Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Jerry Falwell is dead but Jonathan Falwell has stepped right into his father’s jackboots and continued his Worldnutdaily column and his penchant for distorting history. In his latest column, Falwell criticizes Obama’s first judicial nominee, David Hamilton to the 7th circuit court of appeals, as “anti-Jesus” because he wrote a ruling striking down sectarian prayers in the Indiana legislature.

As noted by Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, Judge Hamilton is “the infamous activist judge who in 2005 ordered the speaker of the Indiana House to immediately stop the practice of ‘sectarian prayers’ at the opening of the legislative session. Apparently the prayers were too Christian for Mr. Hamilton.”

Judge Hamilton ruled, “[T]hey should refrain from using Christ’s name or title.”

Well yes, he did say that in his ruling. He was following the precedent of Marsh v Chambers, which upheld the practice of legislators beginning their sessions with prayer that was non-sectarian in nature. But Falwell has to make this sound like an absolutely terrible thing, and that’s where the distortions begin to pile up. Like this one:

Is he serious? As I’ve pointed out on several occasions in this column, this nation was founded on, and has a long history of advancing, Judeo-Christian values.

This phrase “Judeo-Christian” would have been absolutely appalling to Christians in the late 1700s, who were almost entirely anti-Jewish. This is a modern phrase with no relevance in history whatsoever.

Our nation’s capital is bursting with Christian imagery, including the frieze of Moses and images of the Ten Commandments at the U.S. Supreme Court.

And the same frieze also includes Mohammed. And Hamurabbi. And Confucius. And Octavian. And Solon. So I guess that frieze is “bursting” with Muslim and Chinese imagery as well.

Our founders fearlessly placed their faith in the Christ of the Bible.

Some of them did. Others, like Jefferson, completely rejected the notion that Jesus was divine and practically everything else in the Bible.

I wonder how men like Judge Hamilton sidestep the numerous statements of our founders in advancing Christian principles.

What does he think of James Madison, the father of the Constitution, who wrote that “the belief in a God All Powerful, wise and good … is essential to the moral order of the World and the happiness of men”?

Falwell is blissfully ignorant of the obvious contradiction in invoking James Madison while defending legislative prayer. He is doing here what Christian Nation apologists always do, picking out a quote that suggests some founding father liked Christianity as if that means they were against separation of church and state and wanted the government to promote Christianity.

But Madison is exactly the wrong person to invoke, especially when Falwell is criticizing Judge Hamilton for striking down legislative prayers. Madison wrote in no uncertain terms that he believed legislative chaplains and legislative prayers were a violation of the first amendment.

Tragically, men like Judge Hamilton either ignore or revise the intent of such words. It is interesting to note that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Hamilton would sit if approved, overturned his decision to oust Christ’s name.

Actually, they didn’t. They dismissed the case based on standing without ruling on the merits of the case.

Mrs. Wright said, “David Hamilton proved the liberal American Bar Association correct when they rated him as ‘not qualified’ for his current post. Hamilton’s decisions reveal a deep disrespect for the Constitution and overinflated view of his own opinion. Senators would be derelict in their duties if they vote to promote him to do further damage to religious freedom and justice.”

The only reason the ABA rated him as not qualifed in 1994 was because they felt he didn’t have enough experience. Their standard at the time was that a nominee should have been members of the state bar for at least 12 years prior to a judicial nomination and Hamilton only had 9 years in the bar. But now, of course, he has had 14 years on the federal bench, so that is hardly an issue.