Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review June 28, 1999/ 14 Tamuz 5759

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Tony Snow
Michael Barone
Dave Barry
Kathleen Parker
Dr. Laura
Michael Kelly
Bob Greene
Michelle Malkin
Paul Greenberg
David Limbaugh
David Corn
Marianne Jennings
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Richard Chesnoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg


'Sacred wall' or religious barrier? -- DURING THE LAST THREE-PLUS DECADES, extremists in this country hostile to America's Judeo-Christian tradition have succeeded in erecting an almost absolute barrier between church and state.

These anti-Biblical zealots claim to have been acting in deference to constitutional principles. In fact, they have acted in willful disregard of those principles -- revealing their contempt, not their allegiance, to our constitutional heritage.

The framers of the Constitution never intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state, merely to prevent the government from establishing a state religion.

Even liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas acknowledged that the framers didn't forbid all church and state interaction. In Zorach vs. Clausen (1952), he stated: "The First Amendment ... does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. ... Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other -- hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly. ... Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups. Policemen who helped parishioners into their places of worship would violate the Constitution. Prayers in our legislative halls; the appeals to the Almighty in the messages of the Chief Executive; the proclamation of Thanksgiving as a holiday; 'so help me God' in our courtroom oaths -- these and all laws, our public rituals, our ceremonies, would be flouting the First Amendment."

Last week, Congress showed uncharacteristic courage by enacting politically incorrect legislation permitting the Ten Commandments to be displayed in schools and other government buildings. This represents a radical liberation from our cultural bondage to liberal historical revisionism.

Last week, WorldNetDaily editor Joe Farah made the excellent point that "the Ten Commandments form the very basis of Western law." We should be aware that other Biblical laws were also foundational to our system of jurisprudence.

In the Book of Exodus following the Ten Commandments are further laws, sometimes collectively referred to as the Book of the Covenant. As a lawyer, I was fascinated to discover just how much of our law -- torts, contracts, property and criminal law -- is obviously traceable to this section of Scripture. One provision reminded me of my first year in law school.

In Torts class, we studied the rules regarding an animal owner's liability for harboring a dangerous animal, most often applied to dogs. Our professor told us that many mistakenly believed that dog owners were exempted from liability for their dog's first bite. But the rule was a bit more sophisticated. Rather, a dog owner (or owner of any other kind of animal) was liable if he had knowledge of his animal's vicious propensities prior to the animal injuring a person, even if the animal had never bitten or injured anyone before. I had assumed that this "more sophisticated" rule concerning knowledge of vicious propensities had replaced the simplistic "first-bite" rule. Not so!

When I read Exodus 21:28-29 and 35-36, I was amazed to find that the "sophisticated rule" was not new at all, but had derived from those passages: "If a man's bull injures the bull of another and it dies, they are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and the dead animal will be his."

As you can see, the animal owner's knowledge of his animal's vicious propensities is what triggers his liability. And there is no question that today's legal principle concerning vicious propensities emanates from this ancient, Biblical law. A reading of the other specific laws in the Book of the Covenant reveals additional striking similarities to laws still in force today.

Indeed, English jurist William Blackstone observed that the entire English legal system, including the jury system, the court system and the practice of oaths, was based on the Bible. The American legal system, of course, is based on the English system. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story in 1829 wrote, "There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations."

Don't be fooled by the secular elite into believing that our Founding Fathers feared any intrusion of Biblical precepts into our governmental system.

Those who teach that the framers prescribed total separation of church and state are pitifully divorced from objective truth and from undoctored American history.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?