Oddly, the “J” in ACLJ is not for Jesus

September 23, 2006 | By | 13 Replies More

Although it looks something like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) is a dba for Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc. These two similar acronyms are often on opposite sides of issues, although both claim to be about supporting free speech.

One of the apparent main concerns of ACLJ is making sure that not-for-profit churches can maintain their status while behaving like political action groups: Raising funds to further political agendas and to promote particular candidates.

They openly proselytize for faith-based laws and public actions.

Does this worry anyone else?

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Category: American Culture, Media, Religion

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    It looks like the ACLJ is dedicated to injecting religion into government functions. Another example of a bully (organized religions) trying to play the victim.

    One of the ACJL's big concerns is IRS law causing churches to "risk losing their tax-exempt status if they speak out." The ACLJ site advocates a bill to change this law. The ACLJ naively adds: "This bill won’t result in churches or houses of worship being turned into political machines." Yeah, right.

    Here's another sampling: "Larry from Minnesota asks: If they take the Ten Commandments away from the schools and the judicial system, won’t we have anarchy? Isn’t our judicial system based on the Ten Commandments?" The ACLJ response? "We are certainly arguing that position in courts." Again, yeah, right. That's why the Founding Fathers filled the constitution with commentary on the Ten Commandments. Oh, wait . . . That's not true!

    • Kevin says:

      The founding fathers left England—why??–because they were reforming. The whole point in creating a new government was to break away from the Catholic Church. THE founding fathers who WROTE the constitution were protestant reformers! Why wouldn't they create the constitution and use the 10 commandments as an outline? It was what they all believed in. History proves this—look it up if you disagree with what I have said. Also the 10 commandments are in every court room because they were the 'outline' for the constitution; which some what carries the laws that apply for every citizen in this country. Don't murder…don't lie in court..don't steal..its all in those 10 commandments.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Kevin: The Constitution does not mention murder, lying or stealing. These are primarily state criminal laws. I think you need to read a good history book on the U.S. Constitution. You are speculating (incorrectly) where no speculation is necessary.

    • Kevin says:

      I was not attempting to say that those things were mentioned as is in the constitution I said they were in the ten commandments. I said that they were probably used as an outline, being that the constitution revolves around the fairness of the American people. The Ten Commandments do not fit directly into what the constitution says, generally because the constitution is like the directions in regulating a country. The ten commandments do belong in government though. They were the first laws, and are still used as the modern day ‘main’ laws..like i said murder, lying, stealing. Its all illegal.

  2. Erika Price says:

    Yeesh Erich, that last point sounds unbelievably ridiculous. We have such a bereft moral center that we need a constant reminder of God's no-no list, apparently. Maybe we should have the Constitutional Commandments tattooed on our foreheads at birth?

    Dan also makes a great second point worth noting: many organizations use incredibly misleading names to add an air of legitimacy to their unsavory aims. It makes any kind of public doings- phone banking, fundraising, lobbying, etc- all the more digestable for those who don't know any better.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Personally, I've never understood the argument that social stability requires a Supreme Being to issue absolute moral laws. Situations we find in real life almost never can be solved using simple laws. "Thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not kill" both sound like perfectly sensible moral laws, but what about when they conflict? We saw this last year in the wake of hurricane Katrina: if a hurricane destroys your city and people are dying, is it a sin to steal supplies to save peoples' lives? Or, what about saving the life of a pet? Or, what if someone threatens to kill your children unless you rob a store: is it OK to rob the store? Is it OK to kill the person that is threatening your children?

    For every "absolute" moral law, there are unnumerable exceptions, which basically means that "absolute" moral laws just don't exist. In every case, there is a subjective process of deciding how rigidly the "absolute" moral law should be applied…making the "absolute" moral law one of human, not Godly, judgment.

  4. Christ says:

    "Absolute moral laws just don't exist"

    Are you sure about that, grumpypilgrim? šŸ™‚ If you actually read the Bible you'd learn there is much more than just the ten commandments. Anyway, the New Testament teaches that the law is written in our hearts. You think it's ok for Katrina victims to rob stores for food? That's not what I saw happen on tv. I haven't heard one story of a looter repaying a store owner for stealing/borrowing food so they could survive.

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    To “Christ’s” comment, yes, I have read the Bible. I just don’t pick and choose verses the same way most Christians do: I don’t ignore the embarrassing parts. Like the parts where the Bible advocates stoning people to death or chopping off their limbs for relatively minor offenses.

    As regards the number of commandments, I realize there are more than 600 commandments, though I haven’t done the count myself. Of course, as you say, Jesus supposedly swept them all away, so the count isn’t so important anymore. Obviously, there is a lot more in the Bible than just the ten commandments.

    I can’t speak for what you have seen on television, but that’s not important either. What is important is that many situations do occur here on earth in which the commandments are in conflict — e.g., stealing food to save the starving, killing one human to save another, etc. — so it simply makes no sense to call the commandments “absolute” moral laws. For every “absolute” moral law, there are scores of exceptions, so it really isn’t “absolute” after all. Furthermore, the Bible gives precious little guidance about how to weigh one commandment against another — no doubt a consequence of God mistakenly believing that his commandments are all absolute and, thus, not realizing the need to explain how to trade one against another.

  6. John says:

    Some things will never make sense to those who are purposely ignorant. It is funny to me how some people, like GrumpyPilgrim, say they read the Bible, But they only does it to find the supposed contradictions. And then when they think they've found one, they do no further research to see if it is indeed a contradiction. You bring up all these verses in the Bible without any understanding of what they really are about or the context in which they are written. One of these days, while you are reading the Bible, the Spirit of God is going to cut through all of your intellectual fluff and get right to your heart.

  7. Jason Rayl says:

    Absolute moral laws do not exist. Morality, however, does. But it's not codifiable or reducible to something static and inflexible as A Law. Morality is a daily process of deciding what to do and making that decision based on an apprehension of what is true and what can make things better. You don't get that with laws, which are only the fossilized attempts at solving a problem which may no longer exist.

  8. grumpypilgrim says:

    I have two responses to John's assertion that I "bring up all these verses in the Bible without any understanding of what they really are about or the context in which they are written." First, I'm simply reading God's Word as written, and drawing logical and reasonable conclusions therefrom. If God cannot bother himself to communicate clearly, then it is hardly my fault. In other words, I flat reject the argument that only Believers are qualified to interpret the Bible and that whatever a non-Believer says about it is invalid.

    Second, anyone who thinks that I take Bible verses out of context should listen to a preacher sometime. At least I focus on one or two verses at a time. Preachers will pull verses from three, four, or more, totally different places in the Bible, and plaster them together — usually with a big helping of assumptions that are found nowhere in the Bible — to create whatever fanciful story they wish. One will 'prove' that people who don't get to heaven will burn forever in a lake of fire, another will 'prove' that those same people will not. Thus, the only reason to believe that I am less intellectually honest than preachers is that the Church has had 2000 years to hone its stories. And anyone who argues that one must be 'touched by the Holy Spirit' to read the plain and unambiguous text of the Bible is the most intellectually dishonest of all.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    John, John, John. Are you really saying that there are no contradictions in the Bible? Here are 377 of them for starters, all of them listed in the Skeptics Annotated Bible. This is your first homework assignment from me. Just double-check their work.  They've listed the contradictory scriptural passages side-by-side.  To get around some of these, I'm convinced you'll have to find that "not" means "not not."  When you're done this first batch, I've got more Bible contradictions for you to work on.

    If you think these Bible passages aren't contradictions, check out the contradictions they've also found in the Koran.  I believe that you'll find that these Koran passages do, indeed, contradict one another. If you agree that the Koran contradictions are actually contradictions, please note that the authors of the SAB used the same methodology in finding contradictions in both the Koran and the Bible. That methodology goes something like this: read a passage and discern its plain meaning. Check to see whether that plain meaning contradicts any other passages in the same holy book. It's that simple.

    Before you begin this homework assignment, I'd suggest that you take a deep breath and try to convince yourself that there isn't any such thing as privileged knowledge (things we know regardless of the evidence). And be careful not to view these "homework" passages through the lens of fear. Truth before fear, John. Try it. It will set you free. With practice, you will be able to see love where there really is love. You'll learn to see truth only where there is truth. You too can learn to follow evidence where it leads, but that is not always where that deep trembling part of you wants it to lead. You can still believe in a poetic sense of wonder, mystery and humility and you can label those things "God."  I'm sure that this wouldn't offend any of the authors on this blog.

    Try these as warm-up exercises. Start with virgin birth.  Babies just don't happen without sex in my experience.  Here's a second warm-up: the Gospels have two contradictory geneologies leading up to Jesus. They can't both be true, right?  And third, consider the two contradictory versions of creation right out of the gate in Genesis.  I certainly can't resolve this conflict.  Maybe one version of creation was written by God the Father and the other by the Holy Spirit.  Maybe that's why they conflict. 

    If, after doing this homework, you conclude (as I do) that the Bible is full of contradictions, you can still live like a decent human being. You can still exert meaningful choices in your life.  You can respect other people.  You can still find meaning in helping the many people who need you. You can revel in the many things that scientists have figured out, as well as those many things that still stump scientists.

    Even if you find that the Bible is full of contradictions, the sky won't come falling down. The earth won't open up and swallow you.  Your close friends who are fundamentalists might start calling you immoral (even when you are working hard to be a good and decent person) and this will cause you to be puzzled and even angry.  You might start wondering why proudly self-ignorant people can go around being so arrogant and off-base.

    Please do consider, with an open mind, whether the Bible is a book of many contradictions.  Give it a try for even a week, if you dare. If your God is really such a loving Fellow, what's the risk?

  10. Kevin says:

    besides, your first comment was talking about schools and the judicial system, not the constitution. If that is what you are talking about why bring up the constitution? The first amendment clearly states the freedom of speech. And why would someone want to take the 10 commandments out of the court room? Thats like saying the tile of the court room is ugly, just ignore it if you dont like it.

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