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Keep It Up, Feds, You Idiots

On the Ten Commandments Fiasco.

by James Leroy Wilson
September 4, 2003

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Keep It Up, Feds, You Idiots_James Leroy Wilson-On the Ten Commandments Fiasco Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has now been suspended for refusing to remove his two-ton, carved-in-rock display of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. A federal court had ordered it to be removed. Such public displays of religion violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. Or so they say.

Any plain reading of the Constitution would refute this assertion, and it is through indoctrination by the public schools, media, and the federal courts themselves, that we could even possibly believe such nonsense. This is just another in a long body of work by the federal courts that reduces state power not for the purposes of individual liberty (how could the presence of a Ten Commandments memorial possibly do that?), but for the sake of strengthening national political power, especially the power of unelected, lifetime-tenured federal judges.

Something else is afoot here. Some people call it "separation of Church and State." The logic goes like this: when religion gets mixed in with politics and gets incorporated into the structure of the government, wars result and the government starts persecuting people for "incorrect" beliefs.

Which makes it different from "secular" governments ... how? Organized religion of all kinds has plenty of evil to answer for, but not nearly as much as does The State.

That's not to say I support Justice Moore's defiance. Yes, on Constitutional grounds, he is completely correct; there's not a flaw in the argument. But it's becoming increasingly clear to me that arguing anything based on the Constitution goes nowhere. Even the process of our politics, the part of the Constitution that seems to work, has for a long time been compromised by Congress delegating legislative power to the President's bureaucrats. And it was seriously breached when the Supreme Court stepped in to decide a Presidential election, in violation of Section 3 of the 20th Amendment, which gives Congress the means to provide for emergency legislation to give time to resolve disputed elections.

The Constitution is dead, folks, and it isn't coming back. The people of the United States live under arbitrary rule, just like most other countries. (Perhaps we always did.)

And because of that, in a weird way I kind of like the idea of heavy-handed federal judges stripping public spaces of any sign of religion. Without the local citizenry's consent, without any Constitutional mandate, without any common sense or logic whatsoever. The more the Feds make fools of themselves, the sooner we'll be better off.

I say this because American religious communities, even (and especially) the most theologically conservative, seem to have a soft spot for the American Revolution and the Constitution, believing the former to be morally just and the second to still be in operation. These sentiments are naive, misguided, and unworthy of a people who would otherwise be critical of rebellion by appealing to Romans 13 in the Bible. But I think conservative patience with breach after breach of the Constitution by the very same federal Courts that are required to uphold it, is beginning to wear thin.

What would a continued federal intolerance for any sign or mention of God in public, what would micro-management of speech and religion in local communities by unelected, life-time tenured judges in far-off places, do to America's most religiously devout?

Over time, it will remove the soft spot, the allegiance to Flag and to nationalism, and replace it with the genuinely patriotic love of home and of community. More and more will begin to wonder, what's the point of having a "Constitution" if we are denied self-government in these and other matters? It is one thing, they think, for the feds to overrule state's rights and local government in order to protect religious freedom, but quite another for the feds to dictate what can and can't be said or displayed on public property. Why can't our community run our own affairs?

A federal government hostile to the very Constitution that established it, a federal government hostile to any acknowledgement of God by state and local authorities, will eventually be recognized for what it is: a government hostile to the self-government and liberty of the people. More and more will come to see the federal government as illegitimate.

Which is how it should be. We have tended to believe that Western Civilization as we know it rests on the Judeo-Christian ethic, most succinctly stated in the Ten Commandments. And that is, to a great degree, true. Western civilization is the product of the understanding that one must respect life, liberty, and property (including contract) which are outgrowths of the Ten Commandments. Civilization advances as people are free to act, provided they harm no one else. The Ten Commandments is at least one expression, and an important one, of the freedom we have, and believers in it will advance society.

But the Ten Commandments, and with it the entire political philosophy of the Law (the first five books of the Bible), the Prophets, and of the New Testament, do not insist upon, or imply, or even fathom, a democratic/republican form of government. If anything, this is the kind of system the Bible is against, as it leads to worship of the Nation-State's leaders (the Emperor as a God) and/or symbols (the American Flag). And it also leads to Imperialism -the subjugation of foreign peoples by force. Under democratic republics, humans believe that their own will, and their own power, can accomplish anything. They put politics over every other consideration. This is bad for both the individual soul and for the economy.

We are in error if we believe that our system of government bears any relationship to Biblical prescriptions or ideals. It does not. Accordingly, we ought to face that fact and not pretend otherwise. Both "sides" of this dispute are simply wrong. The Feds are wrong on Constitutional grounds and are therefore perpetuating the lie on the American public that they are actually upholding the First Amendment. But Justice Moore, and those who believe as he does, believe a more insidious lie: that the form of government of the United States and of each state was founded on Biblical (or "Judeo-Christian") principles. That is the more dangerous lie, that is the lie that has led so many American Christian and Jewish boys to compliantly slaughter and be slaughtered on foreign soil, believing they were doing their duty in the name of freedom and right.

The feds are behaving quite stupidly in this regard. They forget, in their petty quests for power, that a generic "God" and non-sectarian religious symbols are actually instruments of propaganda that keep religious Americans loyal to the Stars and Stripes. Nevertheless, the general "spirit" of the federal government leads it to prohibit public religious symbolism. A regime committed to lies, wars, and confiscation, is a regime that finds the Ten Commandments, as general and relatively non-sectarian as they are, and a prescription for peace, prosperity, and happiness, to actually be repugnant and threatening. Of course The State will try to drive religion behind closed doors.

It's a self-contradiction, one of many The State faces. It wants to command the loyalty of the people, yet it also wants "no other gods" to be recognized by the people but itself. It wants the people to believe they live under a constitutional government that respects liberty, yet it does everything it can to acquire more and more power for itself. Contradictions like these can only co-exist on lies, and lies are eventually found out.

It is the test of America's more conservative, faithful communities whether they will continue to believe the lies. And what they will do when they begin to recognize the truth. The State, regardless of its form of government, was, is, and always will be hostile to the Ten Commandments, because it will always serve the interests of the few at the expense of the many through lies, wars, and taxes. Violent revolution doesn't work - it only replaces one group of robber-barons and plunderers with another - and ought to be a non-option to adherents of religions of peace anyway.

But a valid means of resistance would be civil disobedience, peacefully resisting the tyrannical decrees of The State, and peacefully accepting its punishments for resistance as well. If, like Thoreau, I found myself in jail for refusing to pay taxes to support an unjust war, I'd think myself freer and happier than those on the outside who were supporting it. But if one million, three million, or tens of millions had the courage of their convictions to peacefully secede, so to speak, from the federal government - depleting its tax revenues, ignoring its burdensome regulations, dealing in gold and silver instead of Fed "money," engaging it "black-market" commerce, resisting the draft (yes, there will be at least serious debate on a new draft within two years), and generally doing as they please as long as they respect the equal right of others to do the same, then this minority of devout religious believers can wreck all the designs of the demagogues and the "majority" who follow them. The Feds can't and won't imprison or execute ten to forty million people.

So let the Feds have their way, and let us ignore them to the extent we can, just as Justice Moore has. Let the Nation-State called America reveal its true colors as a paranoid, intolerant, and power-hungry ideologue. Let us see it turn its back on what had been its most loyal citizens, who had been its most devoutly religious citizens. And then let's see what happens when they confront reality and, instead of turning their backs on God, turn their backs on America.

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