Your article "Consenting Adults" (March/April) has nothing to do with the separation of church and state. These moral issues come under the rightful domain of civil law.
If a place such as the sex club referred to in this piece is a legal business, its existence makes socially destructive behavior appear common and thereby educates the minds of children and young adults that this is acceptable, normal behavior. This is a matter for civil authorities.
Your publication of this article was in exceptionally bad taste and needlessly puts you in conflict with the Religious Right. Could you please stick to articles on church and state?
LAURENCE M. WOODHAMS
I do not expect a publication of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to know everything about the Catholic faith, but I was surprised that "Consenting Adults" showed such a complete lack of knowledge about what we believe.
It is easy for your "Suzy" and "George" to declare themselves Catholic, but that does not mean they actually are. Every Catholic knows that it is a sin to have lust for someone. Your article is deceptive because it fails to state what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Lusting and promoting lust are grave sins. The couple in your article is unquestionably living outside the Church. They used Liberty to promote their sexual cause, and they used the Catholic Church to do the same. Their beliefs may qualify them as self-excommunicated.
GEORGE A. MORTON, Editor
The Parish Visitor
Monroe, New York
It is hard to believe that well-meaning individuals like Richard John Neuhaus, Charles Colson, and Pat Robertson are able to claim with the utmost certainty that the only laws which judges should strike down are those that clearly violate the original meaning of the Constitution ("The End of Democracy?" March/April). This has also been echoed as the doctrine of "original intent" by rejected candidate for the Supreme Court Robert Bork and former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese.
It does not seem that one of the framers of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, would advocate that judges interpret what the original intent might be in all cases when he said, "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times."
Former chief justice John Marshall (1801-1835) described the U.S. Constitution as " . . . a constitution, intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crisis of human affairs."
Retired Supreme Court justice William J. Brennan gives perhaps the best refutation of the original intent in an October 12, 1985, speech at Georgetown University. He said, "There are those who find legitimacy in fidelity to what they call 'the intentions of the Framers.' In its most doctrinaire incarnation, this view demands that justices discern exactly what the Framers thought about the question under consideration and simply follow that intention in resolving the case before them.
"It is a view that feigns self-effacing deference to the specific judgment of those who forged our original social compact. But in truth it is little more than arrogance cloaked as humility. It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage we can gauge accurately the intent of the Framers on application of principle to specific, contemporary questions. All too often, sources of potential enlightenment such as records of the ratification debates provide sparse or ambiguous evidence of the original intention.
"Typically, all that can be gleaned is that the Framers themselves did not agree about the application or meaning of particular constitutional provisions, and hid their differences in cloaks of generality. Indeed, it is far from clear whose intention is relevant - that of the drafters, the congressional disputants, or the ratifiers in the states? - or even whether the idea of an original intention is a coherent way of thinking about a jointly drafted document drawing its authority from a general assent of the states. And apart from the problematic nature of the sources, our distance of two centuries cannot but work as a prism refracting all we perceive."
Bibles in a Box
The attempt of the school board in Upshur County, West Virginia ("Help Yourselves," September/ October 1996), to allow the distribution of Bibles in the public schools but to avoid the necessity of having to allow "offensive materials" such as Satanic literature to be distributed on an equal basis is patently unconstitutional. Their proposed solution is a clause limiting permissible materials only to those "sponsored by local businesses." However, this strategy clearly favors some religions over others, and is exactly the sort of "religious gerrymandering" the Supreme Court struck down in Larson v. Valente in 1982. In Larson, the state of Minnesota made a distinction between religious groups which received half their revenues from their own membership, and those that did not. The Court found that any law which favored one religion (or type of religion) over another triggered strict scrutiny, and could pass muster only if the state could show that it was narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government interest. The same reasoning would apply to Upshur County. In this case, the law favors religious organizations that are able to get support from local businesses. It is hard to imagine that the school board could make a convincing argument that their rule fulfills a compelling government interest.
DENA S. DAVIS, Professor
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Better Late Than Never
Recently I read an article in the May/June 1979 Liberty about the Illuminati, and I wanted to rectify a thing or two written therein.
First, about the group itself. The Illuminati was not the first group to bear such a name as this. The first one(s) to be called "the Enlightened Ones," as galling as it will be for you to hear this, were the Alumbrados in Spain in the sixteenth century. These pseudo-mystics gave rise to a similar movement in France in 1623: the Illumines. These groups combined Gnosticism with the heretical rationalism of the Enlightenment of the time. It was this which gave rise to the Illuminati.
Second, the existence of the Illuminati. While the Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt's time may no longer exist, that does not mean that they do not still live. They may not be named as such, and they may be divided into a number of different sects, but the Illuminati do live. And that means however much you and your writers may want and wish it otherwise, they are still very pernicious, devious, and dangerous.
A CATHOLIC-AMERICAN CHRISTIAN
San Diego, California
[Sorry. In 1979 I was a new college grad backpacking around Europe.-Editor.]
A Beacon of Truth and Justice
I first discovered Liberty in a laundromat in Homer, Alaska. Immediately, I was struck by the frank, brutal honesty of your publication and the broad scope of your concern. I subscribed at once, and over the years I have come to rely on your magazine for a concept of religion and government that was both foreign to my experience and attractive as it fulfilled my desires for truth and justice. The fact that your values are so obviously those of Jesus Christ has only added to the allure.
Your magazine has had a lot to do with shaping my consciousness and I am very grateful. Thank You.
Rev. TOM BROWN