Community Comment

Commandments under attack

(Special to the Courier & Press,
Friday October 10, 2003)


After the regular Sunday services last weekend, Kathy Enochs and Jo Anne
Simms quietly sat in the lobby of Oasis Assembly of God Church in Princeton
selling yard signs of the Ten Commandments and bumper stickers urging
“Keep the Ten Commandments” to the faithful as they come out of the
The two ladies, along with Pastor Mike Marsh and hundreds of others are
among the legions of “prayer warriors” engaged in another skirmish in the
ongoing cultural battle for the soul of this country -- here in the humble
confines of Gibson County, Indiana.

It seems that a couple of weeks ago, Darrel Russleburg, an Evansville
resident, was answering charges stemming from his arrest at his tavern, Old
Hickory BBQ on Highway 41 in Fort Branch, which recently began offering
exotic dancing among the socially redeeming attractions to bail out his failing
business.  While walking to his court hearing, he was apparently offended by
a small monument on the corner of the court house lawn displaying the Ten

In conjunction with the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, on September 7th
Russelberg filed suit in Federal District Court to have the display removed.
The stone monument flanked by two shrubs was the gift of the local
Fraternal Order of Eagles organization over 50 years ago.

How easy it is for us to forget the ancient story of the Israelite nation’s
exodus from Egyptian bondage over 3,400 years ago.  After three months into
their journey, upon Divine authority Moses was instructed to climb Mount
Sinai and be presented with the timeless document -- the Word of God if you
will -- which functions as the ethical code for all Hebraic, Christian and
Islamic belief systems.

Recorded in Exodus 20:1-17, “The Decalogue” as it is called was received by
the restless and wayward Hebrew nation as a gift from the one true God
responsible for their liberation.  The concept that God spoke or wrote these
laws is a metaphor for the Biblical view that all true orders and laws of man
are ultimately an extension of the One who was responsible for their
personal redemption and physical liberation.  Conversely, their faith in that
same God was perceived as an expression of gratitude for his love for his

Hence, the Ten Commandments became for all time the written expression of
the covenant relationship between a sovereign Creator and his mortal

These timeless, universal words, first incised into two stone tablets brought
down from Mount Sinai. are not to be seen as an enforceable penal code of
the outer world of crime and punishment.  Rather, they have served
throughout time as wise, governing principles for the dark, secret place
where all good and evil begin, the heart of man. They express not only the
religious obligations of a body of ancient believers searching for their distant
homeland, but for modern societies also function as the ethical
underpinnings of such non-religious aspects of life as property rights,
marriage and sexual fidelity, theft, our obligations to our parents and
unacceptable behavior in thoughts, words and deeds.

Centuries later, the guidance of the Ten Commandments were repeatedly
taught by Jesus in many of his teaching, including the Sermon on the Mount,
The Lord’s Prayer and other pronouncements recorded throughout the
Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.

It is hard to imagine how such a collection of word phrases dedicated to
maintaining goodness, harmony, peace and good will among men can be
considered offensive to someone simply because they profess to not believe in
a higher power.

But it reveals to us once again the lengths to which the secular architects of
the New World Order seem to be preoccupied with destabilizing social and
cultural objectives that affect even small-town America, in addition to their
economic goals which have inexorably changed the complexion of the work
force in this country.

They, along with their fellow travelers in certain federal courts the mass
media, seek to abolish virtually every last vestige or hint of a belief in God
from all public places, no matter who may be offended in the process or what
the ultimate moral consequences may be for future generations of Americans.

Meanwhile, Gibson County Attorney Jerry Stillwell is reviewing case law
affecting other cities in the Indiana, the Alabama decision and a related case
in Pennsylvania. He steadfastly remarks that “we are not going to move the
monument unless ordered to do so by a court.”