Titus: Biblical Birther

Titus: Biblical Birther February 1, 2012

I have some history with Herb Titus, the former dean of the Regent University Law School. We were introduced several years ago by mutual friends after I incorrectly identified him as a Christian Reconstructionist. He was kind enough to send me a couple books and several articles he’d written and our exchange showed him to be a very intelligent man, though his views are still anathema to me. And in a recent radio interview, he offered some truly crazy arguments about why the Bible shows Obama to be ineligible for the presidency:

Titus: What’s important is to realize that being a natural born citizen is based upon the law of nature. Any natural law is based on a law of nature which is revealed by God. And the notion is that no one is accidentally born in any particular nation to any particular parent. You’re not born by accident, you’re born by design. And who’s the designer? Well, God’s the designer. So if you’re born of two parents, that is a mother and father, who are of the same citizenship, then you have been ordained by God to be a citizen of the nation of your parents. That’s why he’s a natural born citizen. So, there’s a design in this that goes all the way back to scriptural principles.

Schneider: Dr. Titus, when this issue has come up time and time again to either the president or his press secretary, they are now referring to the long-form birth certificate that they released in 2011. In your opinion, does the presentation of this long-form certificate, as they have given it and said, ‘See, there’s the evidence,’ in your opinion does this satisfy the matter?

Titus: Well, I think it does if your definition of natural born citizen is that the parents have to be citizens of the United States. Because the form that was produced by the Obama administration indicates that his father was not an American citizen. Where people said, where race usually you put ‘black’ but it has ‘African.’ Well, it shows that he had a national citizenship that was not the United States. So, you don’t need anything more than the evidence that’s already been furnished by the Obama administration themselves. You don’t have to go behind it, you don’t have to determine whether it’s a fraudulent certificate. It says it on its face.

Titus: The people have a responsibility here to make sure that the Constitution is followed as it is written. I mean, if people don’t like the natural born citizen requirement, then they can amend the Constitution. I think in this particular case, it demonstrates why the natural born citizen requirement is so important, because I think this president does have a divided loyalty. I think he is more loyal to his African father than he is to the American nation, and I think that’s been well-documented.

Reconstructionist or not, that’s absolutely insane and vile.

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  • That was actually a bit thought disorderish.

  • eric

    Has Prof. Titus considered that if nobody could be a US citizen without having two US citizen parents, nobody would be a US citizen? Prior to 1776, there were no US citizens. Where does he think they came from, storks?

  • d cwilson

    The people have a responsibility here to make sure that the Constitution is followed as it is written.

    You’ve already failed that test by pulling this nonsense about natural born citizenship being defined in the bible completely out of your ass.

    I think he is more loyal to his African father than he is to the American nation,

    A father he’s barely even met during his lifetime.

    and I think that’s been well-documented.

    Citation missing.

    But at least you’re revealing the heart of the birther movement. It has nothing to do with the what the Constitution actually says. You’ve scarcely even referenced the relevant language. Birthers hate Obama because they can never trust one of those people (wink, wink) to be truly loyal to America, or at least, their deluded image of America.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Off-topic:

    NPR reports on Romney’s new debate coach

    For nearly 20 years, the Fort Belvoir, Virginia native (Brett O’Donnell) trained the best college debate team in the country at his alma mater, Liberty University, in Lynchburg. … During his tenure, the team won more than a dozen national championships.

    I know you’ve blogged about this before.

  • Randomfactor

    Titus 1:10-16

  • Reginald Selkirk

    So if you’re born of two parents, that is a mother and father, who are of the same citizenship, then you have been ordained by God to be a citizen of the nation of your parents.

    What if you’re born of one human parent and the Holy Spirit? What is the citizenship of the Holy Spirit? Would Christians be turned off to know that Jesus H. Christ was an illegal immigrant?

  • reasonbe

    How exactly do you consider these quotes to be from a “very intelligent man”? I must’ve missed something.

  • …and one parent was an AMERICAN…

    Meaning, Obama is an American.

    I love the way they just leave out the mother’s nationality for the purposes of this bat-shit crazy argument.

    This is the vilest sort of racism. Really and truly. If Obama’s father had been French (and white), this idiotic meme would never have gotten started.

  • MikeMa

    @Kevin,

    They don’t so much leave out his white mother as ignore her in favor of using his black father as the source of their chagrin.

    SCOTUS has never definitively ruled on the ‘natural born’ clause but have made rulings which clearly side on the ‘one citizen parent and born on US soil’ being sufficient to confer natural born status. In either case, congress made no move to question or hold up the president taking office.

    The birthers still fighting risk almost universally rate a racist label. Mr Titus cowers behind his bible and his dismal imagination to hide his racism but that is all it is. One hundred sixty years after slavery ended, we still have this crap. Shameful.

  • eric

    Michael Heath:

    In either case, congress made no move to question or hold up the president taking office.

    That would’ve been extremely hard to do, since even if someone like Titus could muster an historical justification for the two-parent rule, they are going to run into the Constitution’s express prohibition of ex post facto laws.

    IOW, they not only have to show that the law supports the two-parent rule, but also that the US has consistently applied a two-parent rule for the last 300 years. Obviously, it has not.

    Suddenly changing how citizenship law is interpreted in order to prevent a single person from becoming President is unconstitutional according to Article 1 Sect 10 of the Constitution, no matter how sound your argument for the new interpretation.

  • eric

    Errr…that should be “Article 1 Sect 9.” 10 is the States, 9 is the Congress. Constitution fail. 🙁

  • Aquaria

    SCOTUS has never definitively ruled on the ‘natural born’ clause but have made rulings which clearly side on the ‘one citizen parent and born on US soil’ being sufficient to confer natural born status. In either case, congress made no move to question or hold up the president taking office.

    “Born on US soil” is the only definition that is needed–or that counts.

    It’s like this guy doesn’t know his own teatard memes. Did he miss the rally where the talking point was issued about those brown Mexicans and their “anchor babies”? Or was it too hard to understand the original German?

  • eric

    And now I see I misattrubuted something MikeMa said to Michael Heath. Mea Culpa to both of you gents. And now I’m going to quit while I’m behind…

  • anandine

    How do we know that Jesus is the son of God if we don’t have a birth certificate?

  • katie

    Wouldn’t basically any argument at all about why the Bible has something to say about citizenship or modern nationalism in general be, de facto, a crazy one?

  • Chiroptera

    Titus: …Because the form that was produced by the Obama administration indicates that his father was not an American citizen.

    Huh? Wait, what? Is he admitting that the birth certificate does show that Obama was born on US soil? ‘Cause if so, he just destroyed the birthers’ argument.

    As Aquaria noticed, these nuts can’t even keep their talking points straight.

  • raven

    He starts out implying the bible proves Obama isn’t a “natural born citizen.”

    But he doesn’t say where. Because it doesn’t say that any where. Titus is just lying here.

    This is fundie xian exegenesis. Making the bible say whatever you want it to say.

    Wouldn’t basically any argument at all about why the Bible has something to say about citizenship or modern nationalism in general be, de facto, a crazy one?

    Yes. The bible has never been part of the law of the USA. If it was we would still be stoning nonvirgin brides, false prophets, adulterers, heretics, apostates, atheists, and sabbath breakers to death while selling our kids as sex slaves. Eating pork and shellfish or wearing mixed fiber fabrics would be felonies.

  • slc1

    Actually, if the latest law on citizenship is applied, Obama would be a natural born citizen even if he were born in Kenya.

  • I think he is more loyal to his African father than he is to the American nation, and I think that’s been well-documented.

    Yes, well-documented by the fact that Barack met his father exactly once when he was 10.

    It’s amazing the power that African fathers have to inspire loyalty.

  • So Rubio isn’t eligible to run with Romney because neither of his parents were naturalized until 1975, four years after his birth in Miami. And that means that in the eyes of INS Uber-director, Jesus Christ, he isn’t a natural born American.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I can’t believe I’m the first person to write about this, but…

    Where people said, where race usually you put ‘black’ but it has ‘African.’ Well, it shows that he had a national citizenship that was not the United States.

    He’s not saying that his dad was “african” and therefore Obama was loyal to a dad he didn’t know. He’s saying that the birth certificate lists Obama’s race as “African” and if Obama is “African” he has a “national citizenship” that was not the United States.

    However, and I can’t believe no one has torn him a new one on this yet, “Africa” is not a frickin’ NATION. Therefore to be “African” is not a “national citizenship”.

    These monkeys think Africa is a nation? Just how stupid do you have to be to get on that radio program – as guest *or* host?

  • peterh

    @#5:

    The biblical Titus is pretty well proven to be a forgery. I don’t know if that helps, but fundies go crazy at the mention.

  • dingojack

    Randomfactor –

    ‘All Cretans are liars’ – says a Cretan.

    🙂 Dingo

  • Zinc Avenger

    Aquaria, #12:

    Or was it too hard to understand the original German?

    Ah, but you really have to read it in the original Klingon!

  • However, and I can’t believe no one has torn him a new one on this yet, “Africa” is not a frickin’ NATION. Therefore to be “African” is not a “national citizenship”.

    You’re right, we all should have caught on that, though I’m willing to forgive myself and others for being discombobulated by the fractal wrongness and missing some levels of resolution.

  • F

    These monkeys think Africa is a nation? Just how stupid do you have to be to get on that radio program – as guest *or* host?

    As stupid as Sarah Palin?

  • I’ve been watching, with disgust, as the arguments against Obama’s eligibility have morphed from “he wasn’t born in the United States” to “his father wasn’t a citizen.” It’s all driven by a racist argument put forward by dead-enders that won’t let the facts get in the way, endless castle-in-the-air construction by those who can’t fathom how a black man ended up in the White House.

  • sailor1031

    Well the definition is not in the constitution – it’s in the 14th Amendment:

    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

    The first president who was a “natural born” citizen was Martin van Buren (1837-1841).

    This isn’t complicated. Clearly Obama is a “natural born” citizen of the USA. One is forced to conclude that the highly intelligent and legally-educated Mr Titus is being disingenuous.

  • heddle

    peterh,

    The biblical Titus is pretty well proven to be a forgery. I don’t know if that helps, but fundies go crazy at the mention.

    It is not “pretty well proven” although that is such a sloppy construction you can claim it means anything. (Nor would “forgery” necessarily be the correct word, but possibly “misattributed.”) The authorship of Titus is indeed disputed, but there is no consensus. Are you sure fundies go crazy at the thought (it wouldn’t bother me that much, just saying) or do they go crazy when, once again, a know-nothing bible critic is unable to stop while he is ahead, at the point of reporting a legitimate criticism, and yields to the temptation of overstating his case?

  • Midnight Rambler

    These monkeys think Africa is a nation? Just how stupid do you have to be to get on that radio program – as guest *or* host?

    As stupid as Sarah Palin?

    Don’t be silly. Sarah Palin has made it quite clear that she’s aware of the difference between Africa the continent, and Africa the country.

  • Every time I hear the Birthers’ “argument”, I refer them to the United States Code (specifically TITLE 8 > CHAPTER 12 > SUBCHAPTER III > Part I > § 1401), which deals with: “NATIONALS AND CITIZENS OF UNITED STATES AT BIRTH”

    Obama fits the requirements for “Citizen of the US at birth” under category (A): “a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” He was born in Hawaii, which meets the requirement.

    If you don’t believe (for whatever silly reason) that he was born in the United States (or a US outlying possession), then he would still be Citizen of the US at birth under category (G): “(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years” His mother was a citizen of the US. She was living in the US for a continuous period of MORE than two years – all of which were after attaining the age of 14 – before she would have gone to Kenya or somewhere else to give birth to her son.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/8/1401.html

    The only way that President Obama couldn’t be Citizen of the US at birth is if he wasn’t born in Hawaii (which he was) AND his mother wasn’t actually Ann Dunham (which she was) OR that Ann Dunham didn’t live for a total of two years in the United States after reaching 14 years of age and before she gave birth to Barack Obama (which would have been a trick for her to have all the US university education that she finished when Barack was born).

    Yes, yes, I know that “Citizen of the United States at birth” is not the same thing as “natural born citizen,” but it’s the closest thing that matches and it’s the thing that was used to justify George Romney’s citizenship requirement as well as John McCain’s citizenship requirement. (Both of these white Republican presidential candidates were born outside of the United States – Romney in Mexico and McCain in the Panama Canal Zone.)

    Also, we have had presidents whose one parent wasn’t an American citizen: Thomas Jefferson (English mother), James Buchanan (Irish father), Chester Arthur (Irish father), Woodrow Wilson (English mother) and Herbert Hoover (Canadian mother). Therefore, Titus’ argument of “if you’re born of two parents, that is a mother and father, who are of the same citizenship, then you have been ordained by God to be a citizen of the nation of your parents” is historically unfounded. (Maybe, though, Titus is really annoyed that Jefferson, Buchanan, Arthur, Wilson, and Hoover were allowed to be president. Maybe someone should ask him…)

    Finally (just to throw it in there), we’ve even had a president with two immigrant parents: Andrew Jackson.

  • sailor1031

    BTW please notice that no mention is made of the citizenship of either parent. All children born i.n the US are “natural born” citizens

  • exdrone

    Any natural law is based on a law of nature which is revealed by God.

    So the G-man is holding out on us? He’s got some laws that he hasn’t revealed yet? What a tease! I hate it when he makes you guess.

  • I see Titus’ problem. He’s using the wrong definition of “natural born”. What it actually means is that the person needs to be born in a natural way – and not through C-section. /snark

    I would suggest that someone ought to try and disown him of his idea that the so-called (and improperly named) “natural law” has anything to do with “natural born”.

    My proposed definition – born through natural means – is just as valid a term for “natural” as Titus’. (Moreso if you don’t buy into his version of Christianist mumbo-jumbo.)

  • umlud: A “natural born” citizen in that sense would at least come in handy if we need to kill the King of Scotland.

    (Incidentally, I make that joke to my wife about our two boys, both of whom were delivered by C-section. She likes it considerably less than I do.)

  • Nibi

    Dr X

    That was actually a bit thought disorderish.

    Definitely a winning entry for a logical fallacy free association contest.

    Titus

    Any natural law is based on a law of nature which is revealed by God.

    * F=ma (Newton)

    * Divergence free magnetic field (Maxwell)

    * E=mc^2 (Einstein)

    Well I’ll be damned if I ain’t a polytheist.

  • chilidog99

    FYI, and OT, but if anyone is interested in a good laugh, read what Orly Taitz filed today in the Georgia ballot eligibility case:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/80169403/2012-02-01-FARRAR-Proposed-Findings-of-Fact-and-Conclusions-of-Law

  • slc1

    Re umlud @ #31

    Actually, it’s not as cut and dried as Mr. unlud claims. Although he is quite correct that the law currently requires a 2 year continuous residence after the age of 14, the law in force at the time of the president’s birth required a 5 year continuous residence after the age of 14. Since Ms. Dunham was only 18 at the time of the president’s birth, she did not satisfy the requirements of the law in force at the time and thus he would not qualify if the Supreme Court were to rule that the prior law was applicable.

    If the birthers could ever produce conclusive evidence that the president was born in Kenya, this would make an interesting case for constitutional scholars. Which law should be applicable, the 2 year law or the 5 year law? I am not a lawyer and I do not care to play lawyer her but I think provocative arguments could be made for both positions.

  • Titus sounds, to me, to be KKKrazier than a shithouse rat in a meth lab.

  • re slc@ #38:

    I didn’t know about the 5 year requirement. Do you happen to have a link for the wording for the pertinent US Code at the time of Obama’s birth? I’d like to have it as a reference of my own.

  • mithrandir

    I wonder if Mr. Titus is aware that Obama is not the first United States President whose father was not a US citizen at the time of the future president’s birth.

    Though given the “reasoning” he used for Obama, I’m sure Titus would have no problem declaring that Chester A. Arthur was likewise an illegitimate President.

  • slc1

    Re umlud @ #40

    I don’t have a link handy but suggest using Google to find a reference. I believe that Eugene Volokh discussed this a year or two ago somewhere, possibly on a site where he previously blogged.

    As a matter of fact, I have discussed this issue on Mr. Brayton’s previous Scienceblogs blog and possibly elsewhere.

    Although I am unaware of a precedent at the federal level, there is a very much on point precedent at the state level, namely the murder trial of Michael Skakel in Connecticut several years ago, which I have also discussed elsewhere.

  • Re slc1 @ #42:

    Thanks for the starting point(s). I’ll look into it.

  • policydebater

    Incidentally, its not really true that Liberty won a dozen national championships. Actually they’ve never won the national championship. They’ve come out first in whats called NDT points, which no one in competitive debate considers a measurement of success, because they weight all tournaments equally, from a local tournament with 10 people to the large national tournaments. The point system is set up such that any of the real top debate schools (like Northwestern, Michigan, Harvard, MSU, Wake Forest, Cal, Dartmouth, and others) that really cared could easily get perfect scores on NDT points if they sent their top team to 8 random local tournaments, but they don’t because no one cares.

    That’s not to say liberty is awful, they have a top 25 team this year, but they’re nowhere close to the dominant force they claim to be. They consistently get in the top 30 or so, but rarely if ever break the top 10, and usually not the top 16, in a given year.

  • Ichthyic

    yields to the temptation of overstating his case?

    listen to Heddle.

    if there’s ONE thing he’s an expert on, it’s overstating a case.

    …and for those that noted it, the ONLY way to reconcile Titus’ intelligence, as reported by Ed, with his current argument is to conclude he is flat-out lying.

    He cannot be ignorant of the wrongness of it, so he deliberately lying.

    the only question is whether he is lying just to others, or to both others and himself.

    Any insight Ed? Could Titus be so far gone that he now is fully living in denial?

  • Ichthyic

    or I guess Ed already HAS weighed in:

    truly crazy arguments

    well, there ya go.

    Titus not only makes the koolaid, he drinks it too.

  • Titus not only makes the koolaid, he drinks it too.

    OOOOOHHHH YEAAAAAAHH!!!

  • Huh? Wait, what? Is he admitting that the birth certificate does show that Obama was born on US soil? ‘Cause if so, he just destroyed the birthers’ argument.

    Birthers are not a monolithic bloc. Most of the raving mouthbreathers are still fixated on the claim that the published birth certificates are forgeries and were created to cover up… something bad.

    Most often it’s that Obama was not born in the USA, but they also sometimes want to believe that he is the child of some other black American, typically someone like black activist Frank Marshall Davis, which somehow is supposed to confirm Obama’s communist leanings.

    Other, slightly more sophisticated birthers eschew the birth certificate nonsense and “graciously accept” (see, they’re not unreasonable!) that the documents are real and that Obama was born in the USA.

    Instead, they focus on trying to prove, through old, obscure laws and legal opinions, that since Obama’s father was not an American citizen at the time of his birth, Obama himself can’t be a “natural born citizen”. Their thesis is that there are three types of American citizen — naturalized, natural born, and a third category who are neither. Obama, they say, falls into this third category and therefore is unqualified to be President under the Constitution.

    The focus on his mother’s qualifications as a citizen (the 5 years vs 2 years SLC mentions) appears to have been abandoned by these birthers, for whatever reason, but they pinning all their hopes on the belief that if only they can get a full hearing in court, they can prove conclusively that Obama is unqualified because his father was a subject of the British Crown at the time he was born.

    It all seems rather futile to me, since no court in the land is ever going to rule in their favor and thus disqualify the president for the last four years from running for re-election, even if their case was indeed reasonable, which it’s not.

    Indeed, the jeopardy in the present birther case in Georgia appears to fall on the Georgia Secretary of State, whose administrative court could issue a default ruling in favor of the birther plaintiffs simply because Obama’s lawyer refused to play ball and appear. If that happens, it will be up to the Secretary of State to decide whether or not to risk major blowback from all quarters and disqualify Obama from the Georgia ballot, and force the Obama campaign to appeal the judgment (which would undoubtedly be successful).

    This is what the birthers are hoping for — and for the other states to follow Georgia — but it’s never going to happen. Indeed, I suspect the administrative judge is unlikely to give them what they want either, but even if he does, the Georgia SoS is probably not going to dance to the birther tune anyway.

  • “What’s important is to realize that being a natural born citizen is based upon the law of nature.”

    He was wandering in the intellectual weeds by the end of the first sentence.

  • slc1

    Re tacitus @ #48

    Before the birthers could even get to an argument about 5 years vs 2 years, they would have to provide convincing proof that the president was born in Kenya or somewhere else, other then Hawaii. Thus far, they have not provided a jot or a tittle of evidence to support this claim.

    In the current Georgia case, they are claiming that a Supreme Court decision in the 19th century supports a position that both parents must be US citizens at the time of birth. As was amply demonstrated in a previous thread on this blog, they are lying because the Court made no determination on the issue as a part of its ruling.

  • chilidog99

    The birthers are trying to reinterpret the language of the Minor v. Happersett case to fit their distorted view of reality. The degree that they twist, bend and torture logic to do this would put Torquemada to shame.

  • By Titus’ logic, NOBODY is a natural born citizen. For instance, my grandparents on my mother’s side were born in another country. By Titus’ definition of ‘natural born’, my mother is not a natural born citizen. Since she, one of my parents, was not ‘natural born’, then neither am I!

    One could probably extend that line of reasoning to apply to descendents of the Mayflower.

    Anyway he gets sneaky with this:

    “So if you’re born of two parents, that is a mother and father, who are of the same citizenship, then you have been ordained by God to be a citizen of the nation of your parents.”

    Notice how “citizenship” appears from nowhere. Probably from the book of babble.

  • chilidog99

    OK, this is a bit late in this particular thread but here is one of the latest birther legal arguments from Orly Taitz, Enjoy:

    It appears that for a period of two years there were two distinct separate individuals: Barry Obama, who attended Noelani elementary school in Hawaii and Barry Soetoro, who attended Assisi school in Indonesia. It is not clear, how these two individuals merge into one person. It is not clear, who came back from Indonesia: Barry Obama or Barry Soetoro. We have no idea, who is residing in the White House: is it Barry Obama or Barry Soetoro? If it is Barry Soetoro, what happened to Barry Obama?

  • Aaron

    I think we should all follow Titus’s rubric- we’re all citizens of some no longer extant, pre-legal African tribe, and no one is a citizen of the US, or any other extant country. Bonus: It gets him off the hook for displacement and genocide of the Native Americans!