5:50 pm -- Beginning with “praise and worship” music, the activities open more like a typical church service than a political event. The joyous singing coming from inside the chapel is contrasted with the police officers standing at the doors, the media milling around the lobby, and the protestors standing on the street. The scene is a fitting metaphor for the way that the church fits into the modern world.
5:50pm -- After thirty years as an American evangelical you’d think I’d be used to seeing an American flag in the church. But while I respect the symbol of our country, I’ve never been comfortable with an object that inspires patriotism sharing the stage with the symbol of our Savior’s sacrifice. So I feel a bit uneasy seeing the two flags flanking a cross with a plaster statue of the Ten Commandments centered in front, used as the backdrop for the speakers. The cross is sufficient for salvation. Why is it not sufficient for the church?
6:05pm -- Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, opens the ceremony, repeating a great line he used earlier in the press conference: "We do not claim the right to speak for every American. But we do claim the right to speak."
6:15pm -- Dr. James Dobson appears by videotape, claiming that the current judicial tyranny opposes Lincoln's view of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. He mentions the ruling that barred the Ten Commandments display from government property, which is not only a symbolic rather than a substantive issue, but has nothing to do with justice. He also mentions the Kelo case, which is about justice and a prime example of why judicial tyranny violates the biblical concept of justice.
6:25pm -- “We've heard the arguments for partial-birth abortion and gay marriage ... we just disagree,” says House Marority Leader Tom DeLay, “Activist courts impose these on society without passing a single bill” DeLay adds, "The Constitution is not a vehicle for the manipulation of the public will."
6:35pm -- “Let justice roll down…”, Chuck Colson says, quoting the book of Amos. Colson, who has seen the ravages of injustice first hand through his role with Prison Fellowship, asks when the last time we heard those words in public. With Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. he claims. It’s hard to deny that these “words of God speaking to us” are not heard often enough.
Colson add that we must suppress the temptation to get anger with those who disagree and that we need to love the people who stand against us. Colson notes that people complained about Lincoln imposing his “moral will” on them – but that we are all better off because he did. Still, we are not imposing, he says, we are proposing. We are proposing to make changes for justice not because we are angry but because we are loving, because our hearts should break with God when injustice is done.
Colson should have been given the entire time to talk. He’s a brilliant powerful speaker.
6:38pm -- Tony Perkins comes back on to promote the "Save The Court" kit. It includes “Ten Commandment book covers” for school textbooks. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Can you imagine going to school with “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” covering your Algebra textbook? Better to let the kids put SpongeBob Squarepants on their books and put the Ten Commandments in their hearts.
6:43pm --“If justice matters to anyone,” says Bishop Harry Jackson, “it matters to minorities.” Jackson says that black evangelicals and white evangelicals share the same concerns and should work more closely together. Rev. Jackson is the type of religious leader that we need to hear more from.
6:47pm -- Bill Donohue, the President of The Catholic League, missed his calling in life – he should have been a Southern Baptist preacher. Donohue is good humored and witty and speaks as if he has too many words and not enough time to say them (the speakers, who have only a few minutes to speak, are way too rushed). He makes too many quips that fly by too fast but he gets in some good jabs at Mario Cuomo, Ted Kennedy, Christopher Hitchens, and people who think monkeys fell out of the trees, lost their hair and became “Adam and Eve.”
6:52pm --For the third time tonight, a speaker mentions the Ten Commandments ruling. Whether you think the issue is important or not, it is hard to see how it is the best example of structural injustice caused by the tyranny of a court. Zell Miller is a proficient orator but he’s shedding mostly heat and little light.
7:06pm -- Out-of-control judges are the biggest threat facing America today, says Phyllis Schlafly. She refers to them as “supremacists” because they put the courts as supreme over the legislature and executive branch. Those who say they want an independent court, she claims, really want a court independent of the Constitution.
Schlafly claims that the Supreme Court rulings are not considered the law of the land, higher even than the Constitution. It’s hard to argue with that point.
The Ten Commandments gets its fourth and fifth nod of the night.
7:15pm --Cathy Cleaver Ruse is the first to warn of the bioethical concerns, such as euthanasia, that can result from judicial tyranny. The court will also be deciding whether a New Hampshire law allows parents to decide if their daughter can have an abortion, a decision that will affect all parental notification laws. Ruse correctly points out that this decision could lead to young girls being victim of predatory males. (She doesn’t mention it but Planned Parenthood has a history of looking the other way when it comes to reporting cases involving older men and underage girls)
She also points out that the issue of partial-birth abortion will soon be returning to the courts. There is no right, says Ruse, to kill a soon to be born infant.
7:18pm--Do politics and local churches go together? Yes, says Ted Haggard, there is nothing that we believe that does not affect public policy. Haggard encourages Christians to get more involved in politics, learning the skills needed to run for public office if necessary. All it takes is a God intoxicated generation to influence a people, Haggard says, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
7:18pm-- Dr. Jerry Sutton, pastor of the hosting church, invokes Terri Shiavo, saying that she was “murdered by an adulterous husband.” I had to ask around Blogger’s Row to make sure I heard that correctly. Goodness. And this is the Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention? Well, he certainly doesn’t mince words, does he?
7:29pm -- After ninety minutes at a breakneck pace, CCM superstar Rebecca St. James ends the event with "This Is Our Time." I'll have more thoughts after I have time to digest an event that was just made available to 79 million households.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Justice Sunday II: From Bloggers' Row
Several prominent reporters attended tonight's "Justice Sunday II. The pastoral staff at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville opened their Sunday night services to this rally. One of the bloggers there is from the "Evangelical Outpost" and here is what he reported: