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In the California Supreme Court


Petitioner's Religious Views

I. Oaths

II. The State

I. Petitioner Has a "Fastidiously Scrupulous Regard"[1] for Oaths.

Petitioner does not challenge oaths in general in this petition.[2]

Petitioner believes only Trinitarian Oaths can be morally legitimate. Petitioner, reared a Presbyterian, turns to one of the greatest documents produced by the Protestant Reformation, The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648), which teaches that one of the duties required in the Second Commandment is "the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in His Word; particularly...swearing by the Name of God" (Q. 108). Appended as a Scripture proof-text is Deuteronomy 6:13: "Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His Name" (emphasis added).[3] Neither swearing falsely nor diluting God's Sovereignty is permitted,[4] nor putting the State before God.[5]

In addition, the seriousness of the Oath cannot be compromised by the Petitioner. Oath-taking is an extremely significant religious act of fundamental importance. Oaths become no less significant simply because our culture has little respect for law and tradition.

The oath has always been of profound significance in the Christian religion. It is a ritual of temporal and eternal self-malediction.[6] The very concept of a Covenant, or Testament, is based on an oath.[7] Every Christian must approach any oath with an attitude of deep respect and awe.[8]

Knowing this, an oath to "support" a constitution which Petitioner does not in fact "support" would be a deceitful oath.

Who shall ascend into the hill[9] of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place? {4} He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.[10]

And knowingly taking an oath to support an anti-Trinitarian Constitution would be an act of apostasy.

Finally, Petitioner is committed to unqualified obedience to God. Petitioner cannot swear unqualified obedience to the laws of the State.

The possibility of civil disobedience is a central concept in the Bible. From Exodus[11] to Revelation,[12] God's People disregard the law of the State when it conflicts with the Law of God. As an example, God commanded the Apostles to preach the Gospel. When ordered by the political authorities to cease the preaching of the Gospel, "Peter and the other apostles answered and said, 'We ought to obey God rather than men'" (Acts 5:29). A long-standing tradition of civil disobedience is based on this passage, and when the State commands a Christian to believe or act in a way forbidden by Scripture, or forbids a Christian from believing or acting in a way commanded by Scripture, the Christian has a divine obligation to disregard the State and obey the Lord.[13]

The history of Christian martyrdom is the chronicle of decentralized "House-Church" communities resisting an Empire-mandated "Support Oath."[14]

Failure to understand this has led to a misunderstanding of the history of the early church. Had the church recognized the sovereign and mediatorial role of the emperor and the City of Rome, it would have gained recognition as a legitimate cult. Legge was right in stating that the Christian's refusal was looked upon "as a political offense." [note omitted] To deny the religious priority of the State was an act of treason. To have other gods meant to be in conspiracy for the overthrow of the body politic, of the visible god of that area, the state and its ruler.[15]

This life-and-death struggle over something as seemingly trivial as the "mere formality" of an oath stems from the fact that the oath-formality establishes support for a particular religion, and thus allegiance to a particular god. This will become clearer as we compare Petitioner's religion to the secular religion imposed by the current Support Oath (Appendix D).

II. Petitioner is Committed to a Radical Biblical Critique of the State. There are three themes which help explicate Petitioner's conscientiously-held religious beliefs: (1) Biblicism; (2) Theocracy; (3) Patriarchy.

Biblicism. The Bible is Petitioner's Constitution.[16] Petitioner believes the Bible is the sole and sufficient Standard of political and legal activity. This belief itself is required by the Bible. The Bible says it contains "all things that pertain unto life and Godliness" (2 Peter 1:3,20-21). Since part of our life consists of activity which some would call "political," and since we are to be Godly when we do those "political" things, then the Word of God must be the sufficient foundation of our "politics."

Theocracy. Petitioner believes the Bible critiques civil government from a Theocratic perspective. I Corinthians 10:31 says that "whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Everything we do should be "religious;" there is no "neutrality".[17] The political implication of this is Theocracy. "Theocracy" literally means "the rule of God." For the Christian, it means that the only legitimate political system is one which is motivated from a Christian impulse (i.e., seeking the glory of God) and seeks to frame law and government which is explicitly Biblical (i.e., self-consciously following God's commands).

This means that Petitioner is required by Scripture to deny the moral legitimacy of a "Pluralist" State. Scripture Prohibits "Pluralism." A pluralist society claims to be "neutral" with respect to religion, doing nothing to the Glory of God. Petitioner believes Christianity teaches that pluralism is apostasy.

Petitioner is thus required by Scripture to press the legal sovereignty of Christ over human "governments" and to agitate for Theocratic government.[18]

All law is Theocratic. Law is the codification of a nation's religion. All laws are the imposition of moral values; a given morality stems from a given religion. The morality and legislation produced by the religion of Secular Humanism[19] are opposed to the morality and legislation produced by Biblical Christianity, but they are both "theocratic." In both religions, political pluralism is polytheism.[20] Thus, the question is never "Theocracy, or No Theocracy?" The question is always "Which Theocracy?"

Patriarchy. But Petitioner believes the Bible prohibits Political Theocracies. Many scholars would admit that the social order advocated by the Bible is generally agrarian, family-centered, and non-political. Petitioner believes a Biblical social order can best be called "Patriarchy" (from patria, "family").[21] Although Christians are commanded to "submit" to emperors and other evil doers,[22] Scripture nowhere commands men to leave their families to form a "State" or polis. Those who do so are roundly condemned.[23]

Thus, Petitioner must go beyond a criticism of the U.S. Constitution to a consideration of all constitutions in general. As it turns out, even if the United States repudiated the arguably Unitarian/Humanistic Constitution and adopted one or a combination of the earlier, more explicitly Christian, Theocratic, constitutions of the colonies, Petitioner would still be unable to support it. Petitioner is opposed to all constitutions.[24] A constitution, as a humanly-drafted covenant, inevitably draws our attention away from the New Covenant which has already been drafted by God and is found in the Bible.

Petitioner views the Bible from beginning to end as championing "family values" (Patriarchy) and challenging the violence of "archists" (power-holders of the polis). Movement from Patriarchy to Politics is consistently condemned by the Scriptures. The Bible requires assent to patriarchal paradigms.

It may be concluded, then, that this is the fundamental basis of Petitioner's inability to support the Constitution: He does not support the entire concept of a State. "All things" necessary for a Godly social order are in the Bible.[25]

Petitioner's religious commitment is thus "support" for a rival social order, completely lacking in the political, legal-coercive government structures and liturgies of the Secular Humanist order.[26]

It may seem incredibly "simplistic" for a prospective attorney-at-law to think a society could be ordered only by following the Bible, with no other legally binding and coercively-enforced charters or codes; a naive invitation to chaos. It seems this way to adherents of a rival paradigm.[27] But this "content-based" judgment is a question of faith. This is merely the adverse judgment of one religious perspective against another. Petitioner's religion, on the other hand, holds that it is equally "simplistic" (and immoral) to replace the goal of God's glory with that of the pursuit of materialistic pleasure, to open political offices to the unSpiritual,[28] granting them the power to take wealth by force, imprison resisters, and kill their enemies, then to cloak this violence with monopolistic moral legitimacy, and expect them (and their constituents) not to be immoral, corrupt and destructive. But this, too, is the judgment of one religious perspective against another. To reject an applicant espousing Biblical culture is to establish a rival religion. "Support Oath" cases have generally established one religious judgment over the other.[29]

Petitioner cannot conscientiously support a rival religious faith by taking a Humanistic Test Oath.

Having examined Petitioners religious beliefs, the following are publications which Petitioner has or intends to use to propagate his "anarchist" ideals, to convince others to repudiate political strategies and life-styles. Such publications have been the basis for restriction of First and Fourteenth Amendment liberties,[30] and could be the basis for future action against Petitioner should he take an oath to "support the Constitution."


(1) The phrase is J. Frankfurter's, concurring in American Communications Association CIO v. Douds 399 US 382 at 420, 70 S.Ct. 674 at 695 (1950). See Appendix D, p. 67, text at note 67.  [Back to text]

(2) Jesus (Matthew 5:34) and James (5:12) cautioned against faithless swearing, and many Christians have eschewed all oath-taking. Petitioner does not advance this argument, but here assumes oath-taking to be legitimate; a symbolic or liturgical expression of our allegiance to God and/or a given social order.  [Back to text]

(3) Thus, to "support" a Constitution which does not mandate Trinitarian Support Oaths is to support the delegation of political power -- "the power of the sword" -- to those who are anti-Christian, a concept plainly prohibited to the Christian by Scripture (Exodus 18:21; Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 1:15; Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).  [Back to text]

(4) Leviticus 19:12.  [Back to text]

(5) Leviticus 18:21. See "God versus Moloch," in R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1973, 32-35. ("The modern state is a Moloch, demanding Moloch worship: it claims total jurisdiction over man . . . .")  [Back to text]

(6) Meredith Kline, By Oath Consigned, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976, pp. 13-49.  [Back to text]

(7) Gary North, "Oaths, Covenant, and Contracts," in The Sinai Strategy, Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1986, pp. 51-71; R.J. Rushdoony, "Oath and Treason," in Law and Society, Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1982, pp. 497-501.  [Back to text]

(8) See The Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 22, "Of lawful Oaths and Vows," and The Larger Catechism, qq. 108, 113. On the legal-social significance of oaths, see the essays by R.J. Rushdoony in The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1973): "The Oath and Society," pp. 111-115; "Swearing and Worship," pp. 115-120; "The Oath and Authority," pp. 120-124; and in Law and Society (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1982): "Oath and Treason," pp. 497-501; "Treason and Religion," pp. 502-505; "Treason as a Breach of Faith," pp. 510-13; "Oath and Covenant," pp. 522-525.  [Back to text]

(9) An "anarchistic" symbol of re-admission to the Garden of Eden. Contra is U.S. ex rel Turner v. Williams, 194 U.S. 279, at 294, 24 S.Ct. 719 at 724 (1904), see below, Appendix F, p. 77, text at note 14. But see David Chilton, Paradise Restored, Tyler, TX: Reconstruction Press, 1985, pp. 30-32, 214 ("The River of Life does not flow out from the doors of the chambers of Congresses and Parliaments."). Cf. also, John Milton, Paradise Lost, 4:223ff. ("Southward through Eden went a river large,/Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill/Passed underneath engulfed, for God had thrown/That mountain as his garden-mould high raised....")  [Back to text]

(10) Psalm 24:3-4, emphasis added.  [Back to text]

(11) Exodus 1:17-21 (licensed professionals, commanded by the State to kill the Hebrew children, obeyed a higher law.)  [Back to text]

(12) Revelation 13:15 (Christians refused to support the State, and suffered martyrdom as a result.) See below, note 14.  [Back to text]

(13) This conflict has been basic to a sizable percentage of all cases involving the Support Oath. For analysis, see Appendix E.  [Back to text]

(14) While recognizing the existence of the conflict, the Court in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette may have failed to see the significance of the Early Church's resistance:

Early Christians were frequently persecuted for their refusal to participate in ceremonies before the statue of the emperor or other symbol of imperial authority. The story of William Tell's sentence to shoot an apple off his son's head for refusal to salute a bailiffs' hat is an ancient one. 21 Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Ed., 911, 912. The Quakers, William Penn included, suffered punishment rather than uncover their heads in deference to any civil authority. Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism (1912) 200, 229-230, 232, 233, 447, 451; Fox, Quakers Courageous (1941) 113.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 319 U.S. 624 at 633n.13, 63 S.Ct. 1178 at 1183n.13, 87 L.Ed 1628 (1941)

The conflict in the "Support Oath" cases is over theology and ideology, not just symbols and rituals. Each side claims comprehensive legal and moral sovereignty. As for the Early Christians, Caesar claimed the power to license all conquered faiths; Christians claimed that Christ was over Caesar. See R.J. Rushdoony, "Religious Liberty Versus Religious Toleration," 3 Christianity & Civilization 32-37 (1983).  [Back to text]

(15) R.J. Rushdoony, "Introduction," in Herman Dooyeweerd, The Christian Idea of the State, Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1975, p. viii.  [Back to text]

(16) Petitioner's view of the Bible is expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), Chap. I, "Of the Holy Scripture." This view of the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God is the anti-parallel of the modern "vox Populi, vox Dei" concept of the infallible word of man: R.J. Rushdoony, Infallibility: An Inescapable Concept, Vallecito: Ross House, 1978. A "Biblicistic" method of applying the Word of God to ethics is briefly surveyed in John M. Frame, Perspectives on the Word of God: An Introduction to Ethics, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1990.  [Back to text]

(17) Matthew 12:30. ("He who is not with Me is against Me.") The scope of Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law, above, note 8, indicates that no area of life is a "neutral zone" which need not be subjected to the jurisdiction of God's Law.  [Back to text]

(18) Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 4:12.  [Back to text]

(19) As well as the other religions listed by the Court in Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 at 495 n.11, 81 S.Ct. 1680 at 1684 n.11 (1961).  [Back to text]

(20) See R.J. Rushdoony, "Oath and Treason," above, note 8, and "Can we Legislate Morality?" in Law and Liberty, Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1974. See also The Foundations of Social Order, Phila: Presbyterian & Reformed Pub. Co., 1968, pp. 219-22. Compare the Christian perspective in Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism, Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989.  [Back to text]

(21) The notion that the Biblical concept of Agrarian Patriarchy is in some way the root evil which has brought forth an urban, male-dominated fascist State which "oppresses" women is ably refuted in Barbara J. Berg, The Remembered Gate: Origins of American Feminism/The Woman and the City, 1800-1860, New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. On the psycho-sexual superiority of women and destructive male aggressiveness as a consequence of the rejection of monogamy/Patriarchy, see George Gilder, Men and Marriage, Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub. Co., 1987, or Sexual Suicide, NY: New York Times Book Co., 1973.  [Back to text]

(22) Romans 13:1-7; Matthew 5:39-41.  [Back to text]

(23) Cain: Genesis 4:17; Lamech: Genesis 4:23-24; Nimrod: Genesis 10:8-12; Babel: Genesis 11:1-9; Israel: 1 Samuel 8; Christ's disciples: Mark 10:42-45.  [Back to text]

(24) Even the quasi-Theocratic state constitutions which were repudiated by the present Constitution fall to this criticism; Petitioner cannot support even these codes. Why not take the "Body of Liberties" (the Massachusetts Statute Book), eliminate all the human laws, and simply publish the marginal references? But then, how do we know that this particular compendium contains "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3)? Why not just publish the Bible?  [Back to text]

(25) It should be noted that there is no conflict between Petitioner's belief in the Political and Sociological Sufficiency of Scripture and the second part of the Attorney's Oath, which affirms commitment to respect the laws of the courts; Scripture itself requires obedience to these human procedural regulations (1 Peter 2:13: Romans 13:1-7; but see Acts 5:29, and cf. below, p. 69, text at note 6).  [Back to text]

(26) The Bible sets before us a rival agenda. An ideological, utopian agenda. Political lobbying, campaigning, balloteering, litigating, and amendment-making are not part of this agenda. Philosophically, Petitioner can be said to be "against" the Constitution, since Petitioner supports the rival, mutually exclusive agenda of the Bible. But practically Petitioner is utterly unconcerned to do anything about it. His agenda is Christian Reconstruction, not Humanist deconstruction.
A prosperous and peaceful Family-centered Christian social order is the fruit of Godly obedience in the home, not political posturing in the House.  [Back to text]

(27) Although even this is devolving into a "denominational rift" within Secular Humanism; many Humanists now question faith in any coercive political apparatus to generate or preserve law and order: see generally, Robert C. Ellickson, Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991; Bruce L. Benson, The Enterprise of Law, San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1990; Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1991 (3rd ed.); David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, La Salle: Open Court, 1989 (2nd ed.); William Tucker, Vigilante: The Backlash Against Crime in America, New York: Stein and Day, 1985; Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Market for Liberty, New York: Laissez Faire Books, 1984; Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty, New York: Collier Books, 1978; J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, eds., Anarchism (Nomos XIX, Yearbook of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy), NY: New York University Press, 1978; J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, eds., Voluntary Associations (Nomos XI, Yearbook of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy), NY: Atherton Press, 1969; Jerold S. Auerbach, Justice Without Law? Resolving Disputes Without Lawyers, Oxford Univ. Press, 1983.  [Back to text]

(28) As John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, phrased it, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." (Henry P. Johnston, ed., The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, New York: Burt Franklin, 1970, 4:393 [October 12, 1816]).  [Back to text]

(29) See, below, Appendix F.  [Back to text]

(30) See In re Saralieff, above, p. 13, and U.S. v. Schwimmer, p. 16.  [Back to text]

Additional Notes [not filed]

Jacques Ellul, professor of law at Bordeaux, France, has concluded:

In its origin law is religious. This is confirmed by almost all sociological findings. Law is the expression of the will of a god; it is formulated by the priest; it is given religious sanction; it is accompanied by magic ritual. Reciprocally, religious precepts are presented in judicial garb. The relationship with the god is established by man in the form of a contract. The priest guarantees religion with the occult authority of law.

The Theological Foundation of Law, p. 18, quoted in John W. Whitehead, The Second American Revolution, Elgin, IL: David C. Cook, 1982, p. 111. [not filed]  [Back to text]

The Catholic Worker Movement was founded on these ideals.

As propounded by the prominent English Catholics Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Eric Gill, and Father Vincent McNabb, distributism was one of the anti-capitalist, anti-industrialist, and anti-statist doctrines that flourished everywhere in the [nineteen-]thirties. Instead of the "corrupt" modern order, distributists favored a decentralized economy of property-owning artisans, farmers, and shopkeepers. Since these notions accorded well with [Catholic Worker founder] Peter Maurin's romantic "Green Revolution," distributism found a place in early Catholic Worker propaganda. [T]he English movement was essential in pointing [Dorothy] Day and others toward what became enduring concerns of the group: the spiritual nature of work, the oppressively large scale of modern society, the necessary connection of property and responsibility, and the quality of everyday life.

Mel Piehl, Breaking Bread: The Catholic Worker and the Origin of Catholic Radicalism in America, Phila.: Temple University Press, 1982. [not filed]  [Back to text]

Many examples could be given. Ironically, those who are least likely to call themselves "Biblicists" are most likely to agree that the social character of the Bible is "primitive" and "backward."

The Jews were prohibited by the law from taking usury or interest on money lent to their brethren, but not on what was lent to strangers; that is, foreigners of other countries, (Deut. xxiii.20.) The manifest design of this prohibition was, to promote humane and fraternal sentiments in the bosoms of the Israelites toward each other. A more remote end seems also to have been aimed at, viz., to check the formation of a commercial character among the Jews, and to confine them as much as possible to those agricultural and private pursuits, which would seclude them from intercourse with the surrounding nations, as it was not very likely that a practice of this nature would be extended much among foreigners which was prohibited at home."

Walford's New Translation of the Book of Psalms, in John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, at Psalm 15:5, Anderson, ed., 1845. [not filed]  [Back to text]