God and Man in Alabama

A truly scary column by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in the Opinion Journal (registration required) this morning. I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t caught fire in the blogoverse today.

It’s a defiant screed on the issue of separating God and state, and his position can be well summed up by this:

For half a century the fanciful tailors of revisionist jurisprudence have been working to strip the public sector naked of every vestige of God and morality. They have done so based on fake readings and inconsistent applications of the First Amendment. They have said it is all right for the U.S. Supreme Court to publicly place the Ten Commandments on its walls, for Congress to open in prayer and for state capitols to have chaplains–as long as the words and ideas communicated by such do not really mean what they purport to communicate. They have trotted out before the public using words never mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, like “separation of church and state,” to advocate, not the legitimate jurisdictional separation between the church and state, but the illegitimate separation of God and state.

For Chief Justice Moore, God … not in the abstract sense of an all-encompassing Creator, but in the very literal sense of the God of the New Testament … is at the root of our laws, and more, at the root of the legitimacy of our government which is, after all, founded on and defended by laws.
Now many of the founders were religious Christians, but many were also Deists:

…those thinkers in the 17th and 18th cent. who held that the course of nature sufficiently demonstrates the existence of God. For them formal religion was superfluous, and they scorned as spurious claims of supernatural revelation. Their tenets stemmed from the rationalism of the period, and though the term is not now generally used, the tenor of their belief persists. The term freethinkers is almost synonymous. Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau were deists, as were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

And while it makes clear historic sense to tie the roots of the American foundation to the Christian gentlemen who led the Revolution, the role of explicit Christianity in American politics has a complex history, and a deeply complex present.

The English immigrants came to the Americas, like the modern immigrants I’ve lunched with, to gain their fortune and to escape from religious and political oppression. Of that, we can be clear.

I’m not sure how Chief Justice Moore feels that displaying the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building – not in his home, not in a private business, but in the hall where the highest decisions of law and power are made in Alabama – ties his actions to that history and that desire for freedom to worship in our own ways.

54 thoughts on “God and Man in Alabama”

  1. Justice Moore believes that ‘God’s Law’ trumps man’s law. His monument has little to do with Christianity in general and nothing at all to do with freedom of religion. Moore is a theonomist (definition here – scroll down).
    He is, in short, in favor of the Christian equivalent of the Islamist shariah.

  2. I think the column hasn’t gotten much linkage because people are largely tired of the story. Indeed, I saw the story a couple times earlier and didn’t bother to read it as I figured it would be predictable.

    Even though I disagree with him as a matter of public poicy, Moore is almost 100% right on the history but that view of the Constitution has been overridden by a rather activist judiciary over the last 70-odd years. Nonetheless, his view is now an anachronism, interesting from an academic standpoint but with no judicial legs.

  3. I’m puzzled by this insistence that the Founders consulted the Ten Commandments and Leviticus when creating the Constitution. Whoever says that is either ignorant or lying. The Constitution is a child of the Enlightenment, not ancient religious texts.

    Anyway, who wants to bet we’ve got the next governor of Alabama here?

  4. Judge Moore is a Satanist. He doesn’t even display the real Ten Commandments. The real Ten Commandments are in Hebrew.

    Not only that he has to pick a translaton out of the many. They can’t all be correct.

    Which translationdid he establish.

    It is like saying chocolate – cheap American or good Swiss.

  5. “A truly scary column by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore”…”Judge Moore is a Satanist”….”He is, in short, in favor of the Christian equivalent of the Islamist shariah”….”the Constitution has been overridden by a rather activist judiciary over the last 70-odd years”…”The guy is a right-wing idiotarian”….(and my personal favorite) “The Constitution is a child of the Enlightenment”… wheeeeeee.

    Scratch a libertarian, find a liberal.

    Thanks to the guy who said “It’s just a statue”.

    Notice how Justice Moore succinctly argues his point, backs it up with history and law and never stoops to vulgar name calling. That’s class man.

  6. If ever I had a doubt A.L. was anything more than a one man circle jerk, this little screed has forever dispelled said doubt.
    To equate J.J. Rousseau with Franklin & Washington et al is the heighth of, I can’t call it ignorance as A.L. is far from, but the ridiculousness of the comparison is beyond belief.
    Rousseau believed as follows:

    “In his early writing, Rousseau contended that man is essentially good, a “noble savage” when in the “state of nature” (the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was in before the creation of civilization and society), and that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as “articficial” and “corrupt” and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man.

    Rousseau’s essay, “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences” (1750), argued that the advancement of art and science had not been beneficial to mankind. He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful, and crushed individual liberty. He concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of sincere friendship, replacing it with jealousy, fear and suspicion.”

    Those who avidly follow A.L.’s pronouncements are the ignorant ones. Virtually every attendee and the Constitutional Convention, which created our Nation, who wrote about the reasoning behind their positions, quoted the Bible and other sources of Judeo/Christian thought of the time.

  7. Justice Moore is an embarrassment (especially to those of us named Moore, but then Michael Moore also is one!).

    However, although he is misguided, he is right about one thing: there is a strong movement to remove Christian religion from every aspect of American life where government can touch it. And this movement is hypocritical – only going after Christianity.

    The reason is that the movement is against traditional American morality, and wants to destroy our traditional culture. They have done a pretty good job of it in many ways, too!

    I don’t support government enshrinement of any particular religion (which is exactly what Judge Moore is trying to do). But I DETEST those who go after things that have been part of our culture for a long time and remove them just because they happen to relate to Christianity.

    Recognize that the people who are most likely to go after historic Christian displays (which, I would point out, Moore’s isn’t – it was just put in a couple of years ago!), are also against most other parts of our culture. They tend to be leftist (or libertarian, who sometimes ally with the bad guys on this one), statist, value relativists, post-modernists and politically correct. They may try to remove anything that looks like a cross if it is on government property in the name of the first amendment, but they are also the first to attack someone for using a non-PC term! So for the libertarians, beware of who you ally with. And for Christians, allying with Judge Moore is as dumb as allying with Pat Robertson!

    Also, the reason I keep singling out Christian displays is because they are by far the most common and the most attacked. Greek or Animist or Wiccan displays (if you can find them) are celebrated in the name of diversity!

  8. The comparison between conservative Christians and Islamists in some circles has never ceased to amaze me. While it certainly does have some polemical and rhetorical value, it’s about as accurate as the comparison that Bush = Hitler that you should have no trouble finding online. But it’s the same type of idiocy that has already begun filtering itself into various facets of American political culture, including the de facto religious tests of federal judges these days. As long as we’re dealing in over-the-top rhetoric, why not just hang a “No papists need apply” sign over the Supreme Court building.

    I concur with the Wall Street Journal editorial today that Moore is doing more to harm the cause of religion in America than by his actions. I’m a Catholic myself and I tend to think that the laws of God are by far more fitting in the hearts of man than on any stone monument, especially if a federal judge has to break the law in order to keep it there. But at the same time I think that America’s religiosity is one of the nation’s greatest strengths, not a weakness as one of the Guardian’s columnists observing the situation in Alabama once claimed. A lot of great things can come from religion, even those evil fundamentalist sects of Christianity, something that a great many people who demean and belittle the faith seem to forget. Take the issue of Israel for example, and consider for a moment that without the wellspring of good will that many of those same dumb, intolerant Christians have for it that it is not hard to imagine the US sacrificing its relationship with the state for reasons of realpolitik the way so many European nations evidently have. How many lives, Jewish and Muslim alike, do you think have been saved by this good will alone?

    In a way, this highlights one of themes that has permeated national culture ever since Falwell and Robertson attempted use the national anger generated by 9/11 with which to attack their domestic opponents (ironically their domestic opponents appear to have turned the tables as far as policy debate goes, achieving the opposite of what both men had hoped to achieve), namely, as I said before, that Christian conservatives are no different from the Taliban.

    Well we’ve already seen the Taliban’s idea of a Wahhabi/Deobandi utopia, but let me share a little secret for you: the ideal utopia of most Christian conservatives would be something along the lines the way the national culture was during the Eisenhower administration without any racial discrimination. Once something along those lines has been achieved, most Christian fundamentalists would likely head home and call it a day. You want to call that the equivalent of the sha’riah, go right ahead.

    That being said, here is the most important distinction between a fundamentalist Muslim and a fundamentalist Christian. Justice Moore is grandstanding like an idiot here, but you’ll notice he and his supporters aren’t attacking the other justices or calling for their deaths. If the feds do go in to remove the monument, there is unlikely to be any serious violence resulting from the situation. Now let’s shift this scene to Pakistan and I think we all know what would happen: blood in the streets, cities engulfed by riots, and sectarian violence. All part of a normal day in Peshawar or Karachi. Or as Rob Dreher noted a few weeks back on The Corner, if you’re on a plane, who are you more worried about: the guys who graduated from Bob Jones University or the guys who just got finished attending the Finsbury Park Mosque? I’ll leave it to you guys to answer that question.

  9. Well, Mike, I’m in a relationship with an attractive and wonderful woman, so I don’t share your personal hobbies – but may I suggest that you add one, which is the reading of history.

    The Bible and Christian commentary were certainly central to any educated person’s world in the 17th and 18th centuries, but there was this little thing called The Enlightenment, and a couple of authors like Hobbes, Montesquieu, Locke (and Rousseau) who were pretty widely cited in the Federalist Papers (as was the Bible).

    Can I suggest that you review the actual literature?


  10. Dan –

    You make more than a few good points.

    1) I do think that religion – in the general sense – is one the keys to American culture; I just happen to think that what the government should support with displays such as Moore’s is ‘religion in general'; I’ll call it ‘reverence’. How does that square with your notions?

    2) the place of religion in Western and American history – for good (and sometimes bad) can’t be belittled, even by a confirmed non-churchgoer such as myself.

    3) Have you ever been to a clinic defense (or the converse, a protest at a medical clinic that provides abortion)? The level of barely-repressed violence is pretty high.

    I do think that we’re faaar better off than the examples you cite of religious rioting; but you have to remember that in many cultures elections and soccer games also bring out a level of rioting that we have a hard time comprehending.

    So yes, I’ll worry more about the Finbury Park Mosque. But I’d like the Ten Commandments to be on a rotating exhibit, if at all possible…


  11. FWIW, I think I largely agree with the conservatives on this one: that its a bad judicial decision, but refusing to obey the decision is much more damaging than the decision itself.

    I believe the first amendment guarantees freedom to practice your own religion, and freedom from subsidizing or endorsing the majority religion to any substantial degree, but I think the key term is ?to any substantial degree?. Prohibiting a judge from hanging the ten commandments or a school principal from saying ?let us now have a moment of prayer? strikes me as pointless and ridiculous. In other words, I largely agree with those who say ?freedom of religion, not freedom from religion? However, I am annoyed with those who use these church-state issues to ridicule ACLU-type minorities, to use them as a free punching bag to bolster their self-esteem, and to imply that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket because Johnny couldn?t read the ten commandments on his classroom wall.

  12. AL,

    1) Please understand, I’m no friend of Moore’s on this one. I think that God’s laws are better off in a man’s heart than on a stone monument and I don’t think that Moore should break the law regardless. My basic annoyance with some of the comments being made was the whole idea that Christian fundamentalists = Muslim fundamentalists, while a fun rhetorical argument, is hardly an accurate one and that claims that a Christian version of sha’riah is nigh if the monument stays (which I doubt will be the case) is being patently dishonest.

    2) I don’t think that you have to be a churchgoer or belong to an organized religion in order to appreciate it. I’m hardly a Muslim or a Mormon or a Hindu, but I can appreciate the accomplishments of all three and recognize that most of their adherents are good people.

    3) Well, if you accept the anti-abortion paradigm (i.e. that abortion is murder), the level of anger is understandable. Similarly, if you accept the anti-war protesters’ paradigm that what happened in Iraq was for oil/conquest/revenge/distraction, their anger also becomes far more understandable. That being said, you can just compare the number of Americans who subscribe to anti-abortion beliefs with the number of those who decide to use the AK-47 and machete method to solve the problem.

    I really don’t think that there’s that much disagreement between us on this one, as a lot of my problems came from the comments rather than your actual post. In the meantime, America continues to be both religious, pluralistic, and secular all at the same time and we can all go on with our lives and practice our faith (or lack thereof) in peace.

  13. And how do you “Moore is an idiot” folks explain Moses above the East Portico of the U.S. Supreme Court building, and the Ten Commandments engraved behind the bench? That’s been there for 200 years – if Judge Moore’s act was illegal, why then did they build the U.S. Supreme Court that way when all the framers were still alive?

    Yesterday’s Derbyshire from in NR talked about this. Religion is mentioned exactly twice in the Constitution – once in Article VI, the “no religious test” piece, and once in the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law …”.

    Please explain to me how the facts of this case, which was brought by the ACLU via local stooges on the pretense that the statue impeded their freedom of religion, are informed by the above two points of law?

    Moore may be a little annoying, and pedantic, but the facts are on his side. I’m not, to put it mildly, in favor of re-interpreting Constitutional law, especially to the point where we invert it.

  14. I love the invocation of the supreme court relief and frieze as a defence. It’s utterly inane for multiple reasons: first it presumes that architectural decisions made long ago should drive modern interpretations of the law, and second it ignores the context: both the frieze and the relief show Moses in the context of other great lawgivers. I notice Moore isn’t arguing for a monument to the code of Hammurabi on government property. If Moore’s monument was about law (as the frieze and relief are), there would be no objection from anyone but idiotarians. Since it is clearly about religion, the objection is legitimate. The fact that the same person (Moses) and set of laws (the commandments) can be used in either case is an accident of history, due to the fact that in the past it was common for the religion to be entangled with government, an entanglement that the founders of this nation realized was harmful, and which they explicitly disavowed and forbade.

    A final note about the supreme court representations of the commandments: Nowhere is there a legible english version of the commandments. They are either in Hebrew, obscured, or represented in the abstract by Roman Numerals. If the “Argument from Architecture” is to carry any weight at all (which it shouldn’t) then the only precedent is for unreadable representations.

  15. “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” Thomas Jefferson

    I am an evengelical Christian, and probably most would consider me a ‘fundamentalist’of some flavor. It is a given for me, therefore, that God’s Word /is/ truth. It can indeed stand on its own without the support of government.

    The Ten Commandments are not especially (nor specifically) Christian, though they are central tenets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike. Consequently, no reasonable (or reasoning) person could conclude that their display constitutes any form of ‘establishment’ of religion.

    Let us remember, too, that the First Amendment was intended to keep the federal government out of religion … /not/ to keep all religion out of government.

    There is a tremendously strong argument to be made that at its heart, this is a states’ rights issue (see 10th Amendment). Nowhere –not even in the 14th Amendment– does the Constitution give the federal government (to say nothing of one federal judge)any right to meddle in what the State of Alabama does about or with religion.

    Roy Moore, however, is /not/ the State of Alabama. Whatever I might feel about the display of the Ten Commandments, Justice Moore is wrong. One person, even one elected person, does not constitute the State.

    If the Legislature of the State of Alabama were to pass legislation consistent with the Constitution of said State to the effect that the Ten Commandments were to be displayed, and appropriated money for the project, the states’ rights case would be pertinent.

    The US Supreme Court was correct not to hear the case, because as long as it is simply Justice Moore, there is no states’ rights issue.

    Moore (correctly) believes that he is upholding the Constitution of the State of Alabama. That is indeed the oath he took. He swore to uphold that constitution in the course of his work as Chief Justice.

    Erecting a granite monument to display the Ten Commandments was not –to my knowledge– part of Justice Moore’s job description.

    He is therefore acting outside of his authority and mandate and deserves to be sanctioned.

    Let the Legislature in Montgomery decide, and then we’ll see whether there is a /legitimate/ Constitutional debate here or not.

  16. Friends, neighbors, and the aggrieved,

    My comments were sarcasm. I was trying to show how religious wars get started and the reason the wall of separation of church and state (as Jefferson put it) are so important in preventing religious wars.

    Still if he was really trying to honor the Ten Commandments shouldn’t he have displayed the primary texts rather than some cheap parochial translation?

  17. Bart:

    #1: “Let us remember, too, that the First Amendment was intended to keep the federal government out of religion … /not/ to keep all religion out of government.”

    Once Religion is “inside” government, then the Government is Emeshed with Religion – as much as if Government had made the initial intrusion. the intent of the 1st amendment was to prevent *both* causes of intermingling; To stop Judges from acting as priests, and Priests from being Judges.

    Camels aren’t supposed to be in tents, it doesn’t matter if one enteres through a slit or if you lead one in.

    #2: Every Court is bound to uphold and express Federal Law ( this comes from Federal Law being the Supreme Law of the Land ); If State Law conflicts with Federal Law, State Law loses. Judge Moore is sworn to uphold Alabama Law and Federal Law, not Alabama Law only. Since Federal Law ( as defined by SC rulings ) bars blatant displays of favoratism towards one Faith – Judge Moore is breaching Federal Law.

    Any other situation places Alabama Law superior to Federal Law ( and ultimatly, all other States and the Constitution ), an intolerable situation.

    Judge Moore wants to place Alabama Law to be superior to Federal Law, a violation of his oaths, and his personal religious beliefs superior to the beliefs of any and all who would visit the Court Building; If he had ordered a Star and Cresent statuary installed ( a standard symbol of Islam ) instead of the 10 Commandments, how would Jews and Baihai’s feel?

    The Camel of Religion shouldn’t be in the Tent of Government, unless it is COMPLETELY muzzled and tethered.

    …and the Tent of Government shouldn’t be in the Camel Corral, either….

  18. The Ten Comandments are Christian if they are a Christian translation. The Protestant and Catholic versions differ.

    You see how this gets all messed up when we deviate from the original sources?

  19. OKAY. Get ready. There is nothing ‘Christian’ about the Ten Commandments, so stop draggin’ that into the argument. Old Testament is Jewish history. New Testament is Christian history. No mention of the big 10 is made in the NT. It may be sophisticated to diss religion and attempt to revise the historical foundation of our country, but could you ease up on the sophistry? You don’t wear it very well.

  20. The US Constitution prohibits the establishment or preference of a national religion. Had to be worded that way since some states already had a State religion (someone posted elsewhere that Massachusetts had one until 1833!).

    But the Judge is in contravention of the Alabama Constitution, which since 1901 has had almost the same wording. And he knows it, else why not ask his fellow judges to appropriate money for such a monument or even let them know he was going to steal some state property on which to put it?

    He is not upholding his religion, he is a demagogue who will probably parlay this into another office – which is how he got on the Court in the first place, by being a “squeaky wheel.”

    As to the SCOTUS frieze (and the ceiling of the entrance hall) display, note that the display is not prominent and is surrounded by texts and portraiture from non-Judaeo-Christian_Moslem traditions. This is key: neither of the Constitutions in play prohibit religious displays, they prohibit showing blatant preference – and an unaccompanied display positioned in a nearly-unavoidable place and too big or colorful to be overlooked is certainly showing preference.

    Now, I think banning a cr̬che display on the lawn of City Hall is silly, and unnecessary if other symbology is also present (candles and wreaths, for instance, as solstice displays probably pre-date their association with Christianity, and who really thinks of Santa as a Christian Saint?). But hizzonner has made a point of making no such compromise Рit would not suit his political constituency, and possibly not even his own beliefs.

  21. While I’m at it – Kathy K I dislike being the one to burst your little bubble, but our Founding Fathers felt that there were ‘rights’ we obtained from our Creator. In other words, God’s ‘Law’ does trump Man’s Law. God wins, hands down. That’s the reason we have the system of Justice that we have, silly. That’s the reason you can stand up to the State and say ‘These are rights that belong to ME, and you cannot take them away or change them’. MOF, I think it’s a miracle that not only did the FFs see fit to Declare such a thing, we can still say that ‘We Trust’ what they saw fit to guarantee. I’m not particularly enamored of this particular scenario, but Justice Moore is correct. It is NOT a matter of Federal intervention, it is a matter of State’s Rights.

  22. Cap’n, what Moore did is contrary to the Alabama STATE Constitution, and is being fought under that standard. Yes, Federal courts can be appealed to in matters od State law as well as Federal.

  23. Mebbe so, I was under the impression a state could request intervention.

    Thing is, I am tired of people saying this is an attempt to override state’s rights – it is the State of Alabama which ruled the monument should go, and as far as I know it is Judge Moore who has appealed for injunction[s] at the Federal level.

  24. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” 10th Amendment

    ” **Congress** shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 1st Amendment

    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;(snip)nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 14th Amendment (clause 1)

    **Congress** may not establish an official, established state religion. There was a concern that the Episcopal Church (overwhelmingly prominent in Virginia and southward) might be established as the national church, to the detriment of Baptists and others active in the great fundamentalist revivals of that era.

    Nowhere in the Constitution do I see that a state is prohibited from establishing a religion — though to do such would be phenomenally stupid and bad for the electoral health of any legislators who did it.

    A clear and common sense reading of the Constitution (big assumptions there)make it pretty evident that the Federal government has supremacy /only/ in those areas delegated to the United States in the Constitution.

    In the situation under discussion, I come back to my original point, which is that Roy Moore is not the State of Alabama. Until the state legilature supports him officially, there is no states rights issue at hand.

    It is deeply unfortunate that most of the folks who take a stand on states’ rights do so for stuff like slavery and segregation. Or do so over ‘rump’ issues like a chunk of granite with the Ten Commandments carved thereupon.

    The best argument for a strict constitutional interpretation of states’ rights is that we end up being able to isolate stupidity in places like Alabama and California. Make California the law of the entire land and you have France.

    Roy Moore is the wrong man, and he has chosen the wrong issue.

  25. John Anderson – I said that I think this scenario stinks, and I agree with you that HE should not have done what he did for the reason he did it. I’m inclined to think his political cachet was more important to him than any religious belief he might hold. What you do have to remember as well (my POV here) is that this is the same sort of inroad (making a stand about religious belief and the law) that leads nowhere. The Episcopal Church ‘absconded’ with Authority a bit differently than the Protestants, and for a different reason, but asconded none the less. What has it ‘bought’ them? Nothing but grief. Once you take something which you do not have the right to take, you give up the right to a defense. Stealing is still stealing. Authority comes from someone or somewhere. On certain matters (Life, Liberty, Pursuit…) they are not ‘abscondable’. No one can ‘take’ them, including the State.
    BTW – I believe you are correct John, it was Mass. The earliest ‘state’ to grant religious freedom? Maryland. A decidedly Catholic one I might add. I digress however…
    Sort of interesting to note that the religious wars will undoubtedly heat up as we get closer to ‘vote’ time. Same sex marriage? Heh. Catholic on the Supreme Court? Heh. Christianity/Islam? Old freakin’ news. Bad news. It always sells. Seems like I remember Ol’ Man Moses busted dem tablets, And Christ said he brought a new Law. We sure gotta whole bunch of Neighbor lovin’ goin’ on, don’t we?

  26. Bart, to repeat, Judge Moore is in contempt of The Constitution of the State of Alabama, so federal vs state rights is not in play, except insofar as a federal court was asked to issue a temporary injunction against Alabama enforcing its own decree.

  27. Cap’n, thanks for reading my post{s}. And yeah, this one promises to be the worst “religion” cat-fight since JFK. I am not looking forward to it.

  28. I’m going to put my tongue in my cheek here for a moment with Mr. Armed Liberal who doesn’t have a proverbial leg to stand on. Mr Locke et. al., acquired a GREAT DEAL of their ‘political’ wisdom regarding Man’s proper relationship to the State from St. Robert Bellarmine. Google is YOUR friend, my friend, so don’t be so quick to revise history. Even Mr. Jefferson, who ‘cherry-picked’ the Bible (obviously excluding what didn’t fit his agenda) chose to ‘borrow’, almost word for word, the very first line of the Declaration from Bellarmine. With that, I will let you R.I.P. IOW, your argument is dead.

  29. Cap’n, I realize he argues that we get our freedoms from God, etc. But the God’s law that he argues for is:
    I 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.
    and so forth.

    For the rest who misinterpreted my top comment about shariah:
    “Theonomy” (meaning God’s Law in Greek) is used to describe those who believe men should live by the Laws of God as written. (And as interpreted by their sect.) Christian theonomists are people such as Christian Reconstructionists, who (CRs) do believe in such things as stoning people for adultery.

    The “moderate” Islamists, those who want to outbreed us and vote us into sharia, are the exact equivalent of Christian theonomists. Call them Islamic theonomists

    I was not talking about Christian fundamentalists or evangelicals, in general, that’s why I used ‘theonomist’.

  30. Help me out, Cap; how am I revising history??

    ‘while it makes clear historic sense to tie the roots of the American foundation to the Christian gentlemen who led the Revolution, the role of explicit Christianity in American politics has a complex history, and a deeply complex present.’

    Much of the philosophy to which the Founders had access was obviously Christian philosophy; it was entral to their thinking, and we can’t place their thinking outside the continuum of Western Civ from Homer through the Bible to Locke and the Enlightenment.

    But note that Christian philosophy was a part of their education, not the totality of it…

    …so help me out here; what exactly am I missing? We know Jefferson read Aquinas, Bellarmine, and Vico. He also read Rousseau.



  31. Well Capn if the Ten Commandments are Jewish (they are) why do the different churches have different translations that differ markedly in the meaning of some of the commandments? Wouldn’t they all have the same meaning if they were following the original Hebrew? That is why I say the translations are Christian. Because they are interpreted according to the precepts of the various Christian sects.

    Which is why if you want to be true to the original you should use the original.

    It is way past time that Christians got back to that old time religion. Judaism.

  32. Kathy K I apologize if I misunderstood. Wordsmithing is not my game, and I come by what I do have by being schooled in Argument. I am going to attempt to correct what I see as your misperception of ‘moderate’. I hope I can help.

    On the Christian side of the fence, we have some who practice their faith, and live it. The Church over there on the far side of the property I’m going to call Traditional Architecture. As you get closer to the fence, the churches are not built in the traditional fashion – a lot of inovation. Some of them stand the test of time, some do not. Some are abandoned. Some of the folks that live on this side of the fence go to church, or pray every day. Not all the folks attend the church of their choice even once a year, maybe. Easter. Christmas. Maybe not at all.

    Now on the other side of the fence? We have the same scenario. If the Easter/Not at all Muslim could be labeled ‘Moderate’, that’s where you’d find him. Over there at the Mosque, you have the Fundamentalist Imam, preaching nothing more than what he MUST teach. Only problem is Islam is also the rule of Law, and social order is predicated on that Law. Moderate Muslims are the equivalent of Non-practicing Christians.

  33. Armed Liberal – You my friend, cannot have it both ways. All of this non-religious wisdom came from somewhere. I say, what the FF’s chose to keep a secret was that much of their ‘non-religious’ thought was developed 200 years earlier by Bellarmine. So…???

  34. The Sufi sect is moderate (by your definition) and is definitely not ‘non-practicing’. They are, of course, considered heretical by many of the other sects.

    The SE Asian Muslims are generally moderate, (though that is changing due to Saudi money pouring in) although their view of Islam has been heavily influenced by Buddhism and Animism. They also practice, though they tend to be ‘Friday’ Muslims and to skip a lot of the daily prayers.

    Islam, if taken literally, is not moderate (neither are Christianity and Judaism). I’ll agree with that and with the fact that Christianity does not mandate a Christian-run government (although some sects want one) and Islam basically does. That makes Islam more prone to extremism. But I think the extremism in the Mid-East has as much to do with the cultures there as with the religion. People tend to intrepret their religious texts in accordance with their culture(and the Koran is as subject to interpretation as any other).

    I’m going to stop before I write a treatise here…
    I suspect Daniel Pipes or Ralph Peters or someone with similar background probably already wrote that one already anyway. :)

  35. Have I mentioned The Code Of Hammurabi yet? As far as I know, it was a first for two things:

    1. It posted the law where anyone could read it, or have it read to him/her (Hah! Try that with just the IRS rules and regs! The stonemasons bill would break Bill Gates, never mind Roy Moore!).

    2. It stated that the law would be applied to all [except old H his own self], whether Prince or collector of nightsoil.

    And it pre-dated the Big Ten given Moses by quite a span.

    All in all, much better and more applicable (in my opinion) than the Ten for showing whence the law derived before we decided people, not only divine-right kings and emperors (and priests), should have a direct say.

  36. H may represent the State. Man answered to the State. Just Law (including what ‘rights’ a Man has), come from somewhere, and I shouldn’t have to continue to repeat myself. I could care less about ‘the big 10′. Codes of Morality or Ethics are established because they must be. Man must be responsible for himself, but he must ‘know’ what the Law gives, and he must know what it ‘takes’. Moral and Just Law proscribes ‘killing’. There are circumstances where ‘killing’ are permitted. Did we get that from Moses? Did we get it from Hammurabi? Not only ‘NO’, but Hell No.

  37. No, Kathy The opposite is NOT true. Religion on the Christian side of the fence is not Law. It is Religion, which is separate from State. Render onto the State what is the State’s… Moral Authority (including our right relationship with the State) come from our Creator. That’s guaranteed. Islam is Religious and Social (or State) Law.

  38. Hey, Cap – as long as we’re talking history, let me sound out your take on the meme that unlike Christianity, which went through a messy Reformation that limited the secular power of the Church (remember that the Pope was for a long time a temporal power as well as a spiritual one), the Islamic world hasn’t yet, and so are stuck, standing at the steps of the Magdeburg Cathedral.


  39. A. L. This stuff we’ve discussed is healthy stuff. For everyone. I came a bit ‘late’ to the Islam game, having recognized its’ absurdity for only, say, forty years. I’m not going to be well liked for this, and will proly take a hit for it, but I could care less – Muhammed = Joseph Smith.

    They’re farther out than the door to the Mosque. My take is that once a Muslim is ‘educated’ rather than ‘brainwashed’, he will ‘see the light’. I want to say that once the WOMEN get educated, they will drag their fathers, brothers and sons in the right direction – which is AWAY from Mecca. Islam is oppresive and enslaving. Women ought not be treated that way. If the Islamic Law cannot be ‘changed’ (it cannot), then the only door is the EXIT.

  40. Cap, I’ll diagree with this pretty strongly:

    >If the Islamic Law cannot be ‘changed’
    >(it cannot), then the only door is the EXIT.

    Christianity changed. LDS changed. Heck, even Judaism has managed to change.

    Religions change as their adherents are torn between the core belief systems to which they adhere and the reality of the world around them.

    Usually the change is accompanied by what Bierce called ‘a heavy precipitation of lead’.

    Now it’s DU. Hopefully we’ll have to use less.


  41. Kathy K I hope I have not offended. If I have, I apologize. I have a serious question – Do you know for a fact that Justice Moore espouses Theonomy? I don’t have the wherewithal to follow up on every splinter off of the plank. I know a bit about most of them, and not a whole lot about just about as many. Splinters usually beget splinters until all you are left with is a pile of sawdust.
    So. Can you answer that? Please?

  42. A. L. Not ALL Christianity ‘changed’. Read my comment regarding the Episcopal quagmire. LDS changed for one reason, and one reason only – Statehood. So much for separation of Church and State… The source for both of these ‘religions’ is analogous, A.L. The source for the Foundation stone of Christianity i.e. the ‘Christian Faith’, has not changed. These are human institutions, but some are founded on bedrock, and some on slippery slopes. LDS and Islam are not founded on bedrock, despite JS’s claim that he found the tablets on bedrock…

    Can you tell me what the DU acronym is about, or am I to assume we’re shooting ducks? :o)

  43. Cap –

    *Depleted Uranium*

    And we part ways in two places, based on your post.

    First, I think that the nature and role of the modern church have changed incredibly much since the 13th or 14th centuries. Europe then was much like Saudi Arabia now…Church law was law.

    Parenthetically, I’ll suggest that you are too generous in your sugegstion that ‘statehood’ was the lever for changing the LDS (Mormon) church; they didn’t want to be killed or imprisoned, which is what would have happened without their reformation.

    And finally, you grant special (I’ll assume divine) status to modern Christianity, and I don’t. That’s not one we’ll get very far debating on the blog, so I’ll suggest we dial back to history…


  44. Thanks, A.L. Duty calls, but I will take a look. My first ‘real’ visit, and I enjoyed it immensely. I’ll stop back if you don’t mind…

  45. Quotes from Moore:
    From a press conference in July:

    “Liberty is not the freedom to act like a whatever out on the street. It’s a freedom to do whatever you want within the laws of God.”

    From a statement made in 2001:
    “The first four commandments or first table of the law prescribes the duties that we owe to God, and embody the very purpose of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; which was to provide for the freedom to worship God both in the public and private arena.”
    Note we only have freedom “to worship (the Judeo-Christian) God”.

    From the trial:
    “Question: [W]as your purpose in putting the Ten Commandments monument in the Supreme Court rotunda to acknowledge God’s law and God’s sovereignty?”
    “Answer: Yes.”
    “Question: Do you agree that the monument, the Ten Commandments monument, reflects the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men?”
    “Answer: Yes.”
    “Question: And the monument is also intended to acknowledge God’s overruling power over the affairs of men, would that be correct?”
    “Answer: Yes.”

  46. Kathy K Would you answer my question please? Do you know for a fact that Justice Moore espouses Theonomy?

    My comment on your last post would be – So???

    Could you explain the phrase – ‘In God We Trust’ to me?

  47. Kathy K You might want to tackle this one as well – Note we only have freedom “to worship (the Judeo-Christian) God”.

    Seems we got a whole bunch a folks worship the Almighty Money god. Would that be Shekels or Dollars?

    My point being, even you can worship ‘No-god’ if you’re willing to jump on that slippery slope.

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