THOUGHTS ON THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, THE BIBLE & THE MIKE CHURCH SHOW

I consider myself a Biblically based Christian and as such, consider the Bible to be the only perfect set of life principles with God-inspired, inerrant teaching ever written.

I also consider myself a patriotic rEPUBLICAN (lower/upper case deliberately added) – that is, “little [r] republican.” According to Wikipedia at least, in essence, a republic is a country in which the government is a public matter, not the private property or concern of those in political power; and a little [r] republican is one who believes that the country belongs to the people, and the gub’mint (as I believe Mike Church puts it) is that small entity there “hired” by the citizens to take care of those minimal tasks required for us to maintain our existing principles.

I consider the United States Constitution one of the best political documents ever written, that it is good and right, and that THESE United States are and should be under its continuing jurisdiction.  The term “THESE” referring to the political view that THESE United States are a loosely bound group of countries that have banded together (still as countries) to help and support each other in some minimal ways: such as the common defense, protection of free trade across borders, and other things (such as detailed in the U.S. Constitution – in our case).  Remember that little [r] republicanism is not (so far as I know – I’m still learning) strictly a U.S. Constitutional term.

I believe that THESE United States, composed of 50 small sovereign countries (or states), have drifted further and further away in practice and belief, from how well we adhere to and follow the Constitution (although we theoretically/hypocritically claim to be fully under its rules).  We do adhere to many of them (those rules), and because of the continuing influence, radically leftist politicians such as our current president, Barack Obama, have not been able to grab “Hugo-Chavezesque” levels of uncontsitutional socialistic power that he otherwise could have (and perhaps would have). And we should be very thankful to our founding fathers for their tremendous wisdom and sacrifice in creating such a selfless, GOOD document. So even though we have drifted about as far away as we can; thankfully, the U.S. Constitution has actually provided very well the safety net it was designed to provide (inspite of our errant ways).

I felt it necessary to provide that preface so that I am as clear as possible as to the context for the following statements.

I say these things VERY carefully within the context of the above. So please, as you read them, consider that I mean all of the above very sincerely.

The Bible is the only inerrant book ever written, the Constitution is not divine and it is not inerrant (as evidenced by the amendments). There is an infinite difference between inerrant and not inerrant.

I have recently begun listening to the Mike Church radio show on Sirius XM. I really enjoy the show. It is thought provoking and has made me think deeply about who I am as an American, inspired my other writing about the repeal of the 17th Amendment, and a book I am now working on tentatively entitled “The Coming Utopian Threat (more on that later – it is a treatise of philosophical connections between socialism and utopianism and other dangerous philosophies pervading modern society, etc.). So, thank you to Mike Church for your awesome, thought provoking show.

But, back to topic. The Constitution was and is a great document, but it is not inerrant. It is influenced both by some level of Judeo-Christian view as well as a secular humanist view – which was indeed held by some of our founding fathers (such as Benjamin Franklin).

I believe that although the U.S. Constitution was and is a great political document, and there is perhaps no finer political basis for any of the world present and perhaps past governments, it is not an “end all” document. What makes THESE United States of America (these 50 small countries – thanks Mike Church) great is not the U.S. Constitution, but its selfless people, and the depth of their Biblically based world view. We reach out to the world with helping hands because of our faith. I personally travel regularly to south Asia, Haiti (previously, and hope and plan to do so again) because of my faith – not the Constitution.

I remember on a business trip to China thinking out of the box (PLEASE, PLEASE hear what I really mean in this paragraph), that Chinese people are capitalists. The form of government was a Chinese form of communism (different from Soviet communism – a topic for another day). But regardless of the form of government, these people are capitalists. I walked through the huge Forbidden City in central Beijing, near Tienanmen Square, and my feet were in sever pain from the walking. As I exited the North ( I think) exit, I hired a rickshaw for an agreed price of 30 Yuan. The driver took what I believe was an extra long route back to the front entrance. I began to pay him the 30 Yuan, and he said, “No, 30 U.S. Yuan.” I thought (being a savvy traveller) this guy knows he is ripping me off (capitalism). I thought (it being just a few months after the accidentally missile hit on the Chines embassy I think in Yugoslavia, in 1999) I didn’t want any police trouble (squads of federal police were wandering nearby with chrome plated helmets). Then I thought, probably, neither does he. So I I gave him a stern look as if to indicate I know exactly what you’re trying to pull here – I gave him a few extra Yuan above the original price and walked away. He didn’t call after me.

It wasn’t his form of government that made him who he was – it was him, and his world view. It is our world views that determine who we are and what we believe, not a political document. The document (i.e.: U.S. Constitution) is not what will save or bring our country, it will be who we are as a people.

The U.S. Constitution was created because of who those people were – that is, our so called “Founding Fathers.” The Constitution was the fruit of a world view. I do not believe how well we adhere to or believe in or follow the U.S. Constitution is based on the Constitution itself, it is the reverse. It is based on who we are as a country, a grouping of 50 small, loosely bound little countries; and the people therein.

And so this political/ideological thought process (that is still ongoing) instigated by the Mike Church Show, has led me thus far in the midst of it, that it is not so important to get back to our Constitutional roots as it is to get back to our Biblically based roots.

The Constitution alludes to God given rights, to respect for all men – which I believe is well aligned with Biblical views (thought not perfectly – as I stated in the beginning of this article). It alludes to many great fundamentals for a good society: electing officials, balance of powers, free trade, sovereignty of the states, etc. All of these are extremely well written and developed bases for what has legislatively kept THESE United States stable for these centuries.

But I have travelled to many countries and discovered that people are people everywhere. On a family vacation in southern Mexico (the city of Merida on the Yucatan). We were in a busy Mercado and the only tall, white Americans among throngs of thousands of local shoppers. We travelled as a family of four (my wife and I, and our two young sons). My younger, seven year old son got separated from us as we were almost pressed against a wall, it was so busy. We had barely discovered he was missing when all of a sudden, the throng of people opened a path right in the middle of this packed, hurried crowd to where a shop keeper about 30 – 40 feet away had made my younger son sit down while all of these people made a path for us to get back to him (this, due I believe to a very strong sense of family we struggle for here). Wow! People are just people every where. It wasn’t the corrupt government of Mexico, nor in the previous story was it the Communistic government of China that made these people or that rickshaw driver do what they did. It was who they were as people.

So I would very carefully contend that the form of government is not what makes us great as a nation – it is people. Singapore is a dictatorship; and I am in no way advocating for that form of government. But (inspite of its many corruptions) it is in many ways benevolent as it seeks to make the life of the people there better. I would speculate that there are officials in Communist China’s government who selflessly seek to care well in their assigned jobs.

Yes, it should not be the government’s job to take care of all of the people’s needs. I do not believe in the “Nanny State” whatsoever, and I believe that generally anything you give the government to do, they do worse and much less efficiently than the private sector. And I also believe that much of what has been passed on to the government has been due to the falling down of the Church on their job to love the people around them in meaningful ways.

I would just say in closing, that I think it is amiss to believe that “getting back to the Constitution” will solve our country’s problems. Getting back meaningfully and substantively to our Biblical roots – the Church doing its job in the world – is what will make any people who they should be and were meant to be. The United States Constitution was and is a great framework for how that should legislatively look.

But thinking out of the box for just a moment, suppose China became a Christian nation in every sense of the word. Suppose every person in government became a Christian. And suppose the U.S. Constitution had never been written or did not exist. And also suppose that the country’s corruption were fully reformed as a result; but that at that moment it all occurred, the country was still under it’s present form of Communism. I contend that the change in those people would transform that country in a wholly positive way with or without any changes in political structure or infrastructure.

Why is government even needed? Why is a Constitution even needed? It is needed because of our imperfections. Most people are neither pure good or pure evil (humanistically speaking). The U.S. Constitution was written to ward off and provide safeguards for the selfish actions of men that had led us away from the British empire and their corrupt selfish taxation to allow self determination and to follow our religious convictions. The Pilgrims came for religious reasons, as did many early settlers; and they held deeply Christian views which they sought to be able to freely exercise.

The U.S. Constitution came much later as the young country grew, to provide an anchor for something dear we hoped to preserve, even as we were being attacked intermittently by the British.

Certainly the Constitution is a great framework. I greatly respect it, don’t disagree with it, seek to protect its continuing consistent application in our country, and am disturbed by how far we have drifted from it in practice. But it is not inerrant and is not to be held sacrosanct. When we are who we should be as Americans – an expression of Judeo-Christian actions including all that entails, that is, I believe a much more fundamental bottom line than even the Constitution itself.

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SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

I do not like or agree with this so-called interpretation of the the first half of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thanks again to Mike Church, who I respect as a very thoughtful conservative and [r]epublican, and seeks diligently to make more Americans think (yes, actually think) about our country’s constitutional roots and basis. But Mike, I must again disagree.

The main historical argument (and pretty much the only one) I have heard to support that the First Amendment is (in part) about so-called “Separation of Church and State” (which for the benefit of unaware readers – is not in its text), is Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 writing to the Danbury Baptist Association.

This 1802 writing must immediately be discarded as the basis, because it quite simply, is not. The 1802 writing is not the Constitution and it is not the First Amendment.

Let’s critically look at the text. The First Amendment says (in part):

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof:…”

It doesn’t say God must be absent from government. It would be fully constitutional to have crosses or other religious items present in congressional chambers, Christmas trees at the White House, etc. etc. etc.

First, “Congress shall make no law…”  – That is pretty straight forward.  There is nothing about secularism in that text, or separation.  And this part of the amendment is, I believe, the basis for the “separation” part of the interpretation.  Many (perhaps, but not certainly including Jefferson) seem to interpret this language as meaning “separation”. 

The second part of my disagreement stems in part from a poor contextualization.  It seems like those who seek to secularize American government do so based only on the first half of the above (partial language of) The First Amendment.  They remember so well (in support of their presuppositions and religious views) that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,…” but forget the seconf half of the above (partial) First Amendment clause “…or prohibiting the FREE exercise thereof…”

There is so much secularization focus in modern society.  So many pundits, talk show hosts, other “Talking Heads” and certainly many Marxists (another topic related to the First Amendment), that they very conveniently forget that government is not to restrict the free practice thereof.  Wow!

I choose to believe that this amendment is based on assuring for perpetuity our contry’s RIGHT to religious freedom – to follow what ever religion each person chooses to believe.  Congress shall not have the right to pass any law that interrupts that right, nor shall they pass any law (that also interrupts that right) by creating a state church.  That is a much different presupposition than the view that the purpose of the amendment was to secularize the government.

Government can be as religious or as secular as it wishes.  But what it can not do is pass laws that in any way interfere with the rights of citizens to follow what ever religious path they choose. 

Although I am a Biblical Christian, and believe the Bible to be the only and final inerrant teaching for my faith, I believe that, for example, if Congress was one day filled with 100% devout muslims, that if they wanted to pray five times a day in congressional chambers toward Mecca (as muslims do), that is their constitutional right.  If Congress was 100% Atheist, and they chose to pray five times a day to “The Big Bang” (humor intended), that would be their constitutional right.  If (as I personally would wish) if the U.S. Congress was filled with 100% Christians, and they wanted to pray five times a day, that would also be their right.

Government can be as religious or secular as it wishes.  And American society can be as religious or secular as it chooses.  This, I believe, is what the language and intent of the FirstAmendment (as regards religon) says and means.

There is the argument based on Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 writing mentioned above, which, with all due respect, I must disagree.  Most (if not all) modern arguments favoring Constitutional  “Separation of Church and State” are based on Jefferson’s writings which have somehow been related back to the original Constitutional Amendment’s language. 

I would contend to such people – if we are truly constitutionalists, and seek to help in returning this great nation back to it’s constitutional roots, then let’s do just that.  We should not seek to return to Jeffersonian writings from nearly three decades later.  That is a whole generation after the constitution.  What happened between those times?  What were Jefferson’s views at that time?  And here’s a very important question:  how many of those who approved the First Amendment itself, actually approved and/or ratified Jefferson’s statements in 1802?  That is actually a new thought to me as I am writing.  Wow.  That one hadn’t occurred to me.  Jefferson’s statements in 1802 were never ratified as a Constitutional Amendment.  But somehow, modern view of the first phrase of the First Amendment is based not so much on the RATIFIED language of the amendment itself, but Jefferson’s 1802 writings. 

This brings to mind an anecdotal story (which I’ll have to dig up again).  I remember reading in the Reader’s Digest many years ago about a book entitled something to the effect of “The Secret Zionist Papers” (may not be correct – just from my memory).  These were purported to be proceedings from a secret Jewish conference held in the 1890’s, and said to have included radical statements about how the Jewish community had the intent of taking over the world.  (According to my failing memory) This book was researched by an investigative reporter from the London Times in the 1920’s and found to be a complete fabrication (completely untrue).  But a young German man, Adolf Hitler, apparently got hold of a copy of this book, and it became some of the basis of his now infamous anti-semitism that led to the deaths of millions.

Ironic how writings can remain with such impact.  I certainly would in no way equate Thomas Jefferson – not at all.  But I use this to illustrate how important critical analysis of the truth of writings is very important.  Thomas Jefferson wrote about his views of the Constitution, decades after the fact, and with no review or ratification.  Yet Jefferson’s presonal views in 1802 remains as a dominant interpretation of a Constitutional Amendment. 

My advice – read the amendment for yourself.  Do not use someone elses writings to do your thinking for you.  Look at the language in the amendment.  Thomas Jefferson I will presume was a very intelligent and partiotic man.  He wrote some great things, and contributed greatly to the development of this country ((the U.S.A.).  But although a great and respected founding father of these United States, his 1802 writings were not, and are not, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.