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:: A constitutional law blog by Scalia/Thomas fan David M. Wagner, M.A., J.D., Research Fellow, National Legal Foundation, and Teacher, Veritas Preparatory Academy. Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect those of the NLF or Veritas. :: bloghome | E-mail me ::

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    :: Thursday, June 02, 2005 ::
    For Smith and against wimpy Christians: a rant

    I've just learned from a Foxfire book that Appalachian sheriffs rarely felt any need to take directly into custody the men they caught moonshining. They'd just ask the gentlemen in question to present themselves, at their convenience, down at the courthouse -- and they did. Then they would pay their fines and move on. The alternative -- absconding -- would cause them to lose face with their highly honor-conscious Scots-Irish communities.

    This made me think of the fracas over Employment Division v. Smith. One of the reasons this decision is the greatest thing since sliced bread is that it treats religious believers with the level of respect with which those sheriffs treat the moonshiners. And it pains me that so many religious believers do not want that level of respect -- glorying in being less respectful of the community's laws than moonshiners are! -- and instead prefer to believe that the Constitution requires that they be treated differently from other citizens, not just as regards worship (as to which they are right), but across the board.

    Contrary to the propoganda, Smith does not mean you can't follow your conscience. It just means that, in certain circumstances, if you do so, you may go to jail. For the life of me I can't see the biggie about that. Do you have these convictions, or not? If you do, why aren't you glad to suffer for them? (Act 6:41).

    When Christians face jail for refusing to violate their consciences, the proper course of action is to agitate for changes in the law, not to sue for an exemption from it -- an exemption, not incidentally, that leaves the offending law standing.

    The early Christians often went to far worse than jail. They would be sick to see that their spiritual descendants are such whiners. Even Thoreau knew that committing civil disobedience meant accepting the consequences of civil disobedience. Christians less courageous than Thoreau? No wonder we're behind the eight ball in the culture wars.

    :: David M. Wagner 10:13 PM [+] ::

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