If you want to predict on which side an American will line up in the Culture War wracking America, virtually all you have to do is get an answer to this question: Does the person believe in the divinity and authority of the Five Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah? ("Divinity" does not necessarily mean "literalism.")
I do not ask this about "the Bible" as a whole because the one book that is regarded as having divine authority by believing Jews, Catholics, Protestants and Mormons, among others, is not the entire Bible, but the Torah. Religious Jews do not believe in the New Testament and generally confine divine revelation even within the Old Testament to the Torah and to verses where God is cited by the prophets, for example. But "Bible-believing" Christians and Jews do believe in the divinity of the Torah.
And they line up together on virtually every major social/moral issue.
Name the issue: same-sex marriage; the morality of medically unnecessary abortions; capital punishment for murder; the willingness to label certain actions, regimes, even people "evil"; skepticism regarding the United Nations and the World Court; strong support for Israel. While there are exceptions -- there are, for example, secular conservatives who share the Bible-believers' social views -- belief in a God-based authority of the Torah is as close to a predictable dividing line as exists.
That is why one speaks of Judeo-Christian values, but not of Judeo-Christian theology. Torah-believing Jews and Torah-believing Christians have very different theological beliefs, but they agree on almost all values issues -- largely because they share a belief in the divinity of the same text.
Many members of all these different religions have found it quite remarkable how similar their values are to those of members of these other religions. An evangelical Protestant who might regard Mormonism as nothing more than a heretical cult will find himself seated next to Mormons at a rally on behalf of the Boy Scouts. An Orthodox rabbi who might never set foot in a church will join a panel of Christians in opposing the redefining of marriage. And so on.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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