While many people have heard of Judeo-Christian values, Dennis Prager believes few can articulate them, which he laments, because, in his words, “Judeo-Christian values are the moral foundation of Western Civilization.”
Prager argued that while Jews and Christians have differences in theology, they are fundamentally aligned on questions of moral values, which are more foundational to creating and maintaining a healthy society. Prager notes that most religious Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons are in agreement on basic propositions of right and wrong.
Prager also outlines a non-exhaustive list of those basic propositions.
- There is one God.
- There are objective moral truths, rooted in God.
- Good and Evil are the same for all people.
- God is the source of our rights.
- The human being is created in the image of God.
- The world is based on divine order; order rests on distinctions.
- Man is not basically good.
- As human nature is not inherently good, natural inclinations are poor moral guides.
- Human beings have free will.
- The Ten Commandments.
Prager argued that secular movements denying these tenets are prone to falling into moral and metaphysical relativism, where basic categories such as good and evil or man and woman become subjective and indeterminate, resulting in dysfunction, disorder, and misery.
Prager also highlighted the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law as a framework for a moral society.
“If everyone lived just by the Ten Commandments,” he said, “we wouldn’t need armies, or even police.”
Prager also argued that the two religions need each other: The New Testament could not exist without the Old Testament, and many of Christianity’s core principles come from Judaism, but Christianity has spread those values to a far, far larger audience than Judaism.
Furthermore, Prager argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition is the bedrock of the American experiment.
“The ultimate embodiment of Judeo-Christian values has been the United States of America,” Prager said. “America’s founders were Christian, some culturally, some theologically, who were rooted in the Old Testament.”
Citing the cultural influence of Judeo-Christian tradition even on the non-Christian founders, Prager noted that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who described themselves as deists, proposed a national seal of the United States that depicted God leading the Israelites out of Egypt.