by Warren Beatty
Appearing on The Today Show on April 10, 2014, Bill O’Reilly said:
Bill O’Reilly: Kids need to know what Judeo-Christian Tradition is, because that’s what all of our laws are based on, that’s what this country’s philosophy is.
Matt Lauer: … you’re surrounded by kids of four, five, six different faiths. Why should they sit there and listen to the story of Jesus Christ?
[note that Lauer’s question has nothing to do with laws, but O’Reilly’s response does]
Bill O’Reilly: If they are American children, because that’s what forged the [US] Constitution.
Lauer’s question is a classic example of what the MSM often does: “bait and switch,” try to change the subject. Kudos to O’Reilly for staying on subject, for not falling into Lauer’s trap. But few of us are media celebrities, so some research and facts will come in handy the next time some Progressive/Liberal/Democrat (P/L/D) starts this argument with you – and it will happen.
To provide a framework for this article, consider that Hrafnkell Haraldsson wrote a very funny article about how the US Constitution is NOT based upon the Bible. In his article, Haraldsson says:
Ancient Israel and Judah were kingdoms, ruled by kings. When the kings were gone, the Jews were ruled by corrupt high priests. Monarchy or theocracy. Some choice. I’m pretty sure that is not the fate the Founding Fathers had in mind for America when they penned the United States Constitution.
Haraldsson goes on, “No Religious Right figure … has ever explained how the Constitution can be based on biblical principles without so much as mentioning God, Jesus, the Bible, or the Ten Commandments.”
Well, I am not a “Religious Right figure,” but I can READ. And I can assimilate what I’ve read. To wit:
• One of the favorite claims of P/L/Ds is that the US Constitution was not based on The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). What P/L/Ds will never acknowledge, however, is that the US Constitution was influenced by them. The Ten Commandments certainly had an impact on the development of laws, and influenced the legal philosophy of our constitution framers. Here’s what some famous Americans have said about this subject:
• “The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion” – John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
• “The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus…[.] I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.” – Harry S Truman.
• “It is equally undeniable … that the Ten Commandments have had a significant impact on the development of secular legal codes of the Western World.” – William Rehnquist.
Consider this statement: “The Ten Commandments have had an immeasurable effect on Anglo-American legal development” – U.S. District Court, Crockett v. Sorenson , W.D. Va. (1983).
Consider these facts:
• There is only one lawgiver – God (Isaiah 33:22; James 4:12). Our Constitution is the “law of the land.” And the concepts of God and laws come from the Bible.
• God is the source of ALL rights. The purpose of civil government is to “secure” the Rights God gave us. The US Constitution was based on God’s model of civil government as set forth in the Bible.
• Isaiah 33:22 says: The Lord is our king, lawgiver, and judge. The US Constitution divides the federal government into three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Coincidence?
• James Madison argued in Federalist #51 that government must be based upon a realistic view of human nature. A Biblical view of government is based upon a balanced view of human nature, recognizing both human dignity (we are all created in God’s image) and human depravity (we are all sinful). So, the Constitution framers, trying to recognize human nature and achieve balance, constructed a Constitution with a profound sense of Biblical realism.
Then there’s the matter of the US Constitution itself. In Article I, Section 7, Paragraph 2 is this sentence: “If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law.” Let’s see, I believe that the concept of Sunday came from … the Bible.
Consider the final paragraph. It contains the phrase “… in the Year of our Lord …[.] Again, Biblical reference. The framers’ reference to “our Lord” does not refer to a generic deity. It is an explicit reference to Jesus Christ. True, it is a specific reference, not a formal name.
Consider this fact. Dr. Mike Stallard states:
The Constitution is a pragmatic text which answers the “how” question [of governance]. It is intended simply to give the structure of how the government is to operate. On the other hand, the Declaration [of Independence] answers a “why” question. Consequently, it is more philosophical. Furthermore, the young nation is defending its decision for independence in the eyes of a Western world steeped in Judeo-Christian ethics during the Enlightenment with its own twists and turns. Legally and morally, the need to appeal to God should not be a surprise. [emphases supplied]
The Declaration of Independence is replete with specific references to God. The first paragraph has this phrase: “… the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them …[.]” The second paragraph begins with, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Several Biblical references here. First, “their Creator” is a specific reference to God. Second, the phrase “all men are created equal” has its roots in Galatians 3:28 and Acts 10:34. Third, the phrase “…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” refers to Deuteronomy 32:46,47; John 8:31,32; James 1:25; and Psalm 19:8. Further “[Thomas] Jefferson understood ‘unalienable rights’ as fixed rights given to us by our Creator rather than by government.”
So, all you P/L/Ds (and Haraldsson), what say you now? Y’all are correct when saying that our US Constitution does not specifically mention God or reference the Bible. Do y’all have anything to say about the Declaration of Independence? Or the philosophy of what the Constitution framers were trying to accomplish? Speak up, we can’t hear you.
Mr. Haraldsson, you are correct if you say that “based on” means “built on.” But you say nothing about “influence,” or about “bear upon,” “contingent upon,” “dependent on,” “founded on,” “grounded on,” relying on,” or “rested on.” Our US Constitution may not be specifically based on the Bible, but it sure had an influence on our constitution. The Founding Fathers, when penning the US Constitution, tried to avoid the US becoming a kingdom. The US Constitution doesn’t specifically mention God, Jesus, the Bible, or the Ten Commandments, but their influence is there! Just like a president who said “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is,” you try to hide behind words’ precise definitions.
But that’s just my opinion.
Cross-posted at The Pot Stirrer, my very conservative web site.
I can be reached at “firstname.lastname@example.org”. I would like to read what you think. And, yes, I’m a big Richard Petty fan!
Dr. Warren Beatty (not the liberal actor) earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University. He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making, and has authored four e-books on the subject. He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired. Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years. He blogs at rwno.limewebs.com.