Monday, April 11


This Salon article is truly frightening. It relates to the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference in Washington late last week, where Michelle Goldberg reports that it brought "together lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers with unabashed theocrats. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., shared the stage with prominent adherents of Christian Reconstructionism, a Calvinist doctrine that calls for the subordination of American civil law to biblical law."

Now when I was just a little kid and John F. Kennedy was running for president, the most damning accusation made about him by the opposition was that his Catholic faith would suborn his respect for American law and that the "Pope" would be interfering in our lawmaking. JFK denied it, of course, and his record will demonstrate that he kept that promise.

Now American lawmakers are comfortable with Christian Reconstructionism, which SPECIFICALLY CALLS for the elevation of biblical law above American civil law? How is that different from the Taliban or any other Muslim theocracy, which we decry?

In another unconscionable episode at the conference, the Schindler lawyer, David Gibbs, described Terri Schiavo in her last days as "alive as any person sitting here...completely animated, completely responsive, desperately trying to talk." This from a woman whose cerebral cortex was goo? It's patently impossible that this was true, and the fact that he said it completely discredits anything the man might say about anything else.

DeLay accused the judiciary of having "run amok," and said that to rein it in, it would be necessary to "reassert Congress' constitutional authority over the courts." His endorsement was one of many signs that this intense conclave, with all its apocalyptic despair and exhilarated calls for national renewal, represented something more than a frustrated eruption by the febrile fringe. However odd the ideas emanating from the conference seemed to a secularist, they are taken seriously by people with real power in our nation. Indeed, they're taken more seriously than such oft-derided relics as "separation of church and state," which the conferees treated as a devilish heresy.
"Our Founding Fathers," he [Gibbs] said, "they were going to take the word of God, and God has given us in the Bible his word, and they said this book will always be true, and if there is ever a close call in policy, in leadership, in law, in society, if there's ever a question, we want to look to the source of absolute truth. That's why the Ten Commandments are so important. They were the original source of American law."

That version of history is taught at Christian schools like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Gibbs' alma mater. It is also a virtual fairy tale. The Constitution contains not a single mention of God, Christianity or the Bible.
As Gibbs finished speaking, Scarborough invited the audience to get on their knees. All over the room, people dropped to the floor, heads bowed. From somewhere in the audience, a preacher started up:

"Father, we echo the words of the apostle Paul, because we know Judge Greer claims to be a Christian. So as the Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 5, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus."

It sounded like a prayer for death.
[My emphasis]

(But let me just say, many Biblical scholars interpret that verse (1 Corinthians 5:5) as meaning: "Deliver this man to Satan: once the sinner is expelled from the church, the sphere of Jesus' lordship and victory over sin, he will be in the region outside over which Satan is still master. For the destruction of his flesh: the purpose of the penalty is medicinal: through affliction, sin's grip over him may be destroyed and the path to repentance and reunion laid open." This interpretation is confirmed by Paul's words later in the chapter, when he says it's not his purpose to tell Christians not to associate with sinners, for to do so one would have to leave the world. On the contrary, he states, he's instructing us not to associate with a sinful "brother" (fellow Christian), because by expulsion from the church (a sort of "medicinal" penalty) he may be brought back into the fold. See 2 Corinthians 5:5-11, where Paul urges the church to reaffirm love for the sinning brother, lest he be overwhelmed by excessive pain, and to forgive and encourage him.)


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