On June 17, Congress passed a bill allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted on walls of the nation's 85,000 public schools. After weeks of debate, it represents a feeble response to the abyss of school violence. I hoped for better from the Republican-led Congress.
The emotional explosion of the Columbine massacre resulted in political fragments that the Clinton-led Left interpreted as an opportunity for more gun control. The Republicans were cornered into doing another one of those "somethings" that will do nothing to heal, or even honestly analyze, the "whys" of how we got here.
What few conservatives and none among the nation's 220-plus religious denominations dare ask is, when and how did we lose our role as spiritual caretakers? If religious scholars are correct and Spirit is stronger than all things Earthly, as I believe it is, then the Office of Spiritual Regent was not stolen by the Left, religion's phony explanation for our nation's moral decline. It was compromised.
The teaching of morality was never, nor can it be now, taught like beginner's French. Reading the Ten Commandments will do no more for students than taking a shower will quench thirst. The Commandments must be lived by those whose resulting wisdom would never relinquish their child's mind to 12 years of warehousing of public schools only to later blame public education for the concupiscent nature of some students.
I am certainly no defender of the confused, tyrannical Left. But who are the Left but the children, spouses and relatives of the Right. To believe our current problems are political in nature is misleading and will do but one sure thing - lead us further in the wrong direction.
Like advocating school prayer, posting the Ten Commandments represent a pitiful attempt to nail to the walls of the public square what is no longer vibrant in our minds, hearts, homes or Congress. During Clinton's impeachment, the message we sent to our children's core - "as long as the money is good" - far outweighed years of public education's admittedly "bad influence." And don't tell me that the Left was solely responsible for Clinton's wall of protection.
Christians and Jews are said to make up 68% of America. Certainly, Clinton's high approval numbers amidst whispers of rape accusations came in large part from those who consider themselves religious. Such a transparent hypocrisy would be comical if not so sad. This is no joke to our children, who know it was not their nickels and dimes that made pornographer Larry Flynt wealthy and powerful.
The centuries-old substitutes of words, verses, platitudes, songs and stained glass windows will never suffice. No surface modifications will work, not even if every one of the nation's 46 million students prayed before every class; not even if life-size displays of the Ten Commandments greeted every student as they passed through metal detectors on their way to class.
The only change to come from symbolic, meaningless gestures like Congress's
vote to post the Ten Commandments in schools will only result in bad students
turning into much worse.
(Emanuel McLittle is a member of Project 21's National Advisory Board
and a writer and public speaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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