Saturday, May 07, 2005

"We certainly don't want a particular brand of Christianity enacted as the law of the land."

A quote from Rev. Veazey's column linked below, since the comments section leads me to believe that almost no one has read it yet [edited, with gratitude to jane for the correction!]:
One of the "Justice Sunday" speakers, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, put it in terms as chilling to religious liberty and diversity as any I've ever heard. Like other fundamentalists, Mohler believes there is only one correct interpretation of the Bible-his-and he equated the inerrancy of his interpretation of the Bible with the inerrancy of the Constitution, based on his biblical beliefs. In bringing the Bible and the Constitution together, fundamentalists like Mohler are moving toward mainstreaming their biblically based interpretation of the Constitution. Judges would be held to the standard of biblical teachings, as interpreted by fundamentalists. I don't doubt the sincerity of Mohler and other fundamentalist ministers who share this view that the Bible is literally true and they alone know what it means, but they are on dangerous ground when they then suggest that they alone also know what the Constitution means-and that anyone who thinks differently is anti-Christian. Christians have strong differences of opinion on the meaning of scriptures and most of us don't want to see a particular brand of Christianity held up as the only real Christianity. We certainly don't want a particular brand of Christianity enacted as the law of the land.
This, of course, is the issue. Inerrancy of interpretation that spreads from God's word (which is absolute, and so inerrant ab initio) to law. And the interpretation itself is inviolable, because it begins with the absolute. A neat tautology, but not one that applies neatly to the real world.

And on the subject of the filibuster: the focus of this group is clear. Their program was titled: "Justice Sunday: Filibustering People of Faith." These judges are not being appointed because of their particular brand of Christian faith. If they have no more qualificationst than that, they are not qualified. Their faith, or lack thereof, should not be the grounds for their approval or disqualification, especially to the bench. By trying to make this a uniquely religious issue and, as Rev. Veazer notes, a uniquely religious issue of a uniquely narrow religious conviction, they are crossing a line that a multi-cultural, legally secular, society cannot cross. These judges are free to practice their faith. They are not free to claim a right to appointment based on their religion, and destroying the filibuster rule on this basis is precisely what is being sought. The values and failings of the filibuster is one issue. The grounds for removing it in this case, and how that removal would be accomplished (via simple majority v. 2/3rds, a rules change "decreed" by that simple majority, which is a violation of almost all systems of parliamentary procedure) is the issue here.

Rev. Veazer goes on to note that:
James Dobson of Focus on the Family, another "Justice Sunday" speaker, railed against the Supreme Court as "arrogant and imperious and determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values," holding up the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision for special scorn.
No word on whether Mr. Dobson held out any special scorn for Miranda, Gideon, Griswold, or Brown v. Board of Education, decisions that also redesigned the culture. I was parciulary affected by Brown. In 1972, my high school experienced a "race riot" because of forced integration. It certainly redesigned the culture of my small East Texas town, and not according to the biases and values of at least some of the whites of that town. But I suppose Mr. Dobson doesn't want to touch the morality of that one (and yes, it was seen as a moral issue, as much as a "state's rights" issue. Some elaborate moralities for slavery were constructed in the 19th century, and they were disassembled until after the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others).

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