Catholics and Protestants Together On Law: Is There A Christian Approach To Law?

Some Protestant and Catholic lawyers, professors and writers have come together to suggest a basis for a Christian approach to law. I have skimmed it and came away thinking that they didn’t really come together. But I intend to review it in more depth. Here is the link, let’s discuss…
Begin reading at page two.
Hat tip to Sarah Jones for her article on the document.

Institute on the Constitution: Notes on Session 10 – War Between the States and Women's Suffrage Dilutes the Franchise

I have been watching the Institute on the Constitution course on the National Religious Broadcasters network on Thursday nights. Last night was session 10 and covered amendments 11 through 27.  I have raised numerous issues with the course over the first nine sessions, and session 10 only added to my negative reaction.
At this point, I am just going to supply some observations about the course from memory. I may do a more detailed follow up next week.
Discussing the 13th Amendment, Peroutka disparaged the Emancipation Proclamation as a political ploy on Lincoln’s part. In his discussion of the 13th Amendment, Peroutka correctly said that the amendment freed the slaves but then added that subsequent actions made us all slaves. He compared the military draft and income tax to the enslavement of blacks. To me, this comparison crudely minimizes the awfulness of slavery.
He had little good to say about the 14th Amendment. Consistent with his status of board member of the League of the South, he make the Confederate case that the amendment was never legally ratified.
Throughout his discussion of the Reconstruction amendments (13-15), Peroutka referred to the Civil War as “The War Between the States.” When David Whitney came forward to discuss his view that the 16th Amendment did not actually authorize a federal income tax, he called the Civil War, “The War for Southern Independence.” These designations are consistent with Peroutka’s view that the wrong side won the Civil War.
Probably the oddest position taken was opposition to the 19th Amendment. Peroutka complained that a woman’s right to vote “dilutes the franchise.” He said he often gets strong reaction to his position (I wonder why) but he explained that a married female voting may cancel out the vote of her husband.  He painted a picture of the family being represented at the voting booth by the husband. If a woman has no husband then she could vote, but otherwise he believes women should be represented by their husbands at the polls.
How about that ladies?
There were other things that raised my eyebrows but I need to do a bit more research before I write about them.

Michael Peroutka's Martin Luther King Remix

On Tuesday’s Steve Deace Show, League of the South board member Michael Peroutka said that Martin Luther King did not call for civil rights in the 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. During hour one at 28:46, Peroutka said about King:

He was claiming rights for people that were promised in the Declaration of Independence but never in that speech did he actually call for civil rights. He was a champion, I believe, of God-given rights, what has been perverted and now called civil rights, he didn’t call them civil rights, I believe he was a champion of God-given rights. He said in that address, he made it clear that he wasn’t saying the rights he was demanding originated in human government, but he said that a right to equality before the law is ordained by God, and therefore it is a right the civil government has a duty to protect and defend.

Peroutka then noted that King quoted from the Bible in the speech.
Note the claim that King didn’t call for or refer to rights as civil rights. This is, of course, completely false. Anyone who has read any of King’s speeches would know that he constantly called for civil rights, including in the 1963 speech given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Here is the segment of the speech where King referred to civil rights:

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”.

King was clearly including himself as a devotee of civil rights. King also spoke of the indignity of discrimination based on skin color (“For Whites Only”). However, an article on Michael Peroutka’s IOTC website titled “Discrimination” and written by Frederick Nymeyer asserts, “We see no reason why men should not discriminate on grounds of religion, race, or nationality, if they wish.”
And then in his letter from a Birmingham jail, King repeatedly calls for civil rights:

I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, King repeatedly called for civil rights, especially noting the importance of the Civil Rights Act. King began his speech:

It is impossible to begin this lecture without again expressing my deep appreciation to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament for bestowing upon me and the civil rights movement in the United States such a great honor. 

It is jarring to hear a board member of the League of the South invoke Martin Luther King in such a manner. As I have documented previously, those associated with both the League and Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution revile King on their websites. On Peroutka’s IOTC website, Director of Communications John Lofton proclaims: “Don’t Need Federal Holidays And Certainly Not One ‘Honoring’ The Dishonorable Martin Luther King, Jr. Who Fails His Own Character Test.”
The League’s Michael Hill denigrated King’s civil rights movement in an essay titled: “What Would It Take To Get You To Fight?

Sadly, our true interests were compromised and sold for a mess of pottage by our so-called leaders a long time ago. For instance, if the South had had real leaders of the people there would have been no second reconstruction known as the civil rights movement.

In another essay, Hill wrote:

The corruption we see today on the Potomac and Wall Street began right away with the Grant administration. Subsequently, we got an empire (the Yanks were just practicing on Dixie), a Federal Reserve system, an Income Tax, the 17th Amendment (which practically destroyed the 10th and States Rights), two World Wars, taken off the gold standard, a Great Depression, another invasion of the South through the civil rights movement (what we Southerners rightly call the Second Reconstruction), the moral rot of the 1960s, sunk up to the neck in the Middle East, three clueless Baby Boomer Presidents (Bill, George, and Barry), the USA Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security, a police/surveillance State, and now bankrupted by the Banksters and their political whores in Congress. And I’m supposed to cheer all this on by singing the National Anthem, saluting the Stars and Stripes, and saying the Pledge of Allegiance? No thanks, I’ll pass. 

I wonder if Mr. Peroutka agrees with his fellow board member that the civil rights movement was a negative development and a second reconstruction. Perhaps, Mr. Peroutka’s education efforts need to start with his League president.
I doubt such education would help; here is a League of the South press release on King:

Only a sick and reprobate society would elevate Martin Luther King, Jr., and demonize Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The former sought to manipulate white guilt and use the power of national government for the ends of black racial advancement; the latter risked their lives on the field of battle to preserve the true principles of Constitutional government and the integrity of their homeland. To King and his ilk (both then and now), the U.S. Constitution and the Bible are nothing more than words to be twisted in service of the liberal vision of the good life. To Lee and Jackson, and those who honor them, they are the wellsprings of Christian liberty and prosperity.

There can be no compromise between the worldviews of those who follow MLK and those who salute Lee and Jackson. Moreover, there is no way that a man can, in good conscience, pay homage to both sides at the same time. 

Does Peroutka disagree here with Hill and the League? Did Peroutka not know Hill’s views when he pledged the resources of his family and the IOTC to the work of the League of the South? According to the League press release, King twists the words of the Constitution and Bible to serve a liberal vision. Has Peroutka left the League of the South’s talking points, or is he doing some twisting of his own?

Mr. Peroutka also said that it is shameful to elevate or denigrate someone on the basis of skin color. I agree and recommend that he read the following articles on his own website.

R.L. Dabney on Civil Government (for the relevant portions, read here)

Discrimination (for the relevant portions, read here)

Does Ted Cruz Believe The First Amendment Is Only For Monotheists?

Reading Senator Ted Cruz’s endorsement of David Barton in Monday’s edition of Politico brought to mind Barton’s narrow reading of the First Amendment. First, let’s note again Cruz remarks:

David’s historical research has helped millions rediscover the founding principles of our nation and the incredible sacrifices that men and women of faith made to bequeath to us the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.

One founding principle Barton has written about is the freedom of religion and First Amendment. What does Barton believe about the First Amendment?
In a 2010  Amicus brief filed in McCollum v. CA Dept. of Corrections, Barton argued that the word religion in the First Amendment meant monotheism.  The case involved Wiccan minister Patrick McCollum who was excluded from a job in the CA prison system since he was not one of the five faiths allowed to be a prison chaplain in CA: Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Native American.
In his brief, Barton wrote that the framers defined religion to exclude any religion which is not monotheistic. Thus, the First Amendment should not apply to religions which are not monotheistic.

Whether “religion” meant monotheism or some subset of it, such as Christianity, then whatever the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses address, they do not address paganism or witchcraft. In reality, research shows that “religion” was sometimes used as a synonym for Christianity, but that it was also used for monotheism. But that still excludes paganism and witchcraft. (p. 9)
The true historic meaning of “religion” excludes paganism and witchcraft…(p. 7)
…your Amicus will briefly survey the diversity of opinions held by the Framers to demonstrate that paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses. (p. 9)
The Founders did not intend to extend the protection of the Religion Clauses to paganism and witchcraft as eight of the then-sitting nine Justices of the Supreme Court have recently acknowledged. (pp. 17-18)

I wonder if Sen. Cruz also believes this way. He also said in Politico that he isn’t “in a position to opine on academic disputes between historians,” but he may soon run for a position — the GOP presidential nomination — where his views on such disputes will garner intense scrutiny. Since Cruz thinks so highly of Barton’s views on the founding principles, it is a fair question to ask what he believes about the First Amendment. Are all religions covered? Just some? Which ones?
Barton’s position raises some important questions about application of the First Amendment in the present day. If we are to understand the definition of religion now in terms of the religions extant at the time of the framers, then what is the Constitutional status of religions developed since then? Take, for example, the Latter Day Saint church established in 1820s.
Furthermore, if the protection of the religion clauses only extend to monotheistic religions then what about religions which hold that there is more than one god? Take, for example, the Latter Day Saints.
While LDS apologists would deny they are polytheistic, at the same time, they do not believe monotheism describes them or most Christians well.  They don’t hold to the trinity as most Christians do and they do believe that men may someday become gods, and even if not worshiped in this dispensation, may be elsewhere. Surely, this process has been taking place throughout the universe; thus there would have to be multiple gods.
By Barton’s logic, the LDS church would be a questionable Constitutional case. However, as I have established before several times, the framers envisioned First Amendment protections for freedom of conscience, whether no god, one god or several are involved.
Back to Ted Cruz; what does he believe? If he believes Barton’s history lessons have helped millions rediscover the founding principles, then presumably he is one of those millions.  I certainly want to know if he believes all religions and people of all faiths have First Amendment protections.

Politico on David Barton: What Will Evangelicals Do, Part Two

Yesterday’s Politico article by Stephanie Simon on evangelical support for David Barton could have been subtitled: Evangelicals Choose Pragmatism Over Truth.

In the last year, over 70 scholars (over 700 if you count the 650 votes The Jefferson Lies received for Least Credible History Book in Print) have expressed concerns about David Barton’s history.  Most of those 70 scholars teach history or social science at conservative Christian colleges.* Yet, the Politico article reveals an approach to historical scholarship that is disturbing.

Stephanie Simon told the tale. Although I have some skepticism about Barton’s sunny disposition, he says he is back and better than ever. Evangelical Senator, and probable contender for the GOP presidential nomination, Ted Cruz said he was not in a position to opine on academic disputes. However, there is really no dispute about which to opine. The verdict has been in for some time. Thomas Nelson delivered it just over a year ago. As noted, multitudes of scholars have united to send the same message. Where are the scholars defending The Jefferson Lies, or the claim that Congress printed the first English Bible, or that the Constitution quotes the Bible “verbatim?” We don’t need Mr. Cruz to opine on a dispute, we need him to open his mind to reality. About Barton’s lessons, Cruz said:

David’s historical research has helped millions rediscover the founding principles of our nation and the incredible sacrifices that men and women of faith made to bequeath to us the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.

Doesn’t it matter that much of Mr. Barton’s “historical research” has been deemed to be off the mark? Mr. Cruz, aren’t you concerned in the least that these millions are now seriously misinformed? The same questions can be posed to Christian right organizations which use Barton’s work even though they know it is off the mark.

There is not even a question about the accuracy issue any longer. To their credit, the Family Research Council acknowledged that they removed the Capitol Hill video due to errors. And Focus on the Family felt the need to stealthily edit error-filled portions of Barton’s speeches. There are other aspects of the Focus broadcast (of which they are aware) that are incorrect; those remain a part of the broadcast.

Instead of integrity, accuracy, correction and stewardship, evangelical groups are openly discussing the value of content and consultants in utilitarian terms. If Mr. Barton can deliver a certain segment of evangelicals then the standards will be different for him. Mr. Barton gets a pass because he has a big audience and is perceived to be helpful politically.

In February of this year, I reflected on World magazine’s coverage of the Barton controversy and asked how evangelicals might respond. Now, I rephrase slightly.

World Magazine Politico has now put these matters on the front burner. My question is what will evangelicals do about it?

*Many more than 70 scholars have expressed concerns but some did not want to sign a letter or write an essay. Some were told not to do so by their college or university administration; others said they did not believe Christian political groups would listen. Perhaps they were right.