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Putting Oliver Buzz

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Thankfully, I’ve never had to hire a lawyer except to close several real estate deals. But if I ever need a lawyer, I will do a lot of background checking. The first thing I would look for is how well he knows his subject matter. Lawyers tend to specialize. That’s what makes them good at their job. They deal with the same type of cases over and over again. They become experts in a narrow field of knowledge. One thing a trial lawyer learns is never to ask a question of a witness or a defendant where he doesn’t already know the answer. The last thing a lawyer wants is to be surprised by an answer he has not anticipated.

Yesterday morning, I spoke to students at Cornerstone Christian School in Willoughby, Ohio, about apologetics and America’s Christian history. Providentially, as I made my way to the school, a copy of USA Today was hanging on the door. I turned to the editorial page and saw a guest editorial written by Oliver “Buzz” Thomas with the title “So what does the Constitution say about religion?” It was a perfect way to help the students deal with dogmatic statements of fact. Mr. Thomas made the following claim: “The truth is that the Constitution says nothing about God. Not one word.” Mr. Thomas is a lawyer. As a lawyer, he should know that absolute statements are hard to support. All a prosecuting attorney has to do is find just one minor exception to refute the assertion of fact, especially when a phase like “not one word” is used. One word is all that needs to be found to refute the claim and call into question the expert witness.

Before I deal with his “not one word” claim, I would like to push the logic of the assertion that because something is missing from the Constitution it means the Constitution is somehow indifferent to it. The Constitution has a very limited function. It left many things to the states, something that Mr. Thomas admits. That’s why the First Amendment begins with a prohibition on the Federal government and its relationship with the states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .” The purpose of this Amendment and the nine that follow was to put further restraints on the newly formed national government. No one ever conceived that this would mean a government devoid of religious principles and acknowledgments, but this is the way the First Amendment is being interpreted and applied. Notice the second clause, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The free exercise of religion has been prohibited by the courts, contrary to the Amendment’s own language! The national government, through the courts, has become the tyranny over religion that Mr. Thomas says the founders and their supporters wanted to avoid.

You will notice a number of items that are absent from the Constitution. Nothing is said about education, but this hasn’t stopped the Federal government from controlling education and confiscating our tax dollars to support a government education system. If no mention of God means the Constitution is “godless,” then no mention of education means the Constitution should be “educationless,” that is, the national government should have absolutely no control of education. Have you ever noticed that the Constitution says nothing about murder or theft? Does this mean it is indifferent to these moral precepts? Not at all.

Mr. Thomas does bring up the “no religious test” clause as an indicator that the new Constitution was indifferent toward religion. Maybe so. It seems that this provision may come back to haunt us. If present birth rates among Muslims are any indication of future birth trends, the day may come when Muslims become the majority population in America. Through the democratic process they could become the majority party. If this ever happens, a new constitutional convention could be called to rewrite the Constitution. A religious test would prohibit this from ever happening.

Now let’s get back to Mr. Thomas’s claim that “the Constitution says nothing about God. Not one word.” The Constitution declares, in words just above George Washington’s signature, that the proceedings were “DONE . . . in the Year of our Lord” 1787, an obvious reference to Jesus Christ. Sunday is set aside as a day of rest for the President in Article 1, section 7 of the Constitution. This particular day of rest singles out a particular religion—Christianity. As a minister, Mr. Thomas certainly knows that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14). It’s a basic tenet of the Christian faith. If just the word “God” had been placed in the Constitution, then someone could claim that it means nothing more than the “In God We Trust” on our money. No particular God is in view. But a reference to Jesus Christ identifies a particular religion—Christianity.

So Mr. Thomas is wrong. The Constitution does mention God.

If you are looking for a lawyer, you might not want to hire Oliver Thomas, especially if he assures you that a crucial clause turning your assets over to him is not found in a contract he wants you to sign.

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