Baptist Minister Reacts to David Barton’s Justification of Indian Destruction

At Crosswalk and Huffington Post, I posted articles this week with comments from Randy Adams, outreach minister with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (Southern Baptist). Adams has outreach responsibilities with Native Americans in OK and has commented before on Bryan Fischer’s views of native people. He reacted similarly to Barton’s statements about the destruction of Indian tribes as being a part of a just war theory.

About Barton’s claims, Adams said, “using just war theory to support the general subjugation of Native people seems outrageous based upon the fact that Europeans were occupying a land already occupied, at least in part, and that by a people of vastly different culture and religion.” Furthermore, Adams considers Barton’s account to be harmful, adding, “Does it help Native Americans feel better about things? No. Does it help other Americans feel justified in some way? No. This kind of generalization is careless and too easy to disprove, in part if not in whole, to be of any good.”

This week, I have spoken to other native Americans who did not want to comment on the record, but believe Barton’s comments are outrageous. One minister with an outreach to native peoples told me such views are a barrier to his work. This is an instance where one’s approach to history matters in the here and now.

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  • Patrocles

    Interesting – the central question is not “Is it true?”, but “Does it make people feel good?” But if that’s the main question: what’s the use of historical accuracy at all? And do we really need professional historians?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Pat – Hard to see how you got that message.

  • ken

    Patrocles says:

    March 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    “Interesting – the central question is not “Is it true?”, but “Does it make people feel good?””

    No, the issue is what is the purpose of making these statements. Does Barton care that his statements (even if Barton believes them to be true) may harm others? Take a more extreme example, do you tell a grieving child who just lost her father: “he was an evil scumbag. the world is better off without him!” ?

    “But if that’s the main question:”

    It isn’t. Adam’s comment about how the Europeans where occupying an already occupied land was about questioning the accuracy of Barton’s account, the question about the effect of Barton’s claims was an additional point he was making.

  • marguerite ciofani

    obviously this barton is very uneducated, ignorant, not really playing with a full deck. He spews hatred because THAT IS WHO HE IS– he is NOT christian–he can say it all he wants. Charles Manson would say it if it meant parole.

    He is lacking LOVE, respect, and instead has a brash, LOUD, vicious spirit. SOunds to me like a loser!

  • marguerite ciofani

    ANY real christian would distance theirselves from a racist bigot who obviously needs to go back to school, get counseling for his hatred issues, and be CHASTISED for his ignorant racism.

  • David Blakeslee

    Barton writes from a worldview of Christian Fundamentalism (with a passive elevation of European Whites) and he fits history into that framework.

    The fact that he labels his work “history” is merely a cover to “convert” readers to a world view…not a faith.

  • bmtt

    Great point, David Blakeslee. I’d add that “Christian Worldview” is a great google search term for understanding Barton’s popular appeal. It’s also explains his prominence in the homeschooling movement, which is not about “educating children,” but rather “instilling a Christian Worldview” in the next generation of culture warriors.

  • Susan Nation

    Barton and critics of Barton debates are healthy. However, as a Kantian, I view most debates as fictional account and subject to point of view with a minimum of objective facts. The three great cultures of the world – Asian, African, Western each maintain unique distinctions. Western culture predicates its society on Law, African culture on Leadership, and Asian culture on Tradition and Culture. Begin by viewing a culture through their eyes first, then step back and employ objectivity. That being said.

    Some people tend to romanticize a culture – it sells books and movies. Or it aids in current theory such as oppression theory. The facts, nonetheless, is that Native American culture was as violent and peaceful as the human condition is. In Central America as well as the west/west coast – established Indian cultures such as the Mayans, Aztecs, etc had armies, conquered, enslaved, environmentally collapsed the land, radicalized religion and made it a tool of leadership, created fear and control. Okay – that’s a mouthful and most likely considered politically incorrect. Meanwhile, the Osage fought brutal wars against the Missourians (like other tribes and Indian nations), and the Mound Builders of the Midwest, who formed cities, over hunted and over-farmed the land destroying species and soil (erosion) alike. In short, war and self defense is a human condition exclusive of race or culture.

    The difference between Western culture and Native American culture during settlement and vilent change exclusive to the North East is that Native American Indians of the northeast US believed in a system of mutual reciprocity rather than collective leadership driven commands. The eye for an eye theory. Thus when a European settler killed a Northeastern Native American Indian, the return event called for just one death. However, in the reverse, Europeans retaliated based on military justification and defeated an entire tribe – similar to the codes established by pre-European Indians in the Southwest or Central America. I would argue that the formation of “cities” and their survival of “leadership” was more the culprit of violence than social mores.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Susan – I don’t disagree, although I don’t have the knowledge base to know much about Indian tribes outside of the U.S.

    What I object most to is the view of Chrisitan nationalists (e.g., the movie Monumental), that God gave the land to the Christian via covenant and that justifies the treatment of the natives. Barton calls it a just war, and Bryan Fischer says the Indians didn’t have the moral authority to keep their land. The view holds that Europeans were more civilized, didn’t do those nasty things the Indians did and therefore were in the right. However, as I am sure you know, the English and Spanish settlers did lots of nasty things and had their own barbarisms (e.g., drawn and quartered) which the Christian nationalists don’t want to discuss.

    RE: Dialectics – Understand your position, however, there are some claims that are true or not true (e.g., Congress printed the first English Bible in American for the use of schools – not true).

  • Dale

    I hope that David Barton stands firm against these attacks. How sad that people are trying to deny the rich legacy of Christianity in America, which – consistent with its central Gospel message – is one of torture and genocide.

    Barton and Fischer deserve praise for being candid about Christian beliefs. We can hardly condemn genocide in America while worshiping a holy and perfect God who commanded genocide repeatedly throughout the Bible, who will Himself personally commit genocide when He returns to Earth, and who will ultimately send billions of human beings to an eternal torture chamber for the crime of not believing the right things. As we consider the teachings of the Holy Bible, we can conclude that wiping out the Native Americans was unchristian only to the extent that it was insufficiently cruel and violent.

  • Susan Nation

    Warren: Nice try in the forensic psych arena but little authenticity. In reviewing Barton I do not see him endorsing x/y leads to sum. It doesn’t work that way. Barton narrowed his constructs to reflect Winthrop’s Arbella Speech/Calvinism (not European thought) – as the way of Puritan saintliness and Indian management. If you recall your high school history – Puritans tended to out most of mankind, including Christian, as they were not “pure” nor “pre-destined” therefore they were not a “Saint”. An argument of logic/humanism based on a narrowly defined sect, well – your debate and Barton’s debate cannot be held objective. However, what can be considered as objective is that the New England states, having come from the above stock, still tend to moralize and bully-pulpit the nation, as well as continue their love affair of being “righteous”…as evident in media generated from those NE platforms.

    Meanwhile, in the South, Europeans arrived to make money via Elizabeth’s I format of “company” and its organizational processes of Hume. Religion didn’t have much to do with it – and much of their trade was reciprocated by the native American Indians. The great massacres of the New England colonies were but a soft whisper in the South – perhaps killing people just doesn’t make profit (even Pitt the Elder agreed – alas but King George didn’t). The South detoured in their money making with making humans into a slave labor force in order to perpetuate their Camelot. Meanwhile the French didn’t cotton to hot sultry weather except along the Mississippi and the New World justified their view of joie d’vie rhetoric, and the Spanish allowed a slave to earn money during his/her captivity and seek its freedom – via the constructs of the Catholic Church which was uncomfortable with slavery (no tithing, I suspect).

    Here are the facts. North America was settled in the Paleo – Neolithic time of the glaciers. When the glaciers melted, the Neolithic Indian became an island to itself. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans Indians enjoyed a huge population, kept the peace, made war on one another, owned property until another tribe or empire took it away, had slaves, faced good religion and bad, negotiated treaties and then broke them, enjoyed polygamy, monogamy, and everything else, had intellectual renaissance and enlightenment and then descended to the purgatory of dictators and fiendish religion in order to keep the Oligarchs (like the Europeans and Asians) in the seat of power.

    The evil administered to the Native American Indians was disease which decimated their population by nearly 60%. Therein lies their inability to maintain their authority over immigrating races and hold their land, combined with stone tools and weapons, and a lack of written language.

    As a member of the psychological community – wouldn’t you agree that combined with the above and the failure to adapt and acclimate might be the contributing factor to the Native American Indians inability to be empowered. I would suggest reading Erickson’s treatise on the Sioux.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    who will Himself personally commit genocide when He returns to Earth, and who will ultimately send billions of human beings to an eternal torture chamber for the crime of not believing the right things.

    Well, at least one church prays for the salvation of all souls, Dale, even yours. Peace.

    1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: ‘Lord, let me never be parted from you.’ If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God ‘desires all men to be saved’ (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him ‘all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26).—Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church

    http://www.romancatholicism.org/universal-salvation.htm

  • Warren

    Susan – As a member of the psychological community, I would say that your comments appear to be intellectualization (e.g., “immigrating races” rather than some other more accurate term like “occupying races”. Regarding Barton, I think you are reading in to what he said. He didn’t really have any constructs except to defend the actions of the English settlers to destroy Indian tribes.

  • Bill Fortenberry

    Warren,

    How do you know that Barton believes that God gave the land to the settlers by covenant? I’ve asked you this before without receiving a response, and I am genuinely curious about the answer. I have never read or heard Barton make such a claim, but I have neither read nor heard a great deal of his material. If you could point me to a particular instance in which Barton expressed the belief that you accuse him of, I would be very appreciative.

  • Warren

    Bill – In my latest comment, I referred to Christian nationalists in general. The movie Monumental makes this the theme of the movie. I know I have read similar things in the many things by Barton I have read but I can’t place it now. I will look for it.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Dale

    What utter rubbish you have written! Contemptible! Shame on you!

    (If what you say were truly representative of ‘a rich Christian legacy’, then I would pray that this legacy be consigned to the furnace where it belongs. But I don’t believe it is.)

    @ Tom

    Thank you for that reference to the Catechism of the universal Church.

    It has long been my view that the essential problem with respect to things like dominionist illusions is a THEOLOGICAL one – or, to put it bluntly, heresy.

  • Richard Willmer

    (The Church often uses its structuring of the Lectionary to show how the central events of our salvation – which many of us have been celebrating these last few days – change everything. Of my favourite examples: one involves the juxtaposition of the story of Mattathias ben Johanan [in the first book of the Maccabees] with the account [in the Holy Gospel according to Luke] of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem ["if only you had known what would bring you peace"]; another contrasts the prescribed [in the book of Leviticus] treatment of lepers with Jesus’s behaviour [as in the Holy Gospel according to Mark].)

  • Emily K

    Yes, it’s all well and “good,” contrasting the barbaric books of the jews with the “enlightened” books of the Christians. yawn. been there, seen that.. again and again.

    “..who will Himself personally commit genocide when He returns to Earth, and who will ultimately send billions of human beings to an eternal torture chamber for the crime of not believing the right things.”

    Pretty much.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Bill Fortenberry says:

    April 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Warren,

    How do you know that Barton believes that God gave the land to the settlers by covenant? I’ve asked you this before without receiving a response, and I am genuinely curious about the answer. I have never read or heard Barton make such a claim, but I have neither read nor heard a great deal of his material. If you could point me to a particular instance in which Barton expressed the belief that you accuse him of, I would be very appreciative.

    I know I have read similar things in the many things by Barton I have read but I can’t place it now. I will look for it.

    Bill Fortenberry has made a reasonable request of you on this, Warren. Perhaps you sincerely believe David Barton has said such things.

    Perhaps David Barton has indeed said such things. It’s time to quote him directly, however, before this mess goes any further.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Emily K

    The point about those OT writings is that they reflect ‘reality’ (a reality that persists to this day) concerning human nature, and there is much in OT that is most ‘enlightening’ and/or beautiful.

    As far what Dale said, it was the last part that I found offensive: “As we consider the teachings of the Holy Bible, we can conclude that wiping out the Native Americans was unchristian only to the extent that it was insufficiently cruel and violent.”

    He can say what he likes about God – I’m confident that God can cope!

  • jim

    BF - “How do you know that Barton believes that God gave the land to the settlers by covenant?”

    TVD - “Perhaps David Barton has indeed said such things. It’s time to quote him directly, however, before this mess goes any further.”

    Barton endorses Tim Ballard’s book, America’s Sacred & Immutable Connection With Israel:

    DB – “Tim Ballard documents the “extension” of that covenant re-invoked during the establishment of this nation… a covenant made between God and America’s early colonists and Founders. The Covenant not only shows the unprecedented blessings America has received as a result of obedience to God but also what every citizen today can do to honor our national covenant with God and thus ensure His continued blessings.” (1)

    I guess one can quibble that he’s not actually saying it but it’s a start – he seems fairly enthusiastic for the idea.

    1) https://www.digitalegend.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=198

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Jim – Thanks for that. The entire quote makes it even more clear that Barton is endorsing the concept as well as the book.

      The concept of what a covenant truly is and means is unfamiliar to most today, for it far surpasses any legal understandings or obligations with which our current culture is acquainted. God established a covenant with Abraham and his posterity, the Bible recounts not only the duties but also the remarkable benefits produced by that mutual accord. Tim Ballard documents the “extension” of that covenant re-invoked during the establishment of this nation… a covenant made between God and America’s early colonists and Founders. The Covenant not only shows the unprecedented blessings America has received as a result of obedience to God but also what every citizen today can do to honor our national covenant with God and thus ensure His continued blessings.

      According to Barton, we have a national covenant with God. Honoring it leads to blessings; being unChristian leads to curses, just like Israel. I have not had time to look back at my posts on dominionism, but this seems to be a thread running through most of it — the promises and challenges to Israel and for America today. Seems odd that if all that were so important that there would be no mention of the United States in holy writ.

  • Bill Fortenberry

    Thank you, Jim. Do either of you know if the covenant which Barton is referring to includes ownership of a specified area of land?

  • Tom Van Dyke

    No direct quotes, just uncharitable inference. This is as bad as Barton.

  • Richard Willmer

    Well, Tom, I think the inference in Barton’s statement is pretty strong. And nobody here is suggesting that Barton should be killed or imprisoned or turfed out of his home; it is simply a matter of contesting his claims and opinions.

  • jim

    TVD – “…just uncharitable inference.”

    How is it uncharitable?

  • jim

    TVD – “No direct quotes…”

    Tom, the comments are on a direct quote from the back book jacket.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Implications only. Nobody’s linked Barton with a belief that it’s OK with God to genocide the Indians. This is a bunch of sophistic crap. Barton isn’t saying anything here that John Winthrop and George Washington didn’t.

    I happen to disagree with those who think there was a “covenant” come the time of the Constitution–that much I can agree with the Treaty of Tripoli–but absent some direct quotes to that effect, this stuff about Barton endorsing a divine authorization for Native American genocide is slander, no more or less.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Tom

    Only Dale has said that God authorizes genocide (and, rereading his comment, I think he may have been being ironic – sorry, Dale!). Noone else (except Emily K – and probably only because she was annoyed by something I wrote) is suggesting this, or that Barton is directly suggesting this. However, given his comments about the massacre of Native Americans, taken together with other comments on this “covenant”, one could be forgiven for thinking that he might believe in ‘divine authorization’ of genocides that ‘tick the boxes’ in terms of his worldview. One must be fair to him. and say it is a case of ‘might’ and not ‘does’, pending further evidence.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    one could be forgiven for thinking that he might believe in ‘divine authorization’ of genocides

    It’s a very serious charge. It should not be made without proof. This whole thing has been about where’s the proof. To date there is only innuendo. If somebody had the smoking gun quotes, y’d sure think they’d have posted them by now.

    _______________________

    Only Dale has said that God authorizes genocide (and, rereading his comment, I think he may have been being ironic

    Well, yes, sardonic, sarcastic more like. Anti-religionists love that argument. It’s a very difficult theological problem, make no mistake. There are several explanations, e.g., that the Biblical targets of genocide were wicked [child sacrifice especially], and God only used the Israelites as instruments of his justice.

    You need a real Talmudic approach to sort it out, and unfortunately, most Christians who dig the God of the Old Testament know Him only via the King James Version, which cannot carry the sophistication, wordplay, and literary techniques and structures of the original Hebrew. They’re not very good apologists in the face of polemics such as Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

    [One friend of mine points out that the Israelites don't actually complete the genocides--as I recall, the people supposedly genocided in the Book of Joshua are still around as the Book of Judges opens!]

    [Again, the problem of context, in this case that the Bible (esp the OT) is more than a collection of nifty short stories and verses. It's an epic, it's got an arc. ]

  • Richard Willmer

    But I have made no charge, Tom; all I have done is suggested that people could be forgiven for drawing a particular conclusion. And I agree that, if we are to sure of this possible opinion of Barton, we do need more of a ‘smoking gun’.

    I agree with much of what you say about how one should look at the OT. Linguistics and hermeneutics are important when it comes to understanding the true meanings of these texts.

    Is there a ‘difficult theological problem’? Not for me, I must say: as a Christian, I believe that the Revelation that trumps all other (supposed or real) revelations is that of Good Friday; all scriptural texts must be understood in the context of that revelation. And there is a strong hint of this revelation-to-be right back in Genesis, when God says to Abraham (who believed that God wanted him to sacrifice his son – misplaced ‘over-enthusiasm’ on Abraham’s part? we can all make that kind of mistake when we’re ‘fired up’ with devotion!), “I will provide the sacrifice.” (And we all know, from experience, that love demands the sacrifice of at least something of one’s self.)

  • Tom Van Dyke

    And I agree that, if we are to sure of this possible opinion of Barton, we do need more of a ‘smoking gun’.

    Ah, we are in agreement once again. Such a smart fellow, no wonder I like you so much. ;-)

    ____________

    I’m fine with your viewing the Old Testament in terms of the New–that is the Christian understanding of it! But FTR, my public position is that nobody’s really a heretic, they’re just wrong, is all. They find out on Judgment Day. In the meantime, I could be wrong, too, so I leave these interpretation things in the abstract.

    when God says to Abraham (who believed that God wanted him to sacrifice his son – misplaced ‘over-enthusiasm’ on Abraham’s part?

    Heh–well done, one of my very favorite songs, been playing it since I was a kid—Leonard Cohen’s similar retelling of “The Story of Isaac.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIQOmbIMYls

    The door it opened slowly,

    My father he came in,

    I was nine years old.

    And he stood so tall above me,

    His blue eyes they were shining

    And his voice was very cold.

    He said, “I’ve had a vision

    And you know I’m strong and holy,

    I must do what I’ve been told.”

    So he started up the mountain,

    I was running, he was walking,

    And his axe was made of gold.

    Well, the trees they got much smaller,

    The lake a lady’s mirror,

    We stopped to drink some wine.

    Then he threw the bottle over.

    Broke a minute later

    And he put his hand on mine.

    Thought I saw an eagle

    But it might have been a vulture,

    I never could decide.

    Then my father built an altar,

    He looked once behind his shoulder,

    He knew I would not hide.

    You who build these altars now

    To sacrifice these children,

    You must not do it anymore.

    A scheme is not a vision

    And you never have been tempted

    By a demon or a god.

    You who stand above them now,

    Your hatchets blunt and bloody,

    You were not there before,

    When I lay upon a mountain

    And my father’s hand was trembling

    With the beauty of the word.

    And if you call me brother now,

    Forgive me if I inquire,

    “Just according to whose plan?”

    When it all comes down to dust

    I will kill you if I must,

    I will help you if I can.

    When it all comes down to dust

    I will help you if I must,

    I will kill you if I can.

    Have mercy on our uniforms,

    Man of peace or man of war,

    The peacock spreads his fan…

  • Richard Willmer

    We all get things wrong, Tom; maybe the heretic is the one who has forgotten this.

    On Barton: we agree that, in order to be in a position to make an absolutely ‘definite’ statement on his view on the ‘divine authorization of genocides’, there needs to be more of a smoking gun; however. it does seem to me a pretty short step between what we know Barton has already said, and the statement “those genocides were authorized by God”; for now, I think we can reasonably say that Barton regards those genocides as consistent with ‘God’s will’.

    On Abraham: a Jewish friend of mine helped me to understand that story better. Having a much better understanding of the Torah than me, she explained what can be meant by the words “and God said to …”

  • Tom Van Dyke

    for now, I think we can reasonably say that Barton regards those genocides as consistent with ‘God’s will’.

    No, Richard. Although I can’t speak for him, I read him too and I find it inconsistent with his canon.

    Absent his critics supplying direct quotes, this is now false witness, this is slandering him all over the internet, writing to pastors to get them angry at him. Time for self-proclaimed Christians to put up or shut up. You’re getting worse than he ever was.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Tom

    I am not suggesting that Barton has explicitly stated that these killings were consistent with ‘God’s will’; what I am saying is that, given what he HAS said, it might reasonably be deduced that he thinks they were. He is free to offer clarification on this point if he wishes. Perhaps he should do just that.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    I don’t think he needs to answer this slander.

  • Richard Willmer

    Well if he doesn’t, he can’t complain if people draw their own conclusions from what he HAS said. And, in fact, I strongly suspect that, given his ‘literalist’ (and IMO wrong) understanding of the OT, he would NOT complain if people were to say that he believes that some genocides are consistent with ‘God’s will’. And the problem arises when one links his views on this ‘covenant with the US’ thing with his comments on ‘civilizing the natives’: that is from where the (IMO reasonable) supposition about Barton’s attitude to the genocides of Native Americans.

    But he should speak for himself. Until then people will (IMO understandably) continue to speculate.

    I think we should leave this discussion where it is at this point. But it has been interesting, Tom. Thank you.

  • Zoe Brain

    http://www.wral.com/proposal-would-allow-state-religion-in-north-carolina/12296876

    A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

    Expected to pass too,

    SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

    SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

    Eleven House Republicans have signed on to sponsor the resolution, including Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, and Budget Chairman Justin Burr, R-Stanly.

    No, unless you fight this kind of thing, this is where you end up.

  • Richard Willmer

    This kind of thing is (a) surely highly suspect vis-a-vis the US Constitution, and (b) bad for Christianity (assuming that Christianity is chosen as the ‘state religion’ – which would seem a fair assumption).

    A further problem: what kind of Christianity (which is notably diverse religion)? Southern Baptist? Catholic (and ‘liberal’ or ‘reactionary’? – remember that US Catholics are pretty much evenly split on, for example, the gay marriage issue)? Anglican (traditionalist)? Episcopalian (progressive Anglican)? whichever bunch screams the loudest*?

    * That’s where my money would go … it’s the way things usually happen in these kinds of situation.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

    This is supposed to pass for legitimate journalism?

    First, it baldly takes a side. Second, it’s not accurate.

    Did you know that Massachusetts had an official established church [Congregationalism] up until 1833? The First Amendment/Bill of Rights only forbids the federal government from establishing religion.

    Congress shall make no law….

    Not one person in 100 knows that, though. The original Constitution and amendments left religion to the states. The only way to get to a state ban is via the 14th Amendment, via either incorporation [not completely settled yet] or by the “equal protection” clause.

    And FTR, the proposed law

    http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H494v0.pdf

    is symbolic: It does not establish Christianity as the state religion, it only asserts that constitutionally, a state may establish a state religion.

    IOW, this one is not going the distance.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Tom

    Interesting – and it would be interesting too to see what the (Rowan County) Defence of Religion Act 2013 has to say.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    But Warren admitted he didn’t expect the bill to go far.

    “I didn’t expect it to go anywhere,” he said, noting that the bill was read into the floor Tuesday morning and referred to the committee for Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House. “Quite often bills go there and never come out.”

    FTR, I don’t like the council praying any sectarian prayer [i.e., mentioning "Christ"] and I also don’t think the ACLU and its 3 litigants are doing anything beneficial for the nation. A pox on them all with this chickenspit.

    In the olden days, a cliche said, “Don’t make a federal case of it!” My sentiments exactly.

  • Richard Willmer

    Let’s hope it doesn’t (although I’m not entirely clear exactly what ‘it’ is)!

    As is usually the case, my objections to any kind of ‘imposition of religion’ are primarily theological. If the Christian way were to be to ‘impose’ (regardless of what any parts of the OT might suggest) – if GOD’s way were to be to ‘impose’ – then Good Friday would never have happened.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    I understand the argument, made often and exquisitely by Darryl G. Hart, the 2-Kingdoms thing, the City of God and the City of Man, render onto Caesar.

    However, I don’t agree with it in our milieu. As citizens of a democratic republic, we are Caesar, we are Luther’s “Prince.” Caesars and princes are not off the hook for governing according to the natural law.

    This is what is called the law of nature, “which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligations to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.”—Alexander Hamilton, quoting English jurist William Blackstone

  • Richard Willmer

    I’m not suggesting that the polity is not important (there would be quite a bit I wouldn’t bother doing if I thought that!); it’s the interplay between politics and religion that is the point at issue.

    What is the ‘moral imperative’ for Christians with respect to the polity? IMO, it is to work for the common good. This cannot not done by ‘imposition’.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Which is why I brought up “natural law.” O’Reilly’s right

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/04/bill-oreilly-responds-to-thump-the-bible-debate-furor-not-going-to-win-any-debate-in-this-country/

    you can’t just thump Bible, legally or at this point socially. [Indeed, the problem with thumping Bible has always been in its varying interpretations.]

    Our society can, however–and this is where the fight comes in–have an ethos. We “legislate morality” all the time–you can’t Michael Vick your dog; you can’t screw on the sidewalk. Modern relativism/nihilism tries to dissolve not only objective right and wrong but conventions as well in favor of a “different strokes for different folks.”

    The [Edmund] Burkean argument, however, is that societies are complex structures, and you better be damn careful before you start ripping out the beams lest you bring down the roof.

    And so “to work for the common good” means more than Barney the Dinosaur sentimentality, it means using the sense God gave you. “The common good” is a complex thing.

  • Richard Willmer

    I agree that the common good is not a straightforward thing (precisely because, in order to be ‘common’, it must be embraced by people who do not see things the same way as each other). And mere sentimentally is no good at all.

    And who said anything about ‘ripping out beams’? I don’t think I have! (Quote me if you think something I’ve said has ‘rip out bean’ status, and I am happy to offer comment!)

  • Tom Van Dyke

    I always consider you my interlocutor, not my opponent, Richard. Take everything I say in that spirit, that I’m often trying to make an affirmative case, more discursive than adversarial. [We watch too much Law & Order.]

    In this instance, explaining Burkean caution and prudence, sometimes called “conservatism,” along with the simple truth that good intentions without good sense pave the highway to hell.

    Figuratively speaking of course. ;-)

  • Richard Willmer

    That’s okay, Tom. I too enjoy chasing down a point in order to reach some kind of clarity.

    I think we can leave the field to others now! Our respective views (and where they either overlap or differ) are clear to the reader!


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