Friday, July 31, 2009
The Rutherford Institute: Speaking Truth to Power
I became a member of the Rutherford Institute today. As I watch where our society and nation is going, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the loss of traditional civil Liberties in which both of the prominent political parties have been complicent. While our government is not explicitly Christian, our society and culture traditionally were Christian and this influenced politics in many good ways. I thought about this because of our church calendars recent commemorations of William Wilberforce, JS Bach, and Jane Austen. With the efforts to remove all religious references from public education, how can one really understand Wilberforce's tireless effort to end slavery, or Bach's music? What would a Muslim Jane Austen write? A true and lively faith informs all we do and touch.
Conversely, I am not comfortable with a church that associates too closely with the political power structure. The result of such alliances tend to corrupt the church, and the historical evidence for this can be seen from Tsarist Russia to the current timidity among some British Anglican leadership. The late historian Page Smith believed that it was a duty of the church to be the critic of society, especially a free capitalist one. That duty becomes difficult when the church is in the inner circle.
The Rutherford Institute is names after Rev. Samuel Rutherford, author of Lex Rex, one of the great landmark treatises in favor of human equality before the law. Rutherford was not a modern advocate of religious liberty (The concept of the freedom to be wrong had not been born yet). However, he realized the threat of tyranny in a government with unlimited powers, because he understood human nature.
"all kings, since the fall of the father, king Adam, are inclined to sin and
injustice, and so had need to be guided by a law, even because they are
kings, so they remain men. Omnipotency in one that can sin is a cursed
I spent a little time checking out the Rutherford Institute. While it is a specifically Christian organization, it has fought for the right of Muslim prisoners in the US to have access to religious material. Unlike the militantly secularist ACLU (Which seems to want freedom from religion) Rutherford has protected individual religious expression in public settings. The organization seem to have a consistent approach to Civil Liberties, including the lives of the unborn, concerns about the Patriot act,and Real ID. While not specifically a second amendment organization, I read enough of their material to believe they understand its proper role.
Supporting Membership starts with a modest $22. I would encourage others to learn about Rutherford and their work.