(Reprinted with permission of the Daily Oklahoman, Summer, 2000)
When the U. S. Supreme Court recently mocked the Constitution by prohibiting prayer at public school football games, columnist Cal Thomas seemed not only upset, but somewhat elated (June 23, 2000 Daily Oklahoman). In fact, he asserted that the ruling offers believers an opportunity to pray for one's enemies, visit prisoners, feed the hungry, etc. Gee Cal, I thought we could already do that.
Apparently believers ought to be ashamed for wanting school prayer since, according to Thomas, Christ Himself opposed public prayer. He cites Matthew 6:1 where Jesus said that when one prays, he should do so in private. This is the same counterfeit argument used by school prayer opponents. In Matthew 6:1 Jesus was warning against being like the Pharisees whom He said "loved to be seen and heard of men." He was not condemning public prayer, but the hypocrisy of those who pray, not to God, but for the approval of men.
This is confirmed in that Jesus not only never condemned public prayer, but engaged in it Himself quite often (Mt. 15:36, 26:26; Jn. 12:42; Lk. 3:21). Moreover, Jesus prayed (and loudly) three different times at a very public, government-sponsored function His own execution (Mt. 27:46; Lk. 23:34; 23:46).
Thomas even scolded conservative Christians, whom he said, "[O]ught to stop looking to the state for permission and validation and start looking to God for their commission and marching orders." Really? If civil government is a ministry ordained of God as Romans 13:1-6 states, does it not make a mockery of that ministry if Christians don't resist prohibition of the public acknowledgement of God and His laws?
Thomas, a Christian, overlooks not only Scripture, but America's founding. The men who wrote The Declaration of Independence not only did not disapprove of government observance of religion, but based America's founding on God's laws, and said civil government's purpose was "to secure" God-given rights. The Constitution's framers acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord in its date. They guaranteed the "free exercise of religion" and supported government-sponsored prayer by establishing the Congressional chaplainry. Does Thomas contend that they were looking to the state "for permission and validation"?
Thomas believes Christians should be saving souls and not trying (contrary to Gen. 1:28; Mt. 5:13, 28:18-20; Gal. 1:18) to dominate our culture or civil government. If they don't try, the liberal Left dominates by default. Thomas and other like-thinking Christians, while well intentioned, are unwittingly helpful to the Left which no doubt views them as "useful idiots" a term Lenin pinned on appeasers of Communism.
The carnage to our liberties did not end with the prayer decision. The Court declared the cruel, barbaric practice of live-birth abortion to be constitutionally protected. The national reaction was of shock and disappointment, but like Thomas' above, implicitly acknowledged the Constitution is whatever the courts say. It brings to mind Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's observation that the West, in the onslaught of barefaced barbarity, reacts "with concessions and smiles." It is no different with judicial tyranny.
The appropriate response is righteous anger, moral outrage, and demands for removal of Justices who abuse their powers or for limiting those powers. Nevertheless, Republicans and conservative Christians contend the solution is to elect Republican Presidents to appoint conservative Justices except, that is a part of the problem. Seven of the nine current Justices were appointed by GOP Presidents. Others urge constitutional amendments, but this concedes the Courts were right.
The Constitution prohibits judicial supremacy and provides safeguards against it by giving Congress the power to curb the jurisdiction of all federal courts. Congress may, by majority vote, strip them of power to consider particular cases. It has power over their appropriations and may remove Justices for abuse of powers by impeachment. These powers must be utilized.
The Constitution is not what judges say, but what it says. They are sworn to obey it, not rewrite it. If judges violate the Constitution in their decisions, they destroy Constitutional and representative government. The Declaration said in such cases, "[I]t is the Right of the People to alter or abolish" such government. Jesus cleansed the spiritual temple of corruption. It is time to cleanse the tyranny and corruption from the temples of justice.
- William D. (Bill) Graves
Bill Graves is an Oklahoma City lawyer and a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.