Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
But after all of that, the thing that most bothered me, and moved me from merely being disappointed in the book at actually offended by it, is a 20 page story arc, which he mounts a slanderous attack against the First Amendment (which he conveniently only refers to as “the separation of Church & State”). In the novel, we have a person, (whom we are lead to believe is literally the devil incarnate), brings suit against Congress (based on the dreaded “separation of Church & State”), and having the Supreme Court agree with him. What really bothered me was that most of the people in the book club discussion group seem to thinks he was right–that events would happen that way, citing the Pledge of Allegiance case, as it was the “same thing”. In actuality, it’s quite different, and the best the folks in the book could hope for is finding a judge courteous enough to not laugh in their faces as he dismissed the complaint.
The details of the storyline go like this. Since the renewal project of going so well, Joshua is asked to speak before Congress about his ideas. The devil-person files a complaint, charging that Joshua is Jesus Christ, and therefore, allowing him to speak before Congress would violate “the separation of Church & State”. So, what’s wrong here? Oh, let me count the ways…. First off, let us not forget that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. So, Satan, in his brief, would have had to offer proof that a) there is a God, b) That He has a Son, c) that Son came down to Earth in the form of the human known as Jesus Christ, and, most importantly, d) that the person known a Joshua is the same person as Jesus Christ. That’s going to be a rather thick brief, as people have been trying to prove those things for 2000 years. OK, so let’s just say the judge was drunk, and let the case proceed, without that proof. Here’s the defense’s response: “By all accounts, the man known as Jesus Christ lived and died 2000 years ago. It is physically impossible for a person who died 2000 year ago to be live now; therefore Joshua and Jesus Christ are different people”. And therefore Joshua would be allowed to speak. OkOk… Let’s say the judge was really, really drunk, and agreed with the plaintiff anyway, and accepted as fact that Joshua was Jesus Christ - That still would not be enough to disallow Joshua from speaking.
You see, why would it? Clerics of all religions speak before Congress all the time, with no Constitution problem. In fact, treating them differently because they were clerics would in itself be a violation of the First Amendment. To understand the problem, you must hear Girzone justification: “It could not be legally justified for Jesus Christ to be invited to speak in Congress…as His presence and the force of His person could have undue and unjustified influence over the decision-making responsibilities “. The implications are clear: Congress would want to follow the Word of God, but the Constitution is forcing them to ignore good advice and listen only to the devil. In other words, the Constitution is not only stupid, but silly and actually evil. This slander shows not only a complete misunderstanding of the Constitution, but also disconnect with the whole concept of tolerance of others’ beliefs.
The key here is the word “beliefs”. The idea that there is a God and that his Son came to earth are Beliefs. And it doesn’t matter what I believe, what you believe, what the judges believe, or what the Congressmen believe. What matters is that people have the right not to believe it if they choose. But, the thing of it here, all of Girzone’s arguments are based on the premise that the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is a proven fact. Therein lays the rub. The Constitution requires me to make allowances for you not to accept my beliefs, but it does not require accommodating people who don’t accept proven facts. In other words, either the idea the Joshua is the Son of God is a belief, in which case, Congress could choose not to believe it (and Joshua could speak), or it’s a proven fact, in which case, not only would Joshua be allowed to speak, but Congress would be obligated to listen to him as the best advice available. The only situation where Joshua would not be allowed to speak is if he had claimed he was the Son of God (while offering no prove), and for that reason by itself he was asked to speak before Congress, for that would be the government declaring that it’s official position is that this person is God — which would be the same as establishing a religion. (Remember that in the book, he was asked to speak based on his views about urban renewal - the fact that he may or may not be God is irrelevant to that)