Editorial - Executive Summary

This morning I unpacked my latest cell phone and tried to turn it on. And tried and tried. To no avail! I pushed every likely button in hopes of getting power up. I even read the summary sheet for start-up. It was cryptic and unhelpful. Finally I called the 800 help line, and a velvet-voiced woman on the other end took me step-by-step through the empowerment process. She never once said, "Why didn't you read the instruction manual?" But it was the subtext to the whole encounter, during which my inner voice was screaming "Ignorant Luddite," or more insulting contemporary equivalents. Now that I've begun to read the instruction book I find the phone is capable of all sorts of things—that it has a built-in speaker-phone capability and that it will respond to voice commands (as opposed to my young children, who often will not!).

Like so much of the news media-addicted populace I've been bombarded by the Roy Moore/Ten Commandment monument saga. It's gone from the story of a crusty judge who insisted on posting a copy of the Bible Ten in his courtroom, where most of the transient guests should have read them long before their appearance, on to the much "heavier" scene of praying faithful, some prostrate before the two-ton granite version of the Ten, being dragged off by authorities. And I must say the scene is at first distressing to any Christian. It easily translates into a call to action, to a deep throaty roar of "Crusade"—against secular humanists and other infidels, of course—and prayers for regime change in the courts.

But after the TV tube had faded to black, sometime after bundling the newspaper into the trash with the other disposables of life, my righteous indignation began to subside. Especially after it hit me that the good judge seems intent on posting a dangerously truncated version of the biblical Ten Commandments (in fact, the Bible is pretty severe in its condemnation of those who would add to or take away from the words of Scripture). As a Seventh-day Adventist I am troubled to see the full text of the fourth commandment redacted to "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Read the full text, including "six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God," and the case for a Saturday Sabbath begins to take on a biblical imperative.

It has become painfully apparent that the good judge Moore is intent on thumbing his nose at the law. However, he is enabled in this by people who do not know or only know part of the law. They demand unbridled religious "freedom" to flaunt these icons of a particular faith, and fail to recognize the legal prohibition on the state to promote any version of faith. The First Amendment is, after all, a bar to state religion ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion") as well as a guarantee of religious expression ("or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"). I know that most of Moore's supporters would howl with indignation if a Buddhist judge were to enshrine the Buddha's teachings on stone at the courthouse—and their justification that this is a Christian country is both wrongheaded and wrong law. It depends for its power on uniformed opinion—if people read more history, knew more of the Constitution itself, rather than what is said about both, the argument in this and other equally contentious issues might simply not be there.

This tendency toward relying on executive summary is an unfortunate fact of life in a modern society that spawns information faster than a computer virus. It might have taken root, as it did with me, during school days when Cliff Notes and other summaries were an easy entr
Article Author: Lincoln E. Steed

Lincoln E. Steed is the editor of Liberty magazine, a 200,000 circulation religious liberty journal which is distributed to political leaders, judiciary, lawyers and other thought leaders in North America. He is additionally the host of the weekly 3ABN television show "The Liberty Insider," and the radio program "Lifequest Liberty."