Sunday, May 13, 2007

Church and State.

On PBS, Bill Moyers had a special on the separation of church and state in the U.S. which focused on televangelist Pat Robertson’s Regent University – the Christian law school in which you mix classes of Constitutional Law with the subject of sin.

If you don’t take them seriously, or do not think they are influential in this country, think again. This is something that Republican Presidential Candidates have fully understood. Not only Mitt Romney this week (who ironically is a Mormon), but also McCain who spoke at Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University.

Appearing at Regent and other Christian institutions has become something of a requirement for Republican presidential candidates, whose success in GOP primaries still hinges in part on support from religious conservatives.

Graduates of the law school have been among the most influential of the more than 150 Regent University alumni hired to federal government positions since President Bush took office in 2001, according to a university website.

One of those graduates is Monica Goodling , the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who is at the center of the storm over the firing of US attorneys.

In 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent's government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management -- essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. (Boston Globe)

The “mission” of the University is really to turn the U.S. into a theocracy:

The mission of Regent Law School is to bring to bear the will of our Creator, Almighty God, upon legal education and the legal profession. (Regent Law School Web Site)

And when you listen to newly graduated students talk about the philosophy they intend to bring to the practice of law, it gets scary (although not uncommon in evangelical circles).

Here’s what one of the graduates said at the end of Moyers’ report:

I intend to help further the administration of justice and to do justice and I believe in absolute truth, I believe in absolutes, not grey, you know, not relative but absolute truth and that’s what God’s word is.

This is at the core of Evangelical philosophy – Godly absolutes vs. heathen relativism. I have always found this theory flawed and self-contradictory: from a Christian perspective, God is Absolute, and you may even consider his Word as Absolute, but Man is not only limited but also a sinner and thus imperfect (no Christian will disagree), so Man’s view and understanding of truths can only be partial and certainly be absolute.

Now, I won’t deny that there are limits to relativism as well – there are facts which would be hard to deny (although some people do), and the world would not go round if we never took unchecked facts for granted.

But the idea that because you are a Christian, you have been given open access to absolute truth is sheer arrogance, and from a Christian perspective, it is the greatest sin of all: it is putting yourself in God’s shoes.

From a more practical perspective, anyone familiar with languages will know that translation is interpretation and all texts can be subjected to critical analysis. English and French have more words than biblical Hebrew, so a word in ancient Hebrew has many meanings, and any linguist will tell you that there is always subjectivity in our understanding of words which are subjective signs.

So whether you believe in absolute truths or not (essentially in God or not) is irrelevant because the real question is whether you have absolute access and understanding of THE truth. Since all the evidence, humane nature and the bible points to the opposite conclusion, it blows my mind that people can’t get this.

And frankly I have yet to meet an Evangelical Christian who can make a convincing case, either from a Christian or a philosophical perspective.


At 01:43, Anonymous Lisse said...

Falwell and his ilk have given Christianity a bad name. 2000 years and still no human gets to decide who goes to heaven.
Maybe he should be thankful for that.

At 11:07, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

You are absolutely right. Wherever he is, Falwell must be thankful that God is certainly more loving and forgiving than he has ever been in his speeches.


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