Respect for the Law?

25 April, 2009

In the years immediately following the Second World War, the Allies convened war crimes tribunals in both Europe and Asia.  Some Japanese soldiers were found guilty of war crimes, specifically of torturing United States servicemen using various methods, including water-boarding.  From the Washington Post:

At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

Some defendants were were sentenced to death, many others to prison.  Yet now, the political (and religious) right argues that the torture method called water-boarding lawful.  And not only do they have no problem breaking the law, they told others (soldiers and agents) to do the actual deeds.  Ah, the sweet smell of respect for international law.

Seven months ago, a group called the Alliance Defense Fund (a ‘legal’ advocacy group founded by those lovers of freedom, Focus on the Family) decided that the time was ripe to challenge the federal law under which

places of worship can distribute voter guides, run nonpartisan voter registration drives and hold forums on issues, among other things.  But they cannot endorse a candidate, nor can their political activity be biased for or against a candidate. (from The Times Leader)

and trigger a fight to overturn the regulations.  Thirty-three churches took the chance of losing their IRS tax exemption and, on September 28, 2008, “participating pastors urged worshippers to vote according to conservative views on abortion and gay marriage” and “Several endorsed Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.”

Unfortunately for rule of law, “The IRS has nothing to gain from a costly symbolic battle. . . .”  Additionally, Republican anti-tax and anti-government zealots have so gutted the IRS enforcement division that “it has limited resources. . . .”  Ah, the sweet smell of respect for federal law.

The last case of respect comes from Iowa.  As we all know, at the beginning of April, the Iowa Supreme Court decided that human rights really do apply to all humans.  Of course, recognizing that humans have a right to human rights has royally cheesed of Focus on the Family.  And they are suborning illegal activity on the part of  public employees (and are offering to pay their legal bills (of course, Iowa taxpayers will have to foot the other half of all those legal bills)). (From Crooks and Liars)

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a legal advocacy group founded in 1994 by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and the late Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, sent an e-mail to each of Iowa’s county recorders asking them to tell their staff that they “shall not be required to issue or process a marriage license, or to perform, assist or participate in such procedures, against that individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

The e-mail, which was sent out in conjunction with the Iowa Family Policy Center, says Iowa law protects citizens from being forced to “violate his or her conscience.”

The ADF then offers to “provide free legal review and defense” for any county recorder that adopts a “conscious clause” and is challenged “on the basis of its content.”


Attorney General Tom Miller has repeatedly warned county recorders that they do not have the authority to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and “recorders do not have discretion or power to ignore the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling,” Miller said.

Ah, the sweet smell of respect for state law. 

What do the radical religious and political right (and their mouthpieces) have against the law?  The fact that they are expected to follow the law, too?  Don’t super-duper hyper patriots have to follow the same laws as everyone else?  Or am I living a dream?



  1. You’ve forgotten that God’s law trumps all human laws. It’s a pretty straightforward process to apply that to the Iowa law about gay marriage. The other two cases require some extra-biblical justification. Here’s an example of how that could work:

    1.Americans are only bound to obey American law, which trumps international law and the laws of all other nations.
    2.America is a Christian nation.
    3.Since America is a Christian nation, its laws are ipso facto, Christian laws.
    4. Since American lawyers have declared waterboarding is a lawful interrogation method, it is not illegal under American law.
    5. Since waterboarding is okay under American law, and American law is Christian law, waterboarding is acceptable under Christian (God’s) law.

    Hope that clears things up for you.

  2. They seem to befollowing what they perceive as a “higher” authority and therefore can overlook the law unless it fits their nonsensical revisionist reality. They are living the old saying,”the end justifies the means”, sadly without realizing that the ultimate end to that is anarchy.

  3. Chappie (& Tau): I know. I was just trying to point out the pattern. Not that they believe that they respond to a higher law (though I have to wonder where rendering unto Caesar fits into that), but that the ones who think that higher law trumps are the ones asking others to break the law. If they believe so strongly that the law is wrong, why are they asking others to break the law to force a legal showdown (which, in Iowa, would end up at the same supreme court that ruled unanimously in favour of human rights)?

  4. why are they asking others to break the law to force a legal showdown…?

    They can be Heroes of the Faith – standing up for God’s will in the face of evil. Since American Christians don’t get many opportunities to be persecuted, martyred, etc., they have to fabricate such opportunities. Gotta feed that martyr complex.

  5. Chappie: It just reminds me of line from Shrek: “Some of you may die, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Or, W’s “Bring it on!” After all, he’s not the one doing the actual fighting, right? So if these jokers in Focus on fascism the Family want to feed their martyr complex, why ask others to take the risk?

  6. For the same reason that people who’ve never served in the military pick the wars. If I may reference a cereal commercial for a moment; it’s safer for one’s self to get Mikey to eat it.

  7. the chaplain, christian law does NOT trump human law. Christian’s must, by biblical edict, follow man’s law, they may only over ride this IF it contravenes god’s laws.

  8. 420 Guy: Thanks for stopping by. Odd, though. Even though many Christians claim that America was created as a Christian nation, no where in any law, statute, or ammendment, is there a provision allowing a person to disobey a law because of religious belief. Men drafted into the armed forces could conscientiously object and be placed into a non-combatant position, but that is not permission to disobey a law, merely a work around. So, by your argument, if a Christian believes a government law contravenes his version of god(s)’ law, he can ignore it? Why did we bother with a democratic republic, then?

  9. (((Billy))) you misunderstand my post. I was not speaking from an American standpoint, but from a biblical one and in direct response to the chaplain’s claim that “You’ve forgotten that God’s law trumps all human laws.” My argument is not that the law allows you to get out of following it because the bible disagrees, but rather that biblical law commands you to follow the law UNLESS in contravenes biblical law, then and only then are you allowed (biblicaly speaking, and not legally speaking) allowed to break the law. I am directly stating that this does not apply in this case.

  10. 420: I fail to see the difference. Since virtually every Christian sect has a different view of what ‘god(s)” law is, then each church (possibly each Christian) would then get to decide what secular laws could be followed. It is, according to many Christians, a personal relationship with god(s) and Jesus which achieves salvation. A personal relationship is, by definition, different for each person. If it is different for each person, this viewpoint gives anyone of faith permission to ignore any civil or criminal law with which they disagree.
    I guess I don’t understand.

  11. I don’t understand, either. “Christian law does NOT trump human law” & “Christian’s must, by biblical edict, follow man’s law, they may only over ride this IF it contravenes god’s laws” mean opposite things. Also “chunky peanut butter” isn’t so chunky. Don’t believe the hype!

  12. Modusoperandi and (((Billy))), there is a subtle difference between Christian law trumping mans law and Christians being ordered to follow man’s law unless it contraviedns gods law. There is no biblical law stating that Christians MUST oppose gay marriage, there is no biblical law stating that Christians are allowed to torture. Christian law is laid out in the bible, for those who follow it, there is no biblical justification for refusing non-christians from doing anything. If someone of faith is to ignore a civil or criminal law they would have to have biblical evidence that gods law was being contravened, in other words that THEY were being forced into sin. You cannot, by biblical edict, refuse to follow a law because others might sin, but you yourself cannot follow a law if it forces YOU to sin. Therein lies the difference.

  13. Vaguely.
    Now can you explain that to the multitudes that believe the complete opposite?

  14. Simple, most Christians don’t actually read the bible, and they take passages out of context and pick and choose which ones to follow and which ones to completely disregard while at the same time claiming that the Bible is divine and 100% truth.

  15. Now can you explain that to the multitudes that say the same thing about you?

  16. Well as for reading the bible, I have read the bible, several times. As for picking and choosing which ones I follow, that’s easy, I am not a Christian anymore due to the hypocrisy rampant in the book and in the followers.

  17. You could’ve saved yourself a bunch of time by just looking at the pictures.

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