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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where's the moral outrage?

Evangelical bloggers (and other kinds) occasionally express their moral outrage. There was a lot of this over the Schiavo case, and there has been a lot over embryonic stem cell research, plus some over whether or not churches should meet on Christmas Day. But, unless I missed it, not much on some other things . . .

As regular readers (thank you--you know who you are) know, I generally post "Sunspots" once a week, with links to various things that have interested me, and might interest you. I almost entitled this post "Things I haven't spotted," using a negative image of the sun graphic, but I didn't. But here are three things I didn't spot much, or any of:

1) Comments on the execution of "Tookie" Williams. I saw only one blogger who wrote about the matter. No doubt I heard more about it than some, as I am currently residing in California, where he was executed. It is true that Williams was a convicted felon. But, on the other hand, he was black, and there have been injustices against blacks, involving the death penalty. He claimed that he was innocent of the crimes he had been charged with. He had tried to influence young people to stay out of gangs. Maybe the death penalty itself is wrong. Perhaps he shouldn't have been executed. Didn't this doubt cross anyone else's mind?

2) Moral outrage at the Bush administration for its opposition to Senator McCain's no-torture amendment to the Defense appropriation bill. President Bush went so far as to threaten to use his first-ever veto on the bill, if language forbidding the use of torture was not removed. Vice-President Cheney lobbied for its removal. They finally backed down, but because of political reality, not, apparently, because they suddenly realized that there is something terribly wrong with a country that uses torture for any purpose, especially when it claims the moral high ground. (To say nothing of the fact that use of torture by the U. S. makes it easier for other countries to justify torturing our own citizens in the future!)

You didn't read anything in this blog about these matters, either, until now. Sorry. I have, mostly, stayed out of political matters, and I intend to be very careful before posting on such in the future. I did contact my congresspersons about the second matter, and the one below.

3) Moral outrage at Senator Ted Stevens for another amendment to the defense appropriations bill, namely one that would allow drilling for fuel in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Senator Stevens is the same one who put about a quarter of a billion dollars of U. S. taxpayer's money into the highway appropriations bill, for the purpose of building a bridge in Alaska, so that less than 100 workers wouldn't have to use the ferry. As another senator pointed out, the same money could have bought each of these workers a small plane.) If we have a God-given mandate to be good stewards of the environment, doesn't that include preserving some parts of it? Doesn't that include becoming less dependent on fossil fuel? I think so.

You are, of course, welcome to disagree, even to the point of moral outrage!


Glenn said...

Mr. LaBar
I respectfully submit that the lack of moral outrage observed from the evangelical side of the blogworld is because these issues are not inconsistent with the evangelical view of the role of civil government in a fallen world.

Re: Execution of Tookie Williams- The use of capital punishment by the civil government against a convicted murderer is not inconsistent with biblical principles of justice as understood by most evangelicals. I also think most evangelicals were satisfied that the legal process had worked the way it was supposed to, and that Tookie was indeed guilty of the crimes of which he was accused. There was outrage expressed regarding the whole affair, but it was primarily directed at those that sought to exalt Williams' "good deeds" at the expense of the justice his victims deserved.

Re: Anti-torture legislation- Evangelicals recognize that we live in a fallen world, and that the institutes of government God has established to provide for defense and justice within that world are operating under imperfect circumstances against true forces of evil. In that light, evangelicals are willing to allow the civil government to perform those functions that are neceessary to protect the lives and well being of its citizens. War is not pretty, and indeed it causes good men to do evil deeds. In spite of that, we do not tell our soldiers "don't shoot the enemy because you might do them harm." I think the same principle can be extended to this debate as well. I do not want for our officers to resort to the techniques used against American POWs in vietnam, but I don't think we should be hamstrung in the defense of our nation by undue sensitivity to a terrorist's "rights" or "feelings."

Re: Oil exploration in Alaska wilderness- I think extracting oil from ANWAR can be done in such a manner as fulfills the dominion mandate while being consistent with wise stewardship. This is consistent with an evangelical view.

Sorry for the long ramble, but I'm from Texas. Capital Punishment, Bush Policy, and Oil Exploration are familiar topics down here.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for reading.

I didn't expect everyone to agree with me on these matters. What I was trying to say was that I hadn't read any evangelical blogger who did. (I don't read them all, by a long shot.) I respect your opinions, and they may be right.

On the second point, torture, what you say is mostly or entirely true, but 90 U . S. Senators agreed with McCain that torture isn't the way to go, and that kind of agreement rarely happens. I'm guessing that, in this case, the 90 are right. I heard McCain say, on the radio, two things:
1) information obtained under torture isn't necessarily accurate--he lied to the Vietnamese himself when tortured, at least some of the time.
2) the US is in two wars here, one against terrorists, and one for world opinion. We don't really want to lose either, and, on the torture front, it seems that we are, currently.

Julana said...

I'm from an Anabaptist background, and maybe only partly evangelical.

Re Williams: I find myself leaning toward the Catholic seamless garment concept of valuing human life. I am against the death penalty in general, and in particular as it is practiced in the U.S. My husband was on a death penalty case in which all the anti-death penalty jurors were screened out. Four of the jurors disregarded the instructions of the judge to weigh mitigating factors against aggravating circumstances, and voted for the death penalty because life was taken.

I also think racism plays a disturbing, even appalling, role in trigggering death penalty sentences in this country.

I noticed one Christian blogger commented her unease that Williams was a Muslim, and she felt maybe his redemption wasn't total. I found this a little odd, as if becoming a Christian was a reason to escape a civil death penalty.

Re the torture issue: I saw Evangelical Outpost blogged on this. One of his first commenters was a guy named Ballard who linked to Neuhaus's position, and I agreed with that. He is against torture. I am, too.

I don't know the details about drilling in Alaska, but tend to think Bush is not as careful about environmental issues as he should be. And is friendlier to big business than he should be.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Julana. Sorry if I mis-categorized you.

Marla said...

Hi Martin. I'm pretty sure Julana is talking about me. Unfortunately it's out of context. I didn't mean that his pardon should rest on whether or not he was a Christian or Muslim. The post where I commmented about that had said that they hoped it was true that he had become a Christian and I was just clarifying that wasn't the case. I came very close to blogging the whole thing (I live right where it happened--San Quentin is in San Rafael), and because I don't support the death penalty (there's a post on my blog about that somewhere), I naturally didn't agree with this execution. But I also didn't agree with Mr. William's attitude when I read interviews with him. However, I remember telling my husband that something seemed really wrong about imprisoning a man for 25 years and then killing him. If there were to be a death penalty (which there shouldn't be considering the sorry state of the criminal justice system), it should be applied immediately. Delayed punishment (especially death) makes no sense.

As for the political stuff, I haven't been following it, but I appreciate you speaking out about it.