Judge Roy Moore has been suspended from his post,
and the Ten Commandments monument has been evacuated in Montgomery,
Alabama. These events are conforming testimony of the profoundly
cultural (as opposed to chiefly legal) crisis that we confront.
It is an equal confirmation of the Center
for Cultural Leadership’s basic contention: legal and
jurisprudential reform (though sorely needed) is not strategically
central today; it merely reflects the real problem, which is cultural
(externally religious) apostasy.
Commandments and the Founding
States was not founded as a theocracy or Biblical republic (the
founders were too influenced by Greco-Roman classical notions
to be consistently Christian), but it was shaped by a few basic
Christian truths: religious liberty, mistrust of power, and protection
of minorities from majorities. The Founders, mostly Christians
who took their Faith seriously (see M. E. Bradford’s fine
and the Framers”
were often enamored, too, of the Enlightenment mindset that surrounded
them. Without the benefit of historic hindsight, they did not
grasp the incompatibility between the novel Enlightenment surrounding
them and Christianity; in fact, they often seemed to want to synthesize
Moore is a godly, courageous man who recognizes
the role Christian revelation played in the Founding, notably
in the nation’s law base. When the Declaration of Independence
spoke of “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,”
the deist Jefferson had in mind the Christian God and His laws
(whether “natural” or Biblical), not some other religion’s.
Moore knows this, and he has stood for the symbolic appearance
of the Ten Commandments in his court. He is to be commended for
his resolve and courage. We must support his Biblical convictions.
Commandments and Moore’s Christian Critics
None of this is to suggest that the devout Christian
critics of his strategy (like Pat Robertson) are enemies of religious
liberty or providing aid and comfort to Moore’s secular
enemies. Even if Robertson and other critics are wrong, they are
grappling with the right strategy by which to create a Christian
culture; and we should listen to their voices, even if we disagree
with their suggestions.
Commandments and Cultural Victory
More importantly, we must recognize that the Ten
Commandments monument is largely symbolic of the deeper cultural
issue, and we must never suppose that civil law is that central
issue of Christian concern. This is the mistake Christian conservatives
have made for about three decades, and the fact that they have
won numerous political victories as they have concurrently suffered
cultural defeats should impel them to reconsider their strategy.
Ours is not — and never has been —
a society driven by law and politics. These are only aspects of
culture, and they are subordinate to the more vital aspects, like
Judge Moore did not lose his battle this week.
He lost his battle in the Sixties and Seventies with John Lennon,
Steven Spielberg and Jane Fonda. The arts trump law and jurisprudence,
because humans are more intuitive and irrational than discursive
and rational. They are “holistic.” Law is the legal
rationalization of religion (it certainly is in the Bible).
Commandments and The Great Stand
This is why
the Great Stand will never be on the steps of an Alabama courthouse
or at the door of abortion clinics — vital though a stand
there is. The Great Stand must be in Hollywood, in the major universities,
on Broadway, and in the newsrooms of cable TV networks. Law will
change when the culture changes; and the culture will change when
the TV and the silver screen and the music changes. Culture trumps
politics and law every time. This is why Judge Moore was destined
to lose — and why his disciples will continue to lose in
the near future.
When the songs
of Zion (the steel-guitar syncopation variety!) are on a populace’s
lips; when major cable news is replete with a Christian perspective
on everything (yes, everything); and when the largest grossing
movies of the year are suffused with Christian truth (The
Two Towers to the third power), we’ll have more than
Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses. Every case will be
argued with a Christian rationale.
When we create the culture, capturing the courthouse
will be a cakewalk.
Andrew Sandlin, an ordained minister, is president of
for Cultural Leadership,
a Christian educational foundation dedicated to reclaiming
contemporary culture for Jesus Christ. An interdisciplinary
scholar, he holds academic degrees or concentrations
in English, English literature, history, and political
science. He has written several monographs and books,
including The Full Gospel: A Biblical Vocabulary of
Salvation and Totalism, and hundreds of essays and articles,
both scholarly and popular. Andrew and his wife Sharon
have five children.