Friday, April 29, 2005

Justice Sunday

I am still recovering from "Justice Sunday," when factions of the religious right-wing, in tandem with right-wing Republicans, attempted to paint all who disagree with them as anti-faith, as anti-Christian, as against God and America (because, of course, the two are joined at the hip). But I can't resist saying this much: They have gone too far. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you are in error and you must repent.

In the few words that follow, I'm going to sound partisan. I regret that: I am not a Democrat, nor member of any other party, for that matter; I do not subscribe many of the platform planks of the Democratic Party; I consider the Democrats pathetically hopeless in their ability to frame their policies and even to govern. (I have long said that the Democrats are incapable of governing and the Republicans are unworthy to govern. My words are certainly proving true in recent years.)

To make a particular issue -- and especially this one -- a litmust test for one's faith (especially Christianity) is to practice paganism in the extreme.

The issue of the "right" for certain judicial nominees to get a vote in the Senate is a specious "right." The Republican spokespeople lead one to believe that filibustering judges is a new thing. Nonsense. The Republicans, with a slenderer minority that Democrats have today, filibustered the nomination of Abe Fortas to be Supreme Court justice (or was it Chief Justice?). They've used it when it serves them, they just don't like to live by the rules when the rules cut against them (witness the debacle in the House with respect to the Ethics rules).

The issue is not the "right" to a vote but the qualifications of the judicial nominees. I am a lawyer and theologically trained, so the intersection of these issues is important to me (hence, this blog). Many of the appeals court nominees (the so-called "nuclear 10") are bad judges: They do not follow the law or change precedent based on reasoned opinions. That is not the basis for a valid nomination to an appeals court.

Do those "conservative Christian" brothers and sister really want to grant some special benediction over the current Republican leadership in Congress? Keep in mind that this is a group that regularly distorts facts -- and, incidentally perhaps, is never called on the carpet for doing so. The Republicans claim, in addition to their claim of never filibustering a judicial candidate, that so many of President Bush's nominees are not getting a fair shake. In fact, the number is only ten, while more than 200 have been approved. His rate of getting candidates an "up or down" vote is only slightly different from the percentage allowed President Clinton (and in fact, more of Bush's candidates have been given a hearing and a vote to date than during all of President Clinton's tenure -- at least the way I read the numbers).

Do those conservative btothers and sisters want to rish the tax-emempt status of their congregations and/or denominations for the sake of climbing into ship with one political party?

And I won't even phrase this as a question: It is simply outrageous to claim that, because you are a "Christian," and thereby supposedly have a corner on "the Truth," unless I agree with you on certain issues having to do with national politics, I am not.

It is clear that some of our "conservative Christian" brothers and sisters (ironically, I count myself a conservative Christian) are interested in this issue only because they want to use any way possible to get what they want -- judges who will give them what they want: no more abortions, no gay marriages, (secularized) Ten Commandments in courtrooms, control over feeding tubes, a Christian nation. And they want this quite irrespective of the effect their getting it will have on the future of law in this country.

Now I firmly believe that there is little evidence that the judiciary is "liberal" in this country. After all, the Supreme Court, the court of last resort, is so conservative -- and activist, but that's another story -- that it traduced established law to anoint George W. Bush president the first time around. But even if it could be shown to be, do we want the judicial branch of government -- at any level -- involved in official interpretations of the Fifth Commandment? Can anyone seriously argue for making America a "Christian nation"? (Yes, I heard some of the Christian preachers say it, but I can't believe that they were arguing rationally. Do they hear what that says?)


Daniel S. said...

Amen, brother Dwight. "Activist" judges are those with whom you disagree. "Strict Constructionist" judges are those with whom you agree. Those with all the cards want to set all the rules.

Seems to me, that the Repubs don't understand that they won't be the majority forever. (Or maybe they do, seeing how they want to ramrod their adgenda through posthaste). Thank you for calling a spade a spade and calling our Christian brethren to task for their immoral and destructive behavior.

Bag Lady said...

The way I’m hearing these folks: their goal is to make this country a Christian theocracy, just as their counterparts in a number of Arab countries want to establish and/or maintain Islamic theocracies.

That paradigm seems to hold the promise of God’s (or Allah’s) blessing, and with it a guarantee that bad things won’t ever happen to those safely bound up within the theocracy. Or if something bad happens, it will clearly be deserved.

Once again, I consider just how shocking Jesus must have been to his contemporaries.

Hess said...

Yeah, some baptists, etc. want a theocracy. Yeah, that's a horrible mistake. But desiring that the government uphold the rights of the innocent? Hardly calling for theocracy. Morality is not inextricably linked with theology. You don't even have to believe in God to recognize abortion as taking a human life.

As for whether you can be "Christian" and not be opposed to abortion, that can be answered a number of ways. Certainly, the overwhelming majority of Christians throughout history were deeply opposed to abortion. In fact, I think it would be difficult to find more than a handful of professed Christians prior to the 20th century who would have not condemned abortion in the most vehement terms.

The equation of Christian voting with Republican voting is a marvellous piece of propaganda and a form of idolatry for many conservative Christians, however. It is a mistake to see any political party as the salvation of Christendom, an idolatrous mistake.

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