Poll Shows Americans Value The Ten Commandments In Everyday Life - October 5, 60th Anniversary, Theatrical Release Of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments

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Americans believe The Ten Commandments have been a strong guide for personal conduct for thousands of years and that they remain relevant to our nation today, according to a new poll commissioned by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Fittingly, today, October 5, is the 60th anniversary of Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments theatrical release.

Courtesy of F.O.E. 2217 x 3342 pixels

Actor Charleton Heston (left) and director Cecil B. DeMille (right) stand beside Ten Commandment installation with F.O.E. representative in 1956.

Our very laws are built on the bedrock moral precepts of The Ten Commandments.

Americans believe The Ten Commandments have been a strong guide for personal conduct for thousands of years and that they remain relevant to our nation today, according to a new poll commissioned by the Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.).

Pollster Frank Luntz asked the question, “Why are The Ten Commandments important to you?” in a survey. Respondents were given a list of possible responses that represented a number of viewpoints regarding The Commandments and their relevance, and asked to pick two.

The top picks were:

  •     They contain core values that are very relevant to our nation today.
  •     They have been a strong guideline for personal conduct for thousands of years.

Fittingly, 2016 is the 60th anniversary of "The Ten Commandments" theatrical release. Charlton Heston’s son, Fraser, who as an infant portrayed Moses in the movie, says, "The Ten Commandments, to my family, are not just the foundation of western civilization and the codification of Judeo-Christian values. They are, of course, a set of rules to live by, but to my father Charlton, who starred in C.B. DeMille’s epic motion picture, "The Ten Commandments," made in 1956, at the height of the Cold War, are an expression of individual responsibility and personal freedom. I played the baby Moses in that film (at age three months), and am therefore one of the last living actors to work for DeMille. As such, The Ten Commandments — both the movie and the laws given by God unto Moses — became a kind of touchstone for my family and are a part of my father’s legacy. So let it be written. So let it be done!"

Respondents to the poll were least interested in global-view opinions about The Commandments and their role in society, instead focusing on their relevancy and practical application in our everyday lives. This shows Americans believe the importance of The Commandants lie in how they drive our personal, rather than institutional, values.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles commissioned the poll in light of the decades-old, yet still ongoing debate over the role of The Ten Commandments in American society and their display in public venues funded by tax dollars. As with Mother’s Day, Social Security and Medicare – all modern American institutions initially championed by the Order – the F.O.E. has long advocated for the proliferation and remembrance of The Commandments.

Evidence The Commandments have long been on the minds of our nation’s leaders is easy to find. References to Biblical principles are made in many of the United States’ founding documents. President James Madison spoke of their role as the Founding Fathers crafted our nation: "We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to The Ten Commandments of God."

President Ronald Reagan humorously referenced them, “I have wondered at times what The Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.”

And their touch is in the art and architecture of the Republic. Bible verses and representations of The Commandments are etched in scores of buildings at the local, state and federal government levels, including the U.S. Supreme Court where Moses sits perched with the tablets in each arm above the entry way. The Commandments also are etched on the oak doors that lead into the courtroom. They’re also displayed above the judicial bench.

There are hundreds of displays of The Commandments in public spaces across the nation, thanks in part to an unlikely source: Hollywood.

In the 1950s E.J. Ruegemer, a Minnesota juvenile court judge and member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, launched a nationwide campaign to place The Commandments in courtrooms across the country to provide youthful offenders with a moral guideline. Director Cecil B. DeMille heard about the campaign as he was looking for a way to promote his 1956 epic "The Ten Commandments" and struck a deal to build scores of the monuments, which went up in many locations around the nation up to a decade later.

DeMille was sincere in his convictions and sixty years ago at the opening of "The Ten Commandments" in New York stated, “Man has made 32 million laws since The Commandments were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God's law. The Ten Commandments are the principles by which man may live with God and man may live with man…They are the charter and guide of human liberty, for there can be no liberty without The Law.”

“DeMille's "Ten Commandments" premiered in 1956. Learning of the Eagles' work — and keen to promote his film with their cause — the director encouraged the group to donate carved stone tablets like those that star Charlton Heston, as Moses, brandished in the movie,” researched Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle.

“DeMille actually helped establish the battleground. He played a role in getting the granite replica of The Commandments placed outside the Texas Capitol. He skillfully avoided footing the bill for the tablets, leaving that to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The service organization was already distributing written copies of The Commandments across America in 1951, in hopes of combating juvenile delinquency.

“The Commandments remain a monument to the F.O.E.’s intention to do good, and of DeMille's intent to join them,” summarized Bruce Westbrook.

“The Fraternal Order of Eagles has promoted The Ten Commandments not in an attempt to impose religion on the masses, but rather in recognition of their role in the very foundation of our legal system," former Grand Worthy Presidents Sonny Crawford and Pat Lazenby said in a joint statement. "Our very laws are built on the bedrock moral precepts of The Ten Commandments."

Established in 1898, the nonprofit Fraternal Order of Eagles is made up of 700,000 members based in more than 1,500 aeries) and 1,300 women’s auxiliaries around the nation. The organization raises in excess of $100 million each year to benefit local communities and charities and support medical research and treatment of a host of conditions. Most recently, the organization established and endowed The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa.

Luntz Global is one of America’s best-known and most respected public opinion and strategic communications firms.

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Fraternal Order of Eagles - http://www.foe.com
Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle - http://www.chron.com/entertainment/movies/article/Ten-Commandments-went-from-film-to-stone-1674007.php

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