What does the Torah have to do with America?

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“Our nation was founded on the Torah,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, speaking at the Nashville Women’s Conference a couple of weeks ago.

This was something shocking to Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way.

Never mind if it was true or not.

Cardoza-Moore is simply “a Trump-loving, anti-Islam, religious-right activist,” according to Right Wing Watch. A bigot. A hater. Like all those MAGA-types.

But is she right?

Long ago and far way, it was a given, something everyone in America knew – even left-wing fanatics like People for the American Way.

The ideals for leaders in America include, for most people, that they should be accomplished, love truth and not be obsessed with money.

Those ideas can be found one way or another in the nation’s founding documents, and even further back, in the Magna Carta of King John from which many of the founding principles of the United States come.

But those particular ideas date even further back: to Moses, who with the addition of a requirement to “fear God,” set those standards for those who would be leading the Hebrew nation during his time.

It goes back to the Torah, God’s commandments to the ancient Israelites of the Old Testament.

Right Wing Watch said it posted a clip of Cardoza-Moore “to expose the agenda of the extreme right.” The group makes no bones about the fact.

In the video, Cardoza-Moore was talking about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to make school teachings in his state more accurate. She noted that a review of some subjects brought about changes in standards, and the state now is likely the first in the country to include in classes references to the Torah, the basis for many contemporary concepts of fairness and equality.

“In civics,” she said of Florida students, “the Hebrew Bible, they will learn about the role that the Hebrew Bible played in the founding of our nation. They will learn about the role that the Hebrew Bible played in the drafting of our founding documents. They will learn about the role that the Hebrew Bible played in our structure, our form of government. Our nation was founded on the Torah.”

She points out that history is replete with evidence of the influence of the Torah, as well as the later Christian Bible, on the development of nations.

It’s not well-known, however, because American is “illiterate biblically,” with most lacking any biblical knowledge or understanding of the founding of the U.S. “The reality is we do not teach this to our children any more.”

But the evidence is there in stone and marble right in the U.S. Supreme Court building as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, both of which include engravings featuring Moses presenting God’s law to the people.

Her comments aren’t really new, either. In a 2000 editorial for the New York Times, political commentator Michael Novak wrote, “The Founders and the Torah.”

It was Don Sweeting, president of Colorado Christian University from 2016-2022, who posted on his blog his comments on “The Magna Carta and the Bible.”

He pointed out it was signed in 1215 when King John agreed to limit his own powers, bringing the monarchy under the overview of the law.

The report said, “The Magna Carta evidences early stirrings of representational government. If the king breaks the law and violates the rights of the English people, who should restrain him? Since he does not have absolute power, the answer is to be found in his accountability to the English people – which eventually came to mean, a representative assembly, i.e. a council of barons, parliament, etc.”

He added, “Unfortunately, many who have been writing about the Magna Carta on this anniversary celebration omit four essential faith facts about the Magna Carta. … Many forget the Christian framework of the Magna Carta. This is not simply a legal document with a secular framework. Just read its preface. It has an explicit Christian framework. It will not do to dismiss the opening words by saying, that these were just conventions of the time. They were, rather, common assumptions of the time.”

In fact, it starts, “John, by the grace of God King of England.” It then says, “Know that before God, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honor of God, the exaltation of the holy church, and the better ordering of our kingdom.”

Then, third, the document has biblical roots: “In the Bible the idea of kings under the law is very clear. God is the sovereign ruler over all (Psalm 93). His kingdom is supreme. Kings rule under God. Read Psalm 2 and what it says about wise kings, foolish kings and the enthronement of God’s king.”

And, he noted, the Magna Carta lists “that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.”

“Rule by law, rule under God, religious liberty: these are all theological ideas with deep biblical roots. They are all affirmed in the Magna Carta,” Sweeting wrote.

America once knew this.

It’s what made America free indeed.

Thank God that Laurie Cardoza-Moore is reminding us of these truths.

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