Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This decision ruled that people of African descent imported into the
United States and held as slaves, or their descendants—whether or not
they were slaves—were not protected by the Constitution and could
never be citizens of the United States. It also held that the United States
Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories.
The Court also ruled that because slaves were not citizens, they could not
sue in court. Lastly, the Court ruled that slaves—as chattel or private property—
could not be taken away from their owners without due process.

The Dred Scott decision (1857) by the US Supreme Court.
The decision was written by the 5th Chief Justice, Roger
Brooke Taney, who was born on this date, 1777.

What can I say? This decision has, I am told, never been formally rescinded by the Court, only dickered with on various parts.

But my comment is directed to the “religious” dimensions of the decision. It is often claimed by various folk that the USA is firmly based (if not consciously founded) on Judeo-Christian principles.

Nonsense. Pure and utter nonsense. This decision clearly establishes that such is clearly not the case. Look at this hymn written c. 1910 by C. Herbert Woolston – a hymn that I sang week by week in my Presbyterian Sunday School:

Jesus calls the children dear,

“Come to me and never fear,

For I love the little children of the world;

I will take you by the hand,

Lead you to the better land,

For I love the little children of the world.

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

All are precious in His sight,

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

So. Let’s be clear. There is very little evidence that the USA is founded on Gospel principles. At least in terms of how we actually behave. I can’t imagine that Jesus would in any way have made such a decision about a human being.

So: what does this say to us?

It says: Live honestly!


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