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A chorus of liberal voices is shouting its easy-answer mantra to the gruesome killings in Las Vegas. Their chorus repeats: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough!”

This a true statement, yet in this context it seems like a cheap bid for political capital. The implied assumption is restrictive gun laws will end this kind of carnage. Certainly, government has the responsibility to make appropriate laws governing the use of firearms, automobiles, airplanes, etc.; however, their statement reveals a serious misunderstanding of the genesis of the problem.

It’s reasonable to believe the source of this shooter’s problem is not in the number or type of guns he was able to purchase, but in his own warped mind, heart and soul. Secular psychologists would perhaps fault an electric misfunction within the man’s system of neurotransmitters. Social environmentalists would blame his growing up under the influence of a pathologically criminal father. Genetic determinists would point an accusing finger at an inherited genome.

Though these may be factors, there still is a deeper problem. It seems the shooter’s soul was “dead” to the truth it is morally wrong to murder his fellow human beings. This raises the question: Why does a person or a culture lose its moral sense of the reprehensibility of murder? We must ask ourselves, how can we as a nation condone the daily murder of 2,800 of its own children through abortion?

In ethical terms the murder of one or many persons is “wrong.” All humans seem to be born with an awareness of “right and wrong,” and this ethical sense (conscience) is conditioned by the culture in which the person is raised, especially by the presence or absence of religious beliefs.

The religious beliefs that shape the natural moral sense are referred to in our nation’s Declaration of Independence as “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” These are summarized in the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue), recognized by Christians, Jews and Muslims as well as by nearly all other religions. When the Decalogue is taught, the person’s moral sense (of right and wrong) is sharpened; so he/she becomes aware some of his thoughts and behavior are sinful, i.e. a violation of God’s standard of right and wrong.

When the Decalogue is posted and studied, it serves to sharpen people’s awareness of right and wrong. Thus, we read in Scripture: “Through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) “If it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet!” (Romans 7:7)

But when a person or society is not confronted with the was law of God, their moral sense dies (witness the mass murderers which were justified by the anti-Christian and atheistic movements like Nazism and Communism, where God and God’s law are denied).

Since 1953, the removal of the Ten Commandments, Bible reading and prayer from the public school classroom and from the public arena has proceeded apace. Is there any wonder the United States’ has been affected by this self–conscious removal of religious symbols and teaching from our schools and the public arena?

As a result, this kind of amoral behavior of the Las Vegas shooter can be expected and will multiply in our culture. Unfortunately, the liberal’s “Band-Aid” to eliminate gun rights will not prevent this kind of tragedy.

A significant step toward the solution is that our society must allow and encourage the posting and the teaching of the Decalogue in our public schools and in the public arena. This is not a violation of the “establishment clause” but is the legitimate responsibility of the kingdom on the left — the state.

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The Rev. Duane R. Lindberg, Ph.D., American studies, is presiding pastor (bishop) emeritus of the American Association of Lutheran Churches.


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