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And a Parable on the Oath of Office

It is the contention of this monograph that the oath of office is perhaps the single most important factor in raising up Christian statesmen and bringing about Reformation in our country. The obscurity of the doctrine of oaths in the modern world makes that statement seem uninformed, unjustified, or even extremist. Perhaps the experiences of the author will show that Reformation must begin first with the thinking of those who would be Christian Statesmen.

I will relegate early details of my life to a footnote [1] and move directly to my study of the law and my passing of the California Bar Exam.

As I studied the law, I encountered a number of cases of Christians who were denied American citizenship or admission to public office because they were Christians. By "Christians," I mean those who, with the Apostle Peter, believe we "must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29). I am not talking about a denial of admission to disorderly or violent revolutionary types;[2] I'm talking about law-abiding people whose allegiance to God is higher than their allegiance to a secular state. This issue of Lordship is, by my way of thinking, basic to Christianity. The Bible says that

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27

Visiting the weak -- helping "useless eaters" -- runs counter to the "survival of the fittest" mentality of the modern world. The secular state is the greatest embodiment of social Darwinism, as we will see. Above all, in the modern world, the State must survive. Anyone who threatens the existence of the State cannot be tolerated, even if he advocates the purest of doctrines and lives the most peaceable and orderly of lives. Needless to say, people who have no intention of threatening the existence of the State are persecuted by the State because any challenge to the State's authority, regardless of the foolishness or evil of the statute in question, will not be tolerated. Pure Christianity is thus a mental and spiritual purging of Statism (the attribution of lordship to the State), and a willingness to suffer the greatest of political ignominies (execution on the Cross) for doing so. Allegiance - dedication to one world-view and keeping oneself "unspotted" from another - is clearly a critical issue for the Christian. It is, in fact the essence of "pure religion."

And so I put the issue bluntly: If you are a Christian, you cannot hold any public office, or even become an American Citizen. That is the law.

You are no doubt shocked by this allegation. So shocked, in fact, that you don't even believe it could be true. This is a healthy attitude. It was not, however, the attitude of the California State Bar. When I inquired about these cases, the reaction of the Bar was one of relative indifference and bureaucratic intransigence. My question was framed in terms of complete, self-conscious obedience to the Bible even in the field of law and politics. The question had never before been raised in terms so stark as this, and the Bar (a secular institution) probably had no gut-level appreciation or respect for the question, and had no interest in investigating it. In any case, bureaucratic inertia ("don't rock the boat") meant that they were not about to change their procedures. Ultimately, I had to file in Federal Court, and my case is now being appealed. I point all of this out because I do not want the reader to anticipate a strange, extremist "conspiracy theory." This is just a mundane encounter of a practitioner of "pure religion" with the "banality of evil."[3]

From Puritanism to Pluralism: A Study in Contrasts

What makes this case shocking is that it used to be the case that only Christian Statesmen could hold any public office in America. If you were a "fine statesman" but were an atheist, you could not hold any public office.

That fact shocks many. Here's another shocking fact: It used to be the case that Christianity was required by law to be taught in all public schools. The "organic law" of this nation -- the nation's most fundamental and authoritative law -- required the teaching of the Christian religion in order to guard "religion, morality, and knowledge," which were deemed "necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind."[4]

Both of these legal requirements - essential to an understanding of American government and history - have been repudiated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly everyone is aware that the teaching of the Christian religion in government schools is now prohibited. Few are aware that Christians cannot hold any political office.

Atheists in a Christian nation are prohibited from testifying in court because they are held (as a matter of law) to be unable to take an oath (even if they were willing to do so). As this monograph will detail, this was the law in early America. But we are no longer in a Christian nation; this is a secular theocracy, where man is god, and Christians are declared (as a matter of law) to be unable to take an oath to support the secular government (even if they might want to). Both positions are logical, based on their initial presuppositions.[5]

I want to assure you that there aren't some hidden defects in my character or in my arrest record that are keeping me from becoming an attorney. I passed the California Bar Exam, and other examinations have certified me as being one of "good moral character." I am a Christian; a six-day Creationist and a five-point Calvinist. Because I am a Christian, virtue is important to me. Law and order are high priorities for me. "My delight is in the Law of the LORD; and in His Law I meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:2). The Bible says to obey the laws of the State (I Peter 2:13). I do this. The IRS isn't after me (Romans 13:6-7) nor am I hounded by creditors (verse 8). I do not plot the assassination of my enemies: I pray for them (Matthew 5:44). I am not litigious towards my enemies (5:40), I go the extra mile (5:41), and I turn the other cheek (5:39). I don't blow up Federal Buildings and I don't even own any firearms.[6]

But according to the courts, my beliefs lead to "anarchy." I cannot be permitted to take the oath to "support the Constitution" which is required for admission to the Bar, and that means that I cannot be admitted to the practice of law in California.

It isn't just me; this is a rule that applies to all Christians, whether they know it or not. If your allegiance is to God above the State, then you cannot take the oath to "support the Constitution," and since this oath is required for admission to the Bar, you can't become an attorney. In California, a Christian cannot even become a certified elevator inspector.

Your first question might be, "If this is true, why are there so many good Christians who hold political office?" The answer is simple: when they were sworn in, they gave no public or binding legal indication that they were Christians, and that Christ was their Lord over the State.[7]

I presented the cases discussed in this Internet Monograph to a Federal District Court in Los Angeles and argued that these cases should be put aside under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the California State Bar should be ordered to admit me to the practice of law. The court acknowledged that my interpretation of the cases was correct, but refused to grant me relief.

Let me share a little story which will illustrate where we are. It's kind of a "parable." It shows the bind I feel every Christian is in whether he knows it or not.

[Go to Parable]

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1. I experienced a "paradigm shift" in high school when I found out that evolutionists had been lying to us, and we really could trust the Bible, even in "non-religious" areas of human action. That belief - which the secular world would call "fanaticism" - led me to the writings of R.J. Rushdoony. I devoured his writings and became a Chalcedon Scholar, publishing my first article in the Chalcedon Report before I graduated from USC. I had a regular column in that influential publication, and was also published by the Institute for Christian Economics (Gary North).  [Return to text]

2. Recall that the U.S. Supreme Court did not remove the Bible from public schools because it created classroom "lawlessness."  [Return to text]

3. Arendt, Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem; a Report on the Banality of Evil, Rev. and enlg. ed., New York, Viking Press [c1964, 1970 printing]; Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Hitler's Willing Executioners : Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. See also the insightful article by S.R. Tuuri in The Chalcedon Report, No. 380 (March, 1997) pp. 22-25.  [Return to text]

4. Northwest Ordinance, Sec. 14, Art. III, 1 U.S.C.A 21. (West, 1988). Schools were required by the federal government to teach religion in those states admitted into the Union under the Northwest Ordinance. The constitutions of states admitted as late as 1875 (Nebraska) contained almost identical language, requiring the teaching of Christianity in the public schools. Commended by the U.S. Supreme Court in Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., 143 U.S. 457, 469.  [Return to text]

5. One presupposition says that God is God; the other says that Man is god. (True "Man" (capital "M") always seems to be incarnate in the State.)  [Return to text]

6. At this point it is only fair to point out that I am in fact something of an extremist; I am not a "normal" American. I will not blow up Federal Buildings in Oklahoma City, nor in Baghdad, Iraq. Like the early Christians, I will live in the catacombs before I will kill another human being to advance the interests of multinational corporations or defend the "New World Order." Under the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling of In re Summers, I am prohibited by law from becoming an attorney because of this unwillingness to kill for the New World Order. I discuss this case elsewhere. See also Attachment C.  [Return to text]

7. And, more practically speaking, since we live in an arbitrary government of judge-made law, where not only citizens but lawyers and judges cannot maintain exhaustive knowledge of the law as it is created by judicial decisions, there was likely not a judge around at the time of their inauguration who knew the law and who might decide to prosecute any of these Christians. (A politically powerless immigrant is more likely to be barred from the support oath than a powerful politician [and any politician who wins is fairly powerful -- and too public.])  [Return to text]