Pastor Roger Anghis
September 26, 2010
Discovering America’s Christian Heritage
Part 13 – Our Religious Courts
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
In the last 50+ years our courts have reflected an increasingly secular world view of our nation’s history even though it cannot be found in their writings or their actions where our Founding Fathers intended to restrict religious views from the public arena. You will find that in the early years of this nation our courts were not hostile to religion, specifically Christianity. It does seem that the rulings in today’s courts bear little resemblance to the original intent of our Founding Fathers. Even though the judicial branch is the weakest of the three branches, they have taken on a role that the Founding Fathers never intended and even warned about.
The ‘law’ that has allowed abortion did not come from the legislature, it came from judges. The ‘law’ that says that we cannot pray at football games came from judges, not the legislature. There has been no law passed by any elected official that says that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in public. That also has come from judges. When reading the Constitution and the descriptions of each branch you will find that the judicial branch is the least powerful and has no authority to establish policy. Yet what they did with abortion, prayer, and the Ten Commandments is all policy. The Courts present stand on religion and government is 180 degrees different than in the early years of this nation.
Thomas McKean was the leading legal authority in the Founding era, the author of Commentary on the Constitution and signer of the Declaration of Independence. He helped author the constitutions of Pennsylvania and Delaware, served as Governor in each of those states, and was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. As the Chief Justice he presided over Respublica vs. John Roberts, a case of treason in which the defendant was found guilty of treason.
In those days a person that was sentenced to death had 7-10 days to live, not the 15-20 years they have today. Chief Justice McKean offered these words at the sentencing: “You will probably have a short time to live. Before you launch into eternity it would behoove you to improve the time that will be allowed to you in this world. It behooves you seriously to reflect upon your conduct, to repent of your evil deeds, to be incessantly in prayer to the great and merciful God to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins. To teach you to rely on the compassion of our dear Redeemer and thereby avoid those regions of sorrow.
Those doleful shades where peace and rest can never dwell, or even hope cannot enter. It behooves you to seek fellowship advice and prayers of pious and good men. To be persistent at the throne of grace and the way that leads to happiness. May you, reflecting upon these things, ensue the great will of the Father of Light and Life be received into the company and society of angels and archangels and the spirits of just men made perfect. May you be qualified to enter into the joys of heaven, joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This was not just a sermon to a condemned man but an alter call. Something that would not be allowed in today’s courts.
Jacob Rush, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, made this statement during the sentencing of a man that was sentenced to death: “You have had a fair and impartial trial. The witnesses have been examined in your presence; you selected your own jury. You have been ably and zealously defended by your own council. As you have but a short time to live in this world; and there is no hope of pardon, from and earthly hand, let me urge you to seek pardon from above.” He then went on to instruct the man on how to pray and what to pray. This is a sermon for salvation and an alter call. The evidence is overwhelming that the early courts were not hostile to religion; they even incorporated the compassion and actions of Christianity.
Our foundation of law was so rooted in the Bible that Charles Finney, a great revivalist in the Second Great Awakening, stated in his auto-biography that he wanted to be an attorney but in the process of studying law he read so much of the Bible that he became a Christian. The reason he read so much of the Bible was that in his study of the law, when a law was cited it gave the Biblical reference to that law, showing that the law was Biblically adaptable to society. When a decision was to be made in the original Supreme Court the jury could not go out until a minister came in and prayed over the jury.
Today’s activist courts regularly set policy and in some cases make law. One state’s Supreme Court ordered the legislature to pass a law allowing same-sex marriage. These are the actions that should have made the people stand up and demand an impeachment of the justices involved in those decisions. Today criminal behavior is about the only thing that can get a judge removed.
Our Constitution did not give a judge a lifetime appointment. The Constitution states that they can be removed for bad behavior. One judge in the early years was removed because he got drunk in his own home. It was not in the court, but it was ‘bad behavior’. Another judge was removed because he cursed in the courtroom. That was ‘bad behavior’. Another was removed because he ignored an act of Congress. There was a judge in Florida involved in the Terri Schiavo case that ignored an act of Congress. Nothing happened and he still sits on the bench. Over the years there have been over 60 impeachment cases investigated resulting in over a dozen impeachments of judges.
Washington installed six justices on the original Supreme Court and the Court records as well as newspaper accounts state that the Court did not begin until a minister came in and said a prayer for the Court, the jury and over the deliberations. The Columbine Centinel of May 16, 1792 ran an article on the Supreme Court session. “On Monday, Chief Justice John Jay gave a charge to the Grand Jury, replete with his usual perspicuity and elegance. The prayer was made by the Reverend Dr. Parker. His Excellency, the Vice-President of the United States, was in court.”
James Wilson was a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was the second most active member at the Constitutional Convention speaking 168 times. He also started the first organized legal training program and has a series of books containing his lectures to students while he was a Supreme Court Justice. Here is a comment he made concerning religion and law. “It should always be remembered that laws made for men or for nations flows from the same divine source. It is the law of God. What we do indeed must be founded on what He has done and the sufficiencies of our laws must be provided by the perfection of His. Human law must rest ultimately on the authority on that law which is divine. We now see the deep and solid foundation of human law.
From this short and plain, and I hope, just statement of things we perceive a principle connection between all the learned professions especially between the profession of divinity and the profession of law. Far from being rivals or enemies religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.” Here is an example of a Founding Father teaching that all of man’s law must flow from God’s law.
Judicial defiance began very early in our history. In 1875 Congress banned segregation but in 1882 the Supreme Court overturned that law. When segregation went before the Supreme Court again 70 years later they overturned their own decision. The defiance of the Court continues today with the Kelo decision that allows cities to take personal property from a private party and give it to another private party. This was never the intention of the Founders. They strongly believed that private property was one of the great liberties of Americans. This is what happens when the Biblical foundation is removed.
John Jay, the original Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stated: “By conveying the Bible to people. . . we certainly do them a most interesting act of kindness. We thereby enable them to learn that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced. The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer in Whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed – that this Redeemer has made atonement “for the sins of the world,” and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation: and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve. The Bible will also [encourage] them with many explicit and consoling assurances of the Divine mercy to our fallen race, and with repeated invitations to accept the offers of pardon and reconciliation . . .They, therefore, who enlist in His service, have the highest encouragement to fulfill the duties assigned to their respective stations: for most certain it is, that those of His followers who [participate in] His conquests will also participate in the transcendent glories and blessings of His Triumph.”
We must understand that when we vote we must know what type of judge these elected officials will appoint. They must be constructionist judges who will follow the Constitution and not legislate from the bench. We have former ACLU attorneys who are now sitting on the bench, all the way to the Supreme Court, who will not hesitate to set policy and go around the Constitution.
We have four justices on the Supreme Court who have no problem using international laws and treaties to decide cases. If they can’t find what they want in the Constitution, they will go to other nations so they can push their agenda. Our elected officials will not stand against them. The judicial branch, which was to be the least powerful, has now made itself the most powerful.
Scripture warns us to assign judges that are godly: Ezra 7:25 “And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.”
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Psalms 2:10 “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. (11) Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” 2 Chronicles 19:6 “And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. (7) Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” This is such an important issue for Christians, yet most pay no attention to what will effect most likely the next 40 years.
© 2010 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFreeSpeech.org