Tag Archives: constitution

Continuing the Revolution

Okay, odds are pretty good that Obama will be president. Unlike Dean’s flash-in-the-pan campaign of 2004, Paul’s presidential campaign has a genuine political philosophy powering it. I have been amazed at how folks have turned onto his ideas when they are presented well–however, the “presented well” part is the catch, and cutting through the prejudice and bad assumptions takes work. So we need to be patient and keep pushing through. Here are some ideas about what we can do.

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Making the Best of a Bad Situation

I have a knack for offending people unintentionally. Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate doing that. Darn it, if I'm going to offend somebody, I want to mean it! 😉 Seriously, though, my recent post on legalizing prostitution offended someone, and that was never my intention. The following is from an email by a woman who has escaped the hell of prostitution.

"Your thought experiment is dangerously naive and bordering on offensive. I don't believe that the comment thread does quite enough to explain your position. You spend most of that thread defending your initial assertion. As far as I can tell, you are insufficiently knowledgeable to even broach a discussion of prostitution and the ramifications of making it legal."

I am very sorry that my naivite caused offense. For the record, here's how that post and ensuing discussion came about.

Sometimes the oddest thoughts occur to me right before bed. If I'm lucky, I write them down before I've forgetten then. I'll usually discuss them later with friends, with my spiritual director, or on my blog. A few nights ago, for reasons unknown, I started wondering why prostitution illegal. More specifically, I wondered what made it, among the myriad of immoral acts, illegal when so many aren't. I decided that I'd query my blog readers.

I explicitly cast aside moral arguments because I thought the inconsistency of which immoral acts are illegal and which are not would cloud the issue. I then proceded to break down the various amoral arguments that came to mind. I really wanted to know what made this activity unacceptable by society in 49 states. At no point did I, or would I, state that I actually wanted prostitution to be legalized. Granted, I used some provacative language, but I never endorsed the practice.

Out of a discussion about a strange random thought came what I believe to be very important to Christians wishing to interact with secular government. Occational contributer and frequent commenter Steve Nicoloso posited (disapprovingly) that this country was not founded, nor is it guided by moral priciples, but rather Lockean notion of social contract. Commenter Tom Smith, on the other hand, argues that one can justify moral legislation via natural law. Putting aside the inflamatory topic of prostitution, I'd like very much to continue this conversation. Some questions that I feel are worth answering:

Was our country primarily founded on Judeo-Christian moral principles or amoral social contract theories?

Even if it was founded on Judeo-Christian moral principles, is it still guided by those principles?

If it isn't, why not, and how can Christians help change that?

If it was on social contract theories, is it still guided by those principles?

If it is, should we seek to change that? If we should, how do we go about doing so?

The question that summarizes the preceding is, "How should Christians interact with secular government?" Many of the arguments given against legalizing prostitution amounted to "because it's wrong". Before one can argue that an act is wrong, though, one must define wrong. You cannot define a right to perform a wrong action, or lack thereof, until there is agreement of what is wrong. Who defines right and wrong? Should laws only pertain to those rights and wrongs that are nearly universally agreed to or should a mere plurality or majority of the electorate be allowed determine right and wrong for the remainder?

It is my hope that a rational debate about such matters will aid Christians in the pursuit of moral legislation on nonreligious grounds. Determining whether there are universal moral concepts to base such work on or not is a core part of such a discussion. If we could be convinced, and then convince the secular world, that there are good reasons other than divine writ to ban (or maintain bans) on practices like prostitution, we'd be well on our way to formulating and executing more effective plans for getting wholesome legislation passed. Learning how to argue better on secular terms would be an invaluable asset in our efforts to abolish abortion. As long as secularists can accuse us of trying legislate our faith, no progress will be made in any of the political arenas in which we find ourselves fighting.

The preample to the Declaration of Independence ought to inspire us in these endeavors.

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed."

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

"Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

{All emphases mine]

We who believe in that Creator are among the governed from whose consent the just powers of the goverment are derived. If our government becomes destructive to the ends of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we the people have the right to alter or abolish it, to throw it off and provide new guards for our future.

I am not (and I cannot express this strongly enough) suggesting some kind of revolution. Rather, I would like to see Christians exercise their First Amendment right "peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" and to perform their civic duties of voting and running for office, at all levels of government, so that laws might enacted that, in accordance with the purpose our constitution, "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity". And if those laws should be found to be contrary to the Constitution of the United States, we should seek to exert our right under Article V of the that constitution to amend it.

So, dear readers, how do we go about doing these things?

Can You Hear Me? Then Get Off My Phone!

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probablecause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." – Fourth Amendment

Was Bush (Congress, the NSA, whomever) wrong to employ the kinds of wiretaps he did? Did he violate Constitutional law? I don’t know. Just because a certain power is not forbidden to the federal government by the Constitution, doesn’t mean it’s licit.

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Fighting Fire With Fanaticism

Congress from Amending the Constitution to Limit Free Speech

Urge your Members of Congress to Oppose the Flag Desecration Amendment!

For more than a decade, numerous members of Congress have tried to amend — with
seemingly endless resources — the U.S. Constitution to give the government the
power to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag. Civil libertarians
have fought back hard with coalitions of veterans, religious leaders and other Americans
who believe that such a constitutional amendment would undermine the very principles
for which the American flag stands.

*Sigh* How many more times with this monstrosity rear its ugly head? The American
flag – any flag for that matter – is just a symbol. Citizens of any free country
should have the right to protest what they see as disgraceful actions taken in their
name by their government, so long as doing so doesn’t not endanger others. A legal
expression of such a protest should be the “desecration” of a symbol of
that government/country, including its flag.

This should be especially true for the US. Our constitution, and the Supreme Court
interpretations thereof, guarantees the rights of free expression and to petition
the government with grievances. To ban flag-burning would violate both.

Perhaps flag-burning is a distasteful thing. I’d have to be pretty ticked off to
do it myself, but tastefulness should not guide legislation of constitutional law.
If it were, we might as well ban foul language, sandals worn with socks, reality
TV, and Hillary Clinton.

Undue Burden?

Limitation on freedoms is not a new concept. Speech is, on the whole, free, but
there are some utterances that can get you in trouble with the law. Shouting “Fire!”
in a crowded theater or joking about shooting the president are good examples. In
other words, there is legal precedent for placing limitations on constitutional
rights. Technically, abortion is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution. However,
the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution and decisions of the Court carry the
weight of the Constitution until they are overturned. For a federal judge to say
that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban places “an undue burden on a woman’s right
to choose an abortion”, thus making it unconstitutional, is a mighty strong
statement and had better be backed up with legal precedence. It will be very interesting
to see if this makes it to the Supreme Court.

On a side note, if a fetus is not a person, and thus not protected, when it is essentially
birthed to be aborted, what makes it a person if such a procedure is not performed?
I really don’t think it’s reactionary to say that the next logical step is legalized
infanticide. If this ruling goes unchallenged, we may one day wake up to headlines
telling us that a law protecting newborns places an undue burden on a woman’s right
to kill her infant.

Bush Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

SAN FRANCISCO – In a ruling with coast-to-coast effect, a federal judge declared
the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional Tuesday, saying it infringes
on a woman’s right to choose.

Pro-Life Members of
Congress File Brief in Partial-Birth Abortion Case

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life law firm has filed an amicus brief on
behalf of 25 pro-life members of Congress in an effort to help the Bush administration
defend the partial-birth abortion ban from pro-abortion lawsuits seeking to overturn
the law.