On our Monday conference calls with the California Governor’s Prayer Team we always ask the Lord to cause our elected and appointed leaders to fall in love with the limitations placed on them in law and constitution. Clearly we have not prayed enough. The lawlessness of government itself becomes more brazen and more frequent with every passing month. It may even be that we need to pray for ordinary citizens to fall in love with the limitations placed on our freedom. By that I mean citizens need to re-discover the price of freedom – which is not just vigilance, but action to maintain and reclaim it.
In local matters a candidate for office in Escondido, California, placed a campaign sign in his own yard and was ordered by officials to remove it. He claimed his right to free speech was violated but liberal and conservative leaders alike told him he must obey the rules of the city even if they were unconstitutional. In the meantime, the music group Live Nation planned a concert in Los Angeles and – after they arranged the venue – were told by city officials they could hold their concert only if it were deemed a “good fit” for the neighborhood in which they would hold it. Since when are Americans required to pass a culture test administered by bureaucrats before we can play music? And where does it say in law or constitution we should obey rules that violate that constitution? Is it not the responsibility of lawmakers to make their laws consistent with the constitution and the responsibility of citizens to defy laws that are not?
The 2010 Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court held that arbitrary limits on campaign contributions by corporations begged the question that corporations are governed and funded by U.S. citizens, covered by the First Amendment. In the follow-up McCutcheon case – decided this year – the Court said restricting citizens to $2600.00 in total campaign contributions – per the McCain-Feingold Act – is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. Yet, that same Court was perfectly comfortable saying a citizen may contribute a maximum $2600.00 each to as many candidates as they like. Can only dissenting Justice Thomas see this is still an unconstitutional restriction of free speech?
Now Californians are denied our right to a referendum on unjust laws – a right enshrined in the California Constitution. The legislature passed AB 1266 in late 2013 – the so-called Bathroom Bill – to mandate boys using girls’ restroom and shower facilities and vice versa. Outraged parents and citizens mounted an effort to place this issue on the November ballot, something we have a right to do in California, and vote it down if they could. When the petition drive began, Secretary of State Debra Bowen falsely claimed the law was in effect during the drive – state law states clearly that it is not. She refused to accept signatures from at least two counties until ordered by a judge to do so. She then asserted the petitions were 130,000 valid signatures short. When Pacific Justice Institute attempted to do an independent count – as is their right under state law – Bowen refused to turn the petitions over because – as she put it – there were privacy concerns for the signers of the petitions.
The Institute sued in state court and the judge ignored the law to find in favor of the secretary of state. Left unanswered is the question of how a person signing a political petition – the very essence of public speech – retains a right to privacy, especially when the people wishing to review the signatures are the very people the signers are attempting to help. But a more important question is answered by implication. Citizens do have a responsibility – an obligation – to assert our right to live under law rather than under the whims of powerful men and women. When government consistently denies us that right we have an obligation to rise up – non-violently – and deny government. We need to deny government in such a creative way that our political NO becomes a cosmic YES. AB 1266 is a case in point.
When this gross invasion of students’ right to bathe and use the toilet unmolested and un-oogled takes effect parents should – on a wholesale basis – keep their kids at home until the law is overturned. Schools depend on your child being in school every day; funding is determined based on average daily attendance (ADA) and thousands of kids staying home hurts budgets. Hopefully it hurts budgets enough that school boards, administrators, and teachers unions will join the clamor for this law’s repeal. But it is not a creative “YES” to merely keep the kids at home.
We homeschooled our children for three years, as do thousands of families in California; it is perfectly legal to do so and nowhere near as time consuming as many seem to think. Homeschooled children tend to do better on achievement tests than their public and private school counterparts; they cut through college entrance exams like butter. They have been demonstrated to experience no loss in terms of socialization. Any parents who want to consider this option can google the Home School Legal Defense Association. However, parents should beware of one thing: Even when the schools bow to the pressure and stop using our children as social science lab animals, those parents who began to homeschool during this period may find they and their kids like it so much they won’t be going back.
Jesus says He came to set the captives free. But He never said freedom was free. He told the man in Mark 2 to rise and walk, not be lifted up and floated away, after healing him of his paralysis. He says the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force in Matthew 11 – not the force of violence but of the rising assumption of responsibility. That is falling in love with our limitations as citizens.
Photo Credit: Win McNamee (Getty Images)