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“An Object Of Worship”: Mississippi Defies Feds In Brave Struggle To Bring Guns To Church

Of all the cultural divides in these allegedly “United” States, probably none is more stark than the chasm in attitudes toward possession of lethal weaponry. There used to be a general consensus that deadly force should, generally speaking, be monopolized by police officers; possession of, say, a handgun in one’s home, was an exception in recognition of exceptional circumstances. Shooting irons for hunting were another thing, but those were reserved for occasions when one was, you know, out in the woods hunting.

That may still be the prevailing attitude on the coasts, but the romance with heavily arming citizens to carry out their very own forms of justice is really running wild in parts of the heartland, where conservative lawmakers are outraged at the idea that there is anywhere on Earth that privately owned guns don’t belong, to the point of considering that the most important of all liberties.

The Great State of Mississippi is offering an illustration of this principle as we speak with the march toward enactment of legislation to recognize a right of concealed-carry in churches. And the Republican salons, who are promoting the cause of honoring the Prince of Peace by insisting on the right to shoot and kill people right there in His sanctuary, are preemptively concerned that the godless socialists in Washington might interfere. So once again, they’ve gone back to that fine antebellum doctrine of nullification to deny the power of the Feds — or at least the executive branch — to regulate firearms at all.  The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has the story:

The bill would allow churches to create security programs and designate and train members to carry concealed weapons. It would provide criminal and legal protections to those serving as church security.

The bill also would allow concealed carry in a holster without a permit in Mississippi, expanding a measure passed last year that allowed concealed carry without a permit in a purse, satchel or briefcase, and another recent law that allows open carry in public.

The bill also seeks to prohibit Mississippi officials from enforcing any federal agency regulations or executive orders that would violate the state constitution — an attempt to federal gun restrictions not passed by Congress.

Senators argued whether this last provision would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Where did you go to law school?” Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, asked Tindell during the debate. “Are they telling people there that the Mississippi constitution trumps federal law? … You may have been wrong about things before, but you’ve never been more wrong than this. This is like arguing whether the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This is embarrassing, hopeless.”

It’s also entirely predictable that people who think the absence of guns is more dangerous than their omnipresence would extend the principle everywhere, even to bars and, yeah, churches. Beyond that, we see the ongoing radicalization of Second Amendment ultras who think gun rights are not just part of the Constitution but fundamental to it and superior to any other provision — in effect, an object of worship. At some point, the Second Amendment could run afoul of the Bible’s Second Commandment against raising up idols.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Churches, Concealed Carry Laws, Nullification | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Showdown Between God And Government”: Roy Moore And The Divine Right Of Nullifiers

With Roy Moore in the national headlines again–this time for defying and urging state courts in Alabama to defy a federal court order–reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court–to begin licensing same-sex marriages–it’s a good time to consult Sarah Posner, who has an important remembrance of a speech by the Ten Commandments Judge a few years ago. She helps explain why and how a lot of “constitutionalists” and “states rights advocates” like Moore have theocratic grounds for their supposedly law-based views.

That Friday night [in June 2011] in Severn [Maryland], Moore was speaking to a gathering of the Institute on the Constitution, a fringe educational group run by Maryland lawyer, former Constitution Party presidential candidate, and current member of the Anne Arundel County Council, Michael Peroutka. Back in 2010 and 2011, I made an irregular habit of attending the IOTC’s First Friday gatherings, at which there was typically an out-of-town celebrity speaker (Moore’s was particularly well-attended, with a few hundred people in the audience), covering topics near and dear to the IOTC’s unorthodox view of the Constitution. The Constitution, they claim, is a divine document designed only to protect the rights conferred by God, not to create “new” rights by way of jurisprudence. For all you law school graduates shaking your head as you read this, Peroutka, Moore, and their followers claim that the law schools are teaching it all wrong—that’s why they’ve created their own law schools….

In presenting Moore with a “Spirit of Daniel” award for courage, Peroutka gleefully noted that he was doing so on Jefferson Davis’s birthday. (The award was given because Moore “resisted a government that thought it was God.”)

That showdown between God and government is at the heart of Moore’s claims that he is on the side of righteousness and the federal courts on the side of an anti-God, unconstitutional “tyranny.” Moore believes there is a separation of church and state—but he believes it’s one that distinguishes America from royal monarchies. In other words, the government is separated from the church in that the government is barred from running the church, and it can’t tell the church what to do. Public schools, in his view, are “controlled by government,” and impose secularism; he favors tax credits for homeschooling because that’s “the right of the parent….”

Moore, who graduated from West Point and served in Vietnam, is fond of reiterating that he has sworn to uphold Constitution against enemies, both foreign and domestic. He readily agreed that America has been overtaken by enemies within. “Our government is infiltrated with communists, we’ve got Muslims coming in and taking over where we should be having the say about our principles.” And more: “I’m not so sure some in government don’t want to destroy our country.”

Sarah has more, but you get the drift. The scary thing is that Moore is not some isolated radio crank or even a state legislator, but the elected chief judicial officer of an entire state. He’s a useful study because he’s a little less crafty than most “constitutional conservatives” in speaking in code when he talks about the connection between religion and the law. For him, the divine law fundamentalists derive from the Hebrew scriptures was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution by the Founders and by definition cannot be legitimately modified by human hands, regardless of the instruments for doing just that made available in the Constitution itself. And so the presumed right of state nullfication of federal laws and court decisions is rooted not just in a pre-Civil War idea of federalism, but in an aggressively reactionary notion of religion and its implications for secular law.

While Moore’s bizarre and dangerous world view is plain for all who go to the trouble of looking for it to see, it has some pretty respectable fellow travelers. The Paul family’s close connection with the Constitution Party is a good example; indeed, in 2008, that party’s affiliate in Montana placed Ron Paul at the top of its ticket with Michael Peroutka as his running-mate (Paul protested this action, but apparently only to protect the status of national Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, whom he ultimately endorsed over Republican John McCain and Libertarian Bob Barr).

So Roy Moore may be as crazy as he sounds, but he’s not as exotic a bird as you might think.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal,The Washington Monthly, February 11, 2015

February 12, 2015 Posted by | Alabama Supreme Court, Nullification, Roy Moore | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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