Monday, October 26, 2009

ARCHIVE: Your Religion is NOT My Law: Unscrupulous American Theocrats aim to destroy our Constitution

[Originally published on Online Journal on April 29, 2005]
by Kellia Ramares

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It
neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1785.

April 29, 2005--America is NOT a Christian nation. It is a nation many of whose citizens
are Christians. That’s not just a subtle turn of phrase. Understanding the difference is
essential to understanding America’s constitutional principles.

Christianity itself is not monolithic, as is evident by the many Christian denominations
that exist in the USA. But there are certain politicians, and backers of certain politicians,
who insist that America is a Christian nation…their brand of Christianity, of course. And
they aim to destroy our constitutional republic in order to establish a Bible-based
America—their interpretation of the Bible, of course--that is as much a theocracy as is
the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are part of a political movement called Dominionism or
Christian Reconstructionism.

I doubt Jesus would recognize these Dominionists, Christian Reconstructionists, or to
put it more clearly, American Theocrats, as his followers. They don’t believe in
separation of Church and State. The Gospels of Mark and Luke suggest that Jesus did:

“Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are
–Mark 13:17 and Luke 20:25.

And, as for moral behavior, the plank in their political platform second only to tax breaks
for the rich, a.k.a. God’s Elect, consider Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R –TX), the
American Theocrats’ standard-bearer in the U.S. House. In an April 12, 2002 speech at
a gathering called “Worldview Weekend”, DeLay said:

"He [God] has been walking me through an incredible journey, and it all comes down to
worldview, He is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for biblical worldview in
everything that I do and everywhere I am. He is training me, He is working with me."

Either DeLay is not listening to his God all the time, or his God has a very morally
questionable agenda. DeLay is so scandal-ridden, that he has purged Republicans on
the House Ethics Committee, including the chairman, Joel Hefley of Colorado, who were
unwilling to let him slide. DeLay replaced them with loyalists who changed the rules to
make it harder to start an investigation. He’s also trying to take the heat off himself by
raising the decibel level of his attack on the courts. I suppose anything goes when you’re
working for Christian Dominion, though I don’t think Jesus would agree with that:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say
to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy
name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And
then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work
—Matthew 7:21-23

Sunday, April 24, 2005 was called “Justice Sunday” by American Theocrats. On this day,
these alleged Christians operating from a church in Louisville, Kentucky, simulcast to
fundamentalist churches across the nation their diatribes against Senate Democrats,
who are allegedly “filibustering people of faith.” The Democrats have filibustered 10 of
George W. Bush’s judicial nominations…out of a total so far of 215. An editorial in the
Sunday Louisville Courier-Journal titled “Holy War Sunday” described five of the rejected

“There's Priscilla Owen, … whose eagerness to substitute her own values for the rule of
law was too much for even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who rebuked her for it
when both served on the same court.

There's Janice Rogers Brown, … who believes that our vibrant nation of free-market
capitalism … has actually been crushed by the boot of collectivism ever since what she
calls the 1937 ‘triumph of our own socialist revolution.’

There's Brett Kavanaugh, who has never tried a case, but rose from Ken Starr's
impeachment crusade to become a White House operative.

There's William G. Meyers III, who also lacks trial experience but who has put in
plenty of time rabidly fighting against environmental laws and in favor of mining interests.

And there's William Haynes II, whose meager courtroom work is offset by his
considerable contribution, as the Defense Department's counsel, … regarding the
treatment and rights of prisoners of war and detainees.”

American Theocrats are also on the offensive against what they call “activist judges”. I.e.
judges who don’t rule as the American Theocrats want them to. These judges are called
“activists” even when they don’t act. According to the American Theocrats, judges, all
the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, were being “activists” when they refused a
Congressional invitation, in the form of a private relief bill, to disturb earlier rulings in the
years’-long litigation surrounding Terri Schiavo. Not to decide is to decide, and the
American Theocrats did not like the non-decision.

So now they want to bring the courts to heel by stripping them of funds and jurisdiction.
They claim power to do so on the basis of Art. III Sec. 1, of the U.S. Constitution, which
states: “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court,
and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”
Or, as Tom DeLay has put it, “We set up the courts. We can unset the courts."
Art. III Sec. 2, creates the jurisdiction of the courts and constrains Congress’ power to
limit that jurisdiction to determining the appellate jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this
Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be
made, under their Authority;-- to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public
ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to
Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies
between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--
between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State
claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the
Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and
those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original
Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall
have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and
under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The American Theocrats are working on creating exceptions and regulations. On
February 11, 2004, during the 108th Congress, Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama
introduced HR 3799, co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. It was a bill “To limit
the jurisdiction of Federal courts in certain cases and promote federalism.”

You remember federalism. My online dictionary defines it as “[a] system of government
in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.” The
Republican Party, where the American Theocrats are dug in, loves to say federalism
means “states’ rights.” And the Republicans love “states’ rights’ when it comes to states
cutting social programs, or putting the Ten Commandments on public property. They
abhor “states’ rights” when it comes to re-counting votes in an excruciatingly tight
presidential election, or keeping the federal government out of a painful family decision.
Ironically, the bill’s short title was “The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004.” Among
other things, this bill said:


Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable
`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not
have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the
extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or
against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official
personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgment of God as
the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'

The bill also contained the following:

To the extent that a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States or any judge of
any Federal court engages in any activity that exceeds the jurisdiction of the court of that
justice or judge, as the case may be, by reason of section 1260 or 1370 of title 28,
United States Code, as added by this Act, engaging in that activity shall be deemed to
constitute the commission of--
(1) an offense for which the judge may be removed upon impeachment and
conviction; and
(2) a breach of the standard of good behavior required by article III, section 1 of
the Constitution.

If this bill had been law when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore decided to place a Ten
Commandments monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court Building, the
federal judges and justices who ruled that his act was unconstitutional could have been
impeached for taking the case.

The “Constitution Restoration Act of 2004” died in the Judiciary Committee. In the 109th
Congress, Aderholt reintroduced the bill, now numbered HR 1070, and called “The
Constitution Restoration Act of 2005,” on March 3, 2005. This time he got two dozen co-
sponsors. It has been referred again to the Judiciary Committee.

Thus, the American Theocrats are attempting to subordinate the Judicial Branch to the
Legislative Branch. But by having Congress “ordain and establish” inferior courts, the
Founders were merely anticipating that growth in geography and population would
require more courts. The three branches of government have always been considered
co-equal, as evidenced by the fact that the Founders gave each branch its own Article in
the Constitution. The Executive Branch is not considered inferior to Congress because
Art. II Sec. 2 subjects certain presidential appointments to the “advice and consent” of
the Senate. In fact, the “advice and consent” provision is a rubber stamp these days,
with Senators, willing to approve nominees they think unfit on the grounds that the
president has the right to pick his own advisors.

The lifetime appointments during “good behavior” are meant to keep judges above the
political fray. And “good behavior” means not committing crimes. It does not mean only
making decisions agreeable to certain members of Congress. Even Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has appeared to disassociate himself from Tom DeLay’s
extremism, by stating in his videotaped address to the “Justice Sunday” event:

"Our judiciary must be independent, impartial and fair. When we think judicial decisions are
outside mainstream American values, we will say so. But we must also be clear that the
balance of power among all three branches requires respect--not retaliation."

The American Theocrats may claim they want the Constitution to be “restored,” by
forbidding judicial challenges to government recognition of the biblical God. But the
Founders who wrote the Constitution, themselves believers in a higher power they often
called Providence, made it clear that religious liberty, not religious tyranny, was one of
the governing principles of the United States of America. Consider the presidential oath of office in Art. II, Sec. 1:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or
Affirmation:--''I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the
Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability,
preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By allowing a president to affirm rather than swear, the Founders opened the presidency
to those whose religious beliefs prohibit swearing. That would include Christians who
follow the injunction of Jesus spelled out in Matthew 8: 34-37:

But I say unto you, Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; Nor
by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the
great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make
one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: For
whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. 

The oath also makes clear that the president’s job is to “preserve, protect and defend the
Constitution of the United States,” not “preserve protect and defend the beliefs of
_____________________ ”. The Constitution is for all Americans and the president is
supposed to be the president of all Americans, not just those who adhere to a particular religious belief.

The traditional ending of the oath, the phrase “so help me God,” is not required by the
Constitution. And though it is customary to take the oath on a bible, it is not
constitutionally required. Indeed, if at some point we elect a president who does not
profess Christianity or Judaism, it would be meaningless and wrong for him or her to
swear (or affirm) by the scriptures of Christians and Jews. Taking the oath on a copy of
the constitution, or on nothing at all, would always be appropriate, even for Christians
and Jews.

Of course, the American Theocrats would strive to keep non-Christians (true non-
Christians and those they define as such), from ever attaining the presidency. The very
fact that they are theocrats shows that they have no use for Art. VI Cl. 3 of the
Constitution, which says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the
several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the
United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to
support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a
Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

That’s a clause that should be plain enough even to “Originalist” U.S. Supreme Court
Justice Antonin Scalia, who says he reads the Constitution in a literal manner; his
interpretations are based on what the Founders meant at the time they drafted the

So even before we get to the Bill of Rights, it’s clear that our constitutional system of
government does not uphold any form of Christianity as the supreme law of the land.
Instead, the Founders wrote a constitution under which Americans of all beliefs or none
could live and hold office.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” That’s the very
first clause of the First Amendment. NO ESTABLISHED RELIGION! The state of Rhode
Island owes is very existence to the value of religious tolerance.

“…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” is the next clause. The Constitution’s free
exercise clause is not limited to the “Christianity” of the American Theocrats.

Those who have not swallowed hook, line and sinker, the BushCorps’ tale that terrorists
who “hate our freedom” attacked the United States on Sept 11, 2001 have been deemed
“conspiracy theorists.” Those who have not agreed with the notion that we are in a
generational global war on terrorism and that in war, Congress, the courts, the press and
the people must defer to the president as Commander-in-Chief without question have
had their patriotism put under suspicion. But the true enemies of America are the
Theocrats who would destroy our governing principles by replacing our constitutional
republic with their “Christian Reconstruction.”

No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the
rights of conscience against the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that
any of these should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable or
applicable to any desirable purpose
– President Thomas Jefferson. Letters to the
Methodist Episcopal Church at New London, Connecticut, Feb. 4, 1809.

Christians are not being stopped from voting, holding office, owning property, or
accessing the media to have their say, as “Justice Sunday” proves. No police or soldiers
are coming to shut down their churches. Contrary to lies spread by the Republican
National Committee in Arkansas and West Virginia in 2004, liberals are not planning to
ban the bible. Book banning is a conservative tactic. In the post 9/11 era, FBI agents
have entered mosques to question the politics of Muslims. Islam is being equated with
terrorism. Young Muslim men, and young men who look like they could be Muslims, are
“disappeared” off American streets. Note that after Timothy McVeigh’s arrest for the Oklahoma City bombing, there was no harassment of young Christian men. How far are we from the day the American Theocrats will have the power to strip citizenship from those who do not profess their peculiar brand of Christianity?

Journalist Kéllia Ramares is a natural-born American citizen and polytheist who is not
picking anyone’s pocket or breaking anyone’s leg.