The U.S. Constitution and the Issue of Original Intent
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:00:00 So you may conclude after the first 15 or 20 minutes that my approach to the constitution is somewhat cynical. As a matter of fact, it is not, I regarded as a most remarkable document. However, there are serious problems connected with it and we are very often in our approach to it. The constitution has been very commonly reviled by one group or another, which then later claims it has the foundation for its position.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:00:48 So people are four of the constitution when it serves them. In the early 1800s, New England was all for nullification and secession. In the south thought that was a terrible thing on the part of New England. In 1860, the south adopted it and actually seceded from the union and New England was pie asleep horrified. The constitution in other words has not an cannot preserve us from the depravity of man. In the first decade of the constitution, public officials, the state of Georgia, the Jefferson administration, Congress, and the Supreme Court United in a bit of a very lay grunt theft, the Yazoo conspiracy.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:02:06 In 1795, Georgia had claimed a territory which later became Alabama and Mississippi. The land actually belonged to the Indians, to the Chickasaws, Cherokees, Choctaws and Creaks. A group of public leaders went to Augusta, Georgia, then the capitol and they bribed to the Georgia legislature to give them title to 35 million acres. Men of the north and south were both involved, important man. Man like Wade Hampton, Robert Goodloe Harper, William Blount, Robert Morris and James Wilson. Many held federal and state offices, James Ghana, brigadier general in the War of Independence headed up the payoff to the Georgia legislators. Shares in the Yazoo territory companies were also given.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:03:19 The lands went for less than a cent and a half per acre. In other words, all of Alabama and Mississippi and a little more was sold for $500,000. The sale was illegal and some men went to court and headed [inaudible 00:03:47]. United States was then brought into the picture of the federal government. It then bought the Yazoo lands for $1,250,000 and it’s set up a commission to consider the Yazoo claims of the thieves.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:04:07 The commission was made up of five men, three of whom were members of Jefferson’s cabinet, James Madison, secretary of state later President. Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of treasury. Levi Lincoln, the attorney general. The commission admitted that the lands were not legally bought, but it suggested that in spite of that the lands be bought from the claimants or bonds given to the tune of $10 million.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:04:49 Against his own party, John Randolph and Congress fought the deal but he lost, he called it a vast window, but they found all kinds of high sounding terms to justify it. The matter then went to the supreme court and it sustained the legitimacy of the Yazoo purchase. On the technicality, that the Georgia Act and nailing the Yazoo grant imperative to the obligation of contract, which the constitution forbids, but they overlooked the fact that the contract was fraudulent.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:05:39 Georgia as a state, the Jefferson administration, Congress and the Supreme Court were all party to a flagrant raid on the public treasury. This was in the days of the republics youth and supposed innocence, 10 years into our history. Another example, article one, section eight clause 17 of the constitution says, “And did you know this, that federal lands in the states are limited to a district not to exceed 10 miles square to forks, the magazines that is ammunition depots arsenals and necessary federal buildings, but the federal lands and at least one western state are approximately 90%, and they are 40 to 80 in a number of states, 40% to 80%. But the constitution says the federal government cannot own such lands.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:07:03 It is possible from the government printing office to purchase a copy of the constitution which is quite thick and sands about so high, and the words of the constitution are two or three lines at the top of the page, sometimes one. And the rest of the page and sometimes more than one page will be given to citing the court cases based on that part, and how the constitution has been reinterpreted.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:07:43 This constitutional provision limiting federal ownership of lands within the states, has this comment in this document. “This clause has been broadly construed, you can be sure of that. To cover all structures necessary for carrying on the business of the national government, it includes post offices or hospital on a hotel located in a national park and locks and dams for the improvement of navigation but it does not cover lands acquired for forest, parks, rangers, Wildlife Sanctuaries or flood control. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that a state may convey and the Congress may except of course with some arm twisting, either exclusive or qualified jurisdiction over property acquired within the geographical limits of a state for our purposes other than that enumerated in clause 17.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:08:58 Well, we can say indeed, it has been broadly construed. Now, given such court interpretations, it is obvious that the constitution has limited meaning. Man in his sin has justified a wide variety of acts, both morally and legally. It is not the fault of the constitution. That’s the fault of the people and of the federal government.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:09:33 Now, it is important to call attention to such facts. A major defect of the constitution has been the attitude of the people towards it. Thus, many people today, in fact, most conservatives believe that the solution to our problems is a return to the constitution. But the Yazoo fraud wisdom, one of many, many such acts in the early years of this country and the constitution did not prevent one of them.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:10:19 And today, the Yazoo scandal is a small matter when compared to routine federal activities every year, a returned to the constitution is meaningless when the people are sinful. The old adage says it very, very well, you can’t make a good omelet with bad eggs. On a good many Americans had been bad eggs. Recently, our California state senator, Bill Richardson, who calls me periodically said in this conversation of just a matter of days ago, and I quote, “It is difficult to fight or a weak people.” It is difficult to fight for a weak people and I felt that Bill was complimenting the people of California and calling them weak. A preacher would have a stronger term.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:11:42 Certain general observations are necessary for any consideration of the constitution. First of all, it is not the Bible, it is not in [errant 00:11:57], it has faults, although it is a great and a remarkable document. Thus, while the constitution does require and we pay no attention to it, golden silver alone as legal tender, it does not require golden silver of the banks. And the banks very early began to emit paper monies and all the early depressions were resolved of bank created inflations.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:12:32 Now, the banks and the federal government are in together. Moreover, the constitution has no borrowing limit on the federal government. The electoral college voting is not confined to the congressional districts was to electors at large. In the early years this was done, which meant that each congressional district elected neglector to vote their local election returns.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:13:11 Now, this is a very important fact. It meant in the early days at the vote for the presidency could be divided four or five ways in any given state for four or five candidates. It meant that each congressional district was fairly represented, but then some politicians began to realize if we, in the cities, going to have a winner take all basis for the voting, then we can dominate the entire state and have all the electoral votes go to our man.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:13:54 And so about 1830, they began to change the state requirements. Then of course, ever since and minority groups have realized the same thing. And single issue voters have also realized that as a consequence, we have had ever since presidential elections and congressional elections dominated by single issue voters and minority groups and city machines. This frustrates the original intent.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:14:42 However, although there are many other defects in the constitution, it has an admirable recognition of human fallibility and the necessity for correction, the amendment process. But of course people don’t like to come out in the open with their desire to change the country and to change the constitution. It’s much simpler to do it through Congress or the courts. Then second, let me remind you again that the constitution can make no man nor nation good, a great many of the new nations created all over the world since World War II took over the US constitution with various minor modifications.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:15:37 It hasn’t done any of them any good, the constitution is not a moral code, it does not give us a substantive morality. That is a morality that says what is right and wrong, like the 10 Commandments. There’s nothing like that in the constitution. It does give us a procedural morality, which is biblically based, right of the accused and so on. For us, substantive morality Americans, when the constitution was framed, assumed that the Bible was the source and the only source for our substantive morality. It provided the law whereby men and the carts were to operate.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:16:44 Procedural morality is also set forth in the Bible in the law of witnesses, judges, crowds and more. And this procedural morality is reflected in the constitution, but the constitution is not in and of itself a moral code, nor does it provide us with one. The people are to get it from scripture and if they do not, then the constitution is ineffective. Then the third, the constitution can be fully effective and faithfully operative only when the people are godly. If they are sinful, the results will be devastating.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:17:41 Forrest McDonald and is very important work, a constitutional history of the United States titles his last chapter breakdown. He holds that in the era from the late 1950s the 1900, the government has grown so large in Washington and so complex that it has, and I quote his exact words, “All but lost the ability to function.” It can no longer provide the assurances, he says of the preamble to the constitution which declared that the purpose of the union is to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:18:41 McDonald holds also that the encouragement by the federal government, of all kinds of special interests groups has led to a general lawlessness as well as to an ever increasing and more and more unwieldy central power. As a result, he says, “We are facing the breakdown of the federal, and we can at that the state government.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:19:19 This breakdown is contributing to the breakdown of the non-status sector or the so-called private sector, more and more your life is interfered with, more and more if you’re carrying on a business or running a farm, you have to have an accountant at the very least to take care of all the farms. For example, General Motors, which is the nation’s largest corporation but it’s smaller than virtually all the federal bureaucracies has 22,300 full-time employees doing nothing but filling out government forms for Washington DC.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:20:22 And that’s the figure as of 1980, it is worse now. It also takes, by the way, 5% of the federal budget just to process these farms that everyone you and I and General Motors are have to send in. Now, in 1895, the Chief Justice Fuller and the Sugar Trust case made a comment in his dissent, he may have been wrong in his dissent, but he was right in his comment, “Our form of government may remain notwithstanding legislation or decision, but as long ago observed, it is with governments as with religions. The form may survive the substance of the fee.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:21:25 The constitution is not a mechanism which guarantees as justice or freedom. Too many people have believed that the constitution couldn’t save the country if we only go back to it, and that’s wrong. Only the godly faith and action of a people can do so, and when we become a godly people again, then we will have in the constitution of framework whereby we can function and accomplish what we said about to do.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:22:04 Then fourth, we must say that when a people change religiously, they change morally. Both our churches and the humanism of the people at large are man’s centered with very serious results. Maybe I’ll step on your toes with this remark, but the chief concern of Christians and of churches is not saving souls. Any more than the chief concern of the universities is the alphabet. The alphabet is there so that you can begin learning and it’s something with which you then operate, and conversion is the beginning. Our Lord says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:23:03 One of my favorite Americans Samuel Hopkins, a very remarkable man, one of the pupils of Jonathan Edwards. And he saw this concern with man, Hopkins was very much concerned about problems, he was the man who started the anti-slavery movement in this country at a great many reform movements. But the evil he saw coming was that people at large were concerned more about people than the Lord. And the churches were more concerned with saving and doing the will of God.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:23:47 And so he had a test question for members, he knew they couldn’t say yes to it, but it was a shock question to put things into perspective. And the question was this, “Are you willing to be damn for the glory of God? Do you realize that when you become the Lord, he may use you in a way which will destroy you and your peace and your security and your welfare.” Now, what comes first? God or yourself? Think about it. That was his purpose. But what we have today is it everyone in the church and out of the church is concerned with number one themselves.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:24:42 And as a result as Walter Berns is noted, “The goal of legislative and court action today is to have,” and I quote, “One’s interests declared writes.” One of the most recent human rights movement seeks to have incest declared a right. Sodomy is now a fundamental right. And currently, a great many groups are working to further expand the definition of rights. This is a logical outcome of the humanism which saturates church and state. Then fifth, neither the state nor the constitution can create society.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:25:38 So society is a religious fact, it is an expression of faith, of religion and action. Before the Norman Conquest in 1066 the apostle’s creed, where are we read, I believe in the communion of saints read, “I believe in all the saints, the society,” the word society and its root meaning means communion. Society is an act of religious communion. When that communion win, society begins to disappear and is replaced by the power of state.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:26:30 Now, social financing has to be provided in a society. Social financing, health, education, welfare. At one time, all the hospitals and schools in the Western world, including the United States were Christian. The welfare agencies were Christian. Christians took care of these things with our tie than with our poor tie. Christians have abandoned these societal concerns and it was drawn from the world and the state has taken over.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:27:13 At this point, the liberals are right, are you going to let the people starve? Well, if you don’t want Washington to do it, you and I have to do it. We have to start creating agencies, we have to take back government from the state because the basic government is the self-government of the Christian man. A return to the constitution in other words is meaningless unless there is a return to Christ as king, priest and Prophet.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:27:59 Now, that requires that we return to the fundamental meaning that under girds the constitution, I said that the constitution has no substantive morality. It doesn’t have anything like a 10 commandments because they believed in the 10 commandments, they believe that the Bible was the fundamental law book. A professor of law has told me that he’s found as late as 1840s, judges and juries gave a decision out of the Bible. There was very little statute law, Bible was the law book of God and people were governed by it.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:28:57 Now, these men who framed the constitution, we suppose that people were going to be governed by God and by the word of God and it’s a useless thing to call for a return to the constitution unless there is, first of all, a return to the word of God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that, we’re returning to a piece of paper. A fine piece but it cannot reform the country. The man at the constitutional convention were aware of history, they were trying to avoid the evils that had marked their time and earlier times. They want to do establish and to maintain law.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:30:02 And so they created an instrument whereby godly men could preserve their freedom, but it had to be godly men. During the course of the war of independence, John Adams wrote in his diary that he was beginning to wonder if it was not all in vain with all the effort. The toll of lives, the monetary cost was not in vain. Why? Because with the war, no bills were being paid after all, they were buying their things from England.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:31:04 So with the war, how are you going to pay any merchant in England? And with the armies moving back and forth across an area, courts couldn’t function. So, how are you going to be punished, or a criminal offense, and how were you going to be prosecuted by somebody to whom you owed money? Wrote in his diary and I quote his words, “If the power of the countries would get into such hands and there is great danger that it well, to what purpose have we sacrificed our time, health and everything else? Surely we must guard against the spirit and these principles, or we shall repent of all our conduct.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:31:59 Well, the British didn’t help because they burned down all the churches that they could earn, especially [puritans 00:32:13]. And many of those pastors were office chaplains, so when the war ended the country was in trouble, religiously in trouble. One of the reasons or one of the outbreaks, so there were several outbreaks in the United States you know, immediately after the constitution was enacted and before. Before it was ever enacted, you had shays rebellion and an armed uprising in Massachusetts.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:32:51 They didn’t want to pay taxes and this is why the constitutional convention was called within a month. Nobody wanted law in order of those people who owed debts, of those people who were committing crimes. A restoration to law and order meant trouble for them. One scholar has described the temper of the people at that time with these uprisings taking place as terrified. Now, on the state conventions, there was a lot of opposition to ratify the constitution. Great many peoples who disliked this or that aspect, but the reason it was voted in was simply because they were afraid that they would have like outbreaks.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:34:00 And we have had problems ever since. The people who represented that underclass in 1781 did not like law and order. And with every war we have fought, we have seen a further departure from constitutionalism because people come to the fore and express themselves, every war in the modern age is a revolution. It creates a revolution at home.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:34:49 During the war state legislatures had also been a responsible, they had overturned private contracts, they had reneged on public debts, they had interfered with the courts, they had violated treaties and so on and on. People have actually been more secure under Britain than they were during the war. Of course, Britain had plans to destroy all self-government in the colonies. So they were between the devil and the deep blue sea when they had to go to war.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:35:29 Now, article one, section 10 paragraph one of the constitution reads, “No state shall enter into any treaty alliance or confederation grant letters of Mark and reprisal, coin money, emit bills of credit, make anything with gold and silver attainder in payment of debts pass any bill of attainder ex post facto law or a law impairing the obligations of contracts or grant any title of nobility.” They passed that because the states were doing everything except for grant titles of nobility. And after the constitution, they continue to do so. Now, the declaration of independence gives us a long and very accurate catalog of the sins of the British crowd on the parliament.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:36:26 But the constitution can be read as a catalog of the sins of the American States and of Congress during the war. And the constitution was written, trying to prevent more of the same. People enjoyed the anarchy of the war years because they were happy that they could feel free to do as they pleased. They did not want to go back to law and order. Now, some leftist historians have charged that the founding fathers were a conspiracy at Philadelphia and writing the constitution to protect property, this is nonsense.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:37:22 Their concern was more basic to establish and maintain those social concerns which alone could make civility and society possible everything law and order together with property was being eroded by men like that horse jockey with whom John Adams thought. The founding fathers were with one or two exceptions, their early Christian in their culture and in most cases their faith as well. For these men, the basic government was Christian self-government under God.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:38:09 This is why the word sovereign and sovereignty are never mentioned in the constitution, they believe that only God is sovereign. Tocqueville, a generation or two after the constitution said that, “In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious.” Most needs were taken care of by Christian organizations and the community was the basic and most powerful government.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:38:57 Now, there’s another fact that was important in those early years. A very interesting one which may be of particular interest to some of you. We are regularly told that the colonies and the colonists were English. Well, they were English in their relationship to Great Britain, but the English who are not in the majority, there were 600,000 English people of the three million, they were pure often predominantly, there were 400,000 who are either German or Dutch, but there were 900,000 who were Scottish. 900,000 who were Scottish.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:39:55 So, the British agent who reported to London at the outbreak of war, that the American war of independence is a Scotch Irish Presbyterian rebellion was not far from wrong, and the Scotch were not popular with the English in Great Britain nor with the English Tories in America. They were regarded as being wild and ungovernable and more often dominated by clan loyalties and family blood feuds and bias civil governments. And the south, up until my lifetime feuds were not uncommon among their descendants.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:40:49 At the same time, while the Scotch and the United States presented a pretty powerful and lawless element, they also represented where they were reformed the strongest force for law. The strongest force for our Christian culture. They planted most of the colleges and universities in the United States. They were a powerful force in planting churches, they were a powerful influence in framing the constitution, there was Scotch present at Philadelphia, and one man who was not able to go, he was elderly not in good health was John Witherspoon Scott, who teaching at what is now called Princeton had a powerful influence on many of the men at the constitutional convention.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:41:55 His pupils included among countless numbers of ministers, one president, a vice president, 10 cabinet members, 21 senators and 39 congressman as well as 12 governors and many, many public leaders. This is why some people have said the founding father of the United States was rightly John Knox. Moreover, the constitution requires in article two, section one, clause eight an oath of office. Now, an oath of office today means practically nothing to people. But we must remember, these people were reared in a puritan culture at a time on an oath was so serious that anyone who could not take an oath is testimony was either disregarded or was not even accepted.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:43:08 And anyone who took an oath was so fearful of God’s vengeance for breaking of the oath, but he told the truth. I could speak for some time on men who had mass murders on their conscience who refuse to take an oath. They could’ve lied but they didn’t dare. Now, an oath of office was taken on an open Bible usually open to Deuteronomy 28, read it when you get home.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:43:52 And the person taking the oath invoked all the blessings of God upon him for faithfulness to God, and all the curses of God for disobedience to God and his word. But today, an oath of office is a meaningless thing in our society. It could only become a meaningful thing when we again become a godly people. This is why as we consider the constitution, it is important for us to realize the solution is not merrily or returned to the constitution as a return to the Lord and to his word. Thank you.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:44:54 Do you want me to proceed to the next one without a break, Martin? We are going to consider next the intent of the constitution, the original intent and the changing intent. There are people who demand strict construction and others loose construction or a non-interpretive review. Some have argued that many of the legal terms in the constitution are used very loosely and require interpretation by the courts because the original meaning was not clear.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:45:44 Now, the people who so argue cannot tell you where those vague terms are, so that they cannot specify that such and such a term has a meaning that is not clear. There were controversies very early about the meaning of the constitution. But this does not mean that the controversies were over the ambiguities of the law, but rather over the unpopular aspects of the law. It’s like Mark Twain said of the Bible, it’s not he said, “What I don’t understand in the Bible that bothers me, but what I do understand.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:46:42 And that’s what troubles people about the constitution year in and year out, it’s what they do understand, not that which is vague. Now, as I indicated, the United States began its history with certain moral handicaps. There was a long wars, 1775 to 1781, church has destroyed, law destroyed, and a great many different coffees. The war also served to destroy and morality. The mercenary troops at the British [rot-in 00:47:25] were not known for their morality and this is American woman feared their approach and fled.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:47:33 But at the same time, the war was very profitable for many, selling supplies to the British troops for gold and silver and reached countless numbers of people. So the end of the war was the end of a bonanza. Do you know that so much gold and silver came to the states at that time during the war? That both the Bank of France and the Bank of England came close to collapse. The French and their loans to America and the British and supplying their troops.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:48:17 Warriors had thus fostered lawlessness, and so Americans had grown accustomed to disregarding and circumventing laws. There was a religious and moral decline and the habit of civil disobedience. And so people were not ready to accept the law and order. And so the question was not how shall we understand and obey the constitution but rather how can we reinterpret and circumvent the law? So the basic problem with the intent of the constitution has not been an intellectual problem, it has not been a legal problem, it has been a moral problem. And the supreme court as reflected the people. Someone once remarked in the last century that the supreme court follows the election returns. It is always done that because during so much of its history it has had men were not strong men or men of faith.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:49:42 There was a famous incident which pinpoints this clearly and it’s one I love the site because I think it is so telling. In those days, the congress of the United States met only a few weeks and the Supreme Court met a couple of weeks, and apart from a handful of quarks and the president and vice president, there was nothing in Washington most of the year except empty boarding houses because the judges didn’t live there, they boarded in the boarding house together, and the congressman didn’t live there and or the senators.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:50:27 And with the supreme court judges being away from home and not having their wives to correct them or nag them, some of them were reputed to be drinking too much. And so there was a great deal of criticism and as the supreme court met this particular year, they decided to start off by abstaining from drinking except on rainy days when the cold and the Daphnis would make some brandy helpful.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:51:06 Well, they had a dry week, a very dry week, and they met on Saturday also for consultation and Chief Justice Marshall asked Justice Story to go to the windows and look in every direction to see if there was any sign of rain. And story came back and said there was not the slightest sign of rain or even of a cloud. And then Marshall said, “Justice story, I think that is the shallowest and most illogical opinion I have ever heard you deliver. You forget our jurisdiction is as broad as this republic. And by the laws of nature, it must be raining some place in our jurisdiction. Waiter, bring on the Rum.” Jefferson, who was a cousin of John Marshall said, he was afraid to open his mouth around his cousin because he said, “John Marshall will take any statement I make and turn it around legally to mean what he wants it to mean.”
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:52:25 But original intent is important, and we have that problem with the Bible, don’t we? People couldn’t make the Bible mean whatever they want. We are told that justifies homosexuality. Several books have been written since World War II to express that opinion, books written by prestigious scholars. Oh, they couldn’t make it say that, they couldn’t make it say anything, can’t they? But it has no regard such an opinion for the original intent. The original intent can be known and determined to a very large extent.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:53:20 We have the minutes to the meeting, we know what they were talking about, why they decided on the phraseology. Moreover, the idea that the constitution is a bundle of compromises is not true. There were compromises one or two on representation of slavery, but on most issues, there was a discussion until a very real agreement was reached. So that with the exception of a couple of phrases, the constitution represented an agreement in which all virtually United.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:54:11 Moreover to infer an original intent is not to infer in probability. The constitution recognizes that it is not a perfect document and it provides for amendments. So there is a legitimate means for change. Now, it is a slow process because it requires deliberation and the constitutional framers felt that was an asset.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:54:50 In every other field of law, the plain meaning of the wording is basic. After all, those of you who are lawyers know that there would be no security in making out a will or setting up a trust or writing a contract if social circumstances could dictate new meanings. And this is exactly what they are doing to the constitution, sociological interpretation, the justices openly site sociological factors. Now, you and I may agree or disagree with their decision but we cannot agree with resorting to sociology rather than law and amendment.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:55:44 Moreover, the constitution is not only a law but it is a contract or covenant. So it is a more basic form of law and must be maintained. Moreover, there is a very basic consideration and that the founding fathers with only a couple of exceptions held the protestant view of the Bible and its interpretation. That is they believe that when you approach scripture, you went by the word only and not by tradition.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:56:35 They had a like view of law, they held that the very words of the law and not legal tradition is binding and this is a very important point, because it was a protestant biblical perspective which was carried over into the interpretation of civil laws. When people no longer believe in that interpretation of scripture, then the basis of law is eroded, if men will not treat the Bible seriously, how can you expect them to treat the constitution seriously?
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:57:29 Some assumed that because there has been a growth in history progress that more wisdom is now available to reinterpret the constitution. Well, if more wisdom is available, let us use the legal procedures. The force of original intent has eroded in American history because the force of original intent eroded in the churches with respect to the Bible. Within a few years after the constitution, ministers were saying about the Bible. Well, it may say predestination but I don’t believe that. It may say six day creation but I don’t believe that. It may say that the flood was universal but I don’t believe that.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:58:33 They reinterpreted things to conform with the new meanings introduced from non-Christian sources. Should we be surprised if the same technique was applied to the constitution? If the Bible’s original intent can be set aside, why not the constitution? The road to recovery must therefore begin with Christians and their churches.
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:59:10 No civil government can be any stronger than the Christians within that country. Are there any questions now on what we’ve covered to this point before we go on to the changing intent we see. Yes?
Speaker 2: 00:59:33 [inaudible 00:59:33].
R.J. Rushdoony: 00:59:47 Yes. The church, first of all must be God centered. The church must take the Bible seriously, there’s a great deal on the Bible that I don’t understand and you don’t understand, but what we have to say is we approach it. God said it, I believe it and I hope someday I’ll understand it. That’s it. We don’t have an option of passing judgment over it, then we as Christians have to resume being the basic government under God.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:00:27 There is no more important realm than the Christian and the family, the family is the basic government under God. If you look at the Bible and read all through the Bible and the laws clearly, what you find is that very little power is given to the church and very little to the state as compared to the family. All the basic powers and a social order are given to the family with one exception to the death penalty. But consider, in any society, if I may take a little time with this, in fact a quite a bit of time because it is so important and it’s an important question you raised. All right.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:01:19 The first and basic power of a family is control of children, because children are the future of a country. And if you control children, you control the future. That’s why every totalitarian regime takes over control of the children. In any civil governments that takes over control of the children through education or any other means is trying to control the future and the family.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:01:47 And second, there is control over property. That is his greatest power as controlled children virtually. And now control of property as fast as the hands of the state. Legally, you don’t own the house you have titled to, you hold it and fee simple and free socage which means as a vassal of the state, which can by eminent domain, take it from you at any time with or without compensation. And you’re paying what about the rent on your property and your property taxes. So the state now controls property. If it hasn’t occurred to you, let me add that what I’m talking about is fascism.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:02:49 Communism openly takes over, fascism is socialism veiled as the traditional order, but we are on a fascist state today. Third, control of inheritance, the family under God controls inheritance and it is to go to godly seed. So that the Kingdom of God could be capitalized. Now, the state is your first air, before anybody else can take anything, it takes its share. And fourth, there is control of education once a family concern. Now, it’s a state concern, that’s fascism. Fifth, welfare, this was once a controlled by the family entirely it had a powerful influence in this country.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:03:46 However, the idea that the war of independence was a revolution is all together wrong. First, the various colonies were each of them independent countries under the King of England, they were not under parliament or under England. The declaration of independence is not from England, but it is from George III. George III was a chartered monarch of each of the colonies, so he was king of New York, King of Massachusetts, King of Scotland, King of Ireland, King of Virginia and so on. That was the legal status he had under a charter.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:04:31 So he was a constitutional monarch. What was done by the crown minister is because King George III during most of the time was mentally incompetent was to set aside the charters, to destroy the local governments, to destroy their courts, and then finally the quarter troops on them when they objected to this. And the quartering of troops means that the soldiers in your house are total law, which means they can rape and kill at will.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:05:17 As a result, what the declaration of independence says, and it’s a legal act that was adopted, that the charters are constitutions are null and void because the crown has violated every term they’re out of. They then resisted an armed invasion by England. So law and order was on the side of the colonists. Everything illegal was being done by Congress because they wanted to pay for the French and Indian war and they were going to make the Americans pay for it.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:06:03 So there was nothing there that violated Romans 13. And remember this, Romans 13 says that the power of the ruler is to protect those who are good and to be a terror to evil doers, so that if they ceased to protect the good, they have defected from their calling.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:06:36 And that’s what, of course, Lex, Rex and John Knox and many others had called attention to much earlier. One more question.
Speaker 3: 01:06:49 What do you think is the great role for our passengers regarding politics [inaudible 01:06:54]?
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:07:00 I think the colonial era and the early American era handled that very, very well before each election and sometimes in between they would have an election sermon. It wasn’t that they endorsed candidates but they called attention to the issues in the campaign from a biblical perspective. They tried to get them to see what was at stake so that the election sermon was a standard part of American preaching. Now, in between elections, there were many such sermons, and as a result of this type of preaching, the church was a powerful force because it would create movements, and I’m not talking merely about political movements, but movements that take care of needs, of problems within a community.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:08:05 In my book Revolt Against Maturity, I have a chapter about Salem, Massachusetts and how in 1895, it had a population of 2,500 and 1845, 50 years later it was 45,000 and 50 years it had grown that much. All the new people were non-English, non-Scottish peoples overwhelmingly, but at the end of the time it was still very much a puritan community. Why? Because under the influence of the pastors what they had done was this, they had a chapel down there at the docks for the seaman who came where they could have food and lodging freely and listened to a sermon.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:09:00 That type of chapel is described in Moby-Dick where father Marple preaches a sermon and the whole sermon has recorded. Let me add at that time it’s a curious fact. Priests were called mister, and the Protestant clergy called father together with the term brothers and sisters. When the Catholics picked up the word father from the Protestants, the Protestants dropped it. But every immigrant family that landed, they would meet at the docks, they would tell them of a Christian school where they would put their children, they would tell them no classes in English at the church, they would have classes in homemaking for the wives because the foods, vegetables and things grown here were very different.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:10:05 They had job training for the men to help them adjust to whatever jobs were available. There wasn’t a need, they didn’t take care. At that time, the church felt that welfare agencies, health agencies, educational agencies were Christian functions. So a lot of preaching was done on that and there were literally thousands of organizations all over the colonies and then the United States to deal with every kind of problem imaginable.
R.J. Rushdoony: 01:10:42 Well, our time is passing a little too fast …