"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." (Quote generally attributed to French philosopher Voltaire)
This month the United States Supreme Court hears arguments brought in a case involving protests carried out by a Kansas church at the funeral of an American soldier killed in action.
As reported, the facts in the case appear to include:
|1.||In a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court, church members, Defendants in the matter before the courts, claim it is their right to protest at certain events, including funerals, to promote their religious message.|
|2.||The actions of the protesting group were engaged in on public thoroughfare.|
|3.||Appellate Courts have upheld the Defendants. The Plaintiff, the deceased's father, is appealing the case.|
|4.||The justices will be asked to look at how far states and private entities such as cemeteries and churches can go to justify picket-free zones and the use of "floating buffers" to silence or restrict speech or movements of demonstrators exercising their Constitutional rights in a funeral setting.|
The Supreme Court is not expected to rule on the matter for several months.
As one is free in writing a blog to write anything not knowingly libel and/or to express any opinion unaccompanied by slander, allow me to express what will probably be just one of many opinions coming.
Writing from what one trusts is a Christian perspective the following might be worth considering:
|1.||The Defendants may have a valid argument as regards God's wrath on nations which tolerate, even defend, what the Bible labels sin. In this the written record is relatively clear.|
|2.||The right to religious freedom and to peacefully protest is sacrosanct in America, and it is unlikely the current Supreme Court will deny this.|
|3.||The protestors, it would appear from this vast distance, may have failed the test contained in the proverbial question: "What would Jesus Do?"|
A significant influence on my theology, Bob Mumford, once said, "I believe I would let God defend Himself." Generally this has been my approach, too. But, I do have some questions:
When, exactly, did we who claim the designation Christian find it advantageous to defame that Name by exercising every legal right we may possess? When, exactly, did the tactics of terrorist become part of the Christian repertoire?
The Defendants in this case have very good odds of winning the legal battle, if winning is defined by not having to pay the Plaintiff. Their right is likely to be sustained to be obnoxious in the face of non-Christians acting Christian. But, some potential win has already been lost.
Christianity has for centuries held forth as being a religion of love not hate, of grace not legalism, containing a message of hope beyond hope. Certainly there have been men in many ages and places adulterating the message, but it has more often been a message of triumph devoid of villainy. One would think that, regardless of the rulings of American or any other courts, the truth claims of Christ will stand or fail on their own merit -- those exercising a right to defame notwithstanding.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.