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Judge Not

When the United States of America was founded, one of the keystones of our nation was the establishment of an independent judiciary.

The colonists — the white folk who lived in the United States before it was the United States — had already too much experience with judges who owed their positions to the King.

So it happened that when they set up their perfect and limited government, they sought to insulate the judiciary from any dependency upon others for their continued employment. The Founders of the United States of America wanted to ensure that no person, or group of people, could gain control of the judiciary, to turn it toward supporting their own particular view of how the law should be read, and to prevent the possibility that judges could be removed from office for making unpopular decisions. Judges, they thought, should follow the rule of law, enforcing the Constitution and the laws passed by legislatures consistent with that Constitution.

As a group from San Diego is now explaining, the allegedly-Christian Founders forgot about God.

The San Diego group, Better Courts Now, explains how their God basically got in touch with them and called upon them to do something about this more-than-200-year-old tradition travesty of justice:

“We believe our country is under assault and needs Christian values,” said Craig Candelore, a family law attorney who is one of the candidates [to displace four San Diego judges running for re-election]. “Unfortunately, God has called upon us to do this only with the judiciary.” (Julie Watson, “Candidates vow to follow God’s will” (May 31, 2010) The Fresno Bee, A1, col. 4.)

I’m not at all sure why God has gotten so selective, but I’m grateful that the judiciary will at least retain enough independence to call this move by God “unfortunate.”

On the other hand, it’s entirely possible the San Diego group has misunderstood things. Perhaps God thought the original Founders got it right.

After Don Hamer, for example — alleged to be the actual brain behind Better Courts Now (and you thought it really was God!) — founded the movement and later campaigned against gay marriage, God smote him with a heart attack.

Unwilling or unable to realize that, “unfortunately,” God apparently didn’t want them going after the American Experiment in freedom, or the judiciary,

[Hamer’s] fellow Pastor Brian Hendry and other supporters have carried on his legacy, launching the mostly online campaign to replace the incumbent judges — all Democrats — with Christian conservatives. (Watson, supra, A9, col. 5.)

Just in case God decides to get uppity again and take some more of them out, they’ve convinced the El Cajon Gun Exchange to back them up.

God, by the way, is apparently not the only opposition these Christian conservative candidates face:

The bar rated Candelore and his running mates Bill Trask and Larry “Jake” Kincaid as “lacking some or all of the qualities of professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament indicative of fitness to perform the judicial function in a satisfactory mode.” (Watson, supra, A9, col. 6, emphasis added.)

Since it may be hard for those of limited intellect or committed religious principles — and I absolutely do not equate the two, so save your gnashing of teeth for someone else — let me say that, yes, I’m mocking this group, but I am not thereby intending to mock Christians, Christianity, or the God that any of them (or anyone else, for that matter) may choose to worship.

In fact, one of the reasons I support the same limited form of government initiated by those who established this once-great country is because, quite frankly, I make room for the possibility that I — and anyone who might agree with me — do not necessarily have a handle on the best way to live, or even to structure a society. This includes my recognition that although I’m perfectly comfortable with my own religious views, or potential lack thereof, which I will not bother explicating here, it may be that I’m wrong.

For that reason, I wholeheartedly endorse the approach of the Founders. Let’s create a country where every man, woman, and possibly even their children, is free to choose how — or whether — to worship God. Let’s build a nation that is able to embrace the whack-jobs from San Diego as well as those who whack one another off in San Francisco.

Allegedly, a couple thousand years ago, some famous guy said:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5, American Standard Version.)

Now there’s been a helluva debate over the meaning of these words and — although I did study enough Koiné Greek when I was younger to translate such things for myself — none of my posts here are ever intended as expository Bible lessons.

Still, I think a fair case can be made for saying that this passage is consistent with what I suggested above: let’s build a country where people can judge themselves, applying the measure to themselves that they would like others to apply. I believe it’s entirely possible that, having removed the beams from their own eyes, groups like the one in San Diego might then be more inclined to act as Jesus did, when people were brought before him to be judged.

And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and having set her in the midst, they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And they, when they heard it, went out one by one, beginning from the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. And Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more. (John 8:3-11, American Standard Version.)

Again, this isn’t a Bible lesson. But it seems fairly straightforward. These two sections taken together might give one pause. “What if we don’t really have all the answers? What if it only seems that way because we’re seeing the world through beam-colored lenses?”

It seems to me that if there are those of you out there, like San Diego’s Better Courts Now, who really and truly want to build a more Christian nation, you’ll create a world where, like Jesus, you encourage people to live according to their own consciences.

And judge not.

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