Bible v. Constitution
I am an atheist who knows what Romans 13 is. Scott Horton helped me understand:
“It says in the Bible boy, that ya do whatever the President saysScott Horton
if he’s a Republican. Romans 13.”
There are two diametrically opposing interpretations of the Bible’s direction to Christians on government. My summary:
- Christians have the duty to do whatever Caesar orders
- Christians have the duty to oppose unjust government
There is also a spectrum of interpretations between these two end points. Presumably there are interpretations unrelated to either. This is a feature of the Bible, not a bug.
The vague, poetic prose of conflicting innuendo, analogy, and parables in the Bible has 2000 years of interpretation history. The Bible has been used to prove that slavery is just, puts murders in the same list as homosexual men, says the Sun orbits the Earth and can stop for a day, and that God gives kings the divine right to rule. Some people claim that the U.S. Constitution is derived from Christianity, representing the word of the Lord. The book is handy that way. The loose and conflicting interpretation possibilities are one part of why the Bible has survived for 2000 years. What it means is flexible, changes with culture shifts and discovery of scientific realities, and can generally be interpreted to “prove” a pre-determined agenda.
I could argue that this lack of clarity by itself is a reason the Bible cannot be legitimately treated as law. But that would require me to also argue the same is true for most Congressional legislation. I would be correct in both cases.
Scott Horton’s sarcastic (sort of) response in a podcast discussion summarizes the attitude of some Christian Republican right nationalist supporters of the American empire. Many consider the Constitution to be a “sacred document” and the Capitol to be “sacred grounds.” They claim the Bible is a higher “law” for the government, a “law” above the Constitution.
The Bible and Christianity do not provide a solution on how to operate or fix Washington. Romans 13 says “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment”. Romans 13 also says “because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God.” What would be the end result of following those “principles?”
Taxation is theft. Resisting authorities is required for liberty to exist, as explained in the “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”.
History proves that combining religion with government results in tyranny. Faith as a basis of government leads to tyranny. Faith in government leads to oppression, with or without a formal religion’s concept of a god. Using faith-based divine fallacy is not proof of how a legitimate government should operate, or that government should exist at all. Faith cannot be the basis of a moral government.
The U.S. Constitution says “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The 1st Amendment includes “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Other than these two restrictions on the federal government, there is no mention of religion in the 1788 Constitution that formed the federal government and the Bill of Rights. The terms “God”, “worship”, “Creator”, and “Bible” are not used. The U.S. Constitution is not a Christian document.
The Bible isn’t a higher law than the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution is highest law prescribing the operation of the federal government.