Thursday, November 11, 2004

On The Mark -- Theocracy

Some people scoff at the idea that we are close to living in a theocracy. Read what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had to say about the death penalty at the University of Chicago Divinity School. You decide.

This is not the Old Testament, I emphasize, but St. Paul...[T]he core of his message is that government -- however you want to limit that concept -- derives its moral authority from God...Indeed, it seems to me that the more Christian a country is the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral...I attribute that to the fact that, for the believing Christian, death is no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal: it is a grave sin, which causes one to lose his soul. But losing this life, in exchange for the next?...For the nonbeliever, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence. What a horrible act!...

The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible. We have done that in this country (and continental Europe has not) by preserving in our public life many visible reminders that -- in the words of a Supreme Court opinion from the 1940s -- "we are a religious people, whose institutions pre-suppose a Supreme Being."...All this, as I say, is most un-European, and helps explain why our people are more inclined to understand, as St. Paul did, that government carries the sword as "the minister of God," to "execute wrath" upon the evildoer.

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