Guest essay by Duane Lindberg
In the aftermath of another tragic school shooting, it is predictable many will play the blame game. The assumption of the “left” is guns are the real culprit and the ultimate enemy is the National Rifle Association. Whereas, the “right” blames the ACLU and liberal judges who refuse to allow the arraignment of those who have threatened school violence.
There is enough blame to go around—gun laws, mental illness, liberal judges, broken homes, absentee fathers, a culture of violence promoted by the media through television, movies, music and video games. However, the deeper responsibility for these tragedies rests with the sinful nature of the person perpetrating the crime and this highlights the failure of the Supreme Court and of the liberal establishment.
The high court for 56 years has systematically removed from public schools the most powerful deterrents to evil and criminal behavior, namely, the resources of our Judeo–Christian heritage. I refer to the court’s decisions that have removed prescribed school prayer (Engel vs. Vitale) in 1962; stopped Bible reading in public schools (Abington School Dist. vs. Schempp) in 1963; and rejected the display of the Ten Commandments (“You shall not murder! You shall not commit adultery! You shall not bear false witness!” etc.) in public schools in 1980.
It is revealing to read the majority opinion of the Supreme Court in the decision to remove the Ten Commandments from public schools. They reasoned:
“If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps venerate and obey the Commandments. However desirable this might be as a matter of private devotion, it is not a permissible state objective under the establishment clause.”
How sad the Supreme Court in 1980 denied our schools one of the most powerful incentives to good behavior. Perhaps, now, for the safety of our children and our nation, and in the light of the unleashed violence in our schools, the Supreme Court will reconsider its unfortunate public-school decisions. Isn’t it the right time for the court to ask itself, “Is the safety and protection of our school children and society itself a permissible state objective?”
The disappointing truth is our schools and our culture are now experiencing the tragic consequences of several unfortunate Supreme Court decisions.
However, it would not be fair to blame the High Court exclusively. Undermining the Biblical foundation of our nation did not originate with the court. This erosion begins when everyday people deny the God-inspired authority of the Bible.
When the Bible’s authority is denied, it undermines the foundation of law and promotes the secular belief there is no absolute truth—no ultimate right or wrong. Then, morality becomes just a matter of personal opinion and people do whatever their sinful natures desire—murder, rape, adultery, lying, gossip, etc. Unfortunately, our public schools have become the heirs and the promoters of this moral relativism.
However, the finger of fault points also to us in Bible-believing churches. We have failed in our duty to instruct society regarding the civil use of the Commandments. For example, the teaching of the Decalogue is not only for religious people, but is essential for the preservation and well-being of the state. The first use of the law is not a religious function but a civil one, namely, keeping order in society, punishing evil and encouraging the good.
Therefore, one step toward a long-range solution to the school shooting epidemic is to rescind the Supreme Court decisions which prohibit prayer, Bible reading and posting the Ten Commandments in public schools. This would encourage parental, school and societal discipline as well as call students to account for their behavior, inspire them to do what is right and to resist evil.
Rev. Lindberg, PhD, is author of the Nordskog Publishing title The Kingdom of the Rings. With over 50 years of pastoral ministry, he served as presiding bishop (emeritus) of the American Association of Lutheran Churches, was instrumental in founding the American Lutheran Theological Seminary, served as adjunct professor in areas of church history and systematic, and taught medieval history at Upper Iowa University.
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