Yes Virginia, There Are Christian ACLU Lawyers
Posted on December 20, 2004 Posted by John Scalzi 95 Comments
Someone who is very close to me (who will remain nameless for the moment) just presented the opinion to me that, for various reasons, she strongly suspects there are no lawyers who work for the ACLU who are also Christians, since she was also of the opinion that the ACLU isn’t interested in the constitutional rights of Christians — a theory which I attempted to pop by bring up two examples in the last year of the ACLU being very much interested in their constitutional rights. Nevertheless, she continued to profess her opinion that there were no Christian lawyers at the ACLU.
Naturally, I was appalled at this statement and told her that I would make it my mission to find her an ACLU lawyer who was also a Christian, and that upon finding such a specimen, that I would ask her to consider the possibility that one could be a Christian and a lawyer and consider as one’s mission the constitutional rights of all Americans. I have a call in to my local ACLU branch, but I imagine they’ll listen to the voice mail and suspect I’m insane, so:
If you are a lawyer who loves Christ and are either on staff or has worked for the ACLU, would you please come forward to say hello? Also, if it’s not too much trouble, if you could explain how being an ACLU lawyer is consistent with your faith, that would be greatly appreciated. Just go ahead and leave a message in the comment threads.
To sweeten the pot, I make the following pledge: For every Christian ACLU lawyer who comes forward and leaves a message before the end of 2004, I will donate a dollar — up to, oh, let’s say $200 — to the ACLU. And to start things along, the first one that shows up to comment will cause me to kick in $50 (which means a $50 minimum donation for the ACLU, with every additional one adding a dollar to that). Because, crazy me, I don’t think it’s inconsistent to be a Christian and a lawyer for the ACLU, and I’m willing to back up my appeal to counter religious stereotyping, to celebrate the cause of pretecting every Americans’ constitutional rights, and to prove my point to this well-loved correspondent with my own hard-earned cash.
So work with me here, Christian ACLU lawyers! “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” Let’s make it comprehend, shall we? I thank you.
(P.S.: Everyone who is not a Christian ACLU Lawyer — please feel free to spread the word.)
What is going to stop the nameless one from simply declaring that any “Christian” working for the ACLU is not a real Christian?
“What is going to stop the nameless one from simply declaring that any ‘Christian’ working for the ACLU is not a real Christian?”
The following wisdom, per Matthew, chapter 7:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye….
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Or more simply, by being aware that it is not her place to judge the salvation of others who profess to love Christ.
“Or more simply, by being aware that it is not her place to judge the salvation of others who profess to love Christ.”
Ah, well that would be a *good* Christian. Those are a bit rarer. In my experience, Christians of the ACLU-bashing variety are often also the ones who are particularly allergic to Matthew. After all, it is in Matthew that we find that Jesus would not have approved of prayer in schools…
“Or more simply, by being aware that it is not her place to judge the salvation of others who profess to love Christ.”
Ah, well that would be a *good* Christian. Those are a bit rarer. In my experience, Christians of the ACLU-bashing variety are often also the ones who are particularly allergic to Matthew. After all, it is in Matthew that we find that Jesus would not have approved of prayer in schools…
“Ah, well that would be a *good* Christian. Those are a bit rarer.”
Possibly. It’s good to assume someone is a good Christian unless they go out of their way to prove otherwise (which, if they are not, usually doesn’t take too long).
I’m afraid I’m with Chesterton, Gandi, and Twain on the subject of good Christians.
I’m afraid I’m with Chesterton, Gandi, and Twain on the subject of good Christians.
Well, in any event, let’s keep the Christian-slamming to a minimum on this thread, please. I’m trying to *attract* some to come visit.
If you want to expand the search a little, please forgive me for suggesting that you ask here:
I’m biased because I volunteer as a host there (in Hell, naturally, being a heathen), but there’s a significant American contingent of lawyers aboard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone there worked for the ACLU.
I am of course familiar with the ship of fools site, which I think is a wonderful idea. However, I don not frequent it myself on a regular basis.
May I ask to you to post for me? I’m hesitant to plop down into a group, say “Hey! Come do this!” and then never show up again. It might be more welcomed coming from someone who is established in the group.
I am an attorney and a Christian. Alas, I do not work for the ACLU. However, my faith would in no way prevent me from working for me. A fact that most people tend to forget is that the Establishment Clause is two sided. One it prevents the establishment of religion by the state. Second, it precludes the state from interfering with your worship. The ACLU has acted quickly to enforce both aspects of that clause.
John Scalzi said:
“May I ask to you to post for me? I’m hesitant to plop down into a group, say “Hey! Come do this!” and then never show up again. It might be more welcomed coming from someone who is established in the group.”
I would like to point out that, despite the cross-pollenation of the threads, anyone participating on the Ship-of-Fools should be mindful of their fairly strict restrictions on anything that could be seen as advertising or solicitation.
I’m a Christian, so perhaps you meant you are trying to attract *more* Christians to this site.
Granted I’m a touchy-feeling Methodist liberal Christ Christian so maybe I don’t count.
Indeed, Tripp. I suspect at least a bare majority of people here would consider themselves Christian, the demographics of the country being what they are. And they are welcome! I like all kinds around here, as long as everyone can play nice and not smear food on the walls.
Aw crap. Now you tell me.
Anyhoo… not a lawyer… but a Catholic-Lite…
Oddly enough my comment about smearing raspberry jam on the walls seemed to disappear… which make my post seem more enigmatic than childishly silly.
Q, it may have been an inadvertant vistim of a comment spam clean-up job. Every once in a while I accidently click on a real comment to delete as well. Sorry about that.
I’m a Christian, pseudo archeo-old school medieval Catholic tendencies, though in Faith, not in politics. I’m also a fairly conservative, young republican. But I can’t see how denying even those we do not like the basic rights granted by the laws of our nation as being very Christian. Indeed, Christ himself said to bless those that curse us, to pray for our enemies. And what better way to bless our enemies than to insure then the same rights and protections we have. I think the assumption that there are no Christian lawyers in the ACLU is due to the fact that cases taken on behalf of Christian rights aren’t nearly as juicy stories as the ACLU helping any other supposed minority stick it to “the Man.” And if it doesn’t make it into the nightly news or CNN or MSNBC or Fox News, it never happens. A sad state, really.
So this nameless person believes the ACLU isn’t interested in the rights of Christians, and when presented with two counterexamples, shifts position and says the real issue is that there aren’t any ACLU lawyers who are Christians.
Seems that she’s saying she’s more comfortable with an ACLU that’s self-interested–where the lawyers want to protect their own religion–than one where the lawyers want to protect a religious tradition *even though none of them follow it.*
(Which is not to say that I believe there are no Christian ACLU lawyers. But they don’t seem to advertise their religion one way or another on their Web site, at least.)
I’m only a lowly 2nd year law student at the University of Kentucky, but I fit the rest of the bill. I’m a former member of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Kentucky and President of the UK chapter of the ACLU. I am also a practicing and devout Christian. I can also speak from personal knowledge that there are indeed a large number of Christian lawyers who work with the ACLU.
First, I would like to briefly state that the ACLU “stands up” for Christians in innumerable ways that somehow or another Fox News doesn’t pick up on. When some middle school principal who once heard the phrase “separation of church and state” suspends a child for praying over lunch, the ACLU gets blamed. Again, what doesn’t get reported is that the ACLU ALWAYS attempts to represent Christians in such overzealous misunderstandings, but publicity-hungry lawyers for the so-called Christian right are usually already there to obfuscate and conceal the truth.
Rant over. You asked for an explanation of why I believe being a Christian and an ACLU lawyer are consistent. I could write for hours on the topic, but I’ll boil it down to a few main points.
1. The only way to guarantee that Christians have the right to worship as we see fit, free from any governmental interference, is to guarantee that no religion recieves governmental preference. If for no other reason, within my lifetime Christians will no longer constitute a majority of the American population. If we set the precedent now that the majority can dictate matters of faith to the minority, then the Christian right may soon find itself on the losing side of its own arguments.
2. I believe my Lord and savior to be a kind, just, and merciful God. I refuse to believe that He would condemn men and women of faith to Hell simply because their religion was doctrinally different. This belief could perhaps be summed up by an exchange in one of C.S. Lewis’ fantastic Narnia books (I forget which one), in which Aslan the lion is asked if he is God, to which Aslan replies, “I have many names.” Whether your God is named Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, or any other name, I believe you are saved. The dogma is just window-dressing. The point being that dogma for the sake of dogma tends to be self-defeating, as its observance is not so much an exercise of faith as of habit. Governmental enforcement of one strain of Christian doctrine does nothing to enhance faith. Posting the Ten Commandments on school walls saves not one soul.
3. In the same vein, as a man of faith I am profoundly offended by the sanctimonious would-be demagogues who treat Christianity as if it were some kind of virus that spreads on mere contact. What has a Bible verse read over a school intercom to do with the teaching of Christ’s love? We are told by the Bible to be fishers of men; finders of converts. It never commands us to do it stupidly. The best (and in my experience, the only) way to truly gain converts is to expemplify Christian ideals. Be kind to others. Help those who are most in need of help (without any proselytization involved). Strive to better yourself whilst leaving the judgment of others to God. Then when asked why you do these things that so few others do, you explain how you are driven by faith. Those who would have forced prayer in every classroom and the Ten Commandments on every public wall seem to be interested more in publicity and theocratic clout than in actually winning people’s souls.
4. Finally, on a more general note, I am offended by the selective interpretation of both secular and religious facts by the Christian right. They claim that America was founded on Christian principles (a statement that is historically unfounded) that should be legally enforced today, yet ignore the fact that it was also founded by mostly slave-owning men who would limit political rights solely to landed males. They find Bible verses to justify all manner of political positions (Jerry Falwell once claimed that Reagan’s Balanced Budget Amendment proposal was Biblically mandated), yet choose to ignore those verses that are at odds with their beliefs (such as the Old Testament’s religious codes and Paul’s acceptance of slavery, just to name a few). I believe that the Bible has a few choice words on hypocrisy.
Well, I meant for this to be a brief response, and here’s I’ve gone and written an essay. I doubt what I’ve written will change the minds of those who believe ACLU members are all followers of Beelzebub, but I hope that it will show those with somewhat more open minds that there is such a thing as a non-absolutist position.
That’s worth a ring on the bell for me. $50 to the ACLU. Thanks, Casey.
Christian ACLU lawyers sought to prove coherence of Jesus and liberty
John Scalzi says, “Someone I know and love said to me today that she believes that there are no lawyers at the ACLU who are Christians — because her received (and incorrect) knowledge of that organization is that it hates Christ and all those who seek…
Here’s an article from the ACLU archives on one instance where they defended a chrisitan organization. I saw one on the Minnesota ACLU site (if I remember correctly) that has listings of cases across the country where they supported the religious freedoms of christians.
I did my part in spreading the word.
Anthony Romero, the current head of the ACLU, was raised Catholic. He even served as an altar boy, I believe.
He spoke about his Catholicism in the last episode of NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS just a couple of weeks ago.
Regardless, it should be irrelevant to your friend what religion anyone is. She should decide the merits of the ACLU based on its works, not on the religion of its employees and members. Saying “the ACLU is against the church because its employees are not Christian” is ad hominem/illogical.
Romero says that teaching religion to children should be the domain of parents and churches, not public schools and the government.
I had this same conversation with my (Catholic) mom over the weekend, and made the same points. I am a practicing, believing Catholic, but I agree with the ACLU’s line on the separate roles of the church and the state.
here’s a link to a post at linkfilter.net that assembles a handful of pro-christian cases the ACLU has recently handled. not exactly what you’re looking for, but the list was researched in response to a similar accusation.
ACLU: Religious Liberty
From the aclu website:
Based on news accounts that a riverfront park in Stafford County has banned baptisms and may be limiting other religious activities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said today that is has sent a letter to park officials seeking written assurances that religious expression will not be curtailed in the future.
I fear that the definition of Christian keeps getting warped and narrowed, even (especially?) by people who indentify themselves as such. Several years ago I was in the airport lounge in Warsaw and struck up a conversation with another American, a man who said he’d been in Kiev working “for the church to spread the Word”. To me, “the church” refers to the Roman Catholic Church, so I commented that in a predominantly Orthodox country like the Ukraine, he must not have had much to do, there being so few Catholics. He looked horrified and said, “I’m not Catholic. I’m a Christian.”
I think your call for self-identified Christian civil liberties attorneys is wonderful, John. I’m just afraid that some people who don’t really understand what the word actually means in the original sense will dismiss out of hand anyone who steps forward as not being the right sort. Just the same, I hope you get a long long list to post.
In 24 (now 25) posts, you haven’t gotten anything more than white noise, and potentially a law student (read- not lawyer).
What’s pathetic is that (yes I realize the hyprocrisy of this post) no one writing really is pertinent to the request of the post, rather spewing off their own rhetoric.
Is it possible for you to scoot these comments into a different blog post, and leave this one clean for potential ACLU Christian lawyers?
At this point, good luck mucking through to really find any…
By the way, do you plan to verify in any way if anyone who claims to be a Christian ACLU lawyer really is?
“Is it possible for you to scoot these comments into a different blog post, and leave this one clean for potential ACLU Christian lawyers?”
It’s possible, but I won’t. I don’t think it’s “white noise;” I think it’s people having the sort of conversations and back and forth that they generally have in comment threads. Rest assured that as the proprietor of this particular site, I’m keeping reasonably close tabs on the thread, so I will be aware when a Christian ACLU lawyer shows up. The background chatter here will not distract me.
As for verification: How would you suggest I verify? Most churches do not issue ID, so far as I know. And also, of course, it is not for me ask for proof they are Christian, any more than it is for my correspondent to judge if they are Christian *enough.* I have faith that when someone declares their love of the Christ, they are genuine in that profession.
Added to my blog as well. Not that it’s going to do much good, I think I have a readership of two. *sigh*
“Oh, yes, BoingX2 sent me…”
I put a note up in this thread at Life & Faith:
Earthquake relief and the Christian ACLU
Just a quick couple of links: support for victims of the Asian earthquake and a search for Christian ACLU lawyers.
I’m sure there are plenty, but the ACLU shouldn’t have to defend itself from such misconceptions. The reason these silly ideas persist seems to be that, in this country, Christians are often the ones restricting the civil liberties the ACLU defends. The idea that the ACLU are anti-Christian doesn’t hold up under much thought.
PS–I was raised Christian, I just dislike the Christian Right’s demonizing of people who work for justice and freedom. :)
Thanks for the opinion, LLD; nevertheless, many people *do* believe the ACLU is anti-Christian. The question of whether it *should* have to defend itself from the charge is aside the point to the reality of the situation, in which it does have to do so.
FYI – I recently saw the head of the ACLU on Now With Bill Moyers and he stated that he was raised Catholic.
Sorry I don’t personally know any ACLU lawyers, so I can’t say how many Christians are currently advocating on their behalf…Good luck with your quest.
You state that your friend believes “the ACLU isn’t interested in the constitutional rights of Christians.”
Perhaps you can explain to your friend that the ACLU is interested in protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans.
An individual’s religion is secondary to that.
It doesn’t matter if someone is agnostic, Christian, Muslim or pagan – if a person’s constitutional rights were violated no doubt the ACLU would step forward if they felt they could make a difference.
That your friend sees things so starkly tells me that you have your work cut out for you and he/she has bigger problems than who they think works for the ACLU.
The ability of the white, conservative, Christian majority in this country to cling to its victim complex is, from a sociological standpoint, astounding.
“The ability of the white, conservative, Christian majority in this country to cling to its victim complex is, from a sociological standpoint, astounding.”
Oh, please. EVERYBODY’S a victim in this country, haven’t you heard? You’re nobody here unless you’re being oppressed by someone. Victimhood = power, and when power is the name of the game, everyone wants to play, including white conservative Christians.
And let’s face it, there’s enough unfairness in life for everyone to get a share, even people who happen to be white, conservative, and Christian. How about that middle school child in the example above who gets suspended for prayer in school? How about the Denver Christmas parade that let homosexual Indians parade their religion, but not Christians? How about a community college in my area that requires teachers to give makeup tests to Baha’i students who miss a test due to observing the Martyrdom of the Bab, but doesn’t require makeup tests for Christian students who miss a test due to observing Good Friday?
The ACLU For Dummies
Can we please stop letting idiots run the media? Bill O’Reilly and his ilk have been pimping the idea that the ACLU is out to get Christians entirely too much. When someone needs to start a blog thread to confirm that Christian lawyers do in fact wor…
Yeah, I’m a Christian who has volunteered with the ACLU to counsel Muslims and Arabs in the US who are subjected to FBI interrogation without any probable cause. Most of those asked to talk to the FBI go ahead and do so because they love this country and want to help protect it, but I think that they should have legal representation. I believe that it is important to protect all religions and races from discrimination based on faith.
WWJD? Join the ACLU! The ACLU would have fallen all over itself to defend Christ at that sham trial and would have worked ’round the clock to stop his execution.
“Whether your God is named Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, or any other name, I believe you are saved.”
For what it’s worth, the statement above is emphatically NON-christian. Jesus speaks against exactly this sentiment on many occasions in the bible:
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
“Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25, 26)
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (l Timothy 2:5)
“For what it’s worth, the statement above is emphatically NON-christian.”
Does this imply that he who speaks it (or believes it) is not Christian?
Accepting that the bible is the definitive christian text, and reading what it states clearly, it would appear that one need not merely imply.
I don’t care whether the lawyers at the ACLU are Christian are not, but I am glad that Justin wrote what he did.
This whole debate is meaningless if someone gets to just call themselves a Christian while at the same time saying “Whether your God is named Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, or any other name, I believe you are saved.”
I mean, that statement is a lot of things but it is NOT CHRISTIAN.
Christianity — like it or not — is exclusive. Christ himself said that.
And in our post-modern age where every religion is equivalent and the teachings of Christ are arcane, it’s hard to reconcile what Christ said with what we WISH he said.
Again, I couldn’t give a crap whether ACLU lawyers are Christian. I think they do good work much of the time and not-so-good at others, but on the whole they are on my civil libertarian side.
But having a few more Unitarians who call themselves Christians on staff is probably not what this friend of yours is looking for.
Still, tell your friend that she should care more about the WORK of the ACLU and less about them passing a doctrinal test.
Whoops, I meant to compliment Jason’s comments, not Justin’s. Sorry for the misprint.
I am a Christian, but not a lawyer nor work/worked for the ACLU. However, I recognize that the establishment clause is incredibly necessary and the ACLU’s efforts to maintain it to an intense degree IS ALSO NECESSARY. By nature, according to the clause, the USA cannot be affiliated with any religion in any way possible. Anyone who boldly declares that nativity scenes are OK to put on the steps of the local court house have no earthly idea what that truly means and are treading on the very law that allows them to even worship as they so please, freely. The United States is NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION — particularly apparent even by Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers, in the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;” .. IN ANY SENSE. Removing prayer from city-sponsored school football games is keeping the law it is proper place, and any leaning toward any religious ceremony implies endorsement. I firmly COMMAND any Christians who think the ACLU ought to back off their rampage to remove Christianity from government buildings and events as such, to STAND DOWN. You obviously do not realize the utter insanity you are attempting to assert based on a stupid PRIDE issue of not being able to keep your traditions. As iron sharpens iron, BACK OFF. I mean it.
“Accepting that the bible is the definitive christian text, and reading what it states clearly, it would appear that one need not merely imply.”
Really. Point to the passage in the Bible that suggests that when one has accepted Jesus as one’s personal savior, but then ascribes “saved” status to others (regardless of whether they are saved or not), how that then jeopardizes one’s own status as a Christian — again, keeping in mind that one has himself accepted Christ as the savior.
You could easily make the case that if one doesn’t believe what Jesus himself said about this most pivotal of topics, they can’t be said to “believe in him” as required for salvation.
John, I agree with you that we should not judge whether or not someone is saved.
But think of actor Jim Carrey who recently said he was Christian. Fair enough, right? He’s Christian. He says he’s Christian on national television. End of story.
Oh wait, but he also said he was Muslim and Buddhist. So . . . let’s look at the whole ‘testimony’ as it were of someone claiming Christianity.
I was careful in my above comment to note that that law student’s comments were not Christian (as opposed to saying he was not Christian — who knows what’s happening in his mind, etc.) but
this whole concept you’re introducing where it’s okay for someone to believe Christ’s words of exclusivity for THEMSELVES while thinking that Christ’s words are not to be universally applied is just not matching with Christian doctrine.
I’m aware that it’s very popular right now to believe that all faiths are equally valid. But the Bible is pretty clear that, as Christ says, he is the Way, the Truth and the Life — that no one comes to God but through Him, etc., and all those other verses Jason mentioned.
I mean, what you’re advocating is very much not in line with the Christian faith.
So if you’re really trying to find a Christian lawyer at the ACLU (again, why does it matter what their faith is!?!) I think you’re going down the wrong path by saying that Universalists who call themselves Christian should pass.
As the scriptural basis “Christian” being defined as accepting Jesus Christ to be the only and complete payment to cover the punishment earned by sin, anyone who states otherwise is either a blatant imposter or misperceives themselves to be without knowing the facts. Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian.
I think it is important to recognize the motives of the ACLU, because they are apparently misperceived. The ACLU is a code enforcement, not an antiChrist organization. The ACLU is akin to a brother who corrects you out of love — he wants you to keep yourself straight according to the rules, not because he thinks you’re a freak. God will not judge the government based on its laws, or the people in it. He will judge the individuals based on their own assertions, there is no guilt by association. The ACLU, collectively, enforces the laws and the establishment clause is very sound. If a Christian lawyer is a member of the ACLU, he is helping to ENFORCE your right to remain a Christian at will. Sounds like a good enough job to me, no?
“You could easily make the case that if one doesn’t believe what Jesus himself said about this most pivotal of topics, they can’t be said to ‘believe in him’ as required for salvation.”
Possibly, but that’s not what I asked. I asked:
Point to the passage in the Bible that suggests that when one has accepted Jesus as one’s personal savior, but then ascribes “saved” status to others (regardless of whether they are saved or not), how that then jeopardizes one’s own status as a Christian — again, keeping in mind that one has himself accepted Christ as the savior.
I think in doing so, you may make your “case,” as you put it. However, having read the Bible myself a number of times, I have difficulty locating a passage which suggests that Jesus ever suggested any such thing. Jesus does say that the way is narrow and few will enter; I don’t see him saying the you’ll be penalized for believing it would be nice if other people were on the narrow path, too, even if they are not. I do see him saying to love others as one’s self, which I suppose one could use to argue that you should *treat* people as if they lived in the grace of God, even if they do not.
What I am interested in here is what I think is an interesting presumption as to who is “really” Christian and who is not; and additionally, why someone who has accepted Jesus as his or her savior must perforce jump through additional hoops for the benefit of others to prove his or her Christianity.
Did not Jesus himself say: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Did he not also suggest Christians worship in private, so that God alone would know them?
Which Christian among you is so sure in your faith that you can say with certainty that on the day of judgement *you* will know who will stand before Christ and be cast away? Is it for you to say? And in judging for yourself who truly holds Christ in his or her heart and who does not 9and vice-versa), do you not also arrogate to yourself a task that is meant for God alone? What are the implications of such actions?
I would additionally note that none of this conversation is here nor there regarding being a Christian, a lawyer, and working for the ACLU.
That Jesus is Christ is Lord is the earliest and most basic Christian confession of faith. It is also far and away the most controversial. From the beginning, the claim that Jesus is Lord set Christianity above other religions. And that made people really angry. Like “kill them!” angry.
Remember Rome at the time of Christ was fully syncretistic and pagan — it just blended all religions into an uber religion (much like our world today, I guess) and didn’t take well to Christ and his Apostles saying Christianity was exclusive.
(I should note here that Christianity was also unique at this time for its amazing inclusivity — Jesus was not just for a certain group of people but for all people.)
This exclusivity/inclusivity is explained well by St. Paul who said in Romans: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”
Other verses that may get at your query can be found in 1 John 4:15 where it says “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
Or even more clearly, “Whoever has the Son has life; and whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
MORE THAN ANYTHING, though, I would think that Jesus was fairly unambiguous in the equivalency of all faiths when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
It sounds intolerant to our post-modern Merry Christmahanukwanzmakas ears, yes. Most people wish that Christianity, Islam and Judaism would merely change their tenets so as to embrace or make room for other faiths. And indeed, that has happened. But, by definition, the changing of the doctrine means that you are dealing with something altogether different than the ‘exclusive’ religion of Christianity which (apart from modern day Methodists and United Church of Christ types) has held this central tenet of the faith (Jesus is Lord) with amazing regularity throughout the church.
Another good example of the Bible’s teaching against this modern day equivalency theory is what Paul said on Mars Hill in Athens. He went to their ‘altar to an unknown god’ and said, “What you do not know, this I’m going to tell you about…” and then he taught about Christ and then said, “Now God commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
What some folks on this thread would rather have had Paul say is, “I believe in Jesus. If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine. Great even! Cheers!”
I mean, one wonders why the church has so many martyrs!? They could have just told people that their (false) beliefs were perfectly fine.
The Gospel message of forgiveness of sins and salvation through Christ is fully inclusive — no one is left out. The Lord gives out the riches of His salvation to all who call on Him. It’s total. Everyone is included. Jesus is for all. But it’s also true that the Gospel (as shown in many Scriptures on this thread) excludes every other savior or lord, except Jesus.
All of this addresses the action of the individual in accepting Jesus. I accept as a given for the purposes of this conversation that “Jesus is the Way,” so any additional scripture to that point is gilding the lily.
None of this address my question of a scriptual reference to how one is punished for believing (even incorrectly) that non-Christians may be saved *if one himself* accepts Christ as the savior.
Indeed the scripture you quote suggests it’s not a problem: “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Not, “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved, unless you also think people who don’t might *also* be saved, because then you’re just back where you started, aren’t you.”
Ah, I see a bit more about where you’re going with this. I probably should have figured that out earlier.
I would say this falls somewhere inbetween the realm of not judging someone’s salvation and the realm of whether someone’s conception of Christianity is so far afield from Christianity as to question whether they should be called Christian.
I mean, the idea that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in Christ or not is clearly not countenanced in the Gospel. But is it an error that puts that person outside of the realm of salvation?
I think the view betrays a *dangerously false* and seriously problematic understanding of who Christ is and what He accomplished . . . but I am not the person to judge what that means for the person’s salvation. And while Scripture in toto is actually quite clear about the exclusivity of Christ, it also guards against judging salvation of those who profess to be Christian.
Also, I just wanted to tell you I’ve read your blog for a long time now and each time I catch up on it (like today) I enjoy it greatly.
Here’s another Catholic lawyer active in the ACLU since I was a law student back in the ’70’s and still very committed to the concepts of freedom and justice they stand for.
“I think the view betrays a *dangerously false* and seriously problematic understanding of who Christ is and what He accomplished . . . but I am not the person to judge what that means for the person’s salvation.”
Ah. Yes, this sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Glad also you’re enjoying the Whatever!
Thanks, Murphy! I believe we’re up to $52 dollars now (the original $50 pledged plus two additional bucks since this afternoon). I should note that I’ll be rounding up to the nearest $10 on the contribution, so if I get $58 worth of Christian ACLU lawyers showing up, I’ll send $60, and so on.
Wow, does Casey misunderstand what C.S. Lewis was all about!
It seems we have several people (including Mike J. Moore) who make the opposite mistake as the ACLU bashers — saying that basically nothing they do is anti-Christian. Honest people would have to admit that there does seem to be an anti-Christian thread in a lot of what they do, but they occasionally, surprisingly do take on cases that protect Christians’ rights. I guess I don’t share some posters’ views that they would’ve defended Christ at a trial, or that they nearly surpass Him in goodness and light, but they should be appreciated for what they do on Christians’ behalf, and not just be bashed all the time. Mike Moore, thanks for COMMANDING people to STAND DOWN, I guess you MEAN IT. But, as this is a FREE COUNTRY, I guess some people will continue to IGNORE you (but that’s what makes our country great, isn’t it?)
“Wow, does Casey misunderstand what C.S. Lewis was all about!”
Well, don’t just throw that out there. Please elaborate for the benefit of the readers.
Also, I do want to keep this thread civil, so please refrain from snarking at other people in it directly (snarking at their ideas is of course fine).
I’m a licensed attorney and card carrying member of the ACLU. I don’t work for them, only because they didn’t hire me when I applied, and because I’ve stopped practicing in favor of political and other creative work.
However, I work _with_ the ACLU and spent a morning last week discussing efforts to get rid of the most noxious aspects of the Patriot Act with the Maryland ACLU director.
I am also Catholic.
There is nothing whatsoever incompatible with my stance on religion and my stance on the constitution. I feel completely confident that Jesus would approve–perhaps even feel that I was not zealous enough. That is, Jesus of Nazareth. Not the Supply-Side Jesus being worshipped by the blasphemers of the Religious Right.
Some cases the ACLU have taken on that don’t get as much press:
[URL=http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=10206&c=42]ACLU Defends Church’s Right to Run “Anti-Santa” Ads in Boston Subways [/URL]
[I]One of the controversial ads, paid for by The Church of the Good News, said that early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or 澱elieve in lies about Santa Claus, flying reindeer, elves and drunken parties.・A second ad, which was rejected by the transit authority and never posted, said, 典here is only one true religion. All the rest are false.納/I]
[URL=http://www.aclu.org/StudentsRights/StudentsRights.cfm?ID=8660&c=162]Jewish Student Allowed to Wear Star of David Pendant as Mississippi School Board Reverses Policy[/URL]
[I]GULFPORT, MS — Facing an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and outcry from both Jewish and Christian leaders, a Mississippi school board last night rescinded a policy that barred a Jewish student from wearing his Star of David pendant because school officials considered it a gang symbol.[/I]
[URL=http://www.aclu.org/StudentsRights/StudentsRights.cfm?ID=10523&c=162]ACLU Supports Right of Iowa Students to Distribute Christian Literature at School [/URL]
[I]DES MOINES–The Iowa Civil Liberties Union today announced that it is publicly supporting the Christian students who recently filed a lawsuit against the Davenport Schools asserting the right to distribute religious literature during non-instructional time.[/I]
[URL=http://www.aclu.org/RacialEquality/RacialEquality.cfm?ID=11083&c=28]ACLU of PA Files Discrimination Lawsuit Over Denial of Zoning Permit for African American Baptist Church[/URL]
[I]PITTSBURGH – Acting on behalf of a local congregation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging illegal race and religious discrimination in town officials・refusal to issue a zoning permit to a predominantly African-American church.[/I]
[URL=http://archive.aclu.org/news/2001/w120301a.html]ACLU Offers to Back Falwell[/URL]
[I]LYNCHBURG, VA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has offered to support the Rev. Jerry Falwell — usually a foe — in his challenge to Virginia laws restricting ownership of church property, the Los Angeles Times reported. According to the Times, despite their frequent opposing positions on issues, Falwell’s son welcomed the offer.[/I]
[URL=http://www.aclu.org/StudentsRights/StudentsRights.cfm?ID=11876&c=159]ACLU of MA Defends Students Punished for Distributing Candy Canes with Religious Messages [/URL]
[I]NORTHAMPTON, MA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts today asked a federal district court in Springfield to protect the First Amendment rights of high school students who were disciplined by school officials for distributing candy canes with religious messages just before Christmas. [/I]
The ACLU has always been nothing less than consistent about it’s practices and policies in regards to school and religion, which are here:
The above statement is signed by organizations including:
American Civil Liberties Union
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Baptist Joint Committee
Christian Legal Society
Christian Science Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
National Association of Evangelicals
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC)
National Ministries, American Baptist Churches, USA
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
United Church of Christ, Office for Church in Society
I think Geoff is missing something. I don’t believe that there is any “anti-Christian” bias in the activities of the ACLU. Do they take on more cases defending the rights of religious minorities? Sure. But there are numerous groups defending the rights of Christians. There are far fewer groups defending the rights of those in the minority.
Also remember that Christianity is the dominant religion in America today. There aren’t to many courthouses in the US with statues of Bhudda, so it hasn’t been necessary for them to take on cases fighting to remove them. Since the ACLU believes in an absolute seperation of church and state, it may appear at first glance that they take an anti-Christian view. But imagine that Islam were the dominant religion? Wouldn’t you want a group like the ACLU on your side fighting for your rights as a Christian?
I believe the ACLU is inherently often anti-Christian, there’s no mistaking it. This is largely because these days many “Christian” organizations are trying to press (or perhaps oppress) their belief system on those of us who don’t necessarily believe in it, or for that matter want it.
Christianity (along with Islam) commands of its followers to convert the unbelievers, the heathens (if only they could see the errors of their ways!), in this respect it is at odds with a free and democratic society. For the past 200 hundred or so years we’ve had an easy truce between the organized religions and freedom from oppression, but it hasn’t always been so, and there is no guarantee it will stay that way. The ACLU stands for freedom and liberty, as such it will always be at odds with those who try and take that freedom and liberty away from us.
Regardless of whatever religion or belief system they might believe in.
Sorry, didn’t mean to “snark” or ad hominem attack, it’s just that I thought his tone of COMMAND was a little on the weird side.
To explain the C.S. Lewis comment, Casey seems to be saying that C.S. Lewis believed that whatever/whomever you worshipped, it didn’t matter, b/c all names (Jesus, Allah, Buddha, et al) were essentially for the same God, that we’re all worshipping the same Being, regardless of religion. I think even the most cursory of readings beside the Narnia Chronicles would show this (though if all you read was the one part Casey mentioned, I suppose you could make the inference). I believe C.S. Lewis (if I could presume to speak for such a great man) would reply that someone will be in Hell not for holding to the wrong doctrine but for essentially CHOOSING Hell through a constant rejection of the Solution (I am at work so I don’t have access to books, but check out the Great Divorce, where, I believe, Lewis describes judgment thus: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”)
I’m always amused and saddened by people trying to prove their point based on the precise wording of their favorite bible phrases, using their favorite translations.
For starters, the bible isn’t completely internally consistent. Second, the writers made (understandable) mistakes (e.g., calling something “leprosy” with symptoms quite distinct from actual leprosy, and aligning perfectly with other diseases). Finally, many of the translations I’ve seen have been, well, creative, to say the least.
I think the only sensible way to go about it is to try to interpret the original intent, just as judges do with the constitution. I was raised Christian (though not Catholic), and the “love thy neighbor” part always seemed infinitely more important than the “how you spell God” part.
Fair enough not to remove the non-“I am an ACLU lawyer” posts, but I think you misunderstood me.
It’s impossible to determine if someone is Christian or not, since the definition varies so much between people (the discussions above being a case in point), but it isn’t so difficult to ask the ACLU if so and so worked for the ACLU.
If I write that “I’m an ACLU lawyer and a Catholic”. What proof would you have other than just the statement? Hell, I’d be surprised if no one did just that- and you’d never know either…
As far as the issues of what defines Christianity- faith has become so entirely subjective in the minds of the people that what is “Christian” to one person is “Pagan” to another. Hell, many people believe that Catholics aren’t Christian. Many others believe that Mormons or Unitarians aren’t Christian- yet the members of those faiths still consider themselves Christian. It seems like a dead issue that won’t go anywhere, nor is it the scope of this thread (IMHO)- so what’s the point of pulling hairs over it?
Why is it that this thread has ignored the folks that have come forward and identified themselves as working for or with the ACLU, and focused on whether Christianity is an exclusive religion or not? I would prefer to explore the original question with those folks who identified themselves as Chrisitans and affiliated with the ACLU.
One reason it is so hard to get through to Bill OReillys and dittoheads is that presenting facts and even Bible text will not work. George Lakoff of the Rockridge institute (http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/aboutus) says we see the world through frames of reference built as we grow from a mere sprat to an adult. The frames get sturdier and sturdier until, in many cases, even facts will not break them down. Framing is like everything you’ve read on propaganda but in a larger context.
If you know how frames work you can use this knowledge for good -i.e. learning/changing your mind, or for evil by manipulating/brainwashing people. Lakoff maintains this is exactly what Rove and his minions have done. Melding dogmatic religion and right wing ideology has been another brilliant stroke of this evil genius.
Lakoff says “frames trump facts” ergo, facts will not work. You could parade every Christian ACLU lawyer in front of Fox News HQs and it would not change one mind.
Worse, he says that we non-Republicans always lose because we respond within conservative frames. The statement “The ACLU hates Christians” paints the ACLU as oppressive, Christians as victims and OReilly as a hero. In this frame it follows that anyone who supports the ACLU is for the victimization, against the victim and against the hero -we take a triple whammy hit. We’ve lost before we’ve begun. Further, to them their frame is internally consistant and therefore seems completely logical (and you wondered how so many could buy into the BS!).
Bad for us, they get to choose the issue. Because they scream so loudly and seem so incensed, their absurdities seem to demand a response. But we play right into their hands by wasting our time even engaging in the conversation. When a simple roll of the eyes heavenward does not work Lakoff says we must re-frame.
Don’t say “The ACLU does not hate Christians” and then set about presenting facts and verses, rather say the ACLU mission is to protect basic constitutional rights no matter who the victim is -a job they’ve succeeded admirably at for decades. Respond with a story (stories are important in framing!) of when they have fought for Christian’s rights. Always work from within your frame because if you respond within theirs -you will lose.
Silver linings in the otherwise dark and ominous clouds that linger after this election are the Christians I see saying “Wait a minute, we think todays evangelicals have it all wrong”. The recent controversy about the United Church of Christ ad and this blog, among others, look like a trend. Would it not be ironic if it were Christians who by bringing other Christians to their senses saved us all from these bozos?
“Why is it that this thread has ignored the folks that have come forward and identified themselves as working for or with the ACLU, and focused on whether Christianity is an exclusive religion or not? I would prefer to explore the original question with those folks who identified themselves as Chrisitans and affiliated with the ACLU.”
However, those who have noted above that merely identifying oneself as a Christian — or a Catholic, and I say that as a Catholic Christian — is not enough. Self-identified Christians include openly gay couples, neo-Nazis, syncretists of various sorts, and so on. And such individuals may even be Christians in some real sense; but they don’t hold the Christian faith in a sufficiently intact way for their example to show that Christianity per se is properly compatible with anything else, such as being a lawyer for the ACLU.
So when someone says above “I’m a Catholic lawyer and I work for the ACLU,” while I gladly take him at his word on a personal level, the evidentiary value of this testimony is very weak. Many people call themselves Catholics but are, e.g., pro-choice pro-gay, pro-women’s ordination, etc., and many would say that whether one is Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu etc. doesn’t matter, which is sub-Catholic and even sub-Christian.
For the claim “I’m a Christian lawyer and I work for the ACLU” to be meaningful, we need to have some further specification of what it means to be “Christian,” or rather to hold the Christian faith in a meaningful way.
Speaking as an ecumenical, non-dissenting Catholic and a huge C.S. Lewis fan, I think we need to say that to profess Christian belief in a meaningful way, it is necessary to believe that Jesus is in some way a unique, definitive, and universal revelation of God to man.
This doesn’t mean that we consign non-Christians to hell. But it does mean we can’t be indifferentists and say “All religions lead to God,” or “It doesn’t matter what you believe,” or “This is my tradition but your tradition is equally valid.”
We may well hope to meet in heaven our neighbors who are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and even atheists, but we must also acknowledge that all who are saved are saved only by Christ, not by other ways, and we must be willing to proclaim Christ as the only way of salvation to our neighbors in this life, and to try to persuade them to accept him.
If someone says that he is a Christian in this sense, and also that he is a lawyer who works for the ACLU, then I think that would be a meaningful statement.
Mike wrote: Christianity (along with Islam) commands of its followers to convert the unbelievers, the heathens (if only they could see the errors of their ways!), in this respect it is at odds with a free and democratic society.
Which is a breathtaking statement, really. While Christians do share the Gospel with those who have not heard (heck, even those that have heard and rejected it), SHARING INFORMATION is not in any way at odds with a free and democratic society.
Far from it.
While no one can argue that there haven’t been horrifying instances of Christian oppression (the forced conversions by Emperor Justin in the 6th century and the response to Islamic aggression in the Crusades certainly pop in everyone’s mind) there is really no debate that individual liberty and justice are most prevalent where Christianity has had the greatest impact and presence.
The widespread treatment of people as individuals instead of part of a collective is a mark of Christianity — from its very inception — and is in stark contrast to the Greco-Roman culture in which the individual was always subordinate to the state.
In Islam, on the other hand, there is no doctrinal separation of church and state. So while Muslims do not ALWAYS force conversions on conquered peoples, the government and religion of the land are unified. Combined with the physically forced conversions and the oppressive dhimmi system (which enables non-Muslims to live in Muslim states albeit with drastically fewer rights), one could easily argue that there is a conflict between Islam and democracy.
George Greene: Please, slow down on the condescension and talking down to others. There’s a diverse crowd here, both in regards to the political and religious spectrum. So there’s no need to talk around a group of people that are represented here and explain how that group can best be reached by the rest of the crowd. Instead, you could try reaching out and actually communicating with that group yourself.
I really don’t understand this idea of exclusivity, it seems a moral contradiction…for God to punish someone merely because they were raised in another culture would make God a monster; Such a being would not deserve worship in any moral framework that I understand.
Talin: The historic Christian belief is not that God punishes anyone for being raised in a different culture. It is that he punishes people for their own sins. All who are punished deserve it; that God offers salvation by grace through Jesus Christ is his freely given gift to humanity, not our due. God need not offer salvation to anyone at all, and as our creator worship would still be his due. The Lost have no grievance against God.
Once again, this doesn’t mean that Christians consign non-Christians to hell. Jesus teaches that God judges us according to our circumstances, to what we have been given; “To whom much is given much is required” and “The servant who knew his master’s will and did not do it will be punished severely; the servant who did not know his master’s will and did not do it will be punished lightly.”
Those who through no fault of their own have never heard the gospel can be saved — or lost — without having heard it. Christ can save whom he wills. But all are saved by him and in no other way, and he wants to save the world by the spread of the gospel and conversion to the church he founded.
I am not a lawyer, nor am I a member of the ACLU. I would however describe myself as a Christian.
Unlike some of the people on here I would not say that Christianity is exclusive, and here are my reasons why.
The Bible is an edited and translated text. I wouldn’t subscribe to it as being the one true unadulterated word of God. Yes it was inspired by God, in my opinion, but it has been written down, translated and edited by humans. Errare Humanum Est. This belief explains the contadictions in the Bible without forcing me to accept things that I don’t fundamentally believe to be true. For example the Bible both condemns killing and condones it. “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” are definitely contradictory, so which one should I follow?
Yes the New Testament does claim an exclusive way to God, but the actions of Jesus seem much more caring and inclusive to me. My question for the exclusivists is “How would your God deal with the people born before Christ?”. I do not believe in a God that is so arbitrary as to reject people who are good people but didn’t hear about Christ through no fault of their own. I feel that the love one another meme in the New Testament is the dominant meme. Yes, there are other concepts present, but the exclusivity idea smacks of Church editing to some extent.
If you feel that there is only one God and that Jesus Christ was his son, then what do you think of the point where it is written “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34, this is the King James Translation)
I have met many people whose actions I would describe as “Christian” but who weren’t “Christian”. Does that make them bad people? No, I think that if you follow the right path you are following the will of God whether you believe in him or whether you call him something else.
Z. (Yes, I’m an unorthodox Christian but I come from an Unorthodox Religious background that is most definitely Christian).
Zwack writes: If you feel that there is only one God and that Jesus Christ was his son, then what do you think of the point where it is written “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34, this is the King James Translation)
I sort of hate the pick and choose Scripture game, but this reference you cite is definitely worth looking into in greater detail. For one thing, you should note the very next verse after this (which says that Scripture can not be broken — contrary to what you assert in your post. In fact, this verse which comes straight from Christ’s mouth is one of the reasons that Christians believe in the infallability of Scripture).
IN ANY CASE, the scenario from which you got your John 10:34 is that the Pharisees are not understanding a thing Jesus is saying. He’s trying to teach them about salvation, and how he alone is the path to their salvation, how he alone will accomplish their salvation and how his message will extend beyond the Jews (v. 7: So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep., v. 9: I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture., v. 11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep., v. 16, And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.)
Meanwhile, the Pharisees are extremely hung up on the fact that he’s saying he’s God. So when they say they’re going to stone him on account of his perceived blasphemy he basically shows that by their own Pharisaical standard they have no case to stand on. Jesus quotes Psalm 86 but there are many other instances where Scriptures refer to men as being gods. There is pretty much universal agreement among scholars that when men are called gods it refers to them, say, making gods out of themselves instead of trusting God (like in Genesis) or being rulers of the land (like in Isaiah), etc.
But that’s not really the point. He — with his killer knowledge of Scriptures — points out that if they’re going to stone him for blaspheming, they should know that their own scriptures refer to men being gods, so why should he get stoned for saying he’s the Son of God?
Also interesting in this whole exchange in John 10 is that the people are all “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (v. 24) so he says, “I told you and you do not believe.”
The next part of what Jesus says in this whole chapter is also of note for our postmodern world. So many people — of all religions — say they like what Jesus DID. Or that being like Christ is awesome. But what he says in this chapter is that His works testify to him being the Saviour of the World. And that people have trouble with that.
Or, in His words beginning with the second part of v. 25: “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
The whole chapter is really fascinating and great. But probably not the best one to use if you’re trying to argue that Jesus thought that other gods were valid. In fact, it may be one of the worst chapters you would want to use if you were trying to achieve that end.
While not exactly what you were looking for, you might want to mention that the ACLU of Michigan fought and won for a high school valedictorian to include a bible passage as her yearbook quote – http://www.aclu.org/StudentsRights/StudentsRights.cfm?ID=15680&c=159
[Sorry for the horrendously long comment. I can’t get this to format properly, either.] Not to flog the Christian exclusivity thing some more, but… Here’s what that pseudo-Christian organization the Roman Catholic Church had to say on the subject in 1964 (Lumen Gentium):
“Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126); But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.”
From this I infer that, according to official RC dogma, Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same Creator, and that salvation is not exclusively for Christians, irrespective of their stance on gays, female ordination, or alternate side of the street parking.
On the topic of Jesus and personal liberty, never forget that he was a serious rebel. Who other than a serious anti-authoritarian would have said: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26
So while I am neither a lawyer nor a Christian, I fully understand the degree to which Christianity laid the groundwork for personal liberty. It is why tribalism was transcended in the West, and it’s material prosperity arose. No cheap trick that!
Christianity and the ACLU
John Scalzi is looking for Christian lawyers who work for the ACLU. The ensuing comment thread on his post is getting very interesting, too. Worth checking out (though it keeps getting longer, so give yourself a few minutes).
I am a devout Christian leftie and my husband is on the board of directors of the ACLU of Alabama (of Roy Moore infamy) I’ve emailed him about your site and maybe he’ll get back to you. We are old book Anglicans.
Ka-ching for the ACLU.
Blue Gal in a Red State
Will the judgmental soul who doubted there were Christian lawyers with the ACLU please prepare to pony up another $50. I am a lawyer, law professor more precisely, and the immediate past President of the ACLU of Alabama. I am currently on the ACLU of Alambama Board of Directors and additionally serve on its Executive Committee. And, yes, I am a Christian.
I know of my own personal knowledge that the ACLU brings just as many lawsuits under the Free Exercise clause supporting various religious groups (including Christian churches as shown earlier in this thread) in their ability to practice their faith, as it does under the Establishment Clause attempting to prevent the overt endorsement of religion by government.
The true client of the ACLU is the Constitution of the United States. We represent specific, individual clients in order to promote constitutional rights. When we act to defend helpless individuals against oppressive government (a common scenario), I believe the ACLU acts in a truly Christian manner (although this is not intended as such, and my non-Christian colleagues on the ACLU Board would distance themselves from this). After all, Christ enjoined us to help the least among us, and often the ACLU finds itself representing the friendless and the scorned.
For myself, my beliefs are not so fragile that they require blaring public pronouncement, and especially public pronouncement by less-than-honest politicians. So what if there are no public statutes or monuments to any particular religious faith? Of what value is a belief system that needs such constant reinforcement?
I also ask myself what I would feel if I were a Muslim or a Hindu, living in the United States and constantly being made to feel second class by virtue of the religious prattle than comes out of the mouths of public officials. I would not want that for myself, and, as Christians, how can we possibly force onto others that which we would not want for ourselves?
David J. Langum
Whoever issued this challenge can please direct the $50 to: Office Manager, ACLU of Alabama, 207 Montgomery Street, Suite 825, Montgomery, Alabama 36104.
“there is really no debate that individual liberty and justice are most prevalent where Christianity has had the greatest impact and presence”
Bunnie, you’re joking, right?
I’d say you have it the other way around, at any rate: true Christianity flourishes where there is individual liberty and justice.
I don’t know if there is a term that Christians can use to describe the ACLU. I guess the only adjective usable would be unGodly, and anti-Christian. I understand that we as Christians must examine ourselves before judging other, but the scripture also says that we will know Christians by their “fruits.” The fruits that the ACLU produces are most certainly poisonous, and I would have to be possessed to take a bite. The truth of the matter is, the founding fathers made seperation of church and state to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state. The United States was unarguably founded on Christ, and I pray that it might stay that way, as long as the Christians might band together to fight off the pestilence of the ACLU which a democratic government can’t prevent. By the way, on a sidenote, if you guys existed in one of the many hostile nations of the middle east, you would all be killed. I think you should be thankful of your religious freedoms (which is what you have, a religion) and stop getting on Christians for making the nation on nation UNDER GOD, not one nation OVER GOD.
Let me say at the beginning that I am both a Christian and an ACLU member, though since I’m only 19 I’m not a lawyer but someday probably will be. I’m sorry Cory, but you have been lied to many times. You, as many Americans, are very wrong about the Founding Fathers. They were a mix of Deists (a religion that believed in the natural powers observed scientifically in nature), agnostics, atheists, Freemasons , freethinkers, and Christians. The only prominent Christian founding father was John Jay, who became the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The idea of separation of church and state is meant to BOTH keep the church out of state affairs and the state out of church doctrine. This is because while the freedom to practice any religion was and is important it is not the main objective. What the Founding Fathers knew that we seem to have forgotten is that if the church and state become one, the leadership wields unimaginable power. Consider this: if high government officials falsely claimed to communicate with God himself and then said that their policies were the will of God no one would question them. How could they? These would not be the will of man, but of GOD. Remember, even the devil can quote scripture, by which I mean that these elected officials could pass themselves off as good, pious men because we would only see what they wish us to. This type of society in which men can carry out their own wishes in the name of God unquestioned by the populace is what we at the ACLU are fighting against. We are also fighting to keep religious freedom alive, which is why I actually came. The ACLU just put up a press release here (http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=17297&c=83) where they are representing a man in a suit because the local police department coerced him into censoring a mural of the biblical story of Eve. You see, many people have been misinformed about what the First Amendment means. It only says government can’t be involved with religion. The man in the above case is a private citizen so he can do whatever he want, and the second the government interferes with him the ACLU will step up to defend him. The Founding Fathers learned from the folly of earlier generations, but many now want to throw it away on the word of power-hungry men who use scripture to further their own ambitions. I hope you consider what I have said carefully and look into the actual case record of the ACLU instead of only those reported in the news. If anyone would like any clarrification, further examples of the faiths of the Founding Fathers, or an explanation of why the Declaration does not endorse Christianity even though it looks like it might, email me at email@example.com. Perhaps one day you will realize that the ACLU, and organizations like it, stand between democracy and the slippery slope of state-sponsored religion and despotism falsely dressed in religious language.
“Please, slow down on the condescension and talking down to others. There’s a diverse crowd here, both in regards to the political and religious spectrum. So there’s no need to talk around a group of people that are represented here and explain how that group can best be reached by the rest of the crowd. Instead, you could try reaching out and actually communicating with that group yourself.”
Josh, I carry on continuing discussions with my conservative and right wing Christian friends. I do this to challenge my own beliefs and we generally find we are closer than we think. I’m sorry if pointing this out offends you but nothing they have told me shakes my belief that there are a growing number of people on the right who prefer dogma and ideology to facts.
Now, I may have misunderstood but I thought the original post and the reason for the existence of this discusiion in the first place was John Scalzi’s frustration with a friend who posited the notion that ACLU lawyers could not possibly be Christian. I share his frustration with this absurd statement and often am also at a loss as to how to “reach” folks with viewpoints that ignore facts. His solution was to call for Christian ACLU Lawyers to come forward and by their very existence prove his friend wrong. I think it wholly legitimate within the stated purpose of this forum to question whether this would be effective and to posit other ways of reaching our friends on the right.
I believe that how an issue is framed makes a great deal of difference in how the discourse plays out. Much of what I hear from the right has been designed from the top down to force their frame of reference onto the discourse. Frames, when skillfully manipulated, can serve to get people off the real issues as in this case. Calling the ACLU aniti-Christian is a red herring that draws attention away from the fact that the ACLU does a solid job of safeguarding our most fundamental rights and directs our attention instead to some wacky notion of Christian-hating-Liberals. I.e. I believe the political discourse itself is rigged and I refuse to be manipulated in this way. I believe all of us -on both sides- would do well to be be wary of being fooled.
The problem is that once a frame is firmly established even facts will not shake it. Look at John’s friend’s response to his showing proof that the ACLU has in fact stood up for the rights of Christians -will it be different when a real live lawyer is produced? (Maybe John can let us know how this turns out.) I am not alone in this view -hence the reference to the Rockridge Institute.
This may indeed be a huge bummer to some right wing Christians but ours is in fact a secular state founded by enlightened folks (bearing little resemblance to some modern in-your-face right wing Christians) who fully understood the danger of combining religion and government. Keeping church and state separate is fundamental to our liberty. While good citizens (and the ACLU) will continue to defend anyone’s right to believe as they wish, the bottom line is that one religion does not get to write the laws for everyone else or shove their religion into our faces every time we go to city hall or public school. Anyone who really wants that can move to Iran.
To make a long story I was pumping gas and decided to wash my hands as I tunned around I saw a big res sign telling me I was being Video taped as I used the restroom. I left with discust and confrontrd the cashier abd she told me that I was very rude and to leave and never return or she would have me aressted.I also took the the sign wtih me and sstill have it today. I think think is a direct lolation of my civil rights. Please advise on this matter.
I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOU CAN SEND ME INFORMATION ABOUT MY RIGHTS IN THE WORK PLACE AND SCHOOLS CONCERNING RELIGIOUS MATERIALS AN THE BIBLE.
On the case that aclu lawyers can be a ChristiaN that is true. You canot be a Christian AND BELONG TO TYHE ACLU AT ALL. THE ACLU IS A SATANIC
ORGANIZATION. Anyone who does not believe in God
is against God and is not a Christian. The bible
says that thses people will go to Hell.
Hey, Anonymous: Did you work to become that ignorant, or was it something that just came naturally? Because you look like a natural to me.
please call me at 610-476-0582, i need representation in a freedom of religion suit.the police arrested me moments after i announced me intentions to take my son to mass/church
have brother in the chruch that as been convicted of SBS which is Shaken Baby Syndome. The brother inteh chruch is innocent. He has been sent to prison for 10 years. As doing research on this case i have recovered that there are more cases involves such as the same things that has happen to this brother. Thsi information can also prove that this brother is innocent. We have appealed and appeal and this brother has not set free. I need prayer for him to be release and the truth to come out about this child.
oh i get it- you post everything that makes the ACLU look good.Or anything that cuts God haters some slack.Because Christians are forgiving-I have one word for the ACLU (REPENT)GOD loves you.Even if you dont care.Life is short-after life is forever.
See my page: THE ACLU FIGHTS FOR CHRISTIANS