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[Note: My son, Tim, writes today's column. He is an attorney who received his Juris Doctor degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a former felony prosecutor for the Florida State Attorney's Office and now owns his own private law practice. He is the author of a soon-to-be-published new book, entitled FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE.]
September 17, 2009 not only marked the celebrated day of the approval of our Constitution by the Constitutional Congress in 1787 (which had to be ratified by 9 of the 13 STATES--not the majority of the PEOPLE), it also marked another, what I call, LAY case, reflecting the power and control of the federal government over individual, local and state affairs, and the submission of its lowly subjects, We the People.
Some of you may have learned of the principal of Pace High School in Pace, Florida, Frank Lay, who was charged with violation of an order entered by Federal Judge Margaret C. "Casey" Rodgers, prohibiting him, the teachers and the staff of Pace High from praying or holding any religious ceremonies at school or at school functions, which originated out of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. As you have likely already guessed, sometime after the order entered (and was actually consented to by Lay), Lay had a prayer conducted at a Pace High staff function (a building dedication with no students present). This was deemed a violation of the court's order and Lay was charged with contempt of court.
Lay had a hearing on the contempt charges on Constitution Day, September 17, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. (CDT). Hundreds of people stood outside the federal courthouse in Pensacola, Florida, showing their support for Lay, their disgust with the federal government, or just their interest to see what would happen. (A few even showed their protest against Lay.) It appeared as though it was a pep rally of sorts with high-school kids chanting, "We Love Jesus, Yes We Do, We Love Jesus, How 'Bout You!" and other similar chants. Around 11:30 a.m., much of the crowd began marching around the federal courthouse (which sits downtown Pensacola) seven times, to sort of re-enact and metaphorically demonstrate the judgment of God falling on the city of Jericho in the book of Joshua, as if to suggest that they wanted God to condemn Judge Rodgers, or that Judge Rodgers was attacking Lay and she was the sole evil presented in this case, or other similar theories to that effect.
It was obvious that most people present deemed the matter against Lay to be what they would classify as spiritual in nature; and by spiritual, I mean to say that the issue to them did not regard constitutional government, federalism, the evils of centralized power over State power, the true meaning and sense of the Constitution, etc. Rather, it had almost a tone of "We believe in God, and you, Judge Rodgers, do not . . . We believe in prayer, and you, Judge Rodgers, do not . . . We love Jesus, and you, Judge Rodgers, do not . . . Lay should be allowed to pray in school, and you, Judge Rodgers, should let him." It had very similar qualities to an "evolution verses creation" debate you would see at a college or university.
What most of these people fail to understand is that the matters of constitutional government, federalism, the evils of centralized power over State power, the true meaning and sense of the Constitution, etc., are just as spiritual in nature as the matters of praying in public and loving Jesus.
Do these people at the rally, most of whom would likely claim to be Christian, not understand that God created Natural Law (Thomas Jefferson called it "Nature and Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence) upon His creation of the world, a Law that God Himself binds Himself to for His glory and for man's benefit? Do these people not recognize that binding our government (State and federal) to their respective constitutions conforms to God's Natural Law, that men adhere to their agreements (i.e., compacts/constitutions)? Are these people still ignorant of the principles of limited power, jurisdiction and self-government created by God and expressed by Him in His Word--and that these principles apply even when their favorite political party is in office?
After several hours of waiting outside (even during serious downpour of rain), Frank Lay and his entourage exited the courthouse, with Lay's wife giving the "peace sign" with both hands and the rest of the group with smiles on their faces, anticipatorily revealing that Judge Rodgers had found Lay "not guilty" of the contempt charges. It was as if a major victory had been won for Lay, his family, all those who were supporting him outside of the courthouse and for all "public-prayer-supporting" Americans. You can be certain that many felt this was a victory.
The crux of the "not guilty" verdict, in fact, demonstrates just how Lay lost, how America lost, how tyrannical our federal government is, and how far gone and ignorant we are. It showed just how the citizens of this country willingly LAY down when actual confrontation arises. Consider how Lay was found "not guilty" and supposedly victory was won in this case:
First. The Prayer Was "Unintentional":
"Freeman was asked why he gave the prayer when Lay asked. 'It was just out of reflex,' he answered." (Source: The Pensacola News Journal) In other words, in order for Lay to "win" at this hearing, he essentially had to say, "Oops, Judge, I'm sorry; I didn't mean to do it; it won't happen again." You call that a victory?
Second. The Judge's Order, Which Lay Consented To, Is "Constitutional":
"Both sides also agreed that the constitutionality of Rodgers' temporary injunction will not be up for debate, meaning today's proceeding will focus on whether Lay and Freeman violated the order." (Source: Ibid.) Not only did Lay have to metaphorically bow at the feet of Judge Rodgers to keep from going to jail, but Lay also had to literally admit that the order prohibiting him from praying at school or at school functions was constitutional and that he is bound to follow it. Again, how is this a victory?
Third. From Now On, He Will Comply With the Order Not to Pray:
In a 10:00 p.m. interview with WEAR, Channel 3 News, Lay admitted on live television that he will comply with the "Consent Order" not to pray and that "changes will be made at Pace High School" to reflect this compliance. Just like a little child who gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and knows he is in trouble with his parents, Lay had to promise to be a good little boy and to do exactly what he was told by the federal government to get off the hook of punishment.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not victory! It shows every sign of defeat! This is, once again, precedent to reaffirm and reestablish that the federal government is America's god. We will do what it says, when it says, and how it says. We will not challenge the issue on philosophical and foundational merits, because to do so would require us to reconsider the power of the federal government over jurisdiction that originally belonged to the states and the people.
While I speak in irritation, I am pleased, of course, that Lay was not found guilty and that he was not sentenced to jail and fined. I do not wish that on any person of any faith for simply praying. But what has to be recognized is that Lay did not win, LAY LAID DOWN: the federal government showed its force, and the people submitted. Lay can go home, but the "law" remains the same and tyranny is triumphant. I am also pleased that there is a legal attempt underway to challenge Judge Rodgers' order as being "too broad" and, yes, unconstitutional (for indeed it is). For, in fact, this is the kind of challenge that is needed in cases such as this. The American people simply cannot sit by and let these rogue federal judges continue to trample our religious liberties!
In the meantime, people--and particularly Christian people--repeatedly complain about the federal government when issues like this arise, proclaiming that their "freedom of religion" is being denied. But do these same people stop to think about the reasons why? Are these the same people who think that by voting for a George W. Bush/John McCain-type Republican, America will be spared more federal tyranny? Was not Judge Casey Rodgers appointed by G.W. Bush in November 2003? Was not Alabama Attorney General, Bill Pryor, who prosecuted the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench for acknowledging God, later appointed to the federal bench by G.W. Bush? (My dad, Chuck Baldwin, and many others strongly believe that Pryor's appointment to the federal bench was actually a reward for prosecuting Judge Moore.) Do they not stop to realize that the people they have been electing and reelecting to public office are the very ones who make the laws and appoint the judges and bureaucrats who continue to make war against our liberties?
To start with, the only way to become victorious in these matters (on a national level) is for the people to retake power usurped by the federal government through the constitutional amendment process. This means we must revoke the 14th, 16th, and 17th amendments. We must abandon the "lesser of two evils" philosophy when going to the voting booth and elect only those candidates who demonstrate a firm commitment to constitutional government. We must support State representatives, governors, and sheriffs who will stand on the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to defend their citizens against federal encroachment. We must re-educate the masses into principles that founded our federal republic. We must begin taking responsibility for our own actions, and teaching our children the fundamental tenets of liberty. Only then will we be able to kick the federal government out of the affairs in which they do not belong.
The reality is, this federal takeover did not happen overnight, and if things keep going the way they are, and people keep acting the way they do, you will never be free from the tyranny in your lifetime and your children will never be free from it in their lifetime. What is worse, the vast majority of people's ignorance seems to be at a pinnacle, thus perpetuating the death grip of federal control over freedom. The result: LAY case after LAY case after LAY case; one person LAYing down after the other. Consequently, these cases are never victories for the principles of freedom in America. They serve only to remind us that the principles of tyranny prevail in this country. Yes, individuals like Frank Lay may be let go from time to time--at least for now. But the time will inevitably come when EVERYONE will be forced to submit and lay down.
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© Chuck Baldwin