Having the Ten Commandments removed from an Alabama courthouse is not a tragedy for Christianity, but it is a tragedy for our nation. The fact that our founders were mainly Christians is important because they used their faith to make a constitution that relies on the principles of self-governance. Our founders made us the freest nation in the world because they believed we have a higher law, i.e. God's moral law, by which we should rule ourselves.

As James Madison, the chief architect of our constitution, said, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government ...[but] upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." Our founders saw clearly that if Americans do not respect God's law they won't respect human laws. Removing the Ten Commandments from our public buildings removes the recognition and respect of God's law.

Without respect for the law it will be impossible for us to continue living in self-governance. When citizens won't live by God's moral law, government must use powerful weapons to force their people to obey. But even that doesn't work for long. President John Adams said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Likewise former U.S. Speaker of the House Robert Winthrop said, "Man must be ruled either by the power within them or the power without them ... either by the Bible or the bayonet."

When the Ten Commandments were removed from the Alabama courthouse, it symbolized what our nation has been doing for many years: pushing, pulling, and ripping out God's law, not realizing we are destroying the only sound reason to follow our government and our only hope for having a free country.

Chuck Hurley, President
Iowa Family Policy Center
Des Moines

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