Obedience to the state

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Oct 25, 2021.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    @Stalwart is correct regarding oaths. Elected officials in the US are required to take an oath to God (or, alternatively, make a solemn affirmation of trustworthiness) when beginning a term of office. Openly declaring oneself to be an atheist is a great way to kill your political career in the US, and I’m not aware of any self-declared atheists in Congress. None of our Presidents have been, either (at least not openly). If you want to get anywhere in American politics, you have to at least pretend to be religious, even if in the most minimal degree.
     
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  2. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I know your chance of election in the US is almost non-existent if you don’t profess some religious affiliation even if it’s not true. There’s a great irony with your constitution that this is required whereas we have a state church and no politician feels the need to convince the electorate of their allegiance to any faith.

    It does surprise me then that in an officially secular state that politicians must swear an oath to God. Is it just the two options you mention? I presume an oath to God is the Christian God. Is there provision for a member of a non-Christian faith who would be happy to swear on oath to do so to their deity?

    I need to look into what ours do. I don’t know if they have to swear an oath. I’ve never given it any thought of checked before. It’s simply not come up on my radar.
     
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  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It’s time you Englishmen rose up and reasserted your rights and liberties. After the Revolution of 1688, you are sovereign, co-sharers of sovereignty with the crown. The prime minister is certainly not your ruler. He’s but a serveling, hired by the crown to serve you, once you have nationally indicated your preference. You are the fathers of liberty in the modern world. Your bravery and courage in those days was an inspiration and a precondition for our 1776. Liberty shall not perish from the earth.
     
  4. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    According to the Constitution...

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
    — U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3

    No one is required to take an oath "to God" or put their hand on a Bible to take office as president . The phrase "so help me God" is a customary add in that is not a part of the original text of the oaths required by the Constitution.

    Moreover, the Religious Test clause in Article VI of the Constitution prohibits using religious tests as a prerequisite for any government office.

    In 1862, the phrase "So help me God" was formally added to the oath members of Congress take and the addition has survived several attempts to have it removed as violative of the 1st Amendment.
     
  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Constitutionally it may be either an oath or an affirmation (with no mention of God). In the case of the former, it is not to the specifically Christian God. American civil religion is more or less (unofficially) Unitarian. Jesus is revered in American political culture but public mention of God is not intended to exclude Jews, non-Trinitarians, or Muslims. It’s meant to be maximally inclusive. And of course one may make an affirmation without any mention of God, it’s just seldom done at that level. It’s far more common at the local level for things like witness testimony in court.

    The Constitution says a lot of things. Although officially there are no religious tests, by convention it is expected that one pay homage to generic American religiosity if one holds public office. Every session of Congress begins with a prayer, the President hosts the National Prayer Breakfast every year, etc. Adams, Jefferson, and Madison would be turning over in their graves if they knew that. The Framers of the Constitution and the generations that followed through the end of the Civil War were far more secular and latitudinarian in outlook than American society has been since the end of WW2.
     
  6. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    Unconstitutional lockdowns? We have no bill of rights. I have no constitutionally enshrined freedom of movement, no freedom of assembly. Our constitution talks about the following things that people might call a "right":
    1. No one who has franchise can be prevented from voting (Right to Vote) [Section 41]
    2. The state can assume my property, but only on just terms (Implied Right to Property) [Section 51]
    3. Criminal offences must be tried by a jury of their peers in the state where they were committed (Right to Jury Trial) [Section 80]
    4. The state cannot make a law establishing a state religion, or impose any religious observances (Freedom of Religion) [Section 116]
    5. No state can pass laws discriminating against any resident of another state that don't also apply to residents of their state (Limited Freedom from Discrimination) [Section 117]
    Our High Court has read in one additional right, which is Freedom of Speech, as an implied right to actualise our parliamentary democracy. If we want a fair election, we need people to be able to say what they think.

    Outside of that I'm not entitled to any specific liberties. Ironically I think when you look across the broad sweep of history the Congress and its Agencies have infringed on the liberties of US citizens to a far greater extent than other Anglo countries have. I think there's something to be said for not writing your rules down. When you have a list of rights, the default assumption is everything else is okay. When you have no rights written down, but everyone understands its the role of the state to protect some unwritten rights, you're more likely to have a political culture that carefully considers if what they're doing is moral.
     
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  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I’m no expert on the current 2021 Australian constitution, but I do know for a fact that you all started as British citizens, and thereby inherited the 1688 Bill of Rights, at least until the separation of Australia into its own country.

    If you have allowed your servants and employees over a course of some years to whittle away your rights and become your rulers, then that is sad state indeed.

    Here is a gut-wrenching video of a newborn baby literally being ripped out of hands of a breast-feeding mother, by the “officers of justice”:
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyl...breastfeeding-mum/MWP4NSUXULCCY7Y5LALK7XH5B4/

    https://twitter.com/vigilantfox/status/1456262550413139968?s=21
     
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Technically at that time there was no such thing as a British “citizen”; republics have citizens, monarchies have subjects. The English Bill of Rights of 1688 never had the same status in British law that the American Bill of Rights has for our system. The former is ordinary legislation, and may be modified or repealed by ordinary legislation. Parliament - Monarch, Lords, and Commons - is legally sovereign, and as such is not bound by any previous Parliament. (Politically the House of Commons is sovereign, in terms of raw power.) The corollary of this is that no Act of Parliament may bind a future Parliament. Something like our Bill of Rights was quite impossible in the British system until the U.K. became a signatory to the ECHR to satisfy their obligations as a member (at that time) of the EU. The UK could not remain in the EU indefinitely without it fundamentally altering their constitutional system, and in the end parliamentary sovereignty won out. The point is that Australians do not have “inalienable rights” along the lines of the US Constitution merely by virtue of being formerly part of the British Empire.
     
  9. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    Okay sure, the 1688 Bill of Rights applies. Yes Australia is a constitutional monarchy, yes the parliament has rights the crown cannot infringe. That's not really relevant to a discussion about COVID lockdowns really, except to say the monarch can't overrule the parliament's decision to enact lockdowns.

    I'm not sure what the relevance of the video is. The United States has child protective services as well.
     
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  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    James Madison, in the First Congress, was on a committee that dealt with appointing legislative chaplains. According to a study done by Kenneth Starr, Madison was entirely supportive of opening Congressional sessions with prayer.

    Madison was involved in the drafting of the First Amendment; although the majority of his proposed religious wording failed to be included, he had first-hand knowledge of the drafters' intent concerning the scope and meaning of that Amendment. During debate in Congress, some feared that this Amendment could be interpreted in a way that might tend to abolish religion altogether, so Madison got up and said that the Religion Clauses were intended to specify that "Congress should not establish a national religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience." The intent was to prevent compulsion, not to discourage religious exercise in any way. The aim was to maximize liberty, not to place limits on the exercise of religious conduct.

    John Adams had this to say about the manner in which the first session of the Continental Congress was opened with prayer. Later on, as President, Adams proclaimed a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer in 1799 to beseech God for His aid with a spreading pestilence.

    Among the various founders, Jefferson and Madison were among the less overtly religious, but they were by no means hostile to the open exercise of religion. Although President Jefferson (unlike Presidents Madison and Adams) refused to proclaim days of prayer, he did so only because he felt strongly that such proclamations should be the sole purview of the individual states. As governor of Virginia, however, Jefferson did issue such calls. President Jefferson signed several bills into law that appropriated federal funds to pay for Christian missionaries to the Native Americans, and he personally authored a text for the Indians entitled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth so they might learn Jesus' teachings as set forth in the Gospels.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2021
  11. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    You seem to be extremely unfamiliar with the lives, careers, and writings of those men. I stand by my original statement. Nothing you wrote actually refuted it anyway.
     
  12. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I think it is funny to talk about our "mythical founders" We had a lot more of them than those few who are regularly quoted in modern day conversations.
     
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  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Whatever you say. You are the expert in so many fields. You da man! :tiphat:
     
  14. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    So the Irish men, Scots men and Welsh men should remain downtrodden.

    We are no different from you. We elect our politicians the same as you do. Between elections neither our politicians nor yours could give a damn what you or I think. They follow their own agenda. I'd be utterly amazed if an American politician kept all the promises he made in his manifesto.
     
  15. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Indeed. All I am saying here is that you are within your rights to stand up and demand that they return to serving you, rather than serving some other extraneous objectives. They are not your overlords. In fact you are theirs. Let us not forget who holds power.

    They have inalienable rights simply by the virtue of being human.

    And they have had legally recognized rights, by the virtue of their descent from the English legal system and the 1688 bill of rights. Therefore the current Australian posture of being comfortably enslaved is simply contrary to the facts of their own history.

    I don't know why they don't teach the actual rights and privileges of an Australian citizen, in Australia anymore. Indeed they don't teach them in the US either. A self-confident and assertive body of citizens must be very inconvenient for the elites.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
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  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    This is a “delegate” view of representation (as opposed to a “trustee” view). One problem with this understanding of representation is that virtually no classical liberal or republican theorist or politician in the 18th century endorsed it. (Burke had some rather notable - and indeed some of the most memorable - things to say about that subject.) For the American Founders, one of the great advantages of having a representative system was for the elected to act as a sort of filter, so that the worst excesses of popular enthusiasm could be curbed. If you read their correspondence, records of debates, and published writings, the last thing they wanted was for districts to give their marching orders and then for the representatives to just follow them blindly, regardless of what they thought was good for the country. Indeed, for them to have conducted their term of office that way would have been a violation of their oath of office. Their duty is to the Constitution, not to “what (they think) the people want”. Even if that weren’t the case, there is no mechanism in our system for operationalizing a delegate view of representation. Once they are elected, they may speak and vote as they please with complete freedom from popular pressure, with the only inducements to do otherwise being pressure from their own party, and their prospects for reelection should they decide to run for a subsequent term. Barring that, they aren’t delegates in any meaningful sense.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
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  17. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    I don't really accept the premise that we're being enslaved. Lockdowns are popular policies. Sure, it's not fun when you're in one - but the Premiers who were initially resistant to close got slammed in the polls and the premiers that immediately shut down the borders and locked everyone inside had bumps in the polls. After a brief period of disunity all states eventually conformed and adopted strict policies. Our COVID response is the popular will at work. Take a look at the three Australians who have regularly responded to the COVID threads on this forum - we've all defended the Australian response at various times.

    We are also taught our rights and privileges. The 1688 Bill of Rights is about the privileges of parliament not the privileges of the private citizen. We are taught about peaceful assembly, and speech, and expression, and the responsibility to vote, and freedoms from others actions, and so on. Most of those rights are legislatively enshrined, not constitutionally enshrined, which is all I said when I said our lockdowns aren't unconstitutional. We have a very different approach to rights - and when I look at the historic infringement of rights in the US compared to the historic infringement of rights in Australia, although Australia is very far from perfect, I know what system I'd pick in a heartbeat.
     
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  18. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    How would you suggest this power of the citizen be exercised. It is exercised through the ballot box. Those we elect to a legislature are not our delegates. They vote according to their conscience or according to party lines. I don't know what happens in the USA but most members of ou legislature eblong to a political party and legislators vote according to the party whip, i.e. as told to do by their political party. Those who defy the whip can find themselves expelled from the party and that can often mean they lose their seat at the next election. Most of the electorate vote for a political party. Many wouldn't know their MP if they fell over him in the street. Therefore, if an MP loses his party's whip his chance of being elected at the next election is almost nil. It is rare people vote for the person rather than the party. I'm sure many Americans cast their vote for a politcal party without paying much heed to who the candiafe for that party is. I think it nonsense to believe we have any more power than the ballot box at various intervals.
     
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  19. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Although we use the same district-based, winner-take-all system that the U.K. does, we have the added complication of having a presidential system, which inherently promotes weak political parties. Because our executive and legislature exist independently of one another, legislation doesn't happen unless the two branches agree on what is to be done, and since there is no mechanism that forces agreement (as there is in a parliamentary system), compromise between the parties is essential to the functioning of the system. Having party renegades is thus quite common and often unavoidable, and rarely does it spell doom for one's political career. Some, in fact, make entire careers out of being renegades. Plenty of legislation has been passed throughout our history during periods of divided government. Although when it comes to Congressional elections Americans are more likely to vote for the party and often have very little familiarity with their member of Congress or their Senator, when it comes to presidential elections it is far more common, if not the norm, to vote for the person rather than the party. A presidential campaign is basically an extremely complex job interview to manage the largest and most powerful organization on the planet, it's fairly typical for American voters to support who they think is "the best person for the job", even if that person happens to be from the opposing party. It's a highly flawed system, but since America will never adopt a parliamentary constitution, it's probably the best that can be realistically achieved, given our unique history and traditions.
     
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  20. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I do wonder though if you wouldn't be better without the electoral college and the presidential candidate with the most votes wins. There's the French system where there are two rounds of voting. The candidates who came in first and second place in the first round go through to the second. However, on second thoughts probably not. I was surprised at the 2020 election to learn just how many candidates do stand. However, I doubt anybody would expect any candidates other the Democratic and Republican ones to take first and seond place.

    It's not the best system. Indeed, our legislature hardly holds the government to account. MPs of the ruling party are either in the cabinet but would like a more senior position; are a junior minister and would like a cabinet post; are a parliamentary private secretary (pps) and would like to be a minister. It leaves very few in the ruling party who don't have their own career in mind. As the norm here is for the ruling party to have an absolute majority in the House of Commons they've little chance of losing votes. The present government has a majority of 80. What we've seen recently about MPs' expenses is a rare example of the government's own party revolting against it.