of both the House of Representatives and Senate are the words “In God We Trust.” Engraved on the metal cap at the top of the Washington Monument is a Latin phrase that means “Praise God.” When entering the National Archives to see the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence, you must first pass by the Ten Commandments prominently displayed at the entrance. And in the Supreme Court building, on a frieze on the walls above the Supreme Court justices, is a depiction of Moses holding the Ten Commandments as well as several other “lawgivers.”

It is no exaggeration to say that our judges literally sit in the shadow of Moses.

Even Thomas Jefferson, the president who once wrote a letter extolling the “wall of separation between church and state” (a phrase never used in our founding documents), did not have in mind the eradication of religion from the public square. Instead, his concern was the encroachment of the state on religious freedom. Two days after writing his famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Jefferson could be found sitting in the halls of Congress, listening to a sermon from Baptist pastor John Leland, one of many religious services held in government buildings during Jefferson’s administration.

Times have changed, goes the argument. It’s time to get out our sandblasters and erasers so that atheists and ACLUists won’t have to divert their eyes when they tread on government property. After all, we’re just talking cosmetic changes here.

Not to Blackstone. Or Jefferson. Or to the millions of Americans who still believe “In God we trust.” To them, the issues are foundational. And, if you’ll pardon my quick reference to a holy book, when the foundations are being destroyed, what should the righteous do?
Randy Singer is executive vice president of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

    About the Author

  • Randy Singer