[A.D. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the tacking of 95 theses upon the Wittenberg Church door by Martin Luther, thus launching the Protestant Reformation. To launch the celebration of this seminal world-changing event, HillbillyPolitics re-publishes our 2009 column marking of the 500th anniversary of fellow reformer, John Calvin’s birth.]
America was born 233 years ago last week with a Declaration of Independence signed in the City of Brotherly Love. Five Hundred years ago Friday a man was born to love God who helped define much of what embodies the independence that has defined the Shining City on a Hill and greatest hope of man on Earth.
John Calvin must be ranked as one of the greatest men of the Second Millennium after the birth of Jesus Christ, and not just for his role in the Protestant Reformation of the Christian Church, though that role alone was monumental.
Clearly, absent the reforms set in motion by Martin Luther’s 95 theses in Germany and Calvin’s Institutes in France, western civilization and its American jewel would likely not have achieved their paramount position in world history.
Contrary to revisionist historians hostile to the Christian Church, the Reformation enabled the Enlightenment from the Dark Ages and Judeo-Christian principles essential to a New World of tolerance and reason. The Church, not secularists, built the university.
Man, not the King, is entitled to the fruits of his labor*
Did Calvin want us to abstain from all material pleasures? He wrote that God “meant not only to provide for necessity but also for delight and good cheer. . . . Has the Lord clothed the flowers with the great beauty that greets our eyes, the sweetness of smell that is wafted upon our nostrils, and yet will it be unlawful for our eyes to be affected by that beauty, or our sense of smell by the sweetness of that odor?” He opposed any doctrine that “deprives us of the lawful fruit of God’s beneficence.”
Liberty under God trumps Church and State
Calvin also opposed doctrines that deprive us of political liberty. His understandings—that God-given laws are superior to those of the state, the king, and any other institution, and that individuals have direct access to the Bible, without dependence on pope or priest—are common now, but compare them to the political and theological theories fashionable before his time. In ancient times, pagan states revered leaders as semi-divine. Those who argued with such bosses were seen as deserving death. In medieval times, the interpretations of church officials often trumped the words of the Bible itself (which few people could read). They identified God’s kingdom on earth with a church monopoly, and hanged, burned, or decapitated some with other ideas.
Separation of Church and State and the Protestant Work Ethic
Calvin and other Reformation leaders, though, separated church and state while emphasizing the importance of believers working to lead the state. Calvin contended that, since God reigns everywhere, His followers should be entrepreneurs in every strategic institution, including government, civil society, commerce, media, law, education, the church, and the arts. This emphasis led directly to what has become known as the “Protestant ethic,” with its unleashing of individual initiative and its emphasis on hard work in purportedly secular areas. Many kinds of labor are equally worthy, Calvin argued, and those in charge of one activity should not dictate to others.
Calvin’s writings also had an implicit anti-statism. Since fundamental law comes from God, obeying the law means obeying God, not necessarily the state. Rebellion against an unlawful state act, led by “lesser magistrates” such as local leaders, is really a justifiable maintenance of true law. One Calvin disciple in 1579 wrote Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (“Vindication Against Tyrants”), which emphasized the limits of power.
It is a shame that the revolution in Calvin’s France nearly 300 years after his birth threw off respect for Creator endowed rights and that Europe in general has relegated God to equivalence with Zeus.
It is part of the Miracle at Philadelphia that America’s Founding Mothers and Fathers understood that only a moral and religious people could handle the freedom they set in motion that allowed for Independence not only from a King in England, but from the world history of tyranny itself, as TMR’s Pilgrim exclaims:
The Founders knew that ninety-nine percent of the human race had had to live out their lives under tyranny.
My prayer today is that We the People not succumb to the Siren Song of alluring Big Government which would deform Calvin’s reforms reflected in the Statue of Liberty his France gave to the New World.
*All quotes but final quote are from Marvin Olasky
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
Originally published at Redstate.com
The United States Senate, per se, was not created by the Founding Fathers to be THE bulwark against arbitrary executive action nor to prevent rash majoritarian action, i.e. to be Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “saucer to cool the coffee”. And the filibuster is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. In fact, had there not been a hue and cry from small states concerned with retaining sovereignty not granted to the federal government they were creating, America would have a unicameral rather than bicameral legislature.
The Senate came into existence to protect states rights, not to make Ciceros and/or Caesars of individual senators; and even before the Seventeenth Amendment rendered senators little more than representatives of larger districts through popular election, political parties had replaced congressional institutions as the bulwark against irresponsible radical change.
Want to stop radical change in America like good conservatives should? Then win either the White House, the lower People’s House of Representatives or the upper House of Lords, …er ah Senate. Want to enact conservative legislation or repeal liberal legislation? Elect a conservative as Chief Executive and conservative majorities to both houses of the legislative branch; EXCEPT that one must also elect a SUPER majority to the Senate, which hasn’t occurred for the GOP since most of the South was under post-Civil War reconstruction.
The history of the filibuster is not best defined by Strom Thurmond or Rand Paul. Rather, its main contribution to history is to make permanent, liberal legislation enacted by too-frequently-occurring Democrat control of all legislation-enacting branches in Washington, D.C.
President Obama and the Democrats have all the laws they need to turn this country into the dying economic and cultural basket case that is their European model and, quite frankly, probably had all they needed even before Obamacare. For instance, just since Presidents Richard Nixon’s EPA was created and Jimmy Carter’s post-Three Mile Island energy exploration restrictions were promulgated, the Democratic Party has been able (when they didn’t have the House or the Oval Office), thru Senate filibuster rules, to wreak more havoc and economic damage on this country than the Soviet Union or Usama bin Laden could have ever dreamed of. Not to mention the New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society.
Have Republicans spent too much money over the past 40+ years when they have had anything to say about it? Yes, but had entitlement increases not been protected by the filibuster, America would have slouched many fewer miles toward Gomorrah. The filibuster is no friend of any conservative whose goal is to actually reverse the path to destruction that America is on. Yes, it might occasionally prevent the enactment of make-weight puny additions to the welfare/regulatory state or enable individual Republican senate prima dons and donnas to delay the filling of executive positions. And? America’s descent is hardly slowed and will never be reversed if conservatives must always get 60 votes for what it usually only took 51 to enact.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
Iowa Republican presidential caucuses winner Ted Cruz was born in Canada. His mother was an American, having been born in the United States, who had never renounced her American citizenship. His father was born in Cuba.
Donald Trump, loser in Iowa (but winner in New Hampshire and leading the polls in South Carolina prior to Saturday’s pivotal primary), began trumpeting his latest justification for his election before he lost in Iowa: Ted Cruz was born in Canada. Democrats will take Cruz to court, so vote for The Donald.
The evidence that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii was always clear to most given the birth announcement in a Honolulu newspaper, but even had the 44th president been born in Kenya, he would still have likely been deemed eligible for the Chief Executive’s office.
Article 3, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides that:
No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.
The U.S. Supreme Court has never been ruled upon the meaning of the phrase “natural born” (which occurs no where else in the founding document) and in most conceivable lawsuit-challenge contexts would likely deem the issue a “political question” and defer the issue to the Electoral College and/or the Congress when they approve or disapprove electoral votes after receipt from the states.
But, what if a state executive official empowered to approve or disapprove candidates for inclusion on primary, caucus or general election ballots were to rule Ted Cruz as not natural born and thus ineligible to serve as President of the United States? In that instance, the nation’s highest court may have to interject itself, much as in the 2000 Florida recount.
Constitutional attorney Andrew McCarthy provides needed insight including from a 2015 Harvard Law Review article, “On the Meaning of ‘Natural Born Citizen,” [by] Neal Katyal and Paul Clement (former Solicitors-General in, respectively, the Obama and George W. Bush admininistrations), [in which they] explain that:
British law explicitly used the term “natural born” to describe children born outside the British empire to parents who were subjects of the Crown. Such children were deemed British by birth, “Subjects … to all Intents, Constructions and Purposes whatsoever.” The Constitution’s invocation of “natural born citizen” incorporates this principle of citizenship derived from parentage. That this is the original meaning is obvious from the Naturalization Act of 1790. It was enacted by the first Congress, which included several of the framers, and signed into law by President George Washington, who had presided over the constitutional convention. The Act provided that children born outside the United States to American citizens were “natural born” U.S. citizens at birth, “Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.”
It is likely, given 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause jurisprudence that residency would be applied to either parent, but in the case of Ted Cruz, his father has resided in the United States for many years.
Birthers also mistakenly cite Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to restrict the definition of “natural born” and “citizenship” even though the clause never mention the former and doesn’t purport to restrict the latter:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
There was no question at the time of the ratification of the Constitution nor of any of the amendments that the children of Americans born abroad were also American citizens at birth. What the post-Civil War 14th Amendment sought to make clear was that former slaves born in United States were citizens equal to non-slave citizens.
So maybe Donald Trump would do better to return to the issues of building of a border security wall that would save us so much in money now spent to house, educate and medicate illegal aliens that Mexico would in effect “pay for it” and ending the cheap labor/Chamber of Commerce Free trade absolutism policy? We think so.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
DeVine Law appreciates the support shown by people from around the country and those who gathered in support of Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk of Court Kim Davis, when she was released from jail earlier this week for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses under her name and from her office, as ordered by a federal District Court judge. Her letter from the Clark County Jail emphasized her objections as a Christian, to aiding and abetting same-sex marriage.
Republican U.S. Rep Thomas Massie of the Blue Grass state was among those, along with GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
“I’m here because five Supreme Court justices stole my job. They legislated. They wrote law,” Massie said.
Bravo Rep. Massie. He refers to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell declaring same-sex marriage a “right” out of thin Anthony Kennedy plus four other lawyers’ air. It’s too bad this was not the focus of Kim Davis’s civil disobedience because nothing in Scripture prohibits a government from defining marriage differently from the ideal described in Genesis by God the Father and in the Gospel of Matthew his son Jesus; nor does the Bible prohibit a Christian from exercising duties for the government associated with same. Moreover, God indulged polygamy even among his leaders in the Old Testament.
That said, DeVine Law did not agree with some fellow Christian conservatives such as Redstate’s Erick Erickson who said Davis “ought” to “just” resign. That’s essentially what then Brown v Board lawyer Thurgood Marshall told the civil disobedience icon of his day, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Get off the streets and let the lawyers do the work. But visuals of oppression are sometimes better than legal briefs in advancing the ball for self government by We the People.
Would it have been acceptable for an elected official to “just resign” over a matter of conscience”? Surely, but less so had she made her case on the grounds that the “law” of Kentucky still obtained given that the Obergefell decision was issued in violation of the Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln all objected to the notion of the court as being the final arbiter of the meaning of the founding document and, as elected executives like Davis, occasionally defied court decisions.
(For the record, we consider Huckabee’s claim that a state must pass a statute to effectuate a court decision to be specious. Liberal gun control-favoring state officials have delayed compliance with recent pro-Second Amendment rulings and this way.)
As for DeVine Law, we will focus on what Supreme Courts, Congresses and presidents ought to have done and not done. We leave Davis to the wolves from whom Christ and lawyer will protect her. Meanwhile, we said before her release, why not allow Davis the same freedom from jail that Obama and court lawbreakers enjoy, with the only caveat being she be enjoined from going to her office until she will submit to made up “law”?
Davis, it turns out had better lawyers than Erickson or DeVine, as hers worked out an accommodation to allow her to return to work, so long as she did not prohibit her deputy clerks from issuing the licenses. Bravo for her even if DeVine Law doesn’t generally favor such accommodations even in the private sector. We don’t think that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause empowers government to carve out exceptions to the general law to allow only certain Indian tribes to use illegal drugs nor to force Abercrombie & Fitch to make exceptions to their dress code for a Muslim. So we certainly do not think that every government employee should be able opt out enforcing any law they think conflicts with their religion.
Before Kentucky Clerk Davis resigns or is impeached, those five usurpers on the US SupCt should first. Nothing is more clear than that the Supreme Court unconstitutionally made law by inventing rights to same-sex marriage, and abortion for that matter, that are not in the Constitution. Davis has a legitimate grievance along with all constitutional conservatives, i.e. those who can read and understand the English language. The so-called new “law” granting a “right” to marry a person of the same sex was issued by five Oligarchs, posing as Supreme Court justices, who usurped the right of We the People to make laws via legislatures and amend the Supreme Law of the Land that is the U.S. Constitution only via its terms. The right to same-sex marriage in Kentucky and other states that have not enacted same, is more akin to an order issued by an Al Capone or Fidel Castro than a “law”.
For this reason, she walks in the righteous civil disobedience footsteps of MLK. She is, as he was, a flawed vessel. We take our heroes as they are. I respect the arguments of those who argued for resignation, but not that it was the “only” respectable course. Her lawyers found another respectable way, even if applied generally it would create chaos. This was a contempt case and a specific remedy was found.
Maybe if conservatives eventually succeed in their alliance with The Left in getting Kim Davis out of office they will support an interim Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk of Court who was granted amnesty under Obama’s made-up Executive Order, i.e.”Law”.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
By all means remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House de facto outdoor museum grounds, if for no other reason than to see what totem will be the next device used by Democrats to try and paint Republicans as racist per se and themselves as paragons of racial virtue.
This native gamecock of South Carolina’s first thought after first hearing of the Charleston Church Shooting was my recent debate with death penalty opponents, most of whom were Democrats and many of whom were South Carolinians, in which I advocated for capital punishment only in rare heinous cases. I had hoped that the first reaction from liberal Democrat death penalty absolutists would be to re-visit their absolutism.
But no, the first priority of too many Democrats upon learning last Wednesday that Dylann Roof had murdered nine members of Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emmanuel AME Church, was to re-visit the A.D. 2000 compromise signed off on by all parties and races, which removed the Confederate Flag from a position of sovereignty atop the State House Dome to the grounds next to its Confederate Memorial. Continue reading
Earlier this month, Georgians and Indianans were attacked as homophobic bigots by the “Selma envy” branch of the Democratic Party trying to equate the plight of gays and lesbians with the legacy of slavery and segregation of blacks. Why? For attempting to join 19 other states that had passed a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act first enacted by President Bill Clinton and Democrats in the 1990s. Peach State Republicans caved before passage, Hoosiers after passage.
Never mind that neither the federal nor any state RFRA have ever been used to countenance discrimination against any LGBT-identified “victim”. Never mind that jury verdicts assessing over $100k in damages in several western states against Christian-owned small businesses refusing to bake cakes or provide floral arrangements for or photograph same-sex weddings, have been upheld despite RFRA laws in those states.
No, the mere prospect that moms and pops, sued for such refusals, might be able to pose a religious defense against involuntary servitude at another’s religious service, brought out the self-righteous hordes of Democrats permanently aggrieved. Continue reading
And yes, today’s federal holiday is still, and always has been, declared in (you can look it up in) federal law , as Washington’s Birthday; and not any so-called amorphous “President’s Day” requiring celebrations of 43 Presidential oath takers. The latter is the creation of a failed congressional attempt to change the law coupled with (and you can look that up too) the advertising activities of retail companies and calendar manufacturers.
Moreover, liberal academic “reformers” and the media have used the above to conduct a veritable cultural hijacking of Washington’s Birthday, much as they have any tradition, institution and icon of the exceptional Judeo-Christian America they despise.
The law is the law, and the traditional name of the federal holiday remains, but the culture is subject to leftist hijacking via the neglect of conservatives and others that are proud of their nation.
General George Washington watched thousands fall on the battlefield so that we could ordain and establish self government based on the rule of law as opposed to the tyrannies of the rule of men, whether they be (would be Obama) Kings, Despots or Judicial Oligarchs. He nearly lost his life many times leading Revolutionary War battles. As our first President he astounded the world by peacefully giving up power to his successor.
Yet, all the “reformers” care to recall is that he was a slaveowner. Yes, he was a slaveowner, but he fathered a nation that put slavery on the path to destruction and which has freed more of humanity from tyranny than in all of human history. Ironically, many of the so-called reformers that would have us celebrate James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon, also conveniently looked the other way when evaluating the greatest enslavers and murderers of humanity in the Soviet Union and Red China.
The true reformer was the man whose birth we celebrate today. The man who admitted chopping down a cherry tree and went on to chop down the barriers to Liberty so that men could be truly free.
Happy Birthday President Washington!
“What our forefathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish.” – William Bradford