Accuracy in Media

We noted in a previous Media Monitor that during the controversy over the display of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building, our media generally failed to mention that the outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building features a sculpture of Moses holding the Ten Commandments. Human Events newspaper has now run a two-page photo special on “God in the Temples of Government,” featuring photographs of religious items and references in federal buildings. Human Events asks, “Will all of these images eventually be removed by the order of unrestrained federal judges?”

The photos include one inside the Supreme Court showing Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Other photos show Moses with the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Library of Congress, the Ten Commandments on the floor of the National Archives, and a stained-glass window of George Washington praying, in the chapel in the U.S. Capitol.

Today, the religious significance of Christmas is downplayed in the public schools. But Vaughn Shatzer, author of the “History of American Education,” notes that, throughout much of our history, the Bible was read to students and scripture was memorized. Students and teachers prayed together and the Ten Commandments were displayed in the schools. The New England primer, the first school textbook that was used until 1900, highlighted biblical references to teach the alphabet and a test at the end of the book asked for one’s knowledge about the old and new testaments of the Bible.

Congress authorized the printing of Bibles for use in the schools. A 1789 law said that new states to the union had to teach religion, morality and knowledge in the schools. Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, wrote a paper entitled, “A Defense of the Use of the Bible in Schools,” and said all young people should be educated in the principles of Christianity. Harvard University was founded in 1636 by the Rev. John Harvard, a Puritan, and its motto was “Truth For Christ and his Church.”

The media lead us to believe that Thomas Jefferson believed in a wall of separation of church and state. But as president, he became chairman of the school board for the District of Columbia and wrote its first plan of education. The two principal textbooks were the Bible and Watts hymnal, and clergymen were the teachers. Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, whose official motto, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free,” came from Jesus. Jefferson had this scripture inscribed on the walls inside the university rotunda and he set aside part of the rotunda for church services.

William Blackstone, an English jurist and a Christian, was a major influence on the development of American law. His “Blackstone commentaries” were law books used for 160 years by American lawyers. One section outlined penalties for murder, rape and “the crime against nature,” now described by the media as gay rights. Blackstone called it detestable. It’s no wonder the media sympathize with liberal judges who purge religion from public life.

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