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  • Doug Tjapkes

The Bible and the Constitution. Two great documents. Both misused!

Sunday, July 4...anniversary of that important day in history when the United States formally declared its independence. Seems to me that it’s also the perfect day to make some observations about two incredible documents: God’s Holy Word and the United States Constitution. I am amused how religious zealots paw through the Bible to find some isolated verse to justify their extreme positions. They’ll find a few words tucked away in some passage to prove their point, but totally ignore other passages that might disagree with their opinions. People do the same thing with the Constitution. If there is disagreement in categories such as illegal search and seizure, civil rights, free speech, or (gasp) even a hint that some controls are necessary on weapons, the favorite line of defense is to fall back on the Constitution. Other guarantees for other citizens are not so readily recognized. The thing is, you can’t just pick and choose. You either take all of God’s word, or none of it. You either buy into all rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, or none. I read and hear news reports from people claiming constitutional violations involving their rights as US citizens...but seldom if ever do I hear about violations that affect people who reside in our jails and prisons. It is not uncommon for those of us in prisoner advocacy to routinely struggle with reports of excessive bail, excessive fines, extreme temperatures, poor medical care, excessive force, shameful feeding issues, etc., etc., etc. All fall under the category of “cruel and unusual punishment.” We hear this stuff all the time! Where is the hue and cry? Amendments to the constitution say this stuff is forbidden! On this 4th of July, it’s important to repeat these cherished words once again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” And, it’s also important to remember that we must recognize the incredible depth and meaning of God’s Word and the US Constitution, two separate documents, not at all intertwined...two profound documents, neither of which deserves to be fractionalized to support petty arguments.

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