Russell and Duenes

Why Write About Court Decisions?

with 2 comments

“It is clear that, in order to be legitimate, the State’s interest must be secular.” – Justice John Paul Stevens in Planned Parenthood v. Casey

One can hardly fault Justice Stevens for thinking that the government can only act legitimately when it acts on the basis of “secularism” and toward the end of “secularism.” I can’t speak to Justice Stevens’ formative educational influences, but certainly no one can deny today that our public education system operates on the assumption that its interests must be secular. It operates, and no doubt Justice Stevens writes, on the assumption that a “secular interest” provides a kind of theological neutrality. Indeed, Justice Stevens writes that, “consistent with the First Amendment the State may not promote a theological or sectarian interest.” I understand what he’s getting at, and he clearly thinks that “secularism” provides a worldview that promotes no theological or sectarian interest.

So what does this have to do with my writing about court decisions? It seems to me that many of the ideas and doctrines that are promulgated by our country’s judges are borne of and consistent with a government-run educational system in which Jesus can have no role and no say, where not only is he not proclaimed and believed on as Lord, but he is not even acknowledged as being in existence. But our students never have to grapple with the ideas put forth in these decisions, many of which have little to do with legal doctrines and more to do with metaphysics and ethics. These court decisions are the flower of an educational root and branch which asserts in a thousand ways that “secularism” is based on facts, confirmed by “science,” whereas “theological interests” are based on opinions, with no basis in fact, adverse to science. These court decisions are a microcosm of much that is the American cultural worldview and they articulate, better than many others can articulate, the reigning assumptions and paradigms that come from a secular educational system and a secular university system. These decisions come out of law schools in this country that are overwhelmingly secular. Indeed, if one does a Google search under “Christian law schools,” one will see listed Regent University Law School, Trinity Law School, Liberty Law School, a Christian correspondence law school called Oak Brook College of Law, and Baylor University on the first page. You have to get to the second page to get to Pepperdine, and Ave Maria Law School is somewhere in Google oblivion. That’s it! And I wouldn’t even count Baylor and Pepperdine. So we’re talking about the number of law schools being counted on one hand where Jesus is openly acknowledged as Lord, where he is seen as the fountain of all wisdom and knowledge in every arena, where the Bible is esteemed as the one true Word of God.

I wonder what they teach in the pre-law curricula at Christian colleges, at least, at the Christian colleges that have such curricula? A cursory glance at a few Christian schools gave me the impression that pre-law had quite a bit to do with prepping students to take LSATs and apply to schools, rather than teaching them how to substantively engage with current legal thought, and philosophical and theological thought disguised as legal thought. If I don’t go to a special summer program put on by the Alliance Defense Fund, to which many Christian law students do not get admitted, where do I, as the Christian pre-law and law student, go to interact with the ideas that our many American judges are promulgating year after year? Or does it not matter? Should we just think about “getting people saved?”

I think it matters.



Written by Michael Duenes

July 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

2 Responses

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  1. D- I know what you mean, but I think that the end result of any type of educational endevor must be about “getting people saved.” I imagine that if more “Christian” law schools were developed, more people would be saved.

    russell and duenes

    July 19, 2012 at 8:25 pm

  2. Of course. But you and I would both define the endeavor to “get people saved” more broadly than sharing some version of the Four Spiritual Laws. They should and must be shared, but as you point out, will more likely be shared as we expand our understanding and practice of Christian education and Christian vocation.


    russell and duenes

    July 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

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