Michael Medved

The left’s fiery obsession with removing Ten Commandments monuments from public property throughout the United States may seem odd and irrational but actually reflects the deepest values of contemporary liberalism.

In the last five years alone, the tireless fanatics at the ACLU have invested tens of millions of dollars and countless hours of legal time in lawsuits to yank the Commandments from long-standing displays in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Montana, Georgia, Iowa, Washington State, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida. In one of the most recent battles, they delayed their litigation in Dixie County, Florida, because they couldn’t find a single local resident to lend a name as plaintiff in a drive to dislocate the tablets from the local court house.

Even for militant separationists like the ACLU, this ferocious hostility to innocuous and generally uncontroversial monuments looks excessive, even self-destructive. The overwhelming majority of Americans instinctively accept the Commandments as a timeless, cherished summary of universal moral precepts. A closer look at the specifics of the Decalogue, however, suggests that it makes good sense for leftists to hate The Big Ten: each one of the commandments contradicts a different pillar of trendy liberal thinking.

For the purposes of this discussion of these conflicts, I’ll cite translations from the original Hebrew in the excellent Stone Edition of the Biblical text (Exodus 20; 2-14), and I’ll use the traditional numbering favored by Jews and Protestants. (Catholics group Commandments 1 and 2 together, and make two separate Commandments--9 and 10-- out of the prohibition on “coveting” that Protestants and Jews identify solely as number 10.)

First Commandment: I am the Lord Your God, Who has taken you out of the Land of Egypt, from the house of slavery…..

This one makes liberals obviously and instantly uncomfortable. According to political correctness, it’s rude and insensitive to proclaim God’s existence in public—and especially not in public schools! Faith is supposed to remain a private matter, an individual habit or quiet commitment, leaving plenty of room for doubt and uncertainty. Secularists therefore resent the notion of an open, out-of-the-closet Deity who shows off in such a noisy, flashy way, staging the Exodus from Egypt with all its plagues and sea-splitting, then announcing himself in a voice from the mountaintop heard by hundreds of thousands of people. For those who worry about too much religion in the “public square,” it doesn’t get much more public or communal or unequivocal than this opening proclamation.

Michael Medved

Michael Medved's daily syndicated radio talk show reaches one of the largest national audiences every weekday between 3 and 6 PM, Eastern Time. Michael Medved is the author of eleven books, including the bestsellers What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Hollywood vs. America, Right Turns, The Ten Big Lies About America and 5 Big Lies About American Business
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