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Friday, 29 October 2010 05:53

Jonathan Westminster: The 15% Solution, Serialization, 10th Installment, Chapter Nine 2007: The Supremacy Amendment (33rd)

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This is the tenth installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period which began in January, 2010.  It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022.  Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster, it is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United States. It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY.  The copyright is held by the Press.  Herein you will find Chapter 9.  You can find a complete archive of the chapters published to date on TPJmagazine.us (lower right hand corner of the home page, http://tpjmagazine.us/15percent) as well as the Disclaimer, the cast of characters, the author's bio., cover copy, and several (favorable) reviews.

A fairly recent commentator had this to say about the book: "I am in the middle of reading  The 15% Solution.  For some reason I assumed it was a recent publication.  About 100 pages in I looked to see when it was published.  It was published in 1996.  That absolutely shocked me. What it was saying then is exactly what is happening now.  The race-baiting, anti-homosexual crap that takes one's attention away from what is actually happening, and it was written about 15 years ago.  Even the 14th amendment controversy is discussed in this book, as well as so much more - ownership of the media, talk radio, etc.  This is truly frightening, and if the Dems do not wake up and fight, I fear there is much worse to come."  Indeed! 

Chapter Nine

2007: The Supremacy Amendment (33rd)

The 33rd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (2007):

Section 1. Article 6 of this Constitution in its entirety is amend­ed to read as follows:

This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made pursu­ant thereto shall be the supreme law of the land, except when the President, or the Congress by a majority vote of both houses, shall declare the Law of God to be superi­or to it.  Article 1 section 7 of this constitution shall apply to any Con­gressional decision in this matter.  Con­gress may over­turn a Presidential deci­sion in this matter by a two?thirds vote in both houses.

All Federal judges and the judges in ev­ery state shall be bound by the provisions of this amendment, any thing in the constitu­tion or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstand­ing. No Federal or state court may judge any act or action tak­en under this Amendment for its constitution­ality.

The senators and representatives before?mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution; religious tests may be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Section 2.  Neither Congress, nor any Federal court, nor any state or local government or other agency supported by tax rev­enues may pro­hibit organized or voluntary prayer or other rea­sonable religious devo­tion in any public educational institution.

 

Note: There is no indication or evidence that any of the historical figures or organizations quoted in this chapter, some mentioned else­where, additionally including but not limited to Don Feder, Bob Weiner, the Rev. Tim LaHaye, and the US Taxpay­ers Party would necessarily have supported or associated themselves in any way with the "Supremacy Amendment" or any of the actual positions or actions that Jefferson Davis Hague or any members of his government or po­litical parties took pursuant to it, at that time or in the future.

Author's Commentary

First, the 33rd Amendment, generally referred to as the "Su­prema­cy Amendment," set some unspecified "Law of God" above the law of the Constitution.  While the latter was written down in the original docu­ment and in many Supreme Court decisions made pursuant to it, the specification of just what "God's Law" was left to the President and the Congress.

The Amendment also extended the substance of the Supreme Court's decision in Anderson v. United States, permitting both "or­ga­nized" and "voluntary" prayer in schools.  (Incorporating a "school prayer amend­ment" into the Constitution had been part of the old Re­publican Party's national platform as least far back as 1992 [RNC]).  And, it permitted the establishment by the Federal government and the states of religious tests for office.

Further, the Amendment was almost as important for what it re­moved from the Constitution as for what it added.  In redoing Article 6 of the Constitution, the 33rd deleted the clause of the origi­nal that re­ferred to the pre?Constitution debts of the predecessor governments of the United States, assuming them as obligations.

That specific matter had long since become moot.  But the dele­tion gave certain people pause for thought as to what the American government's attitude towards some or all of its debts might be at some time in the future.  Section 4 of the 14th Amendment had specifically declared debts of the 19th century Confederate States of America not to be debts of the United States.  Was something simi­lar brewing here?  Future events would prove the concerns about the attitude of future U.S. and successor governments towards past debt to be quite valid.

The primary purpose of the Amendment, however, was to place into the Constitution the concept that there was some freestanding, encoded, "Law of God" (sometimes referred to as "Natural Law") that could somehow be defined by the President and/or the Con­gress, stand­ing above the Constitution.  The campaign for the adop­tion of the con­cept as a part of the foundation of the American legal system went well back into the Transition Era.

For example, the first black Right?Wing Reactionary Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, when justifying his rejection of the very modest Transition Era attempts to rectify institutionalized racial discrim­ination against blacks in employment and educational opportuni­ty called "affirmative action," said that "God's law" compelled him to do it (White).  And he specified the God-concept he was thinking of too: "You can­not embrace racism to deal with racism. It's not Chris­tian."

On Separation of Church and State

The prohibition of religious tests for candidacy for public offices had been a vital component of the "wall of separation between church and state" that was a central feature of the old U.S. Constitution.  Elim­inating that wall or trying to prove that it never ex­isted in the first place was a major goal of Right?Wing Reaction, finally achieved by the adop­tion of the 33rd Amendment.  As the Rev. Pat Rob­ertson had said in November, 1993 (Foxman):

"They have kept us in submission because they have talked about sepa­ration of church and state.  There is no such thing in the Constitution.  It's a lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore."

In 1993 also, a group called "Concerned Women of America" had articulated this position thusly (Glasser): "Christian values should domi­nate our gov­ernment.  Politicians who do not use the Bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office."

Early in the history of the Republic (and in one instance, quite well into it) certain states had imposed religious testing for candidacy for office (Menendez).  For example, despite the fact that the Mary­land state Constitution, adopted in 1776, acknowledged the "duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most accept­able," in that State, candidates for public office were required to declare "a belief in the Christian religion."

It was not until 1826, following a lengthy campaign by a Scottish Presbyterian immigrant named Thomas Kennedy for what his opponents called the "Jew bill," that Jews were permitted to stand for election in Maryland.  New Hampshire, known during the Transition Era as one of the bastions of Right-wing Reaction in the Northeast, did not remove its last religious test provision until 1968!

The "Cultural Civil War"

Having a free, open, debate on such subjects as the nature of the family and what constitutes healthy sexual behavior, with the possibility that in a pluralistic society there could be more than one "right" an­swer, was beyond the ken of the Religious Right.  To them, there was only one possible right answer to such questions, and they already had it.  For Right-wing Reaction, establishing the supremacy of "God's Law" was essential to winning what they viewed as the "cultural civil war" in which they saw the country engaged.  Presented here are some of the voices of Right-wing Reaction from the Transi­tion Era on the subject.

On the battle between the "religion" and "anti?religion," listen to Newton Gingrich, the famous Speaker of the House from 1995 onwards and patron of J.D. Hague (Blumenthal):

"[There is a] battleground about the nature of the American future [be­tween the God-fearing and the godless].  I do have a vision of an Amer­ica in which a belief in the Creator is once again at the center of defin­ing being an American, and that is a radically different vision of Ameri­ca than the secular anti?religious view of the left. . . . Frankly, history is an on?going rebuke to secular left?wing values.  They can't afford to teach history, because it would de­stroy the core vision of a hedonistic, existentialist America in which there is no past and there is no future."

Don Feder, a syndicated columnist, self-described "Jewish Conser­vative," in fact a leading figure of co-opted Jewish Right-wing Reac­tion, said (1994):

"A cultural civil war is raging across our nation. Arrayed on one side is society's cultural elite (those who command the nation's idea genera­tors): the professoriate, the media (news and entertainment), most elect­ed officials, the bureaucracy, corpo­rate America (when it deigns to take sides), the mainline Protes­tant churches, as well as most foundations.

"On the other side are a handful of family activists [sic], so­cial conser­vatives, a definite minority in academia, a few em­battled officeholders, and iconoclastic commentators.  Engage­ments are fought in editorial pages, in high school and college classrooms, and legislative hearing rooms, as well as on TV/radio talk shows.  Territory is gained or lost at polling plac­es.  The prize is the soul of middle America.

"The outcome of this debate will determine whether the paganizing of America will proceed apace or, as a society, we will rediscover tradi­tional values."

Author's Note: For an excellent summary of both the Right?Wing Reactionary position on the issue of separation of church and state and the Constitutionalist response to it, see Transition Era works by Boston (1993) and Anti?Defamation League (ADL).

Feder's "traditional values" had nothing to do with those of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, such as freedom of thought, freedom to worship or not worship, and tolerance of difference.  Rather he was a follower of those on the Reli­gious Right, as highlighted for example by Gingrich and Robertson, who would for everyone prescribe certain ways of thinking, acting, and being, and proscribe others.  Events showed that, whether to their sur­prise or not, Gingrich, Robertson, Feder and their cohorts would win the "cultural civil war" Feder described.

(Subsequently, when it became clear to the American people as a whole that the victory of Right?Wing Reaction in the "cultural civil war" meant the end to traditional American Constitutional democracy, a Second [military] Civil War would be fought.  From that War, as read­ers of this book know well, the forces of traditional American Con­stitu­tional government would ultimately emerge victorious.)

At the start of the "cultural battle," Right?Wing Reaction was far stronger than the "left."   The latter, in various stages of disarray con­tinuously from the time of the civil rights and anti?Vietnam War strug­gles of the 1960s, was far weaker than people like Feder ever admitted.  (It is possible, but unlikely, that the mouthpieces of Right?Wing Reac­tion were in fact as paranoid as they so often sounded and thus really were incapable of knowing that they held most of the cards).  But with the ratification of the Supremacy Amendment, Right?Wing Reaction had achieved the final destruction of the Constitutional barriers separating church and state that had existed whether Robertson thought they were real or not.  That destruction had been a principal goal of Right?Wing Reaction from early in the Transition Era.

On the "Law of God"

On the specifics of the supremacy of "God's Law" over that of man, listen once again to Pat Robertson (1991):

"According to the word of God, we will not have uni­versal peace, we will not have equity . . . until the world gives God's people in their midst the place that is due them, which is the head and not the tail . . . We will see the standard of Biblical values raised over this land . . . . [T]hose who have mocked you and cursed you and cast your people out as evil will be put down."

And to Bob Weiner, President, Marantha Campus Ministries (1991):

"The Bible says we are to rule.  If you don't rule and I don't rule, the atheists, the humanists, and the ag­nostics are going to rule.  We should be that head of our school board.  We should be the leaders of our nation.  We should be the editors of our newspapers.  We should be taking over every area of life."

And to the Rev. Tim LaHaye of the American Coali­tion for Traditional Values (Buchanan): "The prob­lem with America is . . . we do not have enough of God's ministers running the country."

Keith Fournier, the Executive Director of the Chris­tian Coalition's "American Center for Law and Jus­tice," said it a bit more eloquently, but the meaning was the same (1995):

"The way of the Christian Church recognizes the God?given unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.  A way that has in fact given birth to true economic liberty and a free enterprise system that is tempered by compassion and infused with an un­derstanding of social responsibility. . . . The way of the church is set in radical contradiction and prophetic distinction to the way of the individual or the way of the state. . . . It holds the state responsible to a higher law."

The little?known "guru" of the Religious arm of Right?Wing Reac­tion, a close colleague of the Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, was one R.J. Rushdooney (Boston, 1988).  Rushdooney was the leader of "Christian Reconstructionism," a movement whose theol­ogy was based on "theonomy," literally "God's law."  Thus Christian Re­constructionism was a religion, or religious theory, focused almost en­tirely on state power and its use.

Rushdooney pulled no punches in advocating a modern theocracy (Boston):

"Only God is the Lord or sovereign.  The modern state claims sover­eignty, therefore sets itself up in the place of God.  The sovereign is the source of law, and for us only God can be the ultimate source of law, not any human agency."

And:

"The Christian must realize that pluralism is a myth.  God and his law must rule all nations."

Finally, a late?Transition Era right?wing political party, the U.S. Taxpayers Party, had this to say in the Preamble to its National Plat­form (Abramsky):

"[We ask for] the blessing of the Lord God as Creator, Pre­serv­er and Ruler of the Universe and of this Nation, [and know that the U.S. Con­stitution] is rooted in Biblical law."

On "Innerancy"

Now, according to Rushdooney, just what is "God's law" and who were sup­posed to deliver the message to the people?  Why a book called the Bible, that he and many other Right?Wing Reac­tionary reli­gious figures of the time described as "iner­rant."  "Iner­rant" meant to them that Bib­lical statements were to be taken literally and that what­ev­er it says is right, correct, and true, that is, according to their interpre­ta­tions, of course.  Fur­ther, in the view of Rushdooney and his ilk, these Bibli­cal state­ments were to be control­ling of all human behav­ior.

One problem for the Innerantists was that there were a fair number of different translations of the original Hebrew and Greek Biblical texts, in some cases carrying widely different meanings (Niebuhr).  The Right?Wing Religious types generally felt that the King James Version of the Bible was the authoritative one, apparently because it conformed to their male?centered, authoritarian view of the world and the "word of God" (Williams).  However, that there were numerous transla­tions of the Bible, meant that while they were able to cite the "word of God" on many is­sues, they never were able to come up with the Word of God on just what, exactly, in English, were the words of God, on many issues.

That detail seemed to trouble them not, however.  As the field man­ual of the Free Militia, a paramilitary group that closely associated itself with the Religious Right said (TFW): "The Bible is word for word the word of God.  Therefore it is completely true and without any er­rors.  This is what we mean by innerancy." But even given that there might be some agreement on exactly which translation of the Bi­ble was "God's translation," who would tell the people just what the "innerant" mean­ing of any giv­en statement in the Bible is?  Why those who claim to know -- like Rushdooney, for example.

Compounding all of this, the Religious Right would have imposed their position on all human beings, whether or not believers in the Bi­ble.  However, the Supremacy Amendment was as far as they were able to get. Try as they might, the pri­ma­cy of Bib­li­cal Law, as they in­ter­preted it, was one concept the Reli­gious Right was never able to get into the Con­stitu­tion.  J.D. Hague was not about to give up con­trol of the country's civil and criminal legal system to "a bunch of fucking preach­ers," as he was known to refer to them private­ly.

In any case, the Bible's text is not unambiguous.  It is, rather, in many places quite ambiguous, self?contradictory, and wide­ly open to interpretation (as well as inaccurate his­tor­i­cal­ly) (Fox).  Never­the­less, ac­cord­ing to the promoters of the theo­ry of "innerancy," what the Bible "innerantly" says and means is just what, and only what, the hu­man claimant that it is inerrant says that it says and means.

However, even among the supporters and promoters of the theory of "Biblical innerancy," there were many, sometimes fierce, internal debates as to just what the Bible "innerantly" meant.  For example, a strongly anti?Semitic Right?Wing Reactionary preacher of the Transition Era, one Pastor Peter J. Peters (1994), held up the "innerant" Bible as the complete justification for his doctrine.  At the same time, the Right?Wing Reactionary Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, certainly claiming to be anything but anti-Semitic, also cited the "innerant" Bible to support their doctrines.

As was often his wont, Dino Louis came at the subject of "innerancy" from a perspective not shared by too many others. A short, previously unpublished essay of his from 1997 on one aspect of the subject is presented here.

On "Inerrancy," Creationism, and Evolution

By Dino Louis

Inerrancy: "the Bible means what it says, and that's it."  Further, ac­cording to its promoters, "inerrancy" means that the Bible is literally "the word of the Lord."  In use, however, "innerancy" means no more and no less than: "the Bible says what I say it means, that's it, and that's that."  In this light comes consid­eration of the question of wheth­er or not creationism rather than, or at least next to, evolution science, should be taught in the schools.

There is nothing inconsistent between the theory of evolution and belief in God.  Many supporters of evo­lution theory do believe in God.  They hold simply that evolution is the means God has used and uses to create life and control its progress through history and changing condi­tions on Earth. From their per­spective, the Bible, even if it is the word of God, and some believing evolu­tionists hold that it is, is not to be taken literal­ly from anyone's perspective.

For example, in 1994 an organization called the Lexington (KY) Alli­ance of Religious Leaders is­sued the following statement (Scott):

"As religious leaders we share a deep faith in God who cre­at­ed heaven and earth and all that is in them, and take with ut­most seriousness the Bibli­cal witness to this God who is our creator.  How­ever, we find no incompatibility between the God of cre­ation and a theory of evolution which uses universally verifiable data to explain the probable process by which life developed into its present form."

For the Fundamentalists the problem with this kind of think­ing is that evolution science is completely in­consistent with the the­ory of "innerancy."  For if the story of Creation is just a story, or an allegory, or even a moral but non?literal presenta­tion of evolution science, then everything and anything in the Bible could be just a story or an allegory or a moral but non?literal presentation.

Author's Note: "Creationism" held that the Biblical fable that some un­known and unknowable being called "God" created the world in seven days about six thousand years ago should be taken literally.  Further, it held that the story should be taught in the schools as fact, and that on its basis, evolution science should be held to be com­pletely without validity.

If that is the case, if the Bible is not "innerant" in the sense that it should not or need not be taken literally in anyone's in­terpre­tation, the whole basis of American Funda­mentalism and the politico?theological basis of the Religious Right crumbles in­stantly.

First of all, the Bible becomes open to interpretation by any­one, not just those religious figures who claim that their inter­preta­tion reflects "innerancy."  Second of all, if that is the case, what justification can there be for putting any one religious figure's moral views into laws that become binding on everyone whether they are believers or not?

The usual justification given for doing so is: "the Bible says it's so, so we must put the force of law behind it."  But in the ab­sence of "innerancy," that justification falls apart.  Third of all, if the Bible is open to interpretation by anyone, and if all or part of the Bible may just be a collection of stories/allegories, why should it be accorded the sta­tus of "Natural Law" and placed above the Constitution as controlling hu­man behavior?

The Bible is, of course, nothing more, or less, than a collec­tion of sto­ries, myths, fables, genealogical tables, wise sayings, moral instructions from one perspective or another, in­sightful ob­ser­vations on human existence and the human com­e­dy, helpful hints for healthy living, helpful guides to civil life, some history-both real and fanciful, prejudices of the literate classes, and old-time civil and crimi­nal law dressed up in reli­gious trappings.  In both the Old and New Testaments, great parts are based on recollection and oral tradition, e.g., the first description of the life of Christ (what is called the "Pas­sion of Christ" by believers) wasn't written down until approximately 100 years after his death.

The Bible is an interesting and sometimes useful book that has bene­fited from an extraordinarily successful marketing pro­gram over the centu­ries.  But the claim that its story about Cre­ation must be taught in the schools as an equal of evolution sci­ence is not based on the utility of the Creation story to help people un­derstand anything.  Rather, it is based on the necessity of [its] being taught as reflecting reality, if "innerancy" is to be es­tablished for all the other parts of the Bible.

For if the "innerancy" of even this one section of the Bible can be brought into question, then the "innerancy" of any other sec­tion could be brought into question as well.  And that is why the campaign to gain educational legitimization of the Creation story, to go so far as to even label this religious fable itself as "science," is so important to the Reli­gious Right.  [End of the Louis essay.]

The Catholic View of the "Law of God"

As a final authority on the proposition that the "Law of God" stands supreme to any law of man (in­cluding the old United States Con­stitu­tion), its sup­porters could quote the Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II.  In a "Papal Encyclical" [Author's Note: statement of highest Church authority] supporting the position that there is no such thing as freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy, he said (Keeler):

"Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Pe­ter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immor­al. * No cir­cumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it  is contrary to the Law of God."

And why is such "an act" "contrary to the Law of God" in the Pope's eyes?  Because, using the circular reasoning common among the Right-wing Religious leaders of the time, he knew for sure (in some way or another that he did not share with his readers) that it was, and be­cause he said so.

And so, to the direction of its future by this kind of thinking was the old United States condemned.  The campaign to sunder the Consti­tu­tional separation of church and state in the old U.S. had commenced in earnest at the beginning of the Transition Era.  That campaign finally realized its objective in full with the adoption of the 33rd Amendment.