Urging the government to assassinate someone vs. urging
7barksda at jmls.edu
Tue Aug 23 16:55:56 PDT 2005
Bobby Lipkin writes:
"Thus, a committed follower of Christ cannot avoid "making a religious call to take out a foreign leader" if he advocates assassination politically. "
I think the confusion here is between Christians and Christianity. Christians are people too, and people are flawed. This means, no matter how committed a Christian is, he or she, will sin like everyone else and will make mistakes. I would agree that this counts as one. But every mistake a Christian makes does not become converted into a religious statement or tenet merely because it is said by a Christian.
I am no fan of Pat Robertson - I believe that many things that he says are ungodly and destructive. (Of course, it is not up to me to judge anyone else's faith.) And, he may very well have meant this as some kind of religious manifesto. He did say it on his 700 club program - which is a religious program through which he ministers.
But one cannot conclude that his statement was an expression of his religious belief, merely because he is a person who has (or at least claims to have) religious beliefs.
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of RJLipkin at aol.com
Sent: Tue 8/23/2005 4:37 PM
To: nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com; CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: Urging the government to assassinate someone vs. urging otherstodo that
In a message dated 8/23/2005 4:17:22 PM Eastern Standard Time, nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com writes:
Again, maybe I am missing something, but I did not see anything in Robertson's statement suggesting that he was making a religious call to take out a foreign leader. Nor does he appear to be asking fellow Christians to take the law into their own hands. He was acting as a citizen making a strident political statement calling for the government to take secular action. It is protected political speech I am quite sure, but also certainly speech that I and most others disagree with and judge to be strident.
Sure, no one is suggesting that the example of Pat Robertson means that Christianity calls for assassination. But I thought the point of Jesus Christ's message diametrically opposes to assassination. Thus, a committed follower of Christ cannot avoid "making a religious call to take out a foreign leader" if he advocates assassination politically. There no difference, or so I would have thought, between a committed Christian advocating assassination as a religious matter and advocating assassination as a political matter without defeating the very character and purpose of his religion.
I am seriously perplexed. Is the view that on matters of life and death Christians distinguish between religious statements and political statements? My understanding was that what is morally right, from the Christian perspective, is indistinguishable from what is religiously required at least when it comes to matters of life or death. Thus, when a Christian leader calls for the death of Chavez, his conduct cannot be merely a political statement. As a conscientious Christian he must be committed to the moral (and therefore the religious) judgment that, in this case, at least assassination is religiously sanctioned.
I am not a Christian, and so I'm reluctant to embrace my own remarks above. But I would benefit from an explanation of how a conscientious Christian can compartmentalize and separate moral/religious imperatives from political judgments. Generally, religious values, for those who embrace them, should be the ultimate foundation for all other systems of beliefs and values--moral, political, practical. So is Rick stating that in Robertson's case his endorsement of assassination is unchristian or not. Clarification would be greatly appreciated.
I agree Robertson's speech is constitutionally protected. But that doesn't address the question of whether a conscientious Christian can, conceptually and morally, call for assassination without it simultaneously being a religious endorsement of assassination at least from the perspective of that particular Christian.
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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