Archive for religion
And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:1-17).
Someone asked me what I thought about the Ten Commandments being posted inside or in front of courthouses. My short answer is: what’s the point?, who cares?, and this is much ado about nothing. My long answer is what follows.
Every year or so some atheist sues a school district regarding the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. This most recently occurred in Boston, as I blogged about here:
Supreme Judicial Court will begin hearing arguments this week in case brought by an atheist to strike the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Go ahead and take it out; it is a lie anyway, as I pointed out here. Better yet, scrap the whole Pledge. Nothing sickens me more than to see a pastor in church lead the congregation in the Pledge. I have seen it in several churches and about threw up in my mouth it was so sickening.
This always manages to get conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, all worked up about absolutely nothing, as I point out in my post and the article of mine that I link to.
Another thing that gets conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, all worked up about absolutely nothing is the denial of permission by the government to post the Ten Commandments in some public place like a courthouse.
Let me first say—for the benefit of those who are new to my writings—that I am an evangelical Christian and deplore the decline of virtue, decency, morality, and religion in the United States that has occurred in my lifetime.
Second, as a Christian, I have no argument with the Ten Commandments or any other part of the Bible.
Third, I think that most of the federal court decisions regarding religion are not only wrong, they showcase the profound ignorance of the Constitution that characterizes most of the federal judiciary. Here are three examples that concern the Ten Commandments.
In Stone v. Graham (1980), the Supreme Court ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because posting the Ten Commandments “has no secular legislative purpose” and “the preeminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature.” This is rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
In federal court is a case brought last year by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) against the Connellsville Area School District in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, because of a monument containing the Ten Commandments that has been in front of Connellsville Junior High School since it was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957. Atheists are alleging that the monument violates the First Amendment. This is more rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
And specifically regarding the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, there is the case of Roy Moore, the (former and now again) chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore was removed as chief justice in 2003 because he refused a federal judge’s order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. A federal court ruled, in the case of Glassroth v. Moore (2002), that the display of the Ten Commandments monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A federal Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in 2003. Again, more rubbish. Posting the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with “an establishment of religion” and is entirely a state matter.
So, if I am a Christian, have no problem with the Ten Commandments, and think the federal District, Appeals, and Supreme Courts are staffed by ignorant buffoons, then why don’t I care about whether the Ten Commandments can be posted in public places?
As I said above: what’s the point?, who cares?, and this is much ado about nothing.
First of all, most of the conservatives who raise such a stink about the Ten Commandments not allowed to be posted in courthouses don’t care a whit about following the Ten Commandments. The last time I checked the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” was still part of the Ten Commandments. Yet, these people are some of the most bloodthirsty warmongers on the planet, and especially the Christian conservatives. They are the warvangelical, red-state fascist, reich-wing nationalist, God and country Christian bumpkins who so idolize the U.S. military. To them “Thou shalt not kill” only applies to an American deliberately murdering an American. Murdering foreigners in their countries is perfectly fine, and especially if they are Muslims. Evidently, a U.S. military uniform covers a multitude of sins.
Second, suppose that the federal government posted the Ten Commandments in every federal courthouse and mandated that all states and counties post the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. That is exactly what most of the above people want, isn’t it? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a sign to the world that America is a godly nation? Would posting the Ten Commandments be a signal to God that America is a Christian nation? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was honoring God? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that America as a nation was giving God the glory due his name? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean signify that America was a land of virtue, decency, morality, and religion? Would posting the Ten Commandments mean that justice was actually taking place in U.S. courtrooms? I suspect that the posting of the Ten Commandments in every courthouse would simply deceive dumb, ignorant, easily manipulated, easily deceived God and country Christians into thinking that these things were true.
Third, the U.S. government is an evil monstrosity. Would posting the Ten Commandments make the U.S. government any less evil? Why besmirch God’s Holy Commandments by posting them in some government building? That is the last place they should ever be posted. It’s as bad as putting a chaplain in the global menace that is the U.S. military. Who cares if one of the most despicable governments in the history of the world does or doesn’t post the Ten Commandments in public places, put “In God We Trust” on its money, say “under God” in its Pledge, or hang a crucifix or cross in public buildings?
Fourth, the decline in America of virtue, decency, morality, and religion has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments not being posted in some public place. It is a spiritual problem that is independent of anything the government does or does not so.
Here are fifteen things that would be infinitely more valuable for the federal government to do than to post the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses:
- End the war in Afghanistan and withdraw every single soldier.
- Close all foreign military bases.
- End the drug war.
- Abolish the NSA.
- Repeal CAFE standards.
- Abolish the TSA and return airport security to airports and airlines.
- Lift the Cuban embargo.
- Abolish the Department of Education.
- Sell AMTRAK to the highest bidder.
- Repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
- Eliminate the September 11th security fee on airline tickets.
- End public financing of elections.
- Repeal the Patriot Act.
- Abolish the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
- End the Army sponsorship of Tony Schumacher’s top fuel dragster.
These are just fifteen things off the top of my head; I could come up with 500 more if I took the time.
Should the Ten Commandments be posted? That all depends. Post them if you choose in your church, synagogue, private school, or home. Just make sure you have permission or it is on your own property. But don’t insist that the Ten Commandments be posted on someone else’s property or petition that they be posted on public property. And above all, don’t get so upset about something that means absolutely nothing.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on October 18, 2013.
Tags: Bible, government, Old Testament, religion, religious freedom, separation of church and state, Ten Commandments
By Rev. Edmund Opitz, author of The Libertarian Theology of Freedom and Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies. This essay was originally published in the July 1973 issue of The Freeman. Read more in the Edmund Opitz Archive.
The colonists had won a war and, desiring to set up a republican form of government, they installed a Constitution designed to limit the public authority and thus maximize personal liberty.
Now that they were free, what did these early Americans do with their newly won liberty? For one thing, they worked. They had to provide their own food, clothing and shelter, so work was a necessity of survival. Moreover, these people remembered the poverty endured by their ancestors in Europe and how life was demeaned thereby. Now that these Americans were free to enjoy the fruits of their toil they became more productive, and with the gradual increase of wealth came a new sense of human dignity which accompanies modest economic success. The Puritan Ethic was sound when it endorsed work, thrift and frugality. This ethic fitted in well with the burgeoning interest in the new science of economics, masterfully set forth in 1776 by Adam Smith. It is significant that more than twenty five hundred copies of Wealth of Nations were sold in this country within five years of its appearance. Obviously, the book addressed itself to a real need.
Economic activity is fundamental to human existence. A Robinson Crusoe could get along without politicking, but if he did not work he would die of hunger and exposure. Emerging from economic activity are the concepts of rights to property and claims to service around which many political battles are fought. Economics, on the surface, deals with prices, production, and the operations of the market as determined by the buying habits of every one of us. In reality, however, economics is concerned with the conservation and stewardship of the earth’s scarce goods; human energy, time, material resources and natural forces. Read More→
Tags: economics, Edmund Opitz, freedom, history, religion
By Edmund Opitz, author of The Libertarian Theology of Freedom and Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies. This essay was originally published in the December 1972 issue of The Freeman, and continues from his previous article.
Part One of this essay presents a diagnosis of the present malaise in terms of a loss of contact with six vital ideas. The ideas which keep us human may be summarized as follows:
- Free Will. Man’s gift of free will makes him a responsible being.
- Rationality. Man is a reasoning being who, by taking thought, gains valid truths about himself and the universe.
- Self-responsibility. Each person is the custodian of his own energy and talents, charged with the lifetime task of bringing himself to completion.
- Beauty. Man confronts beauty in the very nature of things, and reproduces this vision in art.
- Goodness. Man has a moral sense, enabling and requiring him to choose between good and evil.
- The Sacred. Man participates in an order which transcends nature and society.
It is no secret that a great many philosophers and scientists deny free will and affirm determinism; it is also a fact that no one can really bring himself around to believing that he is an automaton. A philosopher who announces himself as a determinist presumes to offer us a conclusion he has arrived at after observation, after marshalling the relevant evidence, after reflection, and as the end result of a chain of reasoning. Each of these steps reflects the action of a free being, and these free actions can never be pieced together so as to contrive an unfree result. Man’s will is free; it is so free that it can deny this freedom!
Tags: beauty, Edmund Opitz, free society, free will, philosophy, rationality, religion, responsibility
I have not done a news post in some time, so I have a lot of links piled up for you today. I think you will find many of them of interest for both general purposes and particularly Christian libertarian purposes as well.
The Bionic Mosquito has a very interesting article up regarding libertarians and abortion. He is definitely adding to the debate and it is worth checking out.
Gerard Casey says that religion and politics needs to file for divorce. The power couple has fallen!
David Gordon reviews a new book on religious toleration and freedom of conscience.
Gene Healy hopes that Sandy Hook will not be seen as a 9-11 for schools. Some people really think that a gun ban would help, but apparently it doesn’t work in China. It’s a sick world, folks. Jeff Tucker asks why schools shouldn’t be allowed to secure themselves.
Jeff also has a superb article describing how the state will ultimately end.
From the You-Have-To-Be-Kidding-Me Department… The US Air Force is apparently now using Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a means of justifying nuclear warfare. Yes. Really.
My new favorite comic… (Thank you XKCD!)
Have something you want to share with everyone? Let us know in the comments. I read every comment and respond to as many as I can!
Tags: charity, economics, News of the Week, politics, religion, statism
I am trying to better understand the intellectual foundations behind the similarities of both libertarianism and christianity, however I came across a Wikipedia entry that suggests a difference between “Christian libertarianism” and “Libertarian Christianity.” Is there any essential and significant difference between both terms?
Great question! The Wikipedia entry you mention suggests that “libertarian Christianity” comes from a specific blend of systematic and biblical theology. They suppose they are distinct from “Christian libertarians” because of their “Bible-based legal philosophy using biblical hermeneutics that are different from those used by Christian libertarians.” (That’s a Wikipedia quote.) To me, this sounds more or less like theonomic reconstructionism, a view I respect but with which I very much disagree for a variety of reasons.
In contrast, “Christian libertarianism describes the synthesis of Christian beliefs concerning human nature and dignity with libertarian political philosophy.” (Also a Wikipedia quote.) Christian libertarianism looks for the congruence of libertarian political thought and Christian theology because of a firm belief in the harmony of natural law with sound theological principles. I have written a few essays that take this approach, including an article for the Washington Post.
This is fundamentally why you will never hear me describe what I believe as “libertarian Christianity.” As it is, the terms comes a bit too front-loaded for me. However, I have no problem calling myself a libertarian Christian OR Christian libertarian. In fact, I’ve written a bit more on that topic in this blog post.
Tags: christian libertarian, christian libertarianism, Christianity, libertarian christian, libertarian christianity, philosophy, religion, theology