Tag Archives: justice

1982-2012: The Rutherford Institute Celebrates 30 Years in the Fight for Freedom in America

“I often believe that John Whitehead is channeling the principles of James Madison, who would be very proud of him.”—Nat Hentoff, nationally syndicated columnist

“The Founding Fathers, reinforced by the famous commentator Alexis de Tocqueville, understood that civic responsibility and civic organizations—these private collections of individuals—were what were to hold the Constitution together. It wasn’t a document just for government officials. And The Rutherford Institute has cultivated the highest level of civic understanding of the Constitution and of the individual responsibility to make the Constitution life and blood in their daily lives and in their professional ambitions. And if The Rutherford Institute is imitated throughout the country, we’re in good stead for the 21st century.”—Bruce Fein, former associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. —Founded in 1982 by constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute will celebrate its 30th anniversary on June 29, 2012. Over the course of the past 30 years, The Rutherford Institute has grown into a fighting force for freedom, a national organization that commands both attention and respect, with affiliate attorneys and members stretching across the United States. Institute attorneys have defended the rights of countless individuals in their struggle for freedom and human rights in the face of oppressive regimes, both government and private agencies. This assistance has extended into virtually every area of life, including the schools, home, workplace and state and federal agencies. The Rutherford Institute has been privileged to work alongside and defend great freedom fighters, in addition to arguing and winning cases at virtually every court level in the land, including the United States Supreme Court.

“While it is a milestone in the life of any organization, this anniversary is significant not only because of what was begun years ago but because of the work that continues today,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “If we can continue to safeguard the freedoms cherished by so many generations of Americans, we will have done our part to ensure that this nation remains free.”

Founded in 1982, The Rutherford Institute is a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated. The Rutherford Institute has emerged as one of the nation’s leading advocates of civil liberties and human rights, litigating in the courts and educating the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States and around the world.

The Problem of Global Persecution

By Daniel Downs

In the previous post, Raymond Ibrahim revealed the extent of persecutions of Christians for the month of January throughout the Muslim Middle East. Syrian Christians are concerned about similar persecution, if not genocide, if Al-Assad falls to Islamic fundamentalists, according to a recent article published in The New American.

They are concerned for good reason: homes, businesses, churches, and many persons have been attacked and destroyed by angry Muslims in Iraq and Egypt.

Why are Muslim persecuting Christians? For the same reasons Americans attacked American Arabs and those who liked Arabs, their homes and business after 9-11. (see UMC’s article Post 9/11 Hate Crimes)

Persecution of Jews also has a long history. Jews have been impoverished, abused, and killed by Arabs, Europeans, and even Americans. Hitler may killed more Jews in a shorter period of time than other Europeans but the German Nazis were not the only Europeans to do so. When the Christian church ruled the empire, Jews and rebellious Christians were killed as well.

Regarding anti-anti-Semitism, Americans also have been guilty of persecuting the Jews. I remember stories about Americans harassing Jews while sleeping in their home in the middle of the night. That was during the 1960s fascists and communist movements in Europe and America. More recently, a rabbi was attacked and beaten while traveling near his synagogue in New Jersey, the homes of several others rabbis were fire bombed, and anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on several local synagogues.

While Americans persecute Jews, Muslims and others, Israeli orthodox Jews are persecuting Messianic Jews. According to the Caspari Media Review, local residents in Arad Israel report Orthodox Jews (haeridi) harassing Messianic neighbors and disturbing the peace in their local neighborhood.

Why? For the same reason others of various ideologies and religions persecuted them.

A complex linkage of perceived differences contribute a sense of enmity towards those previously mentioned. Among those factors are contradictory religious or secular beliefs, the legitimation of those beliefs by the state, and current and historical events all of which culminate into a perception that persons of the “other” group are somehow a dire threat or complicit in an evil act. For example, all Arabs are regarded as evil as those involved in the 9-11 terrorism. All Christians deserve punishment because one or a few blasphemed Mohammed or Allah. All Jews are evil because of some injustice perpetrated by some other Jews.

The underlying problem is the propensity of people to violate the laws of God; that is what sin and evil is. It is the opinion of this blogger that America’s founding generation advanced the solution to this problem. They believed that a universal law–the law of God–was already evident in human nature and society, and it was at least possible for human to identify what those laws are. However, the human problem colors and corrupts that human ability, which is why revealed law was deemed necessary. Because all human beings have violated God’s laws, human reason alone cannot be trusted. Moreover, it was understood that most major religions and the societies influenced and shaped by them possessed at least some part of the revealed laws of God. Like the Hebrew prophets and Mohammed as well, the founders of all major religions experienced the moral reforming presence of God. It was in that experience that the laws of God were perceived and the need for their people to conform to the right way of living realized.

The issue is not that all religions are equal or irrelevant as many secularists believe. As a Christian, this blogger believes God’s holiness requires the fulfillment of absolute justice. The just dessert for sin is death. However, the perpetual love of His holiness toward people created in His own likeness drove God to remedy human sin. That remedy is the death of the sinless for all other sinners. Only one man was sinless–Jesus of Nazareth. God offered His only sinless son for all of humanity. Those who reject God’s provision cannot be forgiven for their sin. Even though humanity consistently lives according to the laws of God, past sin or one present sin render him or her worthy of sin’s just dessert. Just as human justice merely forgives a murder who one act was followed with exemplary good citizenship, so too a sinner cannot be merely forgiven for good behavior. Of course, I could be wrong, but those who have experienced life-after-death suggest otherwise.

Another reason for doctrinal differences of various religions is the institutionalization of their original experiences of God and their interpretations and applications of them.

Still another reason for doctrinal differences is simply survival. Both Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others developed different doctrines as a result of challenges and threats posed by problems within their own societies including problems of moral decline and threats of other religious and secular authorities. Thus, the distinctive doctrinal beliefs have been means to protect the religious institution and the followers from external threats. This does not mean all doctrines are either mere human concoctions nor all are divine revelations. It means the real problem is not merely religious dogma but rather keeping God law and applying its principles to social relationships in a mutually beneficial environment of His redemptive love and grace.

If all religious people took God up on his challenge to come and reason with Him about these matters (Isaiah 1:11-20; 55:1-11), could there still exist enduring conflict and injustice? Would the differences matter as much as living in accordance with God’s actual law? The result would be a greater measure of peace than now exists, would it not?

It’s Time for All Americans to Occupy Washington, DC

By John W. Whitehead

“We need to put pressure on Congress to get things done. We will do this with First Amendment activity. If Congress is unresponsive, we’ll have to escalate in order to keep the issue alive and before it. This action may take on disruptive dimensions, but not violent in the sense of destroying life or property: it will be militant nonviolence. We plan to build a shantytown in Washington, patterned after the bonus marches of the thirties, to dramatize how many people have to live in slums in our nation. But essentially, this will be just like our other nonviolent demonstrations. We are not going to tolerate violence.”—Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 1968)

The ongoing recession, continuously high unemployment, home foreclosures, congressional intransigence, and the circus of electoral politics are symptoms of a disease so widespread as to have rendered the government altogether incapable of carrying out its mandate, which is to protect the rights of its citizens, individually and collectively. This disease, brought about by the government’s abject collusion with corporate America, has so corrupted the system, which has grown bloated, lumbering and inefficient with time, that there can be little hope of a full recovery. John Winthrop’s bright vision of America as a shining city on a hill is no more.

That said, however, while we may not be able to return to a time of smaller, limited government, free from the cloying influence of corporations, there may still be hope of restoring some semblance of that social contract which once reigned supreme and which held that political authority must be derived from the consent of the governed.

Initially, it was hoped that the Tea Party would serve as a bulwark against tyranny, but their lofty ideals quickly became subsumed by a political agenda that did little to distinguish them from their Republican counterparts. Now we have the fledgling Occupy Movement, such that it is. Whether the Occupy Movement proves to be anything more than a footnote in America’s unrelenting march toward complete control by the corporate-state will largely depend on its followers’ willingness to resist the siren song of politics and be apolitical and nonpartisan, confrontational yet nonviolent, inclusive rather than exclusive, and strategic yet visionary.

It has been done before. It can be done again. And the place to start is by studying the tactics of past protest movements such as the Bonus Army, the Civil Rights Movement, and the 1960s anti-war movement, all of which involved occupying public spaces, participating in civil disobedience, and speaking truth to power. Indeed, Occupy Wall Street and its sister protests are merely the latest in a long and historic line of populist protests to use sleep-ins, sit-ins and marches to oppose government policies, counter injustice and bring about change outside the confines of the ballot box.

For example, in May of 1932, more than 43,000 people, dubbed the Bonus Army—World War I veterans and their families—marched on Washington. Out of work, destitute and with families to feed, more than 10,000 veterans set up tent cities in the nation’s capital and refused to leave until the government agreed to pay the bonuses they had been promised as a reward for their services. The Senate voted against paying them immediately, but the protesters didn’t budge. Congress adjourned for the summer, and still the protesters remained encamped. Finally, on July 28, under orders from President Herbert Hoover, the military descended with tanks and cavalry and drove the protesters out, setting their makeshift camps on fire. Still, the protesters returned the following year, and eventually their efforts not only succeeded in securing payment of the bonuses but contributed to the passage of the G.I. Bill of Rights.

Similarly, the Civil Rights Movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to strike at the core of an unjust and discriminatory society. Likewise, while the 1960s anti-war movement began with a few thousand perceived radicals, it ended with hundreds of thousands of protesters, spanning all walks of life, demanding the end of American military aggression abroad.

What these movements had, which the present Occupy movements lack, is a coherent message, the mass mobilization of a large cross section of American society, what Martin Luther King Jr. called a philosophy of “militant nonviolent resistance” and an eventual convergence on the nation’s seat of power—Washington, DC—the staging ground for the corporate coup which has driven America to the brink of collapse. This is where the shady deals are cut, where lobbyists and politicians meet, where regulators are captured, and where corporate interests are considered above all else.

Wall Street may embody corrupt business practices, but Washington, DC, is where the collusion between government and business occurs, and that is ultimately what the Occupiers should be targeting. The government leaders and agencies responsible for this collusion are easily identifiable—they are entrenched in the White House, Congress and the courts—with Barack Obama at the front of the pack, having raised more money from Wall Street than all of the current Republican candidates combined.

The balance of power that was once a hallmark of our republic no longer exists. James Madison’s warning that “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elected, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny” has, regrettably come to pass. A silent coup has taken place, transforming our once-representative government into a corporate police state. The system cannot be fixed from within.

The only hope now rests with the determination of “we the people” to wrest back control of our government. A broad-based coalition is slowly forming, but time alone will tell if the Occupiers can maintain their resolve, develop a cohesive agenda, effectively communicate their message, and remain apolitical and nonviolent.

No matter what your political persuasion might be, this is no time to stand silently on the sidelines. It’s a time for anger and reform. Most importantly, it’s a time for making ourselves heard. And there is no better time to act than the present. As Robert F. Kennedy reminded his listeners in a speech delivered at the University of Cape Town in 1966, “Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard, to share in the decisions of government which shape men’s lives. Everything that makes man’s life worthwhile—family, work, education, a place to rear one’s children and a place to rest one’s head—all this depends on decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people.”

What can ordinary citizens do? Instead of sitting around and waiting for someone else to change things, take charge. Never discount the part that everyday citizens play in our nation’s future. You can change things, but there can be no action without education. Get educated about your rights and exercise them. Start by reading the Bill of Rights. You can do so online at www.rutherford.org. Or, if you want a copy to keep with you, email me at johnw@rutherford.org and I’ll send you a free one.

Most important of all, just get out there and do your part to make sure that your government officials hear you. The best way to ensure that happens is by never giving up, never backing down, and never remaining silent. To quote Dr. King, “If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means keep moving.”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re protesting the economy, the war, the environment or something else altogether. What matters is that you do your part. As that great revolutionary firebrand Samuel Adams pointed out, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires in people’s minds.”

Take some time right now and start your own brushfire for freedom.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Information about the Institute is available at www.rutherford.org

Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, Student-Led Cause For Justice

According to the Students for Life organization, October 18th is Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. Thousands of students across the country give up their voices for a day of solidarity for those who have had their voices unjustly taken away from them. They will wear red bands across their arms or mouths to make a stand against the horrific truth that over 50,000,000 lives have been taken since Roe v. Wade

Over 1,200 school groups have registered to participate in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity.

Support for the event include Students for Life, Priests for Life, LifeSiteNews.com, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, and other organizations.

To learn more and to register, click here: http://www.silentday.org.

Unable to pay child support, some parents are wrongfully jailed

By Bai Macfarlane

On September 12, an MSNBC story revealed that an estimated 10,000 parents were jailed each year for falling behind in child support payments. According to the story, nearly one quarter of the nation’s minors are in child support programs.

Mike Brunker, the Projects Team editor for msnbc.com says, “But in what might seem like an un-American plot twist from a Charles Dickens’ novel, advocates for the poor say some parents are wrongly being locked away without any regard for their ability to pay — sometimes without the benefit of legal representation.”

Brunker raises concerns about the practice of civil court judges jailing people without the person even having a lawyer. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution specifies that no person shall be be deprived of liberty or property, without due process of law.

The Coalition for Divorce Reform raises other concerns. In and e-mail interview, Beverly Willett, the Vice Chair for the Coalition says the no-fault divorce system is gravely unjust.

“The fact that poor parents can land behind bars for failure to pay child support when they have no ability to do so is just one more example of the injustice endemic to our no-fault divorce system.

“Sued for divorce against their will, compelled to split their property and their children and dishonor their marriage vows, and now finally thrown into jail like criminals. Our on-demand divorce culture has so multiplied the number of divorces and clogged our courts that in many cases litigants are herded in and out like animals with little or no opportunity to defend themselves. In essence, they are silenced. Their voice is taken away in much the same way that they are silenced the moment they become an unwilling defendant in a divorce action.”

No-fault divorce occurs when divorce is granted to the person filing for divorce, even though the other spouse has committed no offense against marriage such as adultery, extreme cruelty, or gross neglect of duty.

Timothy B. Nolan, a Gulf War Veteran was a defendant in a no-fault divorce in GeaugaCounty, Ohio. His wife was awarded with their son and he was ordered to pay child support. Even though he was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and medically determined unable to continue in his profession, the Geauga County Court and Child Support Enforcement Agency jailed him twice for being behind in child support.

“When I married my wife, I took my vows seriously and I lived up to my promises,” says Nolan. “My wife, on the other hand chose to quit fulfilling her vows. Though marriage is a contract, the courts don’t care whether a husband upheld his obligations while the wife quit. On the contrary, my wife, who breached the contract was rewarded by the Court and I was penalized.”

Willett, from The Coalition for Divorce Reform, says “Some parents do improperly withhold child support, and that’s wrong, but I’m not surprised to learn that the presumption of innocence does not apply in these child support contempt proceedings. With no-fault divorce, innocence is irrelevant too.”

In the MSNBC piece, Brunker writes that the person owing child support is not entitled constitutional protections that criminal defendants receive, including the presumption of innocence. “And in five states — Florida, Georgia, Maine, South Carolina and Ohio — one of the omitted protections is the right to an attorney.”

These same five states that don’t ensure the accused person’s right to an attorney refer to marriage as a contract in their laws. In typical contract law, the party who breaches the contract is held responsible to make good to the party who has been wronged. In Ohio Law “Husband and wife contract towards each other obligations of mutual respect, fidelity, and support” (3103.01). Florida specifies that ordained ministers in communion with some church “may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract” (741.07(1)). In Georgia, marriage is a contract and written marriage contracts “shall be liberally construed to carry into effect the intention of the parties” (§ 19-3-1, 19-3-63). Maine’s domestic relations law has as its goal “to nurture, sustain and protect the traditional monogamous family unit in Maine society, its moral imperatives, its economic function and its unique contribution to the rearing of healthy children” (§650-1-B).

Other states laws refer to the contractual element of marriage or the value of marriage in rearing healthy children. But, in no-fault divorce practice, the party upholding the contract frequently has reason to complain.

Gregory Lynne, who lost his children in a no-force divorce in Caroline County Virginia, says, “After divorce, the non-custodial parents are robbed of their identities as persons. Hanging-on, teetering between a jail cell and sub-standard wages (after paying child support,) and limited by child visitation orders, discarded parents live a tenuous existence. Many are discouraged and lose hope of ever raising their children to their full potential. Instead, they are treated like indentured servants, pimped by the state to ‘turn economic tricks’ as-if they deserved to be objects of underworld exploitation for the benefit of their absentee families.”

Bai Macfarlane writes at MarysAdvocates.org
Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44376665/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

The Problem of Sleep Deprivation

By Daniel Downs

Sleep is one of those human behaviors most necessary to human health. Sure, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding being killed are among the top three health practices. Sleep follows them is a strong fourth place.

There are many reasons people do not get enough sleep. A few that come to mind are worry, watching violent or other emotion heightening programs, eating too spicy or salty food before going to bed, conjugal relations while in bed, etc. Oh, yes, another is noise making people in one’s own home or people in the neighborhood.

Whatever the cause of sleep deprivation, the long-term problem arising from not getting enough sleep includes poor workmanship, sickness, and even death. All of which may contribute to the unemployment rate, increased costs of government, and family dysfunction.

There are several reasons why too little sleep too often over too long a period will result in ill health or death. When we are awake and active, our brains are consuming the largest share of our body’s available energy. But, when we are asleep, our body (muscular system, organs, and brain are consuming less energy, which allows more energy to be available for cellular reproduction and repair. That is why we all feel so much better after a good night’s sleep. Another reason is with an inefficiently operating cellular system cellular break down, genetic mutations, replication errors, or immune system dysfunction are more likely, which lead to ill health and even death.

It is one thing for people to choose not to get enough sleep, but it is wrong to intentionally prevent others from sleeping, except in the case of some perceived emergency or the like. History shows many examples of public officials and civilians alike seeking to harm dissenters or others by through sleep deprivation.

The regimes of Stalin and Lennon used this torture tactic in order to break-down dissenters in Siberian prison camps. The goal was to force dissenters into revealing the names of comrades, their addresses, and their plans as well as brainwashing them into accepting the regime.

Military officers captured by the North Vietnamese were often prevented from sleeping in the attempt to force them into confessions beyond name, rank and serial number. The mind and will of some officers did break and they did tell their captors what they knew about U.S. military operations and plans.

Domestically, Jews were often harassed in the middle of the night by disgruntled non-Jews while Americans were embracing Nazism and other forms of fascism during the 1930s and 1940s. The same was true of emancipated Negroes both during and after the eras of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. After 911, American Muslims most likely experienced the same thing.

Today, news reports indicate that sleep deprivation is epidemic in America. No doubt some of the problem is the American lifestyle; other contributing factors include the demands of children, worry over finances, and the like. Yet, there still are some Americans intent on keeping neighbors and even members of their own households from sleeping in the attempt to harm them. Not out of a sense of self-defense or possible fear of harm, but because of some jealousy, prejudice, cultural or other difference, or simply because of they simply dislike the other. Where it occurs, justice demands its end.

The goal of Easter is a life of fully satisfied justice

By Daniel Downs

While Jews celebrate the freedom from oppression from tyrants like Pharaoh and Haman, they do not forget the holocaust. I have read that many Jews forsook God because of this horrific event. Yet, the senseless death of millions of Zion’s children proved to be more like birth pangs. It was a bloody birth but Israel was reborn in 1948.

Israel was birth through the bloody confrontation between God and Egypt. Even though enslaved Jews in ancient were as worthy of God’s justice for their own sins, God passed over their lives during that confrontation. Why? Because he saw the blood of sinless souls. The sacrificed life of those morally inculpable souls God deemed sufficient to satisfy justice’s demands.

Easter is the season during which Christians also celebrate God’s Passover. No, it is not the same as the Passover observed by Jews. Rather, it is a celebration of the blessings of God promised Abraham. Christians enter into covenant blessings of Zion through the Jew Jesus.

Many focus on death Jesus during this season and rightly so. The moral changes of life experienced as a result of a developing relationship with God through Christ testifies to the divine acceptance of the only sinless sacrifice capable of fully and eternally satisfying God’s justice.

From a philosophical perspective, the moral crimes of humanity cannot be fully satisfied by inculpable souls i.e. animals. For the death of an animal as punishment for human sin, this substitute must be without sin for the soul that sin dies. A soul dead in sin could hardly be acceptable. Yet, animals cannot commit moral crimes as far as we know; only human are capable and culpable of such crimes. That is why the death of animals could never cease flowing on behalf of humanity: the death of animals is not fully sufficient to atone for human sin.

As previously mentioned, only a sinless human being could fully satisfy the demands of divine justice for all time for all people. That is reason why the one apostle who saw Jesus after his resurrection and ascension to heaven, Paul, said all who accept Jesus death and Lordship as covenant with God are justified, which mean both acquitted of all charges of moral crime and regarded as righteous by God. Notice, justification is sealed by Jesus’ resurrection. Paul, a Pharisee who was confronted by the resurrected Jesus and not the intellectual myth claimed by liberalism, realized the law of redemption is completed by Christ. The moral law of God inherent the covenants of God never ceased, only the never-ending need for animals to bear the punishment for human crimes against that law of God.

Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus because he is their representative before God. His suffering, punishment and death is their suffering, rightful punishment and death. His resurrection represents their future. Hence, Christians enjoy the benefits of covenanted salvation because it is of the Jews. Jesus is the one sinless Jew who was the progeny on many Jews going back beyond King David and Jacob to Abraham. As Adam was federal head of sinful humanity, Jesus reigns as Lord over a new age of people renewed to the glory of God as those seeking to live holy lives this world now that is not yet fully His kingdom.

Gay Lobby’s View of Your Non-Liberal Representatives

Like most organizations seeking donations in order to balance their financial accounts, the gay lobby, Human Rights Campaign, seeks to fire up the gay community and its supporters to contribute some more cash. The view most members are expected to share is that all members of the “right-wing” are bigots, destroyers of equality rights, and haters of gays.

Here are a few excerpts:

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may no longer be the law of the land, but the bigotry behind it is alive and well – in our schools, in our workplaces, and, perhaps most unfortunately, in the halls of Congress.

January will bring anti-gay leadership to the helm of the House of Representatives. The right-wing political machine – committed to destroying marriage equality everywhere – will be emboldened and aggressive.

We need your help to keep fighting back in 2011 and to protect our gains.

The million dollar question is how can anyone destroy what never existed–marriage equality? This is merely an extention of the same erroneous claim that gays are a naturally discrimiated-against minority requiring protection by special class rights. Because being gay is supposedly a inborn aspect of their nature, homosexual relations must also be natural. Consequently, marriage should also be a natural culmination of such relations.

The same counter-position still holds: Color, race, ethnicity, sex, and disability are all natural and inherent characteristics of biological and physiological human nature, but homosexuality is a chacateristic of sexual behavior. Sexual behavior is a biological given, but homosexual behavior is contrary to normative sexual relations among the different sexes. It is against nature and nature’s God, and therefore, it is against humanity.

The idea that gay consensual sex should be a constitutional right doesn’t add up either. No one can consent to being black, a woman, or blind at birth. People can consent to a law, to the proposition that the universe created itself, to doing violence to someone, having a doctor euthanasize themselves, or giving and receiving gifts. Consent lies in the domain of belief and behavior. Consent does not make a wrong right. Consent to wrong behavior is still wrong. All human behavior is relational in some way or another.

Christmas and World Peace

By Daniel Downs

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:12)

During the days of Jesus, Augustus Caesar was the acclaimed prince of peace. This praise was without critical comment. Peace in the Roman Empire was not won by reasoned negotiation but by the power of the sword. In the book of Revelation, John sees a rider on a white horse. The rider went conquering and to conquer. This vision describes Caesar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and many other leaders whose peace was packaged for subjugated peoples in terms of existence. Peace meant “my way or else.” A more accurate way of putting it would be don’t make me come back to deal with rebellion or with disruption of the flow of taxes or trade. Maintain law and order as well as tax payments and all will be well. That was the peace of Pax Romana.

In our modern Pax Americanus, the substance behind rhetoric of world peace is often about conflict over trade and disputes about the flow of goods like wheat, oil, and weapons. It is true that concern about the health and well-being of others is debated and money spent to resolve perceived problems. Yet, such concerns remain secondary to the kind of peace necessary for the continued growth in the global economy.

The issue of Middle East peace is one example. The on-going conflict between Israel, Palestinians, and Arabs may be religious and territorial in nature but our contemporary Caesars see the problem as an unnecessary disruption to the flow of goods regionally and globally. The not-so-powerful see the achievement of peace in the Middle East as an end to poverty among Palestinians. Others see poor Palestinians as one weapon of war against the continued existence of the Zionist state, which also means Arabs could have ended Palestinian poverty long ago.

In Pax Americana, liberal special interest groups often criticize Christian conservatives for focusing on politics rather than on the moral reform of individuals in society. Although valid to a point, the criticism is based on the belief that religion is not relevant to public policy affecting all aspects of daily life. The source of this belief is humanism or enlightenment rationalism exemplified by French intellectuals. This view was not held by most early Americans, which is one reason the liberal belief is erroneous. Because religion is both a world view encompassing life now and hereafter as well as a means to resolving problems, religion is crucial to politics.

In fact, religion is likely the only source to genuine peace.

Some will find such as statement outrageous because they see religion as one of the primary sources of violent human abuses, global conflicts, and war. Yet, the same can be said of secularists who have followed Marx such as communist leaders around the world. To the credit of secular statists, hundreds of millions of citizens as well as enemies have been tortured, maimed, and killed.

The mantra of secularists has been “you cannot legislate morality,” which by the way is the basis of peace. The opposite was held by the founders who regarded legislating immorality as an anti-law act. America’s inheritance of the rule of law concept goes back at least to the biblical accounts of the legal and consensus covenant between God and Israel and the development of their law codes and governing institutions. These in turn influenced the development of constitutional law in the American colonies.

The American experiment was the application of previous centuries of the Protestant (Puritan) struggle for religious freedom constituted by culture and law. The testimony of history is religion and bureaucratic power always result in human injustice, institutional led violence, and war. As noted above, the problem is not limited to religion but to ideologies instituted through power of governance. As the horrible news reported daily by the media proves, Calvinist-Puritans are still right about inherent depravity of humanity. It was this self-evident truth that led to the development of written legal compacts of which the US Constitution is one part and contract laws.

As the early Americans understood, peace is achieved by doing what is right according to the law of God and of nature. When laws, public policy, and behavior conform to this law, the result has to be peace. Only then will there be peace on earth and perpetual good will toward men, women, boys, and girls. International terrorism, wars, domestic violence, poverty, greed, envy, revenge, and the like will subside. Goods and services naturally will flow unhindered and without imperialist manipulations. Populations will control themselves without a death culture operated by paternal elitists.

That is exactly why the human race requires salvation by the only real prince of peace—Jesus Christ. Jesus entered the world on a peace mission. Many then and now see his death as mission failure. However, his death accomplished terms of reconciliation between God and humanity that know one else could achieve. His death paid the eternal price required to satisfy God’s justice concerning all of our moral crimes. He was raised from death in order to officiate over its implementation for every human. By accepting God terms of peace, each and all people will learn the way of peace. That is the reason Jesus commissioned his apostles to make disciples of all nations. Only then could there possibly be lasting peace on earth.

Many religions pursue peace as at least one, if not, the primary goal. However, most religious never really obtain peace with God. They miss the requirements of divine justice by only focusing on the necessary behaviors for right standing under God’s rightful rule. The problem is God cannot acquit (forgive) moral crimes committed any more than human judges do. The penalty for crimes committed must be paid. Good behavior before or after a moral crime is not sufficient to pay for the crime committed against God’s law. As the prophets and apostles proclaimed, “The soul that sins it shall die.” That is the price Jesus paid. His lordship guarantees the resources necessary to live right before God and thereby achieve the peace we all desire. Peace with God–the starting point to world peace.

To those who seek peace, Merry Christmas.

Who Is God For?

Listening to another great sermon this morning, this question came to mind: who is God for? The pastor’s message was God is for you. A whole lot of issues would be resolved if you settled that in your thoughts. What I do not remember the pastor explaining is why God was for his listeners. That is the pastor did not state or explaining the premise of his argument. His assumptions were not expressed.

What were his assumptions?

The pastor’s premise informing his argument for God being FOR his listeners is comprised of at least the following assumptions:

God loves humanity.

Because the Creator does, he seeks to redeem humanity from the consequences of sin. Those consequences include alienation, sickness, impoverishment, corruption, violence, war, injustice, and the like.

Because sin is a moral crime against the laws of God in human nature, justice is demanded.

For God to forgive humanity’s crimes, means to satisfy divine justice fully must be enacted.

Because the consequence of sin is death, the penalty of death is required.

Good works and moral behavior cannot be the basis of satisfying justice. That is true for all systems of justice of all peoples as well as God’s.

Although the appeasement of divine judgment for sin through sacrificial death of animals has been a universal practice throughout most of human history, and although mammals and human share similar biological nature, animals are not culpable for intentional moral crimes.

Therefore, only the death of a human could possibly fully satisfy divine justice.

Because all humans commit sin, only a human who has never committed sin could be qualified to satisfy the divine demand of justice.

The only human claimed to have fulfilled these qualifications is Jesus of Nazareth. His death has fully satisfied God system of justice thus enabling God to acquit human of their moral crimes and to empower to begin to live sinless lives.

Because the sinless Jew and only-begotten son of God, Jesus, has fulfilled the demands of God’s justice fully, God unmerited love can be forever expressed to those who submit to God by faith with Jesus. This is also called mercy and grace.

Therefore, God is unwavering for and never against those who live under the rule of God’s redemptive justice. All of God’s promises are forever yes. Because temporary lapses in sin cause temporary hindrances to the realization of promises, the hindrance is internal not external. God’s “yes” has not changed because Jesus has already suffered the penalty for all moral crimes and thus completely and forever satisfied all demands of divine justice.

The one contingency to the above is this: Faithfulness to God. That is the underlying problem throughout all of human history. It is why moral reformations resulting in the major religions of the world have occurred. It is why moral reformation will continue to occur, which often called revivals. However, unlike in the past, such reformations without the incorporation of Jesus’ accomplishments on humanity’s behalf as planned by God will not result in the desired future, which is the perpetuation of true justice and eternal life with God.

For those who already are faithful in their practice of righteousness as defined above, implementing the principles of Isaiah 58 can help with the internal resistance.

By Daniel Downs