By Diana Hsieh
The American legal system is built on a foundation of respect for individual rights, particularly the rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, that foundation is only very imperfectly understood and even more poorly implemented. Throughout the history of America, the principle of rights has been corrupted to varying degrees by statist ideals -- worst of all by slavery but also by collectivist claims for the sacrifice of individuals to "the common good," environmentalist demands to sacrifice human life and values to pristine nature, and much more.
Today's list of violations of individual rights is as long as the Federal Register and then some. Yet despite those corruptions, some core respect for individual rights -- for the fact that each individual ought to be free to use his own resources as he sees fit, based on his own independent judgment, without forcible interference from others -- remains in our legal system.
Unfortunately, many Christians seek to inject Christian principles into the American legal system. Christians on the right seek to outlaw abortion and prevent gays from marrying. Christians on the left seek to tax the rich to care for the poor. Neither of those schemes is consistent with the principles of individual rights. Consequently, I -- and the Coalition for Secular Government -- oppose them. However, those schemes are child's play compared to the attempt to wholly remake the American legal system according to Biblical law. For a sample of what that view would entail, read this blog post from Dani, a self-described "right-wing Christian fanatic":
This is how it should be according to the Bible if this were truly a Christian Nation:Dani is right about one thing: that's what it would mean for America to be a "Christian nation." And that's why all freedom-loving people -- whether Christian or not -- must fight to strengthen the respect for individual rights in the American legal system. If American law is remade in the image of scripture, the result would be the worst kind of tyrannical hell on earth.
YOU SHALL NOT MURDER: Judges will execute those convicted of murder (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:12-14; 20:13; Lev. 24:17, 21; Num. 35:16-21, 31; Deut. 19:11-13; 1Ki. 18:22, 39-40; 1 Tim. 1:8-10) including those euthanizing, starving, or aborting (Ex. 21:22-23) human beings from the moment of fertilization to natural death. Judges will flog those guilty of assault and impose restitution for lost income and medical expenses (Ex. 21:18-19), and for permanent injury also require an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, life for life (Lev. 24:19-20). Judges will carry out all corporal and capital punishments swiftly and painfully, within twenty-four hours of conviction; and limit floggings to forty blows (Deut. 25:1-3; Lev. 24:19-20; 19:16-21; 1 Pet. 2:20). Judges will not convict for the use of force in defense of property and the innocent, in escalation to match the perceived threat up to lethal force; nor for purely accidental homicide (Deut. 19:4); will execute those guilty of negligent homicide (Ex. 21:28-30; Deut. 22:8); and flog those who could have avoided otherwise accidental homicide, and anyone committing revenge killing (Num. 35:26-27) of those guilty of capital crimes.
YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY: Judges will execute those convicted of bestiality (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 20:15-16); those convicted of incest including with in-laws (Lev. 11-12, 14-15, 17, 19-21); of homosexual acts (Lev. 18:22, 29; 20:13); of child molestation; of kidnapping or rape (Ex. 21:15-16; Deut. 22:25-27; 24:7); and of adultery with a married woman (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22; Ex. 20:14). Judges will flog those convicted of fornication; of public use of vulgar sexual and excretory language; of sexually suggestive dress or behavior; of intoxication; and of possession of pornography. Judges will flog more severely those convicted of transvestism; of public nudity; and of distributing pornography. And judges will flog more severely still those convicted of prostitution; of producing pornography for any use; and of sexual acts in public places.
YOU SHALL NOT STEAL: Judges will flog and require restitution for convicted thieves, negligent recipients of stolen goods, and those who violate contracts (Deut. 25:1‑3). Judges will impose double restitution for recovered goods, the return of the goods plus one-hundred percent value (Ex. 22:4, 7-9; 20:15); quadruple for destroyed or sold goods; quintuple for intellectual, irreplaceable and sentimental goods (Ex. 22:1); seven times for insignificant goods (Prov. 6:30-31); and twenty percent for voluntarily surrendered goods (Lev. 6:1-7). The judge shall impose corporal punishment and life for life penalties for collateral damage from any crime, including bodily injury resulting from the destruction of property which warrants greater than even restitution. A person or his resources causing unforeseeable or unavoidable property damage including by natural disaster without negligence shall pay no restitution, or with negligence shall pay even restitution. Persons taking shared risk shall pay mutual restitution (Ex. 21:32-36; Lev. 24:18). Avoidable accident without negligence, including the malfunction of a maintained resource requires even restitution but with negligence, including by a neglected resource demands double restitution. Gross negligence requires quadruple restitution and intentional destruction demands quintuple restitution. Excepting those executed, judges will sentence those who cannot pay restitution, to indentured servitude for up to seven years with the victim receiving all service or earnings.
YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS: Judges will punish those convicted of perjury, false confession, credible threat, conspiracy, abbeting, attempt, fully as though they had personally committed the crime (Deut. 19:16-21; 2 Sam. 1:15-16; Ex. 20:16). Judges will flog and impose restitution on those convicted of slander. Judges will flog those in contempt of court, and execute those guilty of treason and violators of court orders which protect victims (Deut. 17:12-13). A man is not innocent until proven guilty. He is guilty the moment he commits a crime, but presumed innocent (Deut. 22:22-27) in court until convicted. Convicting the innocent and acquitting the guilty are equally unjust (Pro. 17:15). A judge at his discretion, suspends the rights of liberty including the use of weapons, for the credibly accused, and mandatorily confines one facing a likely sentence of maiming or capital punishment, until the rendering of a verdict. Reasonable evidence from two or three witnesses, whether from eyewitnesses, physical, or strong circumstantial evidence, shall suffice for conviction; individual rights shall not supersede the judge's God-given right to impose punishment on the guilty. Judges shall not grant nor have special immunity from prosecution; shall not give more lenient punishment to minors; shall not give special recognition to lawyers or experts in the law; may observe and advise other judges during trial; shall not allow witnesses to swear or give an oath (James 5:12, Mat. 5:34-37; 2 Cor. 1:17); and shall question witnesses directly. Judges shall not accept no-contest pleas or bargains; shall punish criminals for all collateral damage; shall permit witnesses and victims to participate in punishment (Deut. 13:9; 17:7); and shall show no mercy to the guilty (Num. 35:31; Deut. 19:13, 21; Pro. 6:30-31).
America's Criminal Code shall be enforced by the King as authorized in The Constitution of America.