This video explains the tax system, so that the undeserving who so object may understand that working Americans are paying for their largesse. Please share it. And, remember to read all the comments, where you get a truer picture of reality.
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Imprimus, January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1
Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.
Until recently, my wife Jackie—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.
A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.
Of course? I said.
Yes, they all smoke.
So marijuana causes schizophrenia?
I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.
Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.
So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.
I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.
Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.
Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.
They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.
They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.
As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.
Research on individual users—a better way to trace cause and effect than looking at aggregate state-level data—consistently shows that marijuana use leads to other drug use. For example, a January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.
Most of all, advocates have told you that marijuana is not just safe for people with psychiatric problems like depression, but that it is a potential treatment for those patients. On its website, the cannabis delivery service Eaze offers the “Best Marijuana Strains and Products for Treating Anxiety.” “How Does Cannabis Help Depression?” is the topic of an article on Leafly, the largest cannabis website. But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.
After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”
Over the past decade, as legalization has spread, patterns of marijuana use—and the drug itself—have changed in dangerous ways.
Legalization has not led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from ten percent in 2006, according to a large federal study called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (By contrast, about 65 percent of Americans had a drink in the last year.) But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million, approaching the twelve million Americans who drank alcohol every day. Put another way, one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.
Cannabis users today are also consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects—it contains. In the 1970s, the last time this many Americans used cannabis, most marijuana contained less than two percent THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques—as well as to a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC. Think of the difference between near-beer and a martini, or even grain alcohol, to understand the difference.
These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.
Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.
On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.
According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.
A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.
Advocates for people with mental illness do not like discussing the link between schizophrenia and crime. They fear it will stigmatize people with the disease. “Most people with mental illness are not violent,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains on its website. But wishing away the link can’t make it disappear. In truth, psychosis is a shockingly high risk factor for violence. The best analysis came in a 2009 paper in PLOS Medicine by Dr. Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist. Drawing on earlier studies, the paper found that people with schizophrenia are five times as likely to commit violent crimes as healthy people, and almost 20 times as likely to commit homicide.
NAMI’s statement that most people with mental illness are not violent is of course accurate, given that “most” simply means “more than half”; but it is deeply misleading. Schizophrenia is rare. But people with the disorder commit an appreciable fraction of all murders, in the range of six to nine percent.
“The best way to deal with the stigma is to reduce the violence,” says Dr. Sheilagh Hodgins, a professor at the University of Montreal who has studied mental illness and violence for more than 30 years.
The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. People with schizophrenia are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people when they are taking antipsychotic medicine and avoiding recreational drugs. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. “You don’t just have an increased risk of one thing—these things occur in clusters,” Dr. Fazel told me.
Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis: a 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately—despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm—cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence.
A Swiss study of 265 psychotic patients published in Frontiers of Forensic Psychiatry last June found that over a three-year period, young men with psychosis who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent. That risk was four times higher than for those with psychosis who didn’t use, even after adjusting for factors such as alcohol use. Other researchers have produced similar findings. A 2013 paper in an Italian psychiatric journal examined almost 1,600 psychiatric patients in southern Italy and found that cannabis use was associated with a ten-fold increase in violence.
The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia—something even cannabis advocates acknowledge the drug can cause. The risk is so obvious that users joke about it and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to induce paranoia. And for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.
Yet the link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with preexisting psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault, and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. But studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence have quietly piled up. Many of them weren’t even designed to catch the link, but they did. Dozens of such studies exist, covering everything from bullying by high school students to fighting among vacationers in Spain.
In most cases, studies find that the risk is at least as significant as with alcohol. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.
Today that risk is translating into real-world impacts. Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates said that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates go so far as to claim that legalization has reduced violent crime. In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, U.S. Senator Cory Booker said that “states [that have legalized marijuana] are seeing decreases in violent crime.” He was wrong.
The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase, even after accounting for differences in population growth.
Knowing exactly how much of the increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But police reports, news stories, and arrest warrants suggest a close link in many cases. For example, last September, police in Longmont, Colorado, arrested Daniel Lopez for stabbing his brother Thomas to death as a neighbor watched. Daniel Lopez had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was “self-medicating” with marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit.
In every state, not just those where marijuana is legal, cases like Lopez’s are far more common than either cannabis or mental illness advocates acknowledge. Cannabis is also associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect—many more than alcohol, and more than cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids combined—according to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators.
These crimes rarely receive more than local attention. Psychosis-induced violence takes particularly ugly forms and is frequently directed at helpless family members. The elite national media prefers to ignore the crimes as tabloid fodder. Even police departments, which see this violence up close, have been slow to recognize the trend, in part because the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths has overwhelmed them.
So the black tide of psychosis and the red tide of violence are rising steadily, almost unnoticed, on a slow green wave.
For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India. Yet 20 years ago, the United States moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates.
In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—that we could have their benefits without their costs. And in both cases we were wrong. Opiates are riskier, and the overdose deaths they cause a more imminent crisis, so we have focused on those. But soon enough the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use will also be too widespread to ignore.
Whether to use cannabis, or any drug, is a personal decision. Whether cannabis should be legal is a political issue. But its precise legal status is far less important than making sure that anyone who uses it is aware of its risks. Most cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But we have made it widely known that cigarettes cause cancer, full stop. Most people who drink and drive don’t have fatal accidents. But we have highlighted the cases of those who do.
We need equally unambiguous and well-funded advertising campaigns on the risks of cannabis. Instead, we are now in the worst of all worlds. Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere.
But before we can do anything, we — especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims — need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute — and their victims — know.
The above article was adapted from a speech delivered on January 15, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.
Alex Berenson is a graduate of Yale University with degrees in history and economics. He began his career in journalism in 1994 as a business reporter for the Denver Post, joined the financial news website TheStreet.com in 1996, and worked as an investigative reporter for The New York Times from 1999 to 2010, during which time he also served two stints as an Iraq War correspondent. In 2006 he published The Faithful Spy, which won the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America. He has published ten additional novels and two nonfiction books, The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America and Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.
Those Without Disability Parking in Handicapped Parking
Witnessing a man butt in line at a retail store checkout, and then seeing the same able bodied man get into his shiny new black truck with chromed rotating wheel covers parked in a handicapped parking space incensed a desire to uphold justice. Too far away to intervene, the violator drove off without confrontation. Knowing that the politically correct are more concerned about the use of the word “handicapped” than they are about justice, emphasizes what is terribly wrong in America today.
Just as a child who has violated some minor rule and gets away with it moves on to bigger and greater transgressions unless they are held accountable, so liberals and progressives obviate truth and justice in our society substituting what they choose to believe. For example, they impart a demeaning and derogatory meaning to a word – handicapped, that was used to show empathy and concern. Regardless of how the word came into use, its meaning was perverted making its use politically incorrect just as those attempting to destroy all that made America great ridicule the commitment to service and sacrifice made by those whose cause is not acceptable them. Those who ignore history, destroy monuments, reject the Holocaust, subvert memories, fail to stand for the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, and on and on; unjustly feel they are the authorized to determine what is right or wrong, good or evil, true or untrue, fact or fiction, etc. Integrity has become self satisfaction, avarice, greed, and the quest for unjust political power.
Whether, “domestic tranquility” is shattered by the anarchy of arson and looting caused by politicians not enforcing the 1st Amendment civil right to “peaceably . . . assemble”; respect for authority and the rule of law is rejected by children raised without the socialization benefits of a father; illegal drugs continuing to flow across our unprotected borders feed the addicted; trust in government is lost by politicians not holding to campaign promises and their oath of office; national security is compromised by a president selling missile guidance secrets to the Chinese; foreign policy becomes distrusted by a president and secretary of state allowing terrorists to assassinate our ambassador and three U.S. citizens in Benghazi; intelligence agents are lost because a political candidate uses internet communication forbidden by law; our foundation of the order of law is eroded by a president not being held accountable for perjury; the fundamental doctrine of justice demanding a presumption of innocence until proven guilty under an equally applied order of law is obliterated by those holding themselves above the law; all the seemingly never ending assaults on the original intention of the Constitution by the various unjust political agendas, “special interests” of unbridled capitalism, the unjust discrimination of socialism, etc., continually mounted are tolerated; freedom and equal justice for all are sacrificed to a Congress and government not protecting and defending the Constitution from its “enemies, foreign and domestic”.
Contrary to the movement of liberals and progressives to destroy the original intention of the Constitution in their move beyond reason, the Framers studied history in secret for 500 years before Christ before framing it. The Founders, enlightened by the Great Awakening of the 1730s, understood a reality and Truth defined, not by the constant error of human intention and invention, but by the Creator of immutable Law. As the ideologic preamble to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence defines the foundation of unchanging indelible Law upon which the Constitution is based.
Incorporated into the document that serves as the model for freedom and justice for all governments withstanding the tests in the unyielding crucible of time, our enemies seek to corrupt even the truths of science and history, that it contains. More, simply relying on reason and common sense, the inescapable reality is that any law must be held to the original intention of the maker of that law. Otherwise, situation or statistical ethics, judicial activism, prejudice, desire, public opinion, etc. – all of the constant human failures, would be able to amend the original intention of any law.
Specifically, the Framers and Founders were expressly fearful of the public majority, and the power of government. The Constitution provides checks and balances, structures and mechanisms to address the unchanging failed erroneous patterns of human behavior revealed by valid history attached to our species as inseparable parasites of freedom and justice for all.
Looking no further than our enemies desire to eliminate the Electoral College, lower the three fourths requirement to amend the “supreme law of the land”, the cancer of the administrative state, or the attempt to prevent the confirmation of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, the attack on America is hot, here, and now!
The following article by Dr. Kesler repeats the foregoing, but lacks the immediacy of the call to “protect and defend this Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic”.
America’s Cold Civil War
Charles R. Kesler
Editor, Claremont Review of Books
Six years ago I wrote a book about Barack Obama in which I predicted that modern American liberalism, under pressures both fiscal and philosophical, would either go out of business or be forced to radicalize. If it chose the latter, I predicted, it could radicalize along two lines: towards socialism or towards an increasingly post-modern form of leadership. Today it is doing both. As we saw in Bernie Sanders’ campaign, the youngest generation of liberals is embracing socialism openly—something that would have been unheard of during the Cold War. At the same time, identity politics is on the ascendant, with its quasi-Nietzschean faith in race, sex, and power as the keys to being and meaning. In the #MeToo movement, for example—as we saw recently in Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle—the credo is, “Believe the woman.” In other words, truth will emerge not from an adversarial process weighing evidence and testimony before the bar of reason, but from yielding to the will of the more politically correct. “Her truth” is stronger than any objective or disinterested truth.
In the Claremont Review of Books, we have described our current political scene as a cold civil war. A cold civil war is better than a hot civil war, but it is not a good situation for a country to be in. Underlying our cold civil war is the fact that America is torn increasingly between two rival constitutions, two cultures, two ways of life.
Political scientists sometimes distinguish between normal politics and regime politics. Normal politics takes place within a political and constitutional order and concerns means, not ends. In other words, the ends or principles are agreed upon; debate is simply over means. By contrast, regime politics is about who rules and for what ends or principles. It questions the nature of the political system itself. Who has rights? Who gets to vote? What do we honor or revere together as a people? I fear America may be leaving the world of normal politics and entering the dangerous world of regime politics—a politics in which our political loyalties diverge more and more, as they did in the 1850s, between two contrary visions of the country.
One vision is based on the original Constitution as amended. This is the Constitution grounded in the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution written in 1787 and ratified in 1788. It has been transmitted to us with significant Amendments—some improvements and some not—but it is recognizable still as the original Constitution. To simplify matters we may call this “the conservative Constitution”—with the caveat that conservatives have never agreed perfectly on its meaning and that many non-conservatives remain loyal to it.
The other vision is based on what Progressives and liberals, for 100 years now, have called “the living Constitution.” This term implies that the original Constitution is dead—or at least on life support—and that in order to remain relevant to our national life, the original Constitution must be infused with new meaning and new ends and therefore with new duties, rights, and powers. To cite an important example, new administrative agencies must be created to circumvent the structural limitations that the original Constitution imposed on government.
As a doctrine, the living Constitution originated in America’s new departments of political and social science in the late nineteenth century—but it was soon at the very forefront of Progressive politics. One of the doctrine’s prime formulators, Woodrow Wilson, had contemplated as a young scholar a series of constitutional amendments to reform America’s national government into a kind of parliamentary system—a system able to facilitate faster political change. But he quickly realized that his plan to amend the Constitution was going nowhere. Plan B was the living Constitution. While keeping the outward forms of the old Constitution, the idea of a living Constitution would change utterly the spirit in which the Constitution was understood.
The resulting Constitution—let us call it “the liberal Constitution”—is not a constitution of natural rights or individual human rights, but of historical or evolutionary right. Wilson called the spirit of the old Constitution Newtonian, after Isaac Newton, and that of the new Constitution Darwinian, after Charles Darwin. By Darwinian, Wilson meant that instead of being difficult to amend, the liberal Constitution would be easily amenable to experimentation and adjustment. To paraphrase the late Walter Berns, the point of the old Constitution was to keep the times in tune with the Constitution; the purpose of the new is to keep the Constitution in tune with the times.
Until the 1960s, most liberals believed it was inevitable that their living Constitution would replace the conservative Constitution through a kind of slow-motion evolution. But during the sixties, the so-called New Left abandoned evolution for revolution, and partly in reaction to that, defenders of the old Constitution began not merely to fight back, but to call for a return to America’s first principles. By seeking to revolve back to the starting point, conservatives proved to be Newtonians after all—and also, in a way, revolutionaries, since the original meaning of revolution is to return to where you began, as a celestial body revolves in the heavens.
The conservative campaign against the inevitable victory of the living Constitution gained steam as a campaign against the gradual or sudden disappearance of limited government and of republican virtue in our political life. And when it became clear, by the late 1970s and 1980s, that the conservatives weren’t going away, the cold civil war was on.
Confronted by sharper, deeper, and more compelling accounts of the conservative Constitution, the liberals had to sharpen—that is, radicalize—their own alternative, following the paths paved by the New Left. As a result, the gap between the liberal and conservative Constitutions became a gulf, to the extent that today we are two countries—or we are fast on the road to becoming two countries—each constituted differently.
Consider a few of the contrasts. The prevailing liberal doctrine of rights traces individual rights to membership in various groups—racial, ethnic, gender, class-based, etc.—which are undergoing a continual process of consciousness-raising and empowerment. This was already a prominent feature of Progressivism well over a century ago, though the groups have changed since then. Before Woodrow Wilson became a politician, he wrote a political science textbook, and the book opened by asking which races should be studied. Wilson answered: we’ll study the Aryan race, because the Aryan race is the one that has mastered the world. The countries of Europe and the Anglophone countries are the conquerors and colonizers of the other continents. They are the countries with the most advanced armaments, arts, and sciences.
Wilson was perhaps not a racist in the full sense of the term, because he expected the less advanced races over time to catch up with the Aryan race. But his emphasis was on group identity—an emphasis that liberals today retain, the only difference being that the winning and losing sides have been scrambled. Today the white race and European civilization are the enemy—“dead white males” is a favored pejorative on American campuses—and the races and groups that were oppressed in the past are the ones that today need compensation, privileges, and power.
Conservatives, by contrast, regard the individual as the quintessential endangered minority. They trace individual rights to human nature, which lacks a race. Human nature also lacks ethnicity, gender, and class. Conservatives trace the idea of rights to the essence of an individual as a human being. We have rights because we’re human beings with souls, with reason, distinct from other animals and from God. We’re not beasts, but we’re not God—we’re the in-between being. Conservatives seek to vindicate human equality and liberty—the basis for majority rule in politics—against the liberal Constitution’s alternative, in which everything is increasingly based on group identity.
There is also today a vast divergence between the liberal and conservative understandings of the First Amendment. Liberals are interested in transforming free speech into what they call equal speech, ensuring that no one gets more than his fair share. They favor a redistribution of speech rights via limits on campaign contributions, repealing the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and narrowing the First Amendment for the sake of redistribution of speech rights from the rich to the poor. Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform called for amending the First Amendment!
There is, of course, also a big difference between the liberal Constitution’s freedom from religion and the conservative Constitution’s freedom of religion. And needless to say, the liberal Constitution has no Second Amendment.
In terms of government structure, the liberal Constitution is designed to overcome the separation of powers and most other checks and balances. Liberals consistently support the increased ability to coordinate, concentrate, and enhance government power—as opposed to dividing, restricting, or checking it. This is to the detriment of popular control of government. In recent decades, government power has flowed mainly through the hands of unelected administrators and judges—to the point that elected members of Congress find themselves increasingly dispirited and unable to legislate. As the Financial Times put it recently, “Congress is a sausage factory that has forgotten how to make sausages.”
If one thinks about how America’s cold civil war could be resolved, there seem to be only five possibilities. One would be to change the political subject. Ronald Reagan used to say that when the little green men arrive from outer space, all of our political differences will be transcended and humanity will unite for the first time in human history. Similarly, if some jarring event intervenes—a major war or a huge natural calamity—it might reset our politics.
A second possibility, if we can’t change the subject, is that we could change our minds. Persuasion, or some combination of persuasion and moderation, might allow us to end or endure our great political division. Perhaps one party or side will persuade a significant majority of the electorate to embrace its Constitution, and thus win at the polling booth and in the legislature. For generations, Republicans have longed for a realigning election that would turn the GOP into America’s majority party. This remains possible, but seems unlikely. Only two presidents in the twentieth century were able to effect enduring changes in American public opinion and voting patterns—Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. FDR inspired a political realignment that lasted for a generation or so and lifted the Democratic Party to majority status. Ronald Reagan inspired a realignment of public policy, but wasn’t able to make the GOP the majority party.
Since 1968, the norm in America has been divided government: the people have more often preferred to split control of the national government between the Democrats and the Republicans rather than entrust it to one party. This had not previously been the pattern in American politics. Prior to 1968, Americans would almost always (the exceptions proved the rule) entrust the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Presidency to the same party in each election. They would occasionally change the party, but still they would vote for a party to run the government. Not so for the last 50 years. And neither President Obama nor President Trump, so far, has persuaded the American electorate to embrace his party as their national representative, worthy of long-term patriotic allegiance.
Trump, of course, is new to this, and his party in Congress is basically pre-Trumpian. He did not win the 2016 election by a very large margin, and he was not able to bring many new Republicans into the House or the Senate. Nonetheless, he has the opportunity now to put his mark on the party. In trying to do so, his populism—which is not a word he uses—will not be enough. He will have to reach out to the existing Republican Party as he has done, adopt some of its agenda, adopt its electoral supporters, and gradually bring them around to his “America first” conservatism if he is to have any chance of achieving a political realignment. And the odds remain against him at this point.
As for moderating our disagreements and learning to live with them more or less permanently, that too seems unlikely given their fundamental nature and the embittered trajectory of our politics over the last two decades.
So if we won’t change our minds, and if we can’t change the subject, we are left with only three other ways out of the cold civil war. The happiest of the three would be a vastly reinvigorated federalism. One of the original reasons for constitutional federalism was that the states had a variety of interests and views that clashed with one another and could not be pursued in common. If we had a re-flowering of federalism, some of the differences between blue states and red states could be handled discreetly by the states themselves. The most disruptive issues could be denationalized. The problem is, having abandoned so much of traditional federalism, it is hard to see how federalism could be revived at this late juncture.
That leaves two possibilities. One, alas, is secession, which is a danger to any federal system—something about which James Madison wrote at great length in The Federalist Papers. With any federal system, there is the possibility that some states will try to leave it. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have gone their separate ways peacefully, just within the last generation. But America is much better at expansion than contraction. And George Washington’s admonitions to preserve the Union, I think, still miraculously somehow linger in our ears. So secession would be extremely difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that it could lead, as we Americans know from experience, to the fifth and worst possibility: hot civil war.
Under present circumstances, the American constitutional future seems to be approaching some kind of crisis—a crisis of the two Constitutions. Let us pray that we and our countrymen will find a way to reason together and to compromise, allowing us to avoid the worst of these dire scenarios—that we will find, that is, the better angels of our nature.
Charles R. Kesler is the Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College and editor of the Claremont Review of Books. He earned his bachelor’s degree in social studies and his A.M. and Ph.D. in government from Harvard University. A senior fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and a recipient of the 2018 Bradley Prize, he is the editor of several books, including Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought (with William F. Buckley Jr.), and the author of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Future of Liberalism.
The above article is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on September 27, 2018, by Dr. Kesler during a two-week teaching residency as a Eugene C. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism.
The First Amendment Lost To the Tolerance of Injustice
“Liberty and justice for all” are inviolate standards imposed by the Framers and Founders in “the supreme law of the land” – the Constitution of the United States of America. Our enemies, foreign and domestic, reject those foundational tenets required of all successful governments and human interactions. Always manifest when the order of law is corrupted by discrimination and inequality, anarchy presents when injustice is tolerated in any degree or form.
The innocent law-abiding citizens of Ferguson had every basic fundamental civil right violated by the anarchists tolerated by politicians soliciting the vote of the undeserving. The policeman attacked by a drug dealing thug became vilified for protecting his life by a liberal media guided by prejudice and injustice. Like the vast majority of crimes perpetrated on the innocent and the rejection of authority impacting law enforcement, the root cause of single parent homes lacking the righteous discipline of a father is never addressed. Sanctuary cities infecting their neighbors with criminals are tolerated by a government shackled by politicians not held accountable to their oath of office by voters ignoring platforms and voting records. A president attempting to fulfill all of his campaign promises is under constant attack by those seeking to sustain their injustice. Whether the administrative state or the judicial activists robbing us of our freedom, our enemies seek to enable their continued contamination of government, because they depend on that very injustice for their own existence.
Christians are attacked on every front by those espousing their own false religions. Whether humanists, atheists, or other congregants of the the multitude of isms lacking any credential of science or valid history, those rejecting truth and holding to untruth are threatened by reality and truth. Choosing what they want to believe beyond reason, those attacking America seek to deny the First Amendment rights of all citizens and sequester justice into an order of law founded on untruths, lies, and deceptions.
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is one of the numerous recent targets of left-wing harassment. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Newscom)
Much of today’s incivility and contempt for personal liberty has its roots on college campuses, and most of the uncivil and contemptuous are people with college backgrounds. Let’s look at a few highly publicized recent examples of incivility and attacks on free speech.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were accosted and harassed by a deranged left-wing mob as they were leaving a dinner at Georgetown University. McConnell was harassed by protesters at Reagan National Airport, as well as at several venues in Kentucky.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife were harassed at a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Afterward, a group called Smash Racism DC wrote: “No—you can’t eat in peace—your politics are an attack on all of us. You’re [sic] votes are a death wish. Your votes are hate crimes.”
Other members of Congress—such as Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., and Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rand Paul, R-Ky.—have been physically attacked or harassed by leftists.
Most recent is the case of Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson. A leftist group showed up at his house at night, damaging his front door and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night! Racist scumbag, leave town!”
Mayhem against people with different points of view is excused as just deserts for what is seen as hate speech. American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray discovered this when he was shouted down at Middlebury College; the professor escorting him was sent to the hospital with injuries.
Students at the University of California, Berkeley, shut down a controversial speaker and caused riot damage estimated at $100,000. Protesters at both UCLA and Claremont McKenna College disrupted scheduled lectures by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has discovered so-called bias response teams on hundreds of American college campuses. Bias response teams report to campus officials—and sometimes to law enforcement officers—speech that may cause “alarm, anger, or fear” or that might otherwise offend. Drawing pictures or cartoons that belittle people because of their beliefs or political affiliation can be reported as hate speech.
Universities expressly set their sights on prohibiting constitutionally protected speech. As FIRE reported in 2017, hundreds of universities nationwide now maintain Orwellian systems that ask students to report—often anonymously—their neighbors, friends, and professors for any instances of supposed biased speech and expression.
A recent Brookings Institution poll found that nearly half of college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. That’s nonsense; it is.
Fifty-one percent of college students think they have a right to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. Nineteen percent of students think that it’s acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. Over 50 percent agree that colleges should prohibit speech and viewpoints that might offend certain people.
One should not be surprised at all if these visions are taught and held by many of their professors. Colleges once taught and promoted an understanding of Western culture. Today many professors and the college bureaucracy teach students that they are victims of Western culture and values.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech.”
Much later, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”
From the Nazis to Stalinists to Maoists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, just as American leftists did during the 1960s. Their support for free speech is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control, and confiscation. The right to say what they please is their tool for indoctrination, propagandizing, and proselytization.
Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.
Much of the off-campus incivility we see today is the fruit of what a college education has done to our youth.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
Lincoln and Thanksgiving: The Origin of an American Holiday
November 19, 2018
In Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the autumn of 1621, 53 men, women and children celebrated their first harvest in the New World. The great Indian chief, Massasoit, brought 90 of his men to the three-day party. From all reports, a good time was had by all.
How did this event, which happened almost 400 years ago, become a part of the American story and our oldest national tradition?
Credit goes to many people, but two stand out. One you know, and one you should know: Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Josepha Hale.
As a religious people, Americans have always had a keen sense they have been blessed by Providence. The pilgrims certainly felt this, and so did subsequent generations, including George Washington. Washington was the first president to declare a national day of public thanksgiving and praise. But it wasn’t until the Civil War that the idea of a national Day of Thanksgiving fully took hold.
In the autumn of 1863—at the height of the Civil War, when Americans were bitterly divided—Abraham Lincoln nevertheless called for a day of national thanksgiving.
Lincoln began his proclamation this way: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” It was an extraordinary way to characterize 1863—the bloodiest year of the war.
But even “in the midst of a civil war of unequaled severity and magnitude,” Lincoln continued, the nation had much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. The day was coming when America would again be united and experience, as Lincoln put it, “a large increase of freedom.” It was a profoundly hopeful message, reminding Americans of their nation’s capacity for renewal.
Lincoln’s decision to call for a national Thanksgiving came at the urging of the far-sighted and persistent magazine editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book who believed such a celebration would have a “deep moral influence” on the American character. Her name was Sarah Josepha Hale. More than any single person, she is the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving today.
By the 1840s, many states had established an annual day of thanksgiving, but the date varied widely from state to state. Hale saw the value of a day in which the entire nation celebrated as one.
For two decades, she conducted a campaign to consolidate public support for her idea. As the influential editor of one of the most popular periodicals of the 19th century, year after year she wrote columns making the case for the holiday; she published fiction and poems with a Thanksgiving Day theme; and she offered her readers recipes for traditional Thanksgiving dishes such as roast turkey and pumpkin pie. And, by the way, she also wrote the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Presidents Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, and Franklin Pierce, to whom she had written letters, showed little interest in her cause. But Lincoln saw its potential. His proclamation was the first in what became an unbroken string of annual Thanksgiving proclamations by every subsequent president.
Congress finally sealed the deal in 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation making Thanksgiving an official national holiday.
Lincoln and Hale believed the act of expressing gratitude had tremendous healing power. In his Thanksgiving proclamation, Lincoln spoke not as commander-in-chief of the Union forces, but as president of the entire nation—North and South. He made no reference to “rebels” or “enemies.” Rather, the president spoke of “the whole American people.”
It’s a message that resonates today, when Americans, even within families, are divided over issues of politics and culture. Thanksgiving, our nation’s oldest tradition, brings us together just as it brought the pilgrims and Indians together in 1621. Lincoln said it best when he called on every American to celebrate Thanksgiving “with one heart and one voice.”
Thanksgiving gives us a moment to focus on the blessings of being Americans, on the prosperity, security and freedom we enjoy. If Lincoln could focus on these blessings in the middle of the Civil War, we should certainly be able to do so today.
Here’s a suggestion: at this year’s Thanksgiving table, ask everyone to spend a minute to say what they are grateful for. I suspect you’ll find your guests will have a long and eloquent list. And if they don’t, you can help them out: suggest they start with family, friends, and living in the freest country in the world.
After all, if we don’t give thanks, what’s the point of Thanksgiving?
Melanie Kirkpatrick is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience.
Unlike many societies and cultures in this age whose political organizations still unjustly hold the tolerant and those lacking political power in involuntary servitude, America freed itself from slavery imposed and sustained by force by the end of the great Civil War. Motivated by a Great Awakening in the 1730s to the awareness that “all men are created equal . . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, its citizens’ blood and sacrifices loosed the political bonds forcing others to do the will of those holding the reins of power. In the Revolutionary War, one third of the colonists defeated the tyranny of the mightiest army and navy of their time with no standing army or navy and no united military organization. “Relying on divine Providence”, less than one hundred years later soldiers of a different generation “marching on”, removed the shackles on our brothers and sisters placed by our own government.
With one third of the Union army consisting of freed slaves, brother fighting brother, approximately 625,000 American lives were lost in a conflict that the Framers envisioned would not occur. As spelled out in the Constitution, by 1808, they expected the states to voluntarily abolish slavery. Arising from the devastation and carnage, though free under the rule of law, Americans began to reject the Law that truly sets mankind free. Experiencing the unconscionable extremes of sacrifice and suffering on both sides, then as now, humanity questioned the immutable Law that is always good and just. Offering an untruth setting the stage for the rejection of ultimate Truth, in November of 1859, forgotten until after the war, the very foundation of Law establishing equality and justice for all was brought into question. A concept negating even “unalienable Rights”, challenging even creation, was put forth by human invention and imagination. Accepting false science and corrupted invalid history, mankind will always be enslaved by untruth when choosing to move beyondreason.
As always, throughout history, always portraying animate behavior, humanity chooses to satisfy pleasure and avoid pain and sacrifice. Unfortunately, reality requires work or sacrifice in some form or degree to sustain existence in the indelible interactions with the natural order. Individually, we are enslaved by our addictions and lack of discipline. Similarly, human failures are always the cause of failed relationships. Magnified by joining with others in common unjust economic purpose, wars, economic disasters, and political unrest and discord follow us as we move through time and circumstance.
Now Truth and Justice are embroiled in a great new civil war. This is a war of ideologies. Only by holding to Truth revealed by the inviolate method of science and uncompromised history can the lies, deceptions, partial truths, and untruths robbing us of true freedom be defeated. True freedom is defined by God – the Creator’s intention.
For America, this midterm election is a crossroads of freedom. On every front, from energy, to healthcare, to domestic and foreign policy, to immigration, to protecting our borders, to social security, political candidates seeking to rob us of our freedoms spew smokescreens and erect mirrors aided by the false propaganda of a media also deceived by what they want to believe.
Asking voters to ignore platforms and voting records, our enemies destroy our order of law by perjury, rejecting the foundational premise that all are innocent until proven guilty, and advocating double standards shouting inequality. Economic failures condemned and rejected by history such as socialism are reintroduced to a generation whose worldview is corrupted and perverted by educators given academic authority unconstrained by truth and justice. Those choosing to ignore the lessons of history are bribed for their vote. Three hundred years of energy reserves found in coal are ignored and rejected by politicians in the congregations of false science costing thousands of jobs. Global warming unalterable by human intervention or invention, subjugates American jobs to foreign competition and the economic interests of unbridled capitalism. Character assassination of a president whose miraculous election has resulted only in fulfilled promises made in his campaign is constant. Ridiculous ungrounded unfounded prejudiced diatribes of the rich and famous choosing to believe their own lies and deceptions constantly emanate from the media. Politicians selling national security secrets to our enemies and otherwise compromising our national security, in ways where others committing the same treason are imprisoned, go unprosecuted. Most telling is that this is just a small part of huge list of government failures brought about by we, the people, failing in our responsibility to elect members of Congress loyal to the original intention of the Constitution and hold them accountable to their oath of office. Do not forget the unrestrained tyranny of the administrative state, and the cost the “swamp” extracts from every American’s “pursuit of Happiness”. Do not forget the tyranny of judicial activism advocated by those opposing the confirmation of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Do not forget Benghazi, and all those who died for our freedom now taken fore granted.
America is under attack! Freedom is never free. “[I]t is [our] right, it is [our] duty to” elect only those loyal to the original intention of the Constitution to represent us, and to remove those who do not. In the Framers’ and Founders’ “supreme” order of law, truth and justice are not defined by humanity. They are not a choice.
Do any of you still question whether America is under attack? This an ideologic civil war raging around the world. Only Truth shall set us free!
The Attack on America 2018
Before framing the Constitution, the Framers studied history for 500 years before Christ. Fearful of the public majority, they deliberated in secret with windows closed and the doors locked despite the sweltering summer heat in 1787. Their purpose was to identify the repetitive political failures that lead to the demise of political organizations, particularly governments. Successfully defining those elements required of successful and enduring governments using valid uncorrupted history as their guide, they created an order of law giving structure to the new government. This was a new experiment in freedom and justice for all.
Critical to all relationships of every size and composition, this “supreme law of the land” was binding on all parties. Further, because the intention of the makers of the law must be upheld for any organization to succeed, they established a due process by which any deviation from that original intention must be accomplished. Amendment of the Constitution required ratification by three fourths of the states. Similarly, always fearful of the public majority and intending to limit government, they instituted checks and balances on the structures of government, and the Electoral College.
The attack on America has been prosecuted by those violating the original intention of the Constitution. Proceeding because voters have not held those they elect to their oath of office to “protect and defend this Constitution” from “enemies, foreign and domestic”, every branch of government has displayed some injustice.
Recently, a doctrine of law that is foundational to the judicial process was violated by the legislative branch. That doctrine demands that all are innocent until proven guilty. Using character assassination, guilt by association, double standards, blatant lies and deceptions, and other means that are so despicable that the Framers and Founders never even considered addressing them, some members of Congress attack the Constitution itself. Without any valid evidence acceptable to any court of law, due process according to the Constitution is trashed.
The presumption of innocence has been repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed by this Court as a deeply- held and foundational principle underlying our justice system, long predating the adoption of the Constitution and firmly embedded within the “due process of law” protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This Court has recognized that the presumption of innocence “is stated as unquestioned in textbooks, and has been referred to as a matter of course in the decisions of this court and in the court of the several states.”2 Simply put, “it is not within the province of a legislature to declare an individual guilty or presumptively guilty of a crime.”3
This principle – that all individuals are presumed innocent until validly convicted in a court of law – is “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,” such that “neither liberty nor justice would exist if [it was] sacrificed.”4 The origins of the presumption go well beyond our own Anglo-American legal system, stretching back to Roman antiquity and beyond to the Old Testament. Infra pp. 6-7. The presumption was central to the English common law, including the writings of Sir William Blackstone. Infra p. 8. And disregard for the presumption of innocence was one of the motivating factors behind the Declaration of Independence at the time of this nation’s birth. Infra pp. 9-10. Moreover, the presumption of innocence has never been limited to criminal cases but extends through all the law. Infra pp. 11-14. Unsurprisingly, given that pedigree, the presumption of innocence has been repeatedly reaffirmed by this Court. Infra pp. 15-17.
- The Presumption of Innocence Is Deeply Rooted in Our Nation’s History and Tradition, Such That It Is Implicit in the Concept of Ordered Liberty.
The presumption of innocence is such a foundational principle – so suffusing every aspect of our legal system – that it is perhaps at risk of being taken for granted. This brief thus begins by tracing the origins of that principle, its extension beyond the requirement that criminal charges be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and its repeated application by the decisions of this Court.
- The Presumption of Innocence Has Deep Historical Roots.
The presumption of innocence has been called “a general principle of our political morality,”7 “a guardian angel,”8 the “cornerstone of Anglo-Saxon justice,”9 “a touchstone of American criminal jurisprudence,”10 “the golden thread that runs throughout the criminal law,”11 and the “focal point of any concept of due process.”12 This basic principle traces its roots far past our nation’s Founding, through English common law to writings from antiquity and even the Old Testament.
Several writers have observed the Biblical foundations of the presumption of innocence.13 In the Book of Genesis, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God did not summarily punish them but instead summoned them to hear their pleas:
“Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman, whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”14
Thus, even an omniscient God did not presume Adam and Eve to be guilty, but only inflicted punishment after obtaining proof through confessions (and presumably rejecting Adam’s defense of entrapment and Eve’s defense of fraud). The presumption of innocence found even more concrete expression in the Book of Deuteronomy, which states that “[o]ne witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime” and instructs judges to “make a thorough investigation” before inflicting punishment.15
The presumption of innocence can definitively be traced back to antiquity and the ancient Roman maxim, de quolibet homine presumitur quod sit bonus homo donec probetur in contrarium, meaning, “each person may be presumed to be a good man, until the contrary is proved.”16 A related maxim embodying the presumption of innocence stated, ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat, meaning “the burden of proving a fact rests on the party who asserts it, not on the party who denies it.”17 The Emperor Trajan, mean- while, wrote that a person should not “be condemned on suspicion; for it was preferable that the crime of a guilty man should go unpunished than an innocent man be condemned.”18
The presumption of innocence was once again picked up in the writings of Enlightenment philosophers. Voltaire, for instance, wrote of “that generous Maxim, ‘that “tis much more Prudence to acquit two Persons, tho” actually guilty, than to pass Sentence of Condemnation on one that is virtuous and innocent.’ ”19
From there, the presumption of innocence took firm root in English common law.20 Echoing Voltaire, as well as Emperor Trajan, Sir William Blackstone declared that “the law holds, that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one person suffer.”21
Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England “not only provided a definitive summary of the common law, but was also a primary legal authority for 18th- and 19th-century American lawyers.”22 Influenced by both Voltaire and Blackstone, Benjamin Franklin, “our founding grandfather,”23 wrote, “That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.”24
In fact, one of the motivations leading up to the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain was the Crown’s disregard for this principle of innocent until proven guilty.25 The American colonists had many objections to the infamous Sugar Act of 1764 and its companion, the Stamp Act of 1765. In addition to the core complaint of taxation without representation,26 the colonists strongly objected to the enforcement provisions of the two statutes. Whereas in England actions asserting violations of similar laws were tried before a jury, cases alleging violations of the Sugar and Stamp Acts were to be tried in newly created American vice-admiralty courts where there were no jury trials.27
“The most onerous provisions”28 of the Acts required merchants whose vessels were seized for alleged customs violations to bear the burden of proving that they were not guilty.29 Thus, one grievance leading to the American Revolution was the Crown’s disregard for the presumption of innocence – a feature shared with Colorado’s scheme here.
The Parliament . . . guarding the People of the Realm, and securing to them the Benefit of a Tryal by the Law of the Land, and . . . depriving all Americans of that Privilege – What shall we say to this Distinction? Is there not in this.., a Brand of Infamy, of Degradation and Disgrace fixed upon every American? Is he not degraded below the Rank of an Englishman?’
Id. at 336 (quoting John Adams, Admiralty Notebook, in micro- films of the Papers of John Adams, pt. III, reel 184).
- The Presumption of Innocence Is Integral to the Concept of Justice and Due Process of Law.
The presumption of innocence extends well beyond the requirement that the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial and is, in fact, an axiomatic principle that defines the concept of justice and due process throughout our entire legal system. “[N]either liberty nor justice would exist if [it was] sacrificed.”30
The presumption of innocence is more than a simple evidentiary presumption, and instead reflects a long-standing societal judgment about the degree of legal process that is required to strip an individual of liberty and property. The presumption is a “shorthand description of the right of the accused to remain inactive and secure, until the prosecution has taken up its burden.”31 It “takes possession of this fact, innocence, as not now needing evidence, as already established prima facie.”32 In other words, the presumption does not depend on a judgment that an individual is in fact more likely innocent than guilty; indeed, as a factual matter, it might be more reasonable to assume that anyone who has been arrested and indicted is more likely guilty than not.33 Instead, the presumption stands for the basic proposition that a person can be deprived of rights to liberty or property only following a valid conviction by a court of law.
Respect for this presumption of innocence is foundational to the very concept of justice. The presumption emerged in the English common law as part of a profound transformation in the nature and function of legal proceedings, and it can be contrasted to other, medieval approaches to the administration of justice:
An accused did not have to demonstrate innocence by hands unscarred from hot coals, irons, or stones. An accused did not have to bring together twelve peers in a wager of law to swear that his or her oath of innocence was clean and trustworthy. God could no longer reveal the innocent from the murderer, thief, and robber. Proof of factual innocence was replaced by proof of legal guilt or its absence, legal innocence. Legal standards and burdens of proof acknowledged what ancient fact finders and jurists could not: Definitive proof of factual innocence was too much of a burden for mortals to bear.34
In other words, the presumption of innocence is intrinsic to the very idea of a rational and orderly justice system. The presumption marks the divide between a world where individuals can be subjected to arbitrary and irrational deprivations of their liberty and property – forced to win back their rights through an affirmative showing of innocence – and a world where rights can be infringed only following a valid legal judgment of guilt.
This “general rule of policy and sense” – that all persons shall be assumed, in the absence of evidence, to be free from blame – runs “through all the law.”35
It often has been stated in the context of criminal proceedings,36 but it is by no means limited to that context.37 To the contrary, its first appearance in the American colonial courts, an early (1657) decision of the General Court of Massachusetts, emphasized its broader applicability:
Whereas, in all civil cases depending in suit, the plaintiff affirmeth that the defendant hath done him wrong and accordingly presents his case for judgment and satisfaction, it behoveth both court and jury to see that the affirmation be proved by sufficient evidence, else the case must be found for the defendant; and so it is also in a criminal case, for in the eyes of the law every man is honest and innocent unless it be proved legally to the contrary.38
In other words, the presumption of innocence applies broadly beyond criminal cases and is integral to due process of law.
- This Court Has Consistently Recognized That the Presumption of Innocence Is Constitutionally Required.
Unsurprisingly, in light of the pedigree and importance of the presumption of innocence, this Court has long recognized the presumption of innocence as a touchstone of the American justice system. As early as 1827, the Court acknowledged that “the general rule of our jurisprudence is, that the party accused need not establish his innocence, but it is for the government itself to prove his guilt, before it is entitled to a verdict of conviction.”39
In Coffin v. United States, the Court explicitly recognized the presumption of innocence as a fundamental principle of criminal law. The question presented was whether the trial court had violated a defendant’s rights by not instructing the jury on the presumption of innocence. Before embarking on a detailed historical analysis of its origins, the Court characterized the presumption of innocence as “axiomatic and elementary,” affirming that “its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.”40
Since then, the Court has repeatedly held that the presumption of innocence is constitutionally required. For example, in In re Winship, the Court held that juveniles, like adults, were entitled to proof beyond a reasonable doubt when charged with a violation of criminal law.41 The Court reiterated that the presumption of innocence, as a “bedrock” principle, was constitutionally required.42 In Estelle v. Williams, the Court declared that, “The presumption of innocence, although not articulated in the Constitution, is a basic component of a fair trial under our system of criminal justice.”43 And in Taylor v. Kentucky, the Court concluded that the presumption of innocence “is an element of Fourteenth Amendment due process, an essential of a civilized system of criminal procedure.”44
The Court has also adhered to this same principle in analyzing the constitutionality of legislation. In Tot v. United States, the Court rejected the idea that “the legislature might validly command that the finding of an indictment, or mere proof of the identity of the accused, should create a presumption of the existence of all the facts essential to guilt.”45 And in McFarland v. American Sugar Refining Co., the Court stated that “it is not within the province of a legislature to declare an individual guilty or presumptively guilty of a crime.”46
2 Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 454 (1895).
3 McFarland v. Am. Sugar Ref. Co., 241 U.S. 79, 86 (1916) (Holmes, J.), cited with approval by Patterson v. New York, 432 U.S.197, 209 (1977).
4 Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997) (quoting Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 325-26 (1937)).
7 William S. Laufer, The Rhetoric of Innocence, 70 Wash. L. Rev. 329, 338 (1995) (quoting William Twining, Rethinking Evidence: Exploratory Essays 208 (1990)).
8 Laufer, supra, at 338 (quoting James Bradley Thayer, A Preliminary Treatise on Evidence at the Common Law 553 (1898)).
9 Laufer, supra, at 338 (quoting Henry J. Abraham, The Judicial Process 96 (1993)).
10 Laufer, supra, at 338 (quoting People v. Layhew, 548 N.E..2d 25, 27 (Ill. App. Ct. 1989)).
11 Scott E. Sundby, The Reasonable Doubt Rule and the Meaning of Innocence, 40 Hastings L. J. 457, 457 (1988-1989) (citations omitted) (quoting Rupert Cross, The Golden Thread of the English Criminal Law: The Burden of Proof 2 (1976)).
12 Sundby, supra, at 457 (quoting Sandra Hertzberg & Carmela Zammuto, The Protection of Human Rights in the Criminal Process Under International Instruments and National Constitutions 16 (1981)).
13 See Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 454 (1895) (citing Simon Greenleaf, III, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence § 29, at 31 n.1 (Edmund H. Bennett & Chauncey Smith, eds., 1853) (tracing the presumption to Deuteronomy); see also Alexander Volokh, N. Guilty Men, 146 U. Pa. L. Rev. 173, 173, 178 (1997) (identifying biblical passages loosely related to the presumption of innocence).
14 Genesis 3:11-13.
15 Deuteronomy 19:15-20; see also Numbers 35:30.
16 James Bradley Thayer, The Presumption of Innocence in Criminal Cases, 6 Yale L. J. 185, 190 (1897).
17 Laufer, supra, at 332 n.14 (citing George P. Fletcher, Rethinking Criminal Law 520 (1978)).
18 Volokh, supra, at 178 (quoting Dig. 48.19.5 (Ulpian, De Officio Proconsulis 7).
19 See Dan Gifford, The Conceptual Foundations of Anglo- American Jurisprudence in Religion and Reason, 62 Tenn. L. Rev.759, 761 n.6 (1995) (quoting Respectfully Quoted 183 (Suzy Platt ed., 1992) (quotation from a 1974 translation of the 1749 version of Zadig).
20 In-depth treatments of these developments can be found in Anthony A. Morano, A Reexamination of the Development of the Reasonable Doubt Rule, 55 B.U. L. Rev. 507 (1975); Laufer, supra; Thayer, supra; and Jeff Thaler, Punishing the Innocent: The Need for Due Process and the Presumption of Innocence Prior to Trial, 1978 Wis. L. Rev. 441 (1978).
21 4 William Blackstone, Commentaries, *358 (1765).
22 Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 712 (1997).
23 See Dudley R. Herschbach, Our Founding Grandfather, Harv. Mag., Sept. 2003.
24 Letter from Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Vaughan (March 14, 1785) in 9 The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 1783-1788, at 293 (Albert H. Smyth ed., 1906).
25 See Declarations and Resolves of the First Continental Congress (Oct. 14, 1774), available at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/resolves.asp.
26 See Samuel Adams, Report on the Sugar Act (May 1764), in Theodore Draper, A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution 219 (1996) (“If Taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal Representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from the Character of free Subjects to the miserable State of tributary Slaves?”).
27 See Matthew P. Harrington, The Legacy of the Colonial Vice-Admiralty Courts (Part B), 27 J. Mar. L. & Comm. 323, 332 (1996) (noting this was “a constant source of irritation to the American colonists”). For example, John Adams argued that the use of the vice-admiralty courts to try trade cases placed an unfair burden on Americans:
28 Harrington, supra, at 333.
29 For example, Article XLV of the Sugar Act provided: [I]f any ship or goods shall be seized . . . and any dispute shall arise whether the customs and duties for such goods have been paid . . . then, and in such cases, the proof thereof shall lie upon the owner or claimer of such ship or goods, and not upon the officer who shall seize or stop the same; any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Sugar Act (Apr. 5, 1764) in Prologue to the Revolution: Sources and Documents on the Stamp Act Crisis 1764-1766, at 8 (Edmund S. Morgan ed., 2012).
30 Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997).
31 Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S., 478, 483 n.12 (1978); see also id. (explaining that “the so-called ‘presumption’ is not evidence – not even an inference drawn from a fact in evidence – but instead is a way of describing the prosecution’s duty”); Commonwealth v. Webster, 59 Mass. 295 (1850), abrogated on other grounds by Commonwealth v. Russell, 470 Mass. 464 (2015) (“All the presumptions of law independent of evidence are in favor of innocence, and every person is presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.”) (emphasis added).
32 Thayer, supra, at 199; see also id. (explaining that the presumption of innocence means that, even if a person is “under grave suspicion,” “he is not to suffer in your minds from these suspicions or this necessity of holding him confined and trying him”).
33 See Zechariah Chafee, The Progress of the Law, 35 Harv. L. Rev. 302, 314 (1922) (“There is no probability that a man indicted by a grand jury is usually innocent”); Thayer, supra, at 199 (“[I]f the jury were not thus called off from the field of natural inference, if they were allowed to range there wherever mere reason and human experience would carry them, the whole purpose of the presumption of innocence would be balked. For of the men who are actually brought up for trial, probably the large majority are guilty.”); id. at 188 (the presumption in favor of the defendant is a “maxim of policy and practical sense; it is not founded on any notion the defendants generally are [factually] free from blame.”).
34 Laufer, supra, at 331-32 (emphasis added).
35 Thayer, supra, at 189.
36 See Thayer, at 196; George P. Fletcher, Two Kinds of Legal Rules: A Comparative Study of Burden-of-Persuasion Practices in Criminal Cases, 77 Yale L. J. 880 (1967-1968) (arguing that the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” are historically and philosophically distinct).
37 See, e.g., Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 526 (1958) (hold- ing, in civil tax-enforcement proceeding, that “[d]ue process commands that no man shall lose his liberty unless the Government has borne the burden of producing the evidence and convincing the factfinder of his guilt”).
38 Thayer, supra, at 189 (quoting 16 Records of Massachusetts, III., 434). See generally P. Thomas, Revolution in America: Britain and the Colonies, 1763-1776 at 67 (1992); David S. Lovejoy, Rights Imply Equality: The Case Against Admiralty Jurisdiction in America, 1764-1776, 16 Wm. & Mary Q. 459 (1959); C. Ubbelohde, The Vice-Admiralty Courts and the American Revolution 126-42, 154-58 (1960).
39 U.S. v. Gooding, 12 Wheat. 460, 471 (1827) (Story, J.). Other decisions suggest that the presumption of innocence has always been part of the American justice system. See, e.g., Hopt v. Utah, 120 U.S. 430, 439 (1887) (approving jury instruction adopted by lower court stating that “the law presumes the defendant innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”); Lilienthal’s Tobacco v. United States, 97 U.S. 237, 266 (1877) (“[I]n criminal trials the party accused is entitled to the legal presumption in favor of innocence, which, in doubtful cases, is always sufficient to turn the scale in his favor.”); see also Leland v. Oregon, 343 U.S.790, 802-03 (1952) (“[F]rom the time that the law which we have inherited has emerged from dark and barbaric times, the conception of justice which has dominated our criminal law has refused to put an accused at the hazard of punishment if he fails to re- move every reasonable doubt of his innocence”; rather, it is “the duty of the Government to establish his guilt,” a notion “basic in our law and rightly one of the boasts of a free society [and] a requirement and a safeguard of due process of law”) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting), cited with approval by In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 362 (1970).
40 156 U.S. 432, 453 (1895).
41 397 U.S. 358 (1970).
42 397 U.S. 358, 363 (1970) (observing that the reasonable doubt standard “provides concrete substance for the presumption of innocence”).
43 425 U.S. 501, 503 (1976) (Burger, C.J.).
44 436 U.S. 478, 486 n.13 (1978)
45 319 U.S. 463, 469 (1943)
46 241 U.S. 79, 86 (1916) (Holmes, J.), cited with approval by Patterson v. New York, 432 U.S. 197, 209 (1977)
The Truth Shall Set You Free
The following article is published in response to thousands of members’ and readers’ requests. Originally, it was not published, because the liberal progressive movement attacking America rejects any argument linked to religion dispelling their flawed false ideologies. They ignore the historical reality, quoting the “father of our country”, our first president, George Washington saying in his Farewell Address, that “Religion and morality are indispensable supports for our form of government.”. Joined by the vast majority of the other Framers and Founders, Washington repeatedly acknowledges “divine Providence”, and an immutable Law giving everything order.
The importance of this is that, as the primary requisite doctrine of law, the intention of the lawmakers is indelibly controlling in adjudicating political order in our republican democracy. The Framers’ and Founders’ Biblical worldview is the foundation of the Constitution, and it must be interpreted recognizing that fundamental tenet.
September 8, 2018
[As of Sunday, 9 September, 2018, over 6,500] Christian pastors, churches, organizations and leaders have signed an online statement affirming evangelicals’ rejection of “social justice” campaigns, which reflect the “values borrowed from secular culture” that are touted by numerous churches across the United States.
“[T]he project introduced just days ago [was] launched in response to a move by churches – including evangelical churches – into social activism.”
Social ‘injustice’ … according to the Bible
The declaration takes on “social justice warriors” in the Church who have misled evangelicals to believe that the politically correct movement is backed by the Bible.
“[The] statement from evangelicals … challenges those who believe ‘social justice’ is compatible with Christian teaching.” “[It] references copious numbers of statements from Scripture as it takes on the inroads it feels secular culture has made into the evangelical Church.”
The first words of the declaration attack the divisive “social justice” philosophy sweeping the nation and the Church through the mainstream media and education system, which consistently tout groups such as Black Lives Matter and glamorize athletes – including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to kneel for the National Anthem – for bashing police, whites, America and all it stands for … in the name of a so-called “civil rights” movement.
In view of questionable sociological, psychological, and political theories presently permeating our culture and making inroads into Christ’s church, we wish to clarify certain key Christian doctrines and ethical principles prescribed in God’s Word. Clarity on these issues will fortify believers and churches to withstand an onslaught of dangerous and false teachings that threaten the gospel, misrepresent Scripture, and lead people away from the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Specifically, we are deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality. The Bible’s teaching on each of these subjects is being challenged under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for “social justice.” If the doctrines of God’s Word are not uncompromisingly reasserted and defended at these points, there is every reason to anticipate that these dangerous ideas and corrupted moral values will spread their influence into other realms of biblical doctrines and principles.
We submit these affirmations and denials for public consideration, not with any pretense of ecclesiastical authority, but with an urgency that is mixed with deep joy and sincere sorrow. The rapidity with which these deadly ideas have spread from the culture at large into churches and Christian organizations — including some that are evangelical and Reformed — necessitates the issuing of this statement now.
In the process of considering these matters we have been reminded of the essentials of the faith once for all handed down to the saints, and we are re-committed to contend for it. We have a great Lord and Savior, and it is a privilege to defend his gospel, regardless of cost or consequences. Nevertheless, while we rejoice in that privilege, we grieve that in doing so we know we are taking a stand against the positions of some teachers whom we have long regarded as faithful and trustworthy spiritual guides. It is our earnest prayer that our brothers and sisters will stand firm on the gospel and avoid being blown to and fro by every cultural trend that seeks to move the Church of Christ off course. We must remain steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul’s warning to the Colossians is greatly needed today: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). The document that follows is an attempt to heed that apostolic command. We invite others who share our concerns and convictions to unite with us in reasserting our unwavering commitment to the teachings of God’s Word articulated in this statement. Therefore, for the glory of God among his Church and throughout society, we offer the following affirmations and denials.
We affirm that the Bible is God’s Word, breathed out by him. It is inerrant, infallible, and the final authority for determining what is true (what we must believe) and what is right (how we must live). All truth claims and ethical standards must be tested by God’s final Word, which is Scripture alone.
We deny that Christian belief, character, or conduct can be dictated by any other authority, and we deny that the postmodern ideologies derived from intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory are consistent with biblical teaching. We further deny that competency to teach on any biblical issue comes from any qualification for spiritual people other than clear understanding and simple communication of what is revealed in Scripture.
We Affirm that God created every person equally in his own image. As divine image-bearers, all people have inestimable value and dignity before God and deserve honor, respect and protection. Everyone has been created by God and for God.
We deny that God-given roles, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, sex or physical condition or any other property of a person either negates or contributes to that individual’s worth as an image-bearer of God.
We affirm that since he is holy, righteous, and just, God requires those who bear his image to live justly in the world. This includes showing appropriate respect to every person and giving to each one what he or she is due. We affirm that societies must establish laws to correct injustices that have been imposed through cultural prejudice.
We deny that true justice can be culturally defined or that standards of justice that are merely socially constructed can be imposed with the same authority as those that are derived from Scripture. We further deny that Christians can live justly in the world under any principles other than the biblical standard of righteousness. Relativism, socially-constructed standards of truth or morality, and notions of virtue and vice that are constantly in flux cannot result in authentic justice.
We affirm that God’s law, as summarized in the ten commandments, more succinctly summarized in the two great commandments, and manifested in Jesus Christ, is the only standard of unchanging righteousness. Violation of that law is what constitutes sin.
We deny that any obligation that does not arise from God’s commandments can be legitimately imposed on Christians as a prescription for righteous living. We further deny the legitimacy of any charge of sin or call to repentance that does not arise from a violation of God’s commandments.
We affirm that all people are connected to Adam both naturally and federally. Therefore, because of original sin everyone is born under the curse of God’s law and all break his commandments through sin. There is no difference in the condition of sinners due to age, ethnicity, or sex. All are depraved in all their faculties and all stand condemned before God’s law. All human relationships, systems, and institutions have been affected by sin.
We deny that, other than the previously stated connection to Adam, any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin. Although families, groups, and nations can sin collectively, and cultures can be predisposed to particular sins, subsequent generations share the collective guilt of their ancestors only if they approve and embrace (or attempt to justify) those sins. Before God each person must repent and confess his or her own sins in order to receive forgiveness. We further deny that one’s ethnicity establishes any necessary connection to any particular sin.
Scripture: Genesis 2:16, 17, 3:12,13-15; Proverbs 29:18; Isaiah 25:7, 60:2-3; Jeremiah 31:27-34; Ezekiel 18:1-9, 14-18; Matthew 23:29-36; Romans 1:16-17, 3:23, 5:12, 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 15:3-11; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 1:6-9; Titus 1:12, 13; Revelation 13:8
We affirm that the gospel is the divinely-revealed message concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ—especially his virgin birth, righteous life, substitutionary sacrifice, atoning death, and bodily resurrection—revealing who he is and what he has done with the promise that he will save anyone and everyone who turns from sin by trusting him as Lord.
We deny that anything else, whether works to be performed or opinions to be held, can be added to the gospel without perverting it into another gospel. This also means that implications and applications of the gospel, such as the obligation to live justly in the world, though legitimate and important in their own right, are not definitional components of the gospel.
We affirm that salvation is granted by God’s grace alone received through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Every believer is united to Christ, justified before God, and adopted into his family. Thus, in God’s eyes there is no difference in spiritual value or worth among those who are in Christ. Further, all who are united to Christ are also united to one another regardless of age, ethnicity, or sex. All believers are being conformed to the image of Christ. By God’s regenerating and sanctifying grace all believers will be brought to a final glorified, sinless state of perfection in the day of Jesus Christ.
We deny that salvation can be received in any other way. We also deny that salvation renders any Christian free from all remaining sin or immune from even grievous sin in this life. We further deny that ethnicity excludes anyone from understanding the gospel, nor does anyone’s ethnic or cultural heritage mitigate or remove the duty to repent and believe.
We Affirm that the primary role of the church is to worship God through the preaching of his word, teaching sound doctrine, observing baptism and the Lord’s Supper, refuting those who contradict, equipping the saints, and evangelizing the lost. We affirm that when the primacy of the gospel is maintained that this often has a positive effect on the culture in which various societal ills are mollified. We affirm that, under the lordship of Christ, we are to obey the governing authorities established by God and pray for civil leaders.
We Deny that political or social activism should be viewed as integral components of the gospel or primary to the mission of the church. Though believers can and should utilize all lawful means that God has providentially established to have some effect on the laws of a society, we deny that these activities are either evidence of saving faith or constitute a central part of the church’s mission given to her by Jesus Christ, her head. We deny that laws or regulations possess any inherent power to change sinful hearts.
We affirm that heresy is a denial of or departure from a doctrine that is essential to the Christian faith. We further affirm that heresy often involves the replacement of key, essential truths with variant concepts, or the elevation of non-essentials to the status of essentials. To embrace heresy is to depart from the faith once delivered to the saints and thus to be on a path toward spiritual destruction. We affirm that the accusation of heresy should be reserved for those departures from Christian truth that destroy the weight-bearing doctrines of the redemptive core of Scripture. We affirm that accusations of heresy should be accompanied with clear evidence of such destructive beliefs.
We deny that the charge of heresy can be legitimately brought against every failure to achieve perfect conformity to all that is implied in sincere faith in the gospel.
Sexuality and Marriage
We Affirm that God created mankind male and female and that this divinely determined distinction is good, proper, and to be celebrated. Maleness and femaleness are biologically determined at conception and are not subject to change. The curse of sin results in sinful, disordered affections that manifest in some people as same-sex attraction. Salvation grants sanctifying power to renounce such dishonorable affections as sinful and to mortify them by the Spirit. We further affirm that God’s design for marriage is that one woman and one man live in a one-flesh, covenantal, sexual relationship until separated by death. Those who lack the desire or opportunity for marriage are called to serve God in singleness and chastity. This is as noble a calling as marriage.
We deny that human sexuality is a socially constructed concept. We also deny that one’s sex can be fluid. We reject “gay Christian” as a legitimate biblical category. We further deny that any kind of partnership or union can properly be called marriage other than one man and one woman in lifelong covenant together. We further deny that people should be identified as “sexual minorities”—which serves as a cultural classification rather than one that honors the image-bearing character of human sexuality as created by God.
We affirm that God created mankind both male and female with inherent biological and personal distinctions between them and that these created differences are good, proper, and beautiful. Though there is no difference between men and women before God’s law or as recipients of his saving grace, we affirm that God has designed men and women with distinct traits and to fulfill distinct roles. These differences are most clearly defined in marriage and the church, but are not irrelevant in other spheres of life. In marriage the husband is to lead, love, and safeguard his wife and the wife is to respect and be submissive to her husband in all things lawful. In the church, qualified men alone are to lead as pastors/elders/bishops and preach to and teach the whole congregation. We further affirm that the image of God is expressed most fully and beautifully in human society when men and women walk in obedience to their God-ordained roles and serve according to their God-given gifts.
We deny that the God-ordained differences in men’s and women’s roles disparage the inherent spiritual worth or value of one over the other, nor do those differences in any way inhibit either men or women from flourishing for the glory of God.
Race / Ethnicity
We affirm God made all people from one man. Though people often can be distinguished by different ethnicities and nationalities, they are ontological equals before God in both creation and redemption. “Race” is not a biblical category, but rather a social construct that often has been used to classify groups of people in terms of inferiority and superiority. All that is good, honest, just, and beautiful in various ethnic backgrounds and experiences can be celebrated as the fruit of God’s grace. All sinful actions and their results (including evils perpetrated between and upon ethnic groups by others) are to be confessed as sinful, repented of, and repudiated.
We deny that Christians should segregate themselves into racial groups or regard racial identity above, or even equal to, their identity in Christ. We deny that any divisions between people groups (from an unstated attitude of superiority to an overt spirit of resentment) have any legitimate place in the fellowship of the redeemed. We reject any teaching that encourages racial groups to view themselves as privileged oppressors or entitled victims of oppression. While we are to weep with those who weep, we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.
We affirm that some cultures operate on assumptions that are inherently better than those of other cultures because of the biblical truths that inform those worldviews that have produced these distinct assumptions. Those elements of a given culture that reflect divine revelation should be celebrated and promoted. But the various cultures out of which we have been called all have features that are worldly and sinful—and therefore those sinful features should be repudiated for the honor of Christ. We affirm that whatever evil influences to which we have been subjected via our culture can be—and must be—overcome through conversion and the training of both mind and heart through biblical truth.
We deny that individuals and sub-groups in any culture are unable, by God’s grace, to rise above whatever moral defects or spiritual deficiencies have been engendered or encouraged by their respective cultures.
We affirm that racism is a sin rooted in pride and malice which must be condemned and renounced by all who would honor the image of God in all people. Such racial sin can subtly or overtly manifest itself as racial animosity or racial vainglory. Such sinful prejudice or partiality falls short of God’s revealed will and violates the royal law of love. We affirm that virtually all cultures, including our own, at times contain laws and systems that foster racist attitudes and policies.
We deny that treating people with sinful partiality or prejudice is consistent with biblical Christianity. We deny that only those in positions of power are capable of racism, or that individuals of any particular ethnic groups are incapable of racism. We deny that systemic racism is in any way compatible with the core principles of historic evangelical convictions. We deny that the Bible can be legitimately used to foster or justify partiality, prejudice, or contempt toward other ethnicities. We deny that the contemporary evangelical movement has any deliberate agenda to elevate one ethnic group and subjugate another. And we emphatically deny that lectures on social issues (or activism aimed at reshaping the wider culture) are as vital to the life and health of the church as the preaching of the gospel and the exposition of Scripture. Historically, such things tend to become distractions that inevitably lead to departures from the gospel.
For more detailed consideration of some of the issues raised in this statement, we recommend the following two documents: