Enrolling God in our Schools

Posting the ten commandments in schools won't do any good unless we're living

A reporter called the other day. She wanted to talk to me about the House resolution allowing schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms. She figured that, since I had worked with some of the Columbine victims, I might have some kind of special insight into the whole matter.

She was particularly interested in my reaction to a quote she had heard from a woman who had said that if the Ten Commandments had been posted at Columbine High School, the whole incident never would have happened. Did I think that was true? Hardly, I told her. It's not as if a gun-toting Eric Harris would stop in the midst of spraying bullets and said, "Hey, look! 'Thou shalt not kill!' Wow, I'm really sorry!"

But that isn't to say that I don't believe this woman is onto something.

As I said in a previous column, none of us can psychoanalyze Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold -- or any other teen killers -- to the point where we can come up with "the reason" they did this. The politicians are trying, with the Left blaming the guns and the Right blaming the video games and everybody using the tragedy as a platform for their pet projects. Of course, in the end the blame falls simultaneously on all of these and none of these. "The reason" is evil, in all of the various ways it managed to manifest itself into Eric and Dylan's lives.

The ironic thing is that we all know there is only one true Antidote to evil, and we have banned Him from our schools.

I find it almost ludicrous to see, on one hand, the extent to which our "First Amendment Rights" are used to defend the most obnoxious, most blatant forms of offensive communication imaginable, while on the other hand, any mention of the Creator to whom of Forefathers constantly referred is regarded as some kind of immanent threat the our Civil Liberties and the American Way of Life.

Does anybody else see something wrong here?

The reporter I spoke to mentioned that many people are concerned that posting the Ten Commandments would be offensive to Muslims and Buddhists.

Now that's a lame excuse if I've ever heard one. First of all, have we asked the Muslim and Buddhist students? I can't imagine that, in the current climate, they would consider a the posting of set of rules demanding respect for fellow human beings to constitute a serious threat to them. Heck, places in the Koran say basically the same thing. Post both side by side. I don't care. Just foster some God-inspired respect for the dignity of the human person, for Pete's sake. Besides, let's talk for a minute about what I find offensive in today's public schools. Contraceptive-dispensing health clinics, Bible-banning administrators, obscenity-laden T-shirts -- no one seems to care too much that I and literally millions of Christian students and parents are mortally offended by these and other objectively offensive factors of modern student life. If there are really people who are "offended" by God and by the respect for human persons that worshipping Him engenders, I say let them be offended.

Of course, in and of itself, posting the Ten Commandments isn't going to do a whole lot of good. It's a good place to start, but we need to build on it. We need to allow God back into our schools. We need to allow open discussion about Him to go on in our classrooms. We need to stop treating His name as the only remaining "dirty word" in our collective vocabulary. We need to acknowledge He exists and to acknowledge His role in our lives.

Of course, at this point the nay-sayers will object "But which God will we be talking about? The Presbyterian God? The Baptist God? The Jewish God?" Yes, students will come from different faith traditions, and will have different beliefs about God. So what? They come to school with different political beliefs, too. How do we handle that? Do we ban discussions about government? No. We discuss it. We learned about it. We listen to differing opinions. That's how our children learn respect. That's how they learn about different belief systems. That's how they learn to search for the truth.

The other day, in the midst of my daily e-mail spam, I received the text of Darrell Scott's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Mr. Scott is the father of Rachel Scott, who was killed at Columbine High School. He spoke eloquently to the committee -- about education and the need to acknowledge and glorify God in our educational institutions. He also recited a poem he had written in the wake of the murders. That simple poem says more that an entire newspaper full of columns, and so I close by reprinting it here:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.

Now gunshots fill our classrooms
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "WHY"?

You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand
That God is what we need!

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