Unofficial Exemption from the Law of the Land

 

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    But if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law.
    Galatians 5:18

     

    In future no official shall put anyone on trial merely on his own testimony, without reliable witnesses produced for this purpose. No freeman shall be arrested or imprisoned or deprived of his freehold or outlawed or banished or in any way ruined, nor will we take or order action against him, except by the lawful judgement of his peers and according to the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.
    Magna Carta 1215

    Christians frequently claim that God's law over-rides human law. When the two conflict, a Christian is bound by faith to follow the greater law, God's eternal universal law. Different denominations have wildly differing opinions as to what God's eternal universal law actually is. Each has its own version, so each is prepared to defy the law of the land for different reasons, often citing Galatians 5:18 to justify its position.

    The privilege of sanctuary was abolished centuries ago (in 1623 in England) , but priests and ministers of many denominations still harbour wrongdoers from the authorities, as though the law had never been changed. These actions are reported frequently by the media. Churchmen who do this are never prosecuted, as others would be, for conspiracy, contempt of court, or perverting the course of justice. Civil authorities simply turn a blind eye whenever mainstream Churches break the law.

    The Roman Catholic Church regards itself as above the civil law and is quite prepared to defy the courts when the law of the land is inconvenient to it. In 1986 in the USA both the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference were held in contempt of court by a federal judge in Manhattan for refusing to turn over incriminating documents*. In England Cardinal Basil Hume threatened in 1989 to defy the court if it did not rule in his favour*. In Mexico the Constitution of 1917 is routinely ignored and its provisions flouted by the Roman Catholic Church. Like other Churches, the Roman Church has provided sanctuary to criminals, ranging from illegal immigrants to sex criminals and mass murderers.

    Roman Catholic priests routinely break the law by withholding information about serious crimes. They do not enjoy legal rights of confidentiality such as are extended to lawyers and journalists in Britain, yet they behave exactly as if they did. In Britain, every citizen has a duty to disclose treason to the authorities. To fail to do so is to commit a serious crime. Yet members of terrorist organisations can freely confess their crimes to Roman Catholic priests in the certain knowledge that priests will break the law of the land to protect them, as they are known to have done in the past*. Throughout the world priests withhold information from the authorities if they come by it in the course of confession. It is more than likely that a host of criminals are walking the streets today because priests are withholding information from the police. Priests are committed to do this even if a child rapist, terrorist or serial killer is likely to repeat his crime or if (as in the case of treason) the priest is himself committing a crime by withholding information (canon 983). Roman canon law also condones the secret celebration of marriage (canon 1130), even though secret marriages are illegal in many countries.

    Priests who are known criminals have routinely been moved from one country to another by the Church in order to avoid prosecution. War criminals like the Frenchman Paul Touvier have been protected from the law by a succession of powerful Roman Catholic churchmen. Touvier, head of the pro-Nazi militia in France, was tried in 1946 and 1947 and found guilty of war crimes. For 45 years he escaped justice with the assistance of the Roman Church and a chain of Roman Catholic sympathisers, who funded him and spirited him from one monastery to another. Touvier successfully avoided detection, crossing international borders between France, Italy and Switzerland, while senior members of the French Church did their best to obtain a presidential pardon for him*. His protectors also presided over his illegal marriage. He was finally tracked down to a Roman Catholic Priory in Nice in 1989.

    During the "Troubles” in Northern Ireland Catholic Priests were widely believed (by both sides in the conflict) to have been involved in acts of terrorism. During this time the Roman Catholic Church conspired with the British government to protect Priests suspected of mass murder – the reasoning on the part of the British appears to have been that prosecuting a priest could precipitate further violence. In effect Catholic priests were licensed to carry out criminal acts with impunity. One such conspiracy was revealed by an investigation by the Police Ombudsman's office In Northern Ireland in 2010 (The Hutchinson's report, published on Tuesday, Tuesday 24 august 2010). The NI Police Ombudsman found that the police colluded with the government and the Catholic Church to cover-up the role of a Catholic priest in three bomb attacks in Claudy, County Londonderry on 31 July 1972, in which nine people died. The youngest victim was eight-year-old Kathryn Eakin. No warnings had been given by the bombers. The Priest concerned was Father James Chesney , an active member – in fact a leader – of the IRA's South Derry brigade when it carried out the bombing. The RUC knew that Father Chesney was the head of the IRA in South Derry and believed him to have been directly involved in the bombing. Intelligence information linked him to the Claudy bombing and confirmed that he was the "quarter master and director of operations of the south Derry Provisional IRA". As in other cases of criminal activity by priests Father Chesney was simply invited to move out of the jurisdiction of the country where he had committed his crimes – in this case to County Donegal just over the border in the Irish Republic. Northern Ireland secretary, Willie Whitelaw, met Cardinal William Conway and expressed "his disgust at Fr Chesney's behaviour". "… the cardinal said he knew the priest was a very bad man and would see what could be done." . The Cardinal "mentioned the possibility of transferring him to Donegal", which is exactly what happened - he was given a post at Malin Head in County Donegal. Police investigations into Chesney’s criminal acts had already been frustrated and were now dropped. No effort was made to stop his criminal activities and he "regularly travelled across the border" to Northern Ireland, presumably to continue his terrorist activities. The report confirms that even traces of explosives found in his car were not enough to get him arrested. No action was ever taken against Fr Chesney, who died in 1980. When the report was released Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said that the British government was "profoundly sorry" that Fr Chesney had not been properly investigated. The Catholic Church issued no such apology.* Indeed the Church was prepared to allow priests who were convicted terrorists to continue their ministry in Holy Orders.*

    Many religious sects are known to harbour paedophiles and other sex offenders. One sect, the Children of God, gained an international reputation for child abuse in the 1980s, and conducted a recruiting campaign by offering free sex to potential recruits. As they said "Unto the pure all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). Their recruiting campaign was called "Hookers for Christ". A few members of this sect were prosecuted, but this was exceptional: sex criminals within the mainstream churches still generally escape prosecution. Cases were almost never brought against them until the 1990s. The Roman Church has concealed numerous cases of child abuse from the civil authorities, even though serious crimes have been committed (see Clerical Celibacy on page 477). If abuse has been going on worldwide at the rates revealed by police and social workers over the last decade, then over the centuries hundreds of thousands of priests have sexually abused millions of children without a single case having been reported to the secular authorities.

    The founding fathers of the USA were well aware of how divisive the mixing of politics and religion had proved in the Old World. They were also aware of the consequences of the symbiosis between Church and State, even in England where the secular crime of treason and the ecclesiastical crime of heresy were almost indistinguishable. They therefore established the principle that religion and politics must be kept separate, and that the legislature must stay clear of penalising or supporting religion. This principle is under daily attack from Christians throughout the USA, and has already been subverted. President Eisenhower added the words "under God" after "one nation" in the US Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. The phrase "In God We Trust" appears on currency and official seals*. It even became the official national motto of the USA in 1956. President Ronald Reagan declared 1983 to be "The Year of the Bible". But it is not just a matter of words. Churches are exempt from property taxes. Christian sects have been granted other legal privileges that are clearly contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers and to any straight reading of the Constitution. For example the government funds parochial schools, despite the clear intention of the First Amendment that all state education should be secular*.

    Despite the provisions of the Constitution, Christians have discovered numerous ways to introduce religion into state schools. Biblical accounts of creation were taught as literal fact until the Scopes "monkey trial" in 1926 (see page 454) and are now being taught again in the guise of "creation science" (see page 276). In 1986 a judge in Tennessee ruled that children should not be exposed to material that violated the religious convictions of their parents. This may sound reasonable enough until one looks at the sort of material that had offended the plaintiff in the case, a certain Mrs Frost. She had not liked a story about Leonardo da Vinci, because it mentioned Renaissance humanism. She had not liked the witches" chorus from Macbeth, because of the implications of black magic, nor pictures of children dancing in the moonlight for the same reason. She had not liked The Wizard of Oz because in it the lion is told that courage comes from within (and by implication therefore not from God)*.

    As in Europe, many religious groups in the USA routinely ignore the law of the land. As they have in England and elsewhere, Quakers have withheld a portion of their taxes corresponding to the amount used for military purposes. When Mormons were obliged to abandon polygamy officially, many continued the practice unofficially, as some still do so. Except in the most exceptional circumstances, they are no longer prosecuted for bigamy, as anyone else would be.

    Christian ministers escape prosecution because of their religious office, even when they are self-appointed. Preachers frequently encourage followers to hand over money with promises that they have no intention of fulfilling — for example promising that the money will be returned tenfold. If a non-religious con man did the same thing he would certainly be prosecuted , but religious con men are not. Pastors are able to call for the assassination of pretty much anyone they dislike, from doctors to politicians. If anyone else did this they would be charged with a crime, but Christian leaders are free to incite murder at will.*. Again, Christian judges are able to break the law and flout the Constitution with impunity. For example Judge Roy Moore of Etowah, Alabama, continued to insist on reciting prayers with lawyers and juries, and displaying the Ten Commandments on the wall of his court, despite superior court rulings that this was unconstitutional. When instructed to remove the commandments in 1997, the judge simply ignored the legal authority that he was sworn to uphold*. The phenomenon is not specifically American. In Germany in 1995 a Constitutional Court confirmed that it was illegal to display crucifixes on Bavarian classroom walls in state schools. Christian teachers and Bavarian officials simply refused to enforce the law. If atheists had insisted on fixing graphic representations of a tortured, bleeding, dying man on schoolroom walls they would undoubtedly have been prevented from doing so. If they had persisted they would have been found guilty of contempt of court and eventually locked up. But Christians doing the same thing were able to over-ride the law of the land with impunity.

    Images like this are starting to be seen as evidence of a form of child abuse, as they would be if atheists exposed young children to graphic images of torture and killing.

     

    For non-believers, the danger is that there is no limit to what God's law might be. In the past Jesuits worked out that God required certain people to be murdered. Fundamentalist Christians have used similar arguments to justify the murder of physicians who carry out medical treatments of which they do not approve. The idea of God's law being superior to human laws is inherently dangerous — as the history of all mainstream Churches, and their different, and ever-changing, versions of God's eternal universal laws clearly demonstrate.

     

     

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    Notes

    §. "Mitres in Mischief", The Economist, 17 th May 1986.

    §. " Cardinal May Defy Court over School", The Independent, 21 st July 1989.

    §. See for example the case of Father Garnet outlined in Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot, pp 250-262.

    §. "War Criminal Tracked Down After 45 Years", The Independent, 25 th May 1989, and "How French Priests saved a Nazi Killer", The Sunday Times, 28 th May 1989.

    §. See Claudy bomb: conspiracy allowed IRA priest to go free http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11068725 and Claudy bomb: A priest who got away with murder? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11071321. See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8939000/8939060.stm . The bombs were packed with schrapnel and nails to cause maximum damage. Eight-year-old Kathryn Eakin was washing the windows of her parents shop when the driver of one of the bomb laden cars parked it next to her.

    §. Father Patrick Fell was a Roman Catholic priest who served as parish priest in donegal after his release having een sentenced to 12 years for his role as commander of an IRA active service unit planning acts of terrorism in Coventry. In 1972, Father John Burns disappeared from his parish at St Theresa's Catholic Church in the Possilpark area of Glasgow. He fled back to Ireland after Strathclyde police raided his home searching for weapons and explosives. He was given sanctuary by fellow priests in the Irish republic. Both Father Patrick Fell and Father John Burns were suspected of involment in the Claudy attrocity along with Father James Chesney. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/dec/22/northernireland. Other IRA operatives (such as Sean O'Callahan) have confirmed that terrorists would go to a parochial house (priests home) to clean up after commiting attrocities.

    §. "Legislation approved July 11, 1955, made the appearance of "In God We Trust" mandatory on all coins and paper currency of the United States. By Act of July 30, 1956, "In God We Trust" became the national motto of the United States. Several years ago, the appearance of "In God We Trust" on our money was challenged in the federal courts. The challenge was rejected by the lower federal courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review the case." Quoted from the official web site of the US mint http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/fun_facts/index.cfm?flash=yes&action=fun_facts5

    §. See Justice Jackson's dissenting opinion in the Everson Case, 330 U.S. 22-28.

    §. "The Witching Hour", The Economist, p 41, 1 st November 1986.

    §. For example, the TV evangelist Pat Robinson made headlines in 2005 when he called for the assassination of Hogo Chavez, President of Venezuela. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-22-robertson-_x.htm

    §. "Judge has God on his Side in Fight with State", The Daily Telegraph, 19 th February 1997.

     

     
     
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