Religion, a “Sophie’s Choice,” and an Easy Choice - The Objective Standard

Lamenting the political version of a “Sophie’s choice” between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the U.S. presidency, Dennis Prager surveys related reasons for pessimism.

What Prager and his fellow religionists fail to grasp, however, is that this wretched choice and these causes for despair are substantially results of Americans’ adherence to religion.

To see why, consider some reasons for pessimism identified by Prager in his article “A Dark Time in America”—along with some revealing biblical parallels.

“According to Pew Research,” notes Prager, “more and more young Americans do not believe in freedom of speech for what they deem ‘hate speech.’ Forty percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 said they agreed that offensive statements could be outlawed.”

That is a disturbing statistic. But it should not surprise Prager or other religious Americans.

Practically all young Americans are raised by parents who embrace as their fundamental moral guide a book that calls not merely for outlawing certain kinds of speech but also for enacting the death penalty for certain kinds of speech. That book is the Bible. Here are two relevant passages:

Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. (Leviticus 24:16)

If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” . . . you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. (Deuteronomy 13:6–9)

Obviously—and thankfully—today’s Jews and Christians don’t take the Bible seriously enough to obey such commandments. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible presents such commandments as the will of God.

If people raise their children to believe that the Bible is the source of moral truth, and that the will of God is to be obeyed, how can they expect their children to accept that a so-called right to freedom of speech exists? How can anyone have a right to freedom of speech when the Creator of the universe and of moral law says explicitly that certain speech is forbidden and must be punished by death?

Prager cites more reasons for pessimism:

According to a series of Harvard polls, 47 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 believe that food, shelter, and health care “are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them.” That means that nearly half of our young believe they have a legitimate claim on the labor and earnings of others for life’s basic necessities.

Again, this is an alarming statistic. And, again, it should come as no surprise to Prager or to anyone who knows that a huge percentage of Americans raise their children to believe that the Bible is the source of moral truth and God’s word is the moral law.

From what book do children get the idea that they are their brother’s keeper? Where do they get the idea that the needy “have a legitimate claim on the labor and earnings of others for life’s basic necessities”? As Walter Williams might say, if you answered “the Bible,” go to the head of the class: . . .

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