God’s law and man’s law

Frank Bruni in an NYT opinion piece, “Too Much Prayer in Politics: Republicans, the Religious Right and Evolution” on February 15th:

Faith and government shouldn’t be as cozy as they are in this country. Politicians in general, and Republicans in particular, shouldn’t genuflect as slavishly as they do, not in public. They’re vying to be senators and presidents. They’re not auditioning to be ministers and missionaries.

… Mike Huckabee, who is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist church, put God in the title of a new book that he wrote and just released on the cusp of what may be another presidential bid. He ran previously in 2008, when he won the Iowa caucuses.

The book is called “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.” These are a few of his favorite things.

During a recent appearance on a Christian TV program, he explained that he was mulling a 2016 campaign because America had lost sight of its identity as a “God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God.” The way he talks, the Constitution is a set of tablets hauled down from a mountaintop by a bearded prophet.

The notion that God’s law is above man’s law is widespread these days, especially among politicians. This is disturbing, especially since it comes from people who claim to know the mind of God. Certainly it wasn’t what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Digression: from Wikipedia on law:

Law is a system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour. Laws can be made by legislatures through legislation (resulting in statutes), the executive through decrees and regulations, or judges through binding precedent (normally in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including (in some jurisdictions) arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution (written or unwritten) and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

… Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some religious communities, particularly Jewish, and some countries, particularly Islamic. Islamic Sharia law is the world’s most widely used religious law.

But this is not the U.S. as currently governed.

Back to Bruni:

We should listen hard to what’s being said in Alabama, where opponents of gay marriage aren’t merely asserting that it runs counter to what Alabamians want. They’re declaring that it perverts God’s will, which was the position that some racists took about integration.

Last week, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party wrote that the state would “reap God’s wrath if we embrace and condone things that are abhorrent to God, such as redefining marriage.”

And in an interview with the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore — the man who once put up a granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial System building — said, “Our rights, contained in the Bill of Rights, do not come from the Constitution, they come from God.”

“That’s your faith,” Cuomo replied. “But that’s not our country.”

Beautiful response from Chris Cuomo.

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