I’ve mentioned before the ReligionLaw listserv, run by Eugene Volokh of the VC (that’s Volokh Conspiracy, not Vietcong). It’s an interesting group to keep up with, especially when there are court cases involving the first amendment’s religion clauses. The list is mostly law professors and public interest attorneys, with a range from ACLU state directors to attorneys from Pat Robertson’s ACLJ. And there are a few random kooks as well, including the aforementioned Larry Darby, whose obnoxious holocaust denial finally got him removed from the list.
Another major kook on the list is John Lofton, who runs The American View, a bluntly theocratic commentary on American politics. He has close ties to the misaptly named Constitution Party, a political party that would pretty much shred the Constitution if they were in power. For an example, look no further than this article calling for the impeachment of a Maryland judge for not imposing “God’s law” in a ruling. Along the way, he engages in much specious reasoning.
He is referring to a ruling that said that the state’s constitution could not allow a ban on gay marriage. Now, I don’t know if the ruling was solid or not as I’ve not read the Maryland constitution. But I do know that the arguments that Lofton makes against the ruling, which are based upon his interpretation of the Bible rather than of the law, aren’t even close.
The crucial, unchangeable fact is that the only true definition of marriage there is has been God-ordained and God-defined. Thus, God-created, man-woman only marriage is the only definition of marriage there is. When God says it, that settles it. Period – end of argument.
Lofton surely knows that this doesn’t “settle it” at all, because his claim that the Bible is the word of God is entirely open to argument. The mere fact that he believes this to be true doesn’t mean it actually is true, of course. I could just as confidently assert that the Bible is not the word of God and declare that an end to the argument. I won’t bother to go in to all the reasons why at this point because here I’m only arguing that this simplistic argument is false.
He quotes the following passage from the judge’s ruling: “This Court holds that Maryland’s statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage cannot withstand this constitutional challenge…because it discriminates, based on gender against a suspect class; and is not narrowly tailored to serve any compelling governmental interests.” And here is his response:
“Discrimination” is neither necessarily bad nor unconstitutional, as Judge Murdock seems to think. In Maryland a man cannot marry a duck. Is this “discrimination?” Yes. Is this prohibition therefore, necessarily, “discrimination” that is unconstitutional? Of course not – even though this “discrimination” is “against a suspect class” – ducks and those who want to marry ducks.
Wow. From ducks to red herrings, this is quite an animal fetish. The judge was speaking of discrimination on the basis of gender, which is an unconstitutional form of discrimination under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause and much settled law. His ridiculous example involving the poor mallard is laughably inapplicable for the obvious reason that a duck cannot reason or consent. He also distorts the meaning of the phrase “suspect class”, a legal term of art. It doesn’t mean anyone that John Lofton might consider “suspect”, it means a group that has historically faced much discrimination and therefore laws aimed at them are due heightened scrutiny from the courts to insure that such discrimination is not continuing under a more benign veneer.
And here is a good place to say something about this phrase “compelling governmental interests” which crops up more than once in Judge Murdock’s ruling. For those who act as if government is God, all arguments must show “compelling governmental interests” or they are not valid. Such pagan views are sinful because they disregard the highest “interest” – what God says in His Law.
All governments have a “compelling interest” in, first, obeying God’s Law. Such obedience is an example of the righteousness God says that exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). To ignore God’s Law – well, I think there’s a lesson in what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.
I think there’s a much more compelling lesson in the writing of our own Constitution, which strictly forbids such establishments of religion. The government may no more enforce Lofton’s interpretation of the Bible than they can enforce the Sharia law of Islam. Our Constitution was a radical break from a long history of governments alleged to be ordained by God with the power to enforce religious law. Theocrats like Lofton just go on pretending as though it never happened, while simultaneously claiming to support the Constitution. This is cognitive dissonance on a cosmic scale.
The precise purpose of civil government, including judges, is to show an “animus” against evil – in this case homosexuals and homosexuality – and punish it. God Himself in Romans 13:3 and 4 says: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
Well, I’m glad to see Lofton stating his theocratic madness so boldly and unapologetically, but this is truly nuts. And notice that he doesn’t distinguish between homosexuals and homosexuality – so much for that “hate the sin, love the sinner” line, at least in his case. What Lofton wants is nothing less than the bold overthrowing of the principles found in the Declaration of Independence, the destruction of the very notion of unalienable rights among which are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There is only religious purity, not freedom, and that purity is to be enforced by the sword of government. You either conform or you are subject to coercion and your freedom simply doesn’t matter. Let’s see what Thomas Jefferson thought about that:
Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth.
Or what James Madison had to say about it:
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
I think I’ll take Madison and Jefferson over Lofton. And no, it’s not a close call.