While it is quite common for Religious Right leaders to root their public policy positions in Biblical teachings, they generally refrain from citing chapter and verse as the literal framework for our laws and regulations. But twice in the last week, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association had done just that.
He started out by blaming the death of a trainer at Sea World on the fact that the Bible is too often ignored:
If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.
Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)
So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn’t know the animal was going to go postal on somebody.
But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)
And today he is back, making “The Biblical Case For the Death Penalty” which consists of several Biblical citations aimed at making the case that God supports the death penalty … but it also contains this remarkable passage declaring that our criminal justice system ought to operate on “biblical standards of evidence”:
There is still no evidence that an innocent man has ever been executed in the U.S. But one of the reasons we occasionally find the innocent convicted of other crimes is that we have abandoned biblical standards of evidence. In Israel’s civil code, no one could be executed based on circumstantial evidence, or on the evidence of just one witness.
“On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness” (Deuteronomy 17:6). Ignoring this standard of evidence is how innocent people wind up convicted for crimes they did not commit. It goes without saying that capital cases should require that the highest standards of evidence be met.
Given that Fischer believes our laws ought to literally be based upon the rules set down in the Bible, it raises some questions about this series of posts he wrote a few weeks back about how “homosexual behavior” should be against the law.
Considering that Fischer explicitly advocates the idea that our current laws ought to be built upon Old Testament rules and regulations and thinks that gays ought to be punished for their “criminal sexual conduct,” it is not unreasonable to wonder if he would support efforts to make our legal code conform to Leviticus 20:13. And if not, why?
Presumably, Fischer would stand by his claim that when he says it should be illegal, he merely believes that gays should be treated exactly the same as intravenous drug abusers (whatever that means) … but that seems rather inconsistent. After all, if Fischer thinks that our laws regarding issues like animals and standards of evidence should conform to Biblical dictates, then why not our laws regarding gays?