Crisis, Constitution, and Bible Classes

It is an attempted power grab, no two ways about it, and no one should really be surprised that President Trump actually went ahead by declaring a national emergency at our southern border. What should, perhaps, surprise us is that the Republican Party is almost completely silent, if not complicit, with this unconstitutional move. And, no, the 1976 National Emergencies Act does not give the President the authority to do what he is attempting. As the Brennan Center for Justice pointed out recently, nearly all cases of declared emergencies have involved foreign governments, outside terroristic threats, and gross human rights violations, never the President of the United States circumventing funds already appropriated by Congress and signed into law by the Executive Branch.

Of course, one could argue the finer points of the law, and sooner than later the Courts will decide the proper interpretation and possible application of the National Emergencies Act, which will in all likelihood make its way to the Supreme Court where we can only hope and pray a majority of Justices are faithful enough to the Constitution, not to mention frightened enough by the prospect of giving the President so much power, that they will rule Trump’s attempted move illegal. In the meantime, we might ask some simple but very sensible questions about all this … questions that, really, any good Republican should be asking him/herself right now, such as:

  1. Why did President Trump fail to get his billions of dollars in border wall funding during his first two years of office when the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress, especially if it was so imperative?
  2. When Trump did not receive adequate funding for the Wall, why did he not declare a national emergency in 2017 or 2018? Did this “national emergency” just suddenly arise in 2019, after the Democrats took back control of the House? Hmmm …. suspicious at best.
  3. If there really is a national emergence at the southern border, where’s the proof? No, we mean good, solid evidence rooted in reality, which begs the question: Why is illegal immigration at a nearly 50-year low if there really is a crisis along the Mexican border?
  4. Does this crisis primarily have to do with narcotics and other contraband? But studies and reports have consistently shown that most illegal drugs come into the United States through legal ports of entry… So how does this allow President Trump to declare a national emergence along our southern border?

The most important question I have for Republicans ~ and I’m really kind of frightened I even have to ask this ~ is, “Why in the world would you stand idly by and allow, if not support, any President so obviously circumventing the Constitution? Why would you … how could you support someone striking at the very balance of power we have enjoyed in our country since its foundation? Do you not realize that this sort of action threatens to erode the very foundation of our nation?”

We can only hope and pray the challengers to Trump’s power grab are successful, that they prevail. Even back in the 1930s, good ole FDR had to be challenged for his own attempted power grab, and he was … and his challengers were, thankfully, successful. However, bear in mind that many of his challengers were, as a matter of fact, from his own party. Sadly, this is seemingly not the case today!

Bible in the Classrooms?

Some states evidently have proposals on the table to offer Bible classes in public schools. Proponents offer all kinds of arguments for doing this, such as: Judeo-Christian Scriptures contain good teaching to which children need to be exposed, especially in character development. Also, the Bible constitutes some of the great literature of the world, and it has also been an integral part of the history and heritage of the United States.

Besides all this, the Bible class would only be offered as an elective, not as a requirement, so parents should not be offended because their children would not be forced into religious instruction. So there should presumably be no problem, and President Trump is evidently all for it … and at this point we might make the salient observation that he himself could use a good class or two in biblical competency! At any rate, the real question is: Would this be a good idea assuming it is not ultimately deemed unconstitutional. (And, of course, if state legislatures pass bills for Bible classes, even as electives, there will be court challenges.)

Well, there are probably many objections. For instance: Why offer an elective in the Bible and not, say, the Qur’an? Or the Upanishads? Or the Bhagavad Gita? Or the Analects of Confucius? One can easily argue that these religious writings also comprise part of the world’s great literature, and that they offer good teachings conducive to character development. Of course, they have not, perhaps, played a major role in the history and heritage of America, yet it is also true that many of these important spiritual/religious works were studied by educated Americans as part of a classical education, including many (if not most) of the Founding Fathers. (Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for example, had personal copies of the Qur’an.)

But one additional concern, fairly simple and straightforward, is the question of just who would write the curriculum, and who would actually teach the class. Imagine offering a Bible class in southeast Alabama created by, say, Paulist Press and taught by the local, Roman Catholic priest! This would not go over at all, of course, even if the class were an elective and even if the priest received no monetary compensation. Most folks in this area of the country just would not put up with it, their attitude being: “How dare you when the overwhelming majority of us are Southern Baptists, and we don’t believe in prayers to Mary and the saints, the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion, etc. etc.!” So you see, this could be a problem: Who would end up teaching these classes?

Personally, I would not really object to a comparative world religions class offered as an elective to, maybe, juniors and seniors with curriculum produced by, say, MacMillan or Oxford and taught by an astute PhD in Religion (with said PhD eared from a fully-accredited institution of higher learning.) Such a course would possibly further expose students to the various cultures and belief systems of the Earth, which could be very helpful, indeed … especially since we live here in the “melting pot of the world.”

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7 thoughts on “Crisis, Constitution, and Bible Classes

  1. I just read an interesting blog article where the author focuses on some recent research that shows over 40 percent of the folks in each party believe that the people in the “other” party are evil, and some went so far as to answer (after the question was posed) that the country would be better off if many of the people in the opposite party would just die. He quoted an author as writing that 20 percent of democrats surveyed held that view and 16 percent of republicans held that view.

    The blog author went on to begin his assessment with the following sentence. (I’ve set it off as html italics should this blog allow html formatting). My response to that is after that, and I would welcome yours.

    “Our political and cultural environment has become so intensely moralized, in the sense of seeking with zeal virtue, absent prudence, that to compromise seems like giving in to evil.”

    If that is a correct assessment, the only way, to me, it is correct, is that fundamental change to our system, which includes change to the fundamental worldview of that system (our cultural predisposition), is giving up what made us great as a country. The multi-cultural pluralism message is only a message because it doesn’t take into account the reality of fundamental transformation of our country and way of life, in my opinion. Everything may be already ‘gone with the wind,’ but there is a vast residual, in that case, who never were informed of the transformation and who never had a choice or chance to have themselves heard as the changes took place. So, the evil is what people expect to happen when the last vestige of our tradition is no more. To those who have manufactured the change, the original system was evil and their discontent is aimed solely at the system which gave them the ability and right to declare such a system evil. The compromise that has traditionally taken place within the bounds of our fundamental system, has been supplanted by covered and hidden agendas by those who have worked in shadows, perhaps, or, at least by those who have worked at levels that are out of touch with the traditional, folks whose virtue continues to allow this country to survive.

    We have lost something great in this country, and that is character. Meanings have been skewed for things like Coolidge’s “Thoroughbred Code” where those aphorisms were so much a part of the fabric of this country that everyone instantly understood them as the product of Christian thought. Or the virtues scribed by Marshall Field: the value of time; the success of perseverance; the pleasure of working; the dignity of simplicity; the worth of character; the power of kindness etc…

    The depth, I believe, of these and many other truths were understood based on the shared Christian culture we had. No more it seems. Only immersion into the culture can bring out the meaning or even allow them to be written. To me it is as evident reading “The Lord of the Rings” and declaring it to be fundamentally a Christian work. Outside of that context it won’t really stand in the same way.

    1. I believe the blog author must be referring to a November poll by Axios. If not, I’ve found nothing else comparable. At any rate, I would like to read the blog article; notwithstanding, the Axios poll, as well as your own assessment, provide much fodder for the fire of my blog. So in answering your request for comment, I believe I’ll simply pen another blog article!

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