King: The Duty of Disobedience

July 30, 2015

by Stephen M. King, Ph.D.

I am re-reading Francis Schaeffer’s “The Christian Manifesto,” and I am struck by the accuracy of his prophetic warning regarding civil and social chaos and unrest in the United States.

Schaeffer clearly demonstrates how U.S. culture, education and civil government, for example, would deviate from the principles of faith and freedom set forth by the Founders. Modern society, instead of embracing a foundation of justice and morality, has established and propagated the false doctrine and theology of humanism.

No longer are laws and rules formed with the intention of promoting the greater good for the public as a whole; no longer do institutions of religion, culture, government or education engage the world for the good. Now these institutions clearly and unabashedly dismiss the needs of the whole, primarily for satiating the wants of the few, whether individuals or groups.

Two recent Supreme Court cases regarding adopting same-sex marriage and protecting Obamacare’s special interests are prime examples. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the court, led by Anthony Kennedy’s poorly reasoned and poorly written opinion, did not base its decision on constitutional grounds but on emotion; and in King v. Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts ignored clearly written statutory language in order to continue the debacle known as Obamacare.

In both cases, the will of the people (e.g., 32 states passed popular referendums banning same-sex marriage) and the authority of the legislative body (i.e., the Affordable Care Act clearly stated that states must establish the exchanges in order for coverage to be legitimate) was ignored and overridden. Religious freedom and legislative authority was jettisoned in favor of exalting ultra-liberal political and ideological positions.

In “Federalist 45,” James Madison wrote that the powers delegated to the federal government “are few and defined” and the remaining powers delegated to the states “are numerous and indefinite.” This should include the decision whether or not to accept same-sex marriage or set up health exchanges in their jurisdiction. Yet, according to a majority of blacked-robed justices, without any realistic means of checks and balances applied to them, same-sex marriage is now a national civil right, and states must abide by federal rules and regulations governing the establishment of federal exchanges in their states.

What can be done?

We must return to the work of Francis Schaeffer. Citing Samuel Rutherford’s “Lex Rex” (1644), or “The Law and the Prince,” Schaeffer argues that civil disobedience is the logical next step. Civil disobedience comes in three progressive stages: protest, flee and force: First, citizens should use all available legal, political and cultural means to change laws and overturn arbitrary bureaucratic rules and regulations. For example, the Founders knew that at some point the federal government would exceed its constitutional jurisdictional authority, and as a result they included in Article V the opportunity of the states to call a state-led constitutional convention. Second, in the case of individual citizens, flight to another country or nation is possible. But in the case of a state or other organized body, flight is impossible; thus, resistance, either physical or otherwise, is the next and last step of resistance against an unlawful political body.

Given the weakened position of the Christian faith in American today, one cannot expect spiritual resistance unless and until national, even worldwide, reformation and transformation occurs.

Political challenges are effectively worthless. Politicians, whether at the state or national levels, are creatures of habit, and as such are de facto cut from the same cloth: they are in office to hold and demonstrate power to meet their personal and organizational ends, i.e., political party and interest groups. Expecting them to pass laws to counter abuses of power by the executive or judicial branches is unrealistic.

So, where will the resistance come from?

It must originate with the people. Grassroots or community resistance is the key to challenging and usurping the unlawful activity of the federal and, in many instances, state governments. Boycotts, sit-ins, demonstrations, economic and financial disruptions, political and legal challenges, and ultimately blatant disregard for unjust laws are necessary to regain balance of power and restore self-government.

Unless and until resistance is engaged, the train wreck that is authoritarianism is speeding down the track and will ultimately dismantle our natural and legal freedoms, leaving citizens no longer citizens, but slaves to the powers that be.

Stephen M. King, Ph.D., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, teaches political science in central Indiana.

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