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Jewish World Review March 6, 2002/ 22 Adar, 5762

Don Feder

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Supreme Nine dis Divine Ten -- A RECENTLY released Gallup poll shows most of the Islamic world believes Arabs weren't responsible for the World Trade Center attack -- incontrovertible evidence notwithstanding.

But the Middle East has no monopoly on reality avoidance. In refusing to recognize America's religious roots, the mullahs of the federal judiciary are every bit as clueless.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower-court ruling declaring unconstitutional a proposed Ten Commandments monument to be erected on the grounds of the Indiana statehouse. The court apparently believes our system of government was created out of thin air and bears no relationship to the faith of our fathers.

In Indiana Civil Liberties Union vs. O'Bannon, the high court let stand a Seventh Circuit decision forbidding the state to erect a monument (consisting of the Decalogue, Bill of Rights and Preamble to the Indiana Constitution) intended to replace a similar display destroyed by vandals. Were the hooligans simply enforcing the Establishment Clause?

The appeals court majority was alarmed over the supposed entanglement of church and state. Clearly, the monument was intended to advance religion, the majority reasoned, because "the State had not shown a historical link between most of the Ten Commandments and the ideal of government and the legal system."

While admitting that prohibitions on murder and robbery contained in Mosaic law are congenial to an ordered society, the court claimed the first five commandments are "wholly religious in nature and serve no conceivable secular purpose."

In reality, the Ten Commandments is central to our understanding of inalienable rights and government based on law. Absent Sinai, there would have been no Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence or Constitution -- in short, no America.

All the commandments are mirrored in federal or state law. Where do anti-blasphemy and Sunday closing laws come from if not the wellspring of Western civilization?

It's hard to find a state constitution that does not acknowledge G-d as the ultimate authority. Indiana's expresses gratitude "to Almighty G-d for the free exercise of the right to choose our own form of government."

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638), the first written constitution in America, gave the colony's officials "the power to administer justice according to the laws here established: and for want thereof according to the rule of the word of G-d."

President John Quincy Adams observed, "The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes ... of universal application -- laws essential to the existence of men in society."

The city in which the Supreme Nine sits abounds in tokens of our affinity for the Divine Ten.

Roman numerals one through 10 (the traditional representation of the Decalogue) are etched on the doors leading to the Supreme Court's chambers -- as if to say, the proceedings that take place beyond these portals will be guided by this code. Sessions begin with the invocation, "God save the United States and this honorable court." One wall is decorated with a frieze of Moses delivering the law.

A depiction of Moses adorns the House chamber, facing the Speaker's rostrum. As you enter The National Archives (repository of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution), there's a bronze design on the floor that includes the Ten Commandments -- tying what's in the display cases with their source.

Still, the courts are in historical denial.

In a number of states, there's a legislative effort underway to permit posting of "In G-d We Trust" in the public schools. We can put it on our currency, but it takes a law to get it into the schools and even that may not be enough to overcome the objections of judicial militants.

On Monday, over 1,000 U.S. forces engaged the enemy in Afghanistan. (There are no strict separationists in the foxholes.) Last fall, President George Bush closed his speech on the beginning of our Afghan offensive with "May G-d bless America." Now, I ask you, what conceivable secular purpose did that serve?

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate