Not too long ago, I taught a Sunday School series on Using the Law Lawfully. In that series, we analyzed all 613 of the laws in the Old Testament to determine which of them still applied to modern Gentile believers. One of the laws that we looked at was the prohibition against crossdressing found in Deuteronomy 22:5, and I think that we established a pretty good understanding of that law and how it applies to us today. Here is the outline from that lesson:
Originally published anonymously in 1905, this poignant essay from Mark Twain is still remarkably applicable to modern America.
Is there such a thing as Christian citizenship? No, but it could be created. The process would be quite simple, and not productive of hardship to any one. It will be conceded that every man's first duty is to God; it will also be conceded, and with strong emphasis, that a Christian's first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them. Whenever he shall do that, he will not find himself voting for an unclean man, a dishonest man. Whenever a Christian votes, he votes against God or for Him, and he knows this quite well. God is an issue in every election; He is a candidate in the person of every clean nominee on every ticket; His purity and His approval are there, to be voted for or voted against, and no fealty to party can absolve His servant from his higher and more exacting fealty to Him; He takes precedence of party, duty to Him is above every claim of party.
Sir William Blackstone is often praised for laying the groundwork for American jurisprudence with his Commentaries on the Laws of England. Blackstone's Commentaries were one of the most widely read books in the colonies, and his views of the laws of England were often incorporated into the laws of America. One portion of Blackstone's Commentaries that has largely been forgotten by modern legal scholars but which played a significant role in forming the thought of founding fathers like James Wilson was Blackstone's answer to the question of where laws come from. What follows is a condensed version of Blackstone's somewhat loquacious answer to that question.
Yesterday, a lawsuit against Ivey's mask order was dismissed and subsequently appealed. Ivey attempted several interesting twists of the law in her defense, and one such twist that I find particularly disturbing is her claim that the Emergency Management Act gives her complete authority over the "conduct of civilians."
As more and more Republican voters have become disgusted with the effects of all the various coronavirus mandates, Trump's reelection team has been attempting to whitewash Trump's role in the shutdowns, social distancing policies, mask orders, and other less than popular policies that have been put in place during this crisis. In typical Trumpian fashion, the President's bootlickers are now claiming that the President was opposed to things like shutting down the economy, telling churches not to hold in-person services, separating workers into essential vs. non-essential categories, and so on. They're now claiming that evil Democrat governors came up with these ideas all on their own, and that Donald Trump has been fighting against them from the beginning.
On July 29, 2020, Governor Ivey issued her 15th Supplemental State of Emergency: Coronavirus Proclamation. In that order, Ivey invoked the Alabama Emergency Management Act to promulgate the amended “Order of the State Health Officer Suspending Certain Public Health Gatherings Due to Risk of Infection by COVID-19” as “an order, rule, or regulation under the applicable provisions of the Emergency Management Act. Ivey further ordered that the Health Officer’s order be enforced by the law-enforcing authorities of the state, that those who violate the order should be fined $500 or imprisoned, and that any provision of state law which conflicted with the order be suspended for the duration of the state of emergency.
It is my contention that this and all 14 previous proclamations promulgating orders from the Governor under the Alabama Emergency Management Act in response to the coronavirus are violations of Sections 21 and 43 of the Constitution of Alabama, 1901. Those sections declare:
Do you remember being told that we could defeat the virus if we could just put up with some government intrusion for two weeks? "Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread" was the plan that Trump introduced back in March. After we complied with that plan, a new plan was presented. "Thirty (more) Days to Slow the Spread" they said, and we dutifully complied again. That compliance has now extended to more than 120 days, and I say that enough is enough. I am sick and tired of the government overstepping its authority and mandating that I take the steps that they think are the best for my health. I'm done with this. From now on, I'm fighting back, and I know that many of you are too.
I've created a three-pronged attack to fight back against these unlawful orders. I hope that you will join me, and if you have other suggestions, please leave a comment to let others know about it. Here are three ways that you can fight back against the mask:
On Friday, June 26, 2020, Dr. Mark Wilson, the health officer of Jefferson County, Alabama, issued an order requiring all residents in the county to wear face masks when in most public settings. There are a lot of good and well-meaning people in favor of this order and a lot of good and well-meaning people who oppose it. Most of the debate between the two groups has focused on whether or not the order is necessary or helpful, but there is a much more important question that should be asked. Before we compare the costs verses the benefits of such an order, we need to ask ourselves if the county health officer has the legal authority to issue this order in the first place.
Much of the debate on the relationship between church and state has centered around the phrases “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state.” While these phrases have a very important history and should be studied, their applicability to American government must be understood within the confines of the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the debate on this Amendment has largely focused on whether or not its prohibitions are limited to the US Congress. The real key to understanding the First Amendment lies in unlocking the mystery of the phrase “an establishment of religion.”
Conservatism is the philosophy that the wisdom of the past is still just as applicable today as it was then. Conservatism is an ancient wisdom in itself, for every age has its conservatives and liberals, and it is always the conservatives who succeed and pass their wisdom down to the next age where some new brand of liberals will rise up to challenge that wisdom once again.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)