The WallBuilders Show

Restoring Moral Foundations: The Return of the Ten Commandments in Schools

July 01, 2024 Tim Barton, David Barton & Rick Green
Restoring Moral Foundations: The Return of the Ten Commandments in Schools
The WallBuilders Show
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The WallBuilders Show
Restoring Moral Foundations: The Return of the Ten Commandments in Schools
Jul 01, 2024
Tim Barton, David Barton & Rick Green

Are the Ten Commandments making a comeback in our schools? We promise to uncover the intriguing journey of reintroducing these biblical principles into the educational system. We sit down with Matt Krause, a former state representative and attorney with First Liberty, who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the legislative efforts and constitutional support for this initiative. Join us as we recount our experiences testifying in Texas and Louisiana, highlighting the differing outcomes, and hear Tim's firsthand account of Louisiana's legislative process, including a memorable bill signing moment.

What if restoring the Ten Commandments to public spaces could counteract moral relativism and strengthen community values? We explore the historical significance of displaying religious symbols such as nativity scenes and public prayers, and the push to return these traditions to local government properties. Reflecting on Supreme Court decisions and historical practices, we delve into the grassroots efforts aimed at promoting moral absolutes and cultural stability. This episode underscores the importance of community-driven movements in reestablishing these foundational values.

We highlight the profound impact of the Ten Commandments in American history and education. From a 1940s judge in Minnesota who used them to reform a juvenile delinquent to the nationwide movement sparked by Cecil B. DeMille's 1959 movie, the Ten Commandments, have played a pivotal role in shaping our nation. We discuss the legal battles and recent Supreme Court decisions that have influenced these displays, including the positive impact of school chaplains on student well-being. Celebrate with us as we share the inspiring return of the Ten Commandments to schools across the country.

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are the Ten Commandments making a comeback in our schools? We promise to uncover the intriguing journey of reintroducing these biblical principles into the educational system. We sit down with Matt Krause, a former state representative and attorney with First Liberty, who provides a behind-the-scenes look at the legislative efforts and constitutional support for this initiative. Join us as we recount our experiences testifying in Texas and Louisiana, highlighting the differing outcomes, and hear Tim's firsthand account of Louisiana's legislative process, including a memorable bill signing moment.

What if restoring the Ten Commandments to public spaces could counteract moral relativism and strengthen community values? We explore the historical significance of displaying religious symbols such as nativity scenes and public prayers, and the push to return these traditions to local government properties. Reflecting on Supreme Court decisions and historical practices, we delve into the grassroots efforts aimed at promoting moral absolutes and cultural stability. This episode underscores the importance of community-driven movements in reestablishing these foundational values.

We highlight the profound impact of the Ten Commandments in American history and education. From a 1940s judge in Minnesota who used them to reform a juvenile delinquent to the nationwide movement sparked by Cecil B. DeMille's 1959 movie, the Ten Commandments, have played a pivotal role in shaping our nation. We discuss the legal battles and recent Supreme Court decisions that have influenced these displays, including the positive impact of school chaplains on student well-being. Celebrate with us as we share the inspiring return of the Ten Commandments to schools across the country.

Support the Show.

Rick Green

Welcome to the Intersection of Faith and Culture. It's WallBuilders. We're talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. And talk about a hot topic whether or not we should have the Ten Commandments in schools. Should we teach right and wrong? It's going to be a great show today. Glad that you're joining us.

Matt Krause will be with us later, but for now I'm Rick Green, here with David and Tim Barton. David's America's premier historian and our founder of WallBuilders. Tim's a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and I'm a former legislator and a constitution coach. You can learn more about all three of us at wallbuilders.com. Guys, of course Matt's actually part of us too. He, guys, of course Matt's actually part of us too. He speaks for WallBuilders and helped the Patriot Academy for a long time. So great friend of ours and state rep that served gosh. What did he serve? Four terms, five terms? I can't remember, anyway, but now going to be a commissioner there, right next to you guys. Are y'all technically in Tarrant County or not? I can't remember.

You're in Parker County, aren't you? 

David Barton

We're in Parker County.

Yeah, he's near us and he's in Tarrant County. You're talking the 13th largest city in the nation now. So that is a mega city, and for us in Texas, that's the whole— Fort Worth is most of it, but there's some other little ones around, right, right, that's right. Little towns in the— that's right, yeah, so it's not anymore. Man, that's, that's a big city, county now. Rodeo, Billy bobs, all kinds of crazy stuff in fort worth, okay, so, uh, but bat is, uh is also a a great advocate for the ten commandments, and so we're going to be talking to him about this, uh, this effort now to get the senate. Tim, you, you went down to Louisiana uh, what, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and we're there for the signing of the bill on the ten commandments there and had been involved in making sure that the legislators knew hey, this is constitutional. It's actually really good for your schools.

Tim Barton

Absolutely. And also it's worth pointing out that Matt Krause, also working for First Liberty as an attorney, and so he when this was first done in Texas Phil King is the one that introduced this that we worked with Phil and he's been a dear friend for many, many years. He's been part of the pro-family legislative network as well, that WallBuilders Helps Host. But he is the one that first did the Ten Commandments Bill in Texas and it had a bipartisan support coming out of committee. It passed the Senate and then Dave Phelan, the Speaker of the House of Texas, he just kind of tabled it, said we don't need to get that on calendar, don't worry about it, we're not going to mess with it.

Well, there were other states that thought this is a great idea. Louisiana picked it up and in Texas, dad, you and me and Matt Krause all went down and testified in Texas and it was great. Really we really enjoy doing that. It was fun taking the show on the road a little bit, so to speak. But then Matt and I were able to go to Louisiana, we testified in Louisiana and then I was able to go back for the bill signing with Governor Landry. Actually, guys, it was crazy.

Rick Green

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, Tim, I just got to make sure I got this right. I'm just trying to draw the distinctions between Texas and Louisiana and what was different. So you said you, Matt and David went and testified in Texas and it didn't pass. You and Matt went to Louisiana and testified and it did pass. Which one of these things is not like the other? I'm just saying. I'm not trying to draw any conclusions, I'm just observing.

Tim Barton

So the balance right? Is it because they didn't have Dade Phelan or because they didn't have David Barton? So now we got to figure it out right.

Rick Green

Oh, that's right. There's other factors. There's other factors. Absolutely Yep, Yep.

Tim Barton

Well, and guys, there were several state legislators that are part of the Pro-Family Legislative network that we have known and helped do some work with for years. There's this really great chaplains bill that also is now gone. In several states it's passed allowing chaplains to be part of the repertoire of the different helpers in schools, and so you need school counselors absolutely, and you need school nurses, but chaplains also are people that can come in and add great value. So in Louisiana, we were able to help with the chaplains bill as well, and so I was there while the governor signed several different bills. Well while he was signing the Ten Commandments Bill there was a lot of students around and there was this young girl God bless her. She had been standing up there a long time and her legs were locked, and so while he is signing the bill, she passes out right beside me and I mean genuinely right. I mean we can remember as kids and this is on TV and so she's so embarrassed and she's totally fine. Right Again, it's just one of those things don't lock your legs a long time. That's going to be a problem that you've that if you have to do, if you're going to be that one of the bridal party, whoever right, and some kind of wedding event, don't lock your knees. That's a bad scenario. Anyway, it was really fun being there and it's a little sad that it's actually Louisiana led the way.

But yes, we've been able to be a part of this and there's several reasons. From the US Supreme Court, they've had several decisions over the last five or so years that have been very impactful, from the Bladensburg Cross decision, which is one of the leaders in this kind of move, this new wave of moving back toward the Constitution. There was a cross, a World War I memorial cross, that an atheist saw, was offended by, said that should come down, and the case goes all the way to the US Supreme Court about whether or not this cross can remain a World War I memorial cross, whether or not it can remain, and the US Supreme Court determined that if there is a long history of this, then there should be a presumption of constitutionality with it, and that was the part of the decision they delivered and they said this is a pretty good metric to measure things. If there's something we've always done in America, then it's probably okay. Well, we were able, from a historical standpoint, to go in and say, hey, from the pilgrims all the way until 1980, the case Stone v Graham the 10 commandments have been part of education.

They've been in public schools literally since the pilgrims, all the way until 1980. They the ten commandments been part of public schools and so, as we're able to show the history of it, and we took a lot of academic books, early education books, things that were utilizing the ten commandments, helping teach students from history, morals, et cetera, and so we were able to help show and make that case and saw this done in Louisiana. But it was super fun being able to travel with Matt. We have a lot of expectation that in this next legislative cycle in these states there's a lot of states that are going to introduce a lot of these very similar bills and we've been able to travel and testify on a lot of these and so definitely looking forward to next year taking more of the show on the road, but I know Matt will have a lot to add to this as well.

Rick Green

Well, we're going to take a quick break, guys. When we come back, Matt Krause will be with us. We're going to find out just what was different about that trip to Louisiana versus the one to Texas. We're going to have some fun. All right, stay with us, folks. You're listening to The WallBuilders Show.

 

Break

Rick Green

Welcome back to WallBuilders. Thanks for staying with us. Always good to have Matt Krause with us, former Texas legislator and just an amazing attorney working with First Liberty and doing a lot of great work out there to restore religious liberty. And Matt man, first of all, thanks for coming back on.

Matt Krouse

Thanks for having me.

Rick Green

It's always always a blessing well, always good to have you, man. But. But secondly, uh, man, what a great opportunity we have right now to expand religious liberty in action. We've got, we've got the legal part one. Now we got to go get it done right.

Matt Krouse

That's it. You know. So many times I think conservatives take kind of a fatalist mentality towards culture, towards society, to say, well, we're just going to keep losing until the Lord comes back. But we actually, as you just said, this is the best opportunity we've had to restore faith in America and the public square in the last half century, if not more. So it's actually a very exciting time. Had some great decisions from the Supreme Court in the last three or four years that have kind of opened the gates to all this, and it's incumbent upon us to seize the opportunity when we have the chance.

Rick Green

You know it's funny. You said open the gates because it feels like that old analogy that the jail cell's been unlocked but we're sitting in the jail cell because we're not walking through the door. That is unlocked and that's like you said. The gate is open right here for religious liberty. And I've heard Kelly say several times Kelly Shackelford, there, your colleague listen where the Ten Commandments got taken down, it can be put back up. Nativity scene kicked out can come back. Well, Ten Commandments is one of the things that is kind of at the forefront. I know we tried to do that here in Texas last year and I think we got it through the Senate, our mutual friend Phil King, and then got killed in the House because of the Speaker. Hopefully we'll get that done this next go-around. But Louisiana beat us man, they got it done in Louisiana.

This is hard for a couple of Texans like you and me to talk about this, that we got beat by Louisiana, 

 

Matt Krouse

That's it. I mean, dan Patrick said it best. We could have and should have been the first in the nation to get it done, but kudos to the Pelican State for rising to the challenge and getting it to the governor's desk. Tim Barton, our friend and colleague at WallBuilders, was at the signing ceremony the other day witnessing that historic act, and so it's been great working with Louisiana and their representatives and senators to get this thing through. And, man, I think this is going to start a brush fire for the rest of the country.

Rick Green

It's actually a you know. Some people ask well, what's the big deal? You put something like that on the wall. But it is critical, man, to have an acknowledgement of God and for the kids just to have a reminder that there is a right and wrong. Hey, murder's wrong, stealing's wrong, deceiving's wrong. This is a much bigger deal, I think, than some people. They kind of you know, I don't know they kind of dismiss it and act like it's just almost window dressing. But this is the kind of window dressing that makes the store actually thrive.

Matt Krouse

That's right, that's right, that's exactly right. And you know, I've had some folks say, some opponents say, well, you're trying to coerce students, you're trying to force students to believe what's on this document. And I'm like, well, if we could coerce people not to steal, not to kill, to obey their mother and father, not to covet, I'm all for that. But I think it also has another benefit. You know, why are the Ten Commandments up on the wall, ask the teacher. Well, because the Ten Commandments played a very important role in the founding of our country.

Well, how's that possible? I thought there was separation of church and state. Well, no, that's a flawed understanding. What we really saw is the Ten Commandments were used. Whether it was education, law, culture, whatever it was, it was seen throughout as the foundation, throughout the entire country, the founding of the country. So I think it not only has that aspect of making sure that the kids have some at least access to those religious doctrines that are very helpful for all mankind, but one of those memorials, kind of, to the founding of our country that can be used as a teaching tool to remind students about the greatness of the founding of America, which is what we seek to do at WallBuilders every day.

Rick Green

Amen brother, you know I think too it was kind of not exactly the beginning, since I guess 47 and Everson was the beginning of the court pushing religion out of the public square and changing Separate Church State. But I mean that Stone v Graham case that took the Ten Commandments out, that's 40-something years ago. So this was something that changed culturally what we present to the children of this nation as our national philosophy. And you know, I started to say not to get too philosophical about it, but it is philosophical. But it is actually the mindset that made America different. We actually believe in a right and wrong and we believe that our freedom comes from God. So you mentioned it, it opens the door for conversations as well, but this just seems foundational to restoring the Republic.

Matt Krouse

Yeah, I think you're right. Like you said, I don't want to undersell this. I don't think it's oh, it's just a piece of paper on the wall. I mean, it's the word of God, which is always important. Scripture says it does not return void, and so I think you have that dynamic. And one other thing I think is interesting.

People are like well, you can't do this. This is a violation of separation of church and state. You know, you can't force kids to do this, and I always like to remind people when Ronald Reagan was being elected as president, we had Ten Commandments on the walls up until that point. So it was only in 1980 that we said you can't do that anymore. Much more of our American history has allowed this practice, this important practice, to go forth. So we're not really radically changing anything. We're actually just going back to the way things always should have been. We had about a 40 year hiccup with some terrible Supreme Court precedent and tests. Now we've gotten that out of the way, we can go back to what it was originally intended to be, and people are amazed that we were able to put these two commandments up on walls till 1980, because they've been so trained and it's ingrained that, no, you can't have any religion in the public square.

Well, it hasn't always been the case, and now it's time to unwind a lot of those bad decisions. 

 

Rick Green

Well, your hero, who I'm sure you listen to every day to make sure you know how to think Joy Reid, just kidding, anyway, she just had a fit over this man. I mean, I don't know if you saw the clip, but she just freaked out and it was so funny the just woeful ignorance that came out of her mouth. I mean, the things she was saying about not even understanding, you know, Judeo-Christian or any of that, or somehow thinking the Ten Commandments are really really different in the Torah from what we put up. Anyway, it was almost comical.

But I wanted to ask you about it because there is sort of this clash of worldviews that is coming to a head on, you know, and they call us all kinds of names, from dominionist, christian, nationalist, bigot, whatever. They make up all this stuff in order to try to get Christians not to get engaged. So what do we? How do we kind of move from here? Like, what do some other big things we can do to actually win this clash of worldviews and have this moral relativism that's destroying the country defeated and come back to moral absolutes and truths? What would you pick as another battleground in this?

Rick Green

Oh, that's a great question, not to say this one's over because I know we're working to get other states to do it. But just it's a great instigator. What's some other things we can do?

Matt Krouse

No, you're exactly right. Well, we went back and looked and Kelly Shackelford, I think, said that the lemon test had been used 5,000 or 6,000 times since the 1970s to inhibit public displays of religion. And so the Ten Commandments on classroom walls is one. But how about nativity scenes coming back to county courthouse steps? Right, to show that Jesus is the reason for that season? Right? How about we start putting those back into place? There's been, whether it's city council meetings, school board meetings, county commissioner courts, where public prayer has been taken out. Let's start praying at the beginning of those meetings again and acknowledging God to ask for wisdom and direction over the proceedings. Why don't we do that?

Ten Commandments monuments had been taken down off county courthouse steps and others, so not just in the classrooms, but let's put that back on some of our public property as well, to show folks hey, we understand that rights do not come from man, but they come from God, and that's the way our country was built.

I think those are three ways that we have an opportunity now that we haven't had before, and with the Christmas discussion starting to come up, even in mid-summer, maybe it's now a great time to go to your city and say, hey, what if we put a nativity scene out this year? What if we put a Ten Commandments up on our county courthouse steps? That's one thing that we love about this Restoring Faith in America project is that it doesn't take the politicians. It doesn't take people who you know are well-connected or know all these things. All it takes is somebody who's interested in restoring faith in America in their community to go out and get one of these things done. The more individuals do this in their communities, the faster that message will spread and the faster we'll be able to truly see this sweep across the entire nation.

Rick Green

Man, I love all of those and I would say to anybody that goes oh, wait, a minute, you shouldn't be acknowledging God at these city council meetings or whatever, that are afraid of our nativity scene at Christmas in the county square and they're, oh, we're going backwards. And I'm like wait a minute, what are we going backwards to? Actually respecting our neighbors, treating our neighbors the way we want to be treated, actually having neighborhoods where you want to raise your kids I mean, I think, matt and I know you've got to be hearing the same thing I think people, I think they realize the culture is crumbling, they're watching the crime and the you know the crazy transgender stuff with the kids and all this crazy stuff and they're realizing, okay, yeah, we must have messed up somewhere along the way and they don't really necessarily understand again, philosophically or whatever, how we got here, why it went bad. But I think they're open to these kind of things, to have this discussion again of what makes a good neighborhood society.

Matt Krouse

I agree. I think one little small anecdote may not be everywhere, but I know it's here in the part of Texas that I'm in, as you know, for a couple of years June was Pride Month and you saw it everywhere and every business went to the new avatar with the rainbow colors and every store you went into had something about it. You saw it everywhere. It's been more muted this year for some reason. I can't quite figure it out, but I think maybe the pendulum has swung so far.

People are like look, it's been crammed down our throats for so long. That's not what we're trying to do. That's not what we're trying to accomplish. We want to treat everybody with respect. We ought to treat everybody with kindness, absolutely, let's do that. But affirming lifestyles that we may not agree with, that's gone too far. And so I do think you're starting to see the pendulum come back. And, as you said, whether they understand it at a philosophical level or just a common sense level, you know boys can't become girls. We shouldn't be doing procedures on 13 and 14 year olds that irreparably harm them forever. Boys shouldn't be taking girls um history uh, I mean records and the record books and competing against them. I mean I think we're starting to finally feel like, okay, this has gone too far. We need a return to what we had before, and the Ten Commandments and other things I think plays very much into that. Amen.

Rick Green

Amen, yep. Well, it is the epic battle of our day over what we believe, what foundation we want in our communities and what kind of neighborhoods we want to raise our kids in. And a lot of people are awake. So this window of opportunity we can convert millions of people to the principles of liberty. So people are awake. So this window of opportunity, we can convert millions of people to the principles of liberty.

So thanks for what you're doing, man, thanks to First Liberty and the whole team there, and look forward to getting you back soon.

 

Matt Krouse

 Thank you. And I would say, as long as Rick Green and Karen Green are active and as long as Patriot Academy continues to churn out the next generation of leaders, I feel pretty confident that we're going to do a good job of getting this place back on track.

Rick Green

I appreciate it, brother. Well, God bless you, man, godspeed. Thanks again. Hey, everybody, stay with us. We'll be right back, David and Tim Barton, when we return.

Break

Rick Green

Welcome back to The WallBuilders Show. Thanks to Matt Krause for joining us on the program as well, and of course, I'm poking a little fun at David. To be honest with you guys that are listening, the first thing I copied from David because, yes, I copied a ton from David was his talk, America's Godly Heritage, and this was David. One of the things that always stood out to me and I actually memorized word for word what you said about Stone v Graham and the response to the Supreme Court, and to this day I used it last week in a presentation. So the truth is that you've been on this thing for a long time and I am so glad that we're finally seeing some of these things break and it finally turn around, and so just very, very, very thankful for that. But what a great victory and so glad and, as Matt said, so many other areas opening up to us as well.

David Barton

Yeah, and the 10 commandments should be no brighter. I mean, we've only had this debate in the last couple of decades whether it ought to be in schools, because that was not a decade in previous generations. I mean, if I take you back in the 1940s and 50s just an instant going, it actually had a lot to do with Hollywood. There was a Judge Rugemer in Minnesota. He was a juvenile judge. There was a kid in Minnesota who stole a car and hit somebody with it and he ended up in front of the judge's court. The judge sentenced him, sentenced this kid to memorizing the Ten Commandments. And the kid said what are the Ten Commandments? And the judge said you don't know what the Ten Commandments are. So the judge got him with a priest. The priest taught him the Ten Commandments. The kid memorized the Ten Commandments and changed his life. And he went back to the judge multiple times and said man, this has been a life changer for me. I've never heard these things. This has changed my life. It's given me a code of behavior. And so with that, judge Ruegamer got with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, which is a fraternal group of the United States, kind of like Kiwanis Club or Lion Club or whatever. And they ended up putting up 10,000 copies of the Ten Commandments in classrooms across the country. So this was a big civic thing and civic clubs got involved. This was not a religious movement, it was a civic movement.

And then what happens is Cecil B DeMille gets involved with that and Cecil B DeMille gets involved with that and Cecil B DeMille started Paramount Studios. But he did the big movie in 1959 on the Ten Commandments won Academy Awards. Charlton Heston was the guy. They actually went over to the Holy Land and filmed the movie there, kind of followed the path of the Hebrews coming out of Egypt and going to the Holy Land getting the Ten Commandments and he got into that also. And after the movie was over and done with, they built 180 marble monuments at the Ten Commandments, nearly seven foot high, and they put those 180 monuments up in every state capitol and most of the big cities Nashville, Memphis and City Hall. And here in Texas the Ten Commandments went up there just because of the movie the Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston, the actor, came to Texas and helped dedicate the one here in Texas. So having the Ten Commandments up was never a question in previous generations.

And then the Supreme Court makes this nonsensical decision in 1980. And it was really weird because in 2005, now the governor of Texas, the attorney general then he argued the case for the Ten Commandments staying up in Texas because they were suing to take them down and the court said, yeah, the Ten Commandments stay up in Texas. On the same day there was another Ten Commandments in Kentucky and the court took the Ten Commandments down in Kentucky. And you go, wait a minute, same day, same topic. You're taking one down, you're leaving the other up. So it was like the court got into schizophrenia. But now they're out of that. As Tim mentioned early on, they've given us new decisions now there's something that's a longstanding, traditional, historical decision. We're going to assume that it's constitutional and the Ten Commandments have never been questioned until, really, the current generation.

Tim Barton

And, dad, I would say one of the great things too about some of these new decisions is obviously it's restoring some of the original intent, constitutionality, et cetera. But one of the great things is it's also brought clarity to how you make this decision. Because if you go back to the Lemon v Kirchman decision that gave us a Lemon test, it had such a level of subjectivity that it felt like it was being arbitrarily applied randomly in different ways, and it was. It was based on who the judge was and how they determined and what previous case they were going to cite. Was it was based on who the judge was and how they determined and what previous case they were going to cite.

With the current Supreme Court, they have removed some of the ambiguity from the measuring rod, the measuring stick, and they've made this so much more simple. Again, if we've been doing this forever in America, it's really probably okay. Right, the presumption of Constitutionality. And they've gone much further because ultimately they end up removing the limit test with things like the Coach Kennedy decision that you have the right to express yourself, to have the freedom of religion and you can't be fired because you are a person of faith, et cetera.

So they really have brought a lot of clarity from a lot of the decisions and, as Matt pointed out, this is such a great time when we are seeing so many victories in so many areas, like we even talked about, with the chaplains being in school and there are so many incredible testimonies from these chaplains, to this point that the schools that have brought chaplains in to be part of the school repertoire of resources for students, they have yet to have a suicide in those schools. And if you look at the rest of the nation and the suicide epidemic among young people to have schools with chaplains and all of a sudden, once you get a chaplain, there's no more suicides. I mean just it's incredible. This is part of the power of the gospel, it's part of the power of restoring a biblical foundation, but it's also such an incredible opportunity now to promote and advance these things like we've never had an opportunity to do before. So this is really exciting.

Rick Green

So many good things happening on this front. This was almost like a Good News Friday and really interesting. We found out that Moses actually did make it to the promised land. I mean, david said Charlton Heston came to Texas, so Moses made it to the promised land and the Ten Commandments once again going into schools across the country Just really good news. Special thanks to Matt Krause for joining us. Thank you for listening to The WallBuilder Show.

 

Intersection of Faith and Culture
Restoring Faith in America
American Heritage and Faith
Moses and Ten Commandments in Schools