July 31, 2015

Romans 13 and Constitutional Democratic Republics

Abstract from "The Nationalist Assault on Japan's Local Peace Museums" at JapanFocus.org

In April 2015, Peace Osaka, a publicly-funded museum famous for its hard-hitting exhibits about Japan’s wars of the 1930s and 1940s, reopened after a “renewal”. In the new exhibits, discussion of Japanese aggression and atrocities has been completely removed and the stance of the museum has changed from progressive to conservative. Based on a photographic record of the pre- and post-“renewal” exhibits, this essay discusses in what ways and why Peace Osaka has changed under three headings: physical conversion, mission conversion and ideological conversion. The process of conversion started with nationalist campaigns to revise and undermine the exhibits during the 1990s and was ultimately realized under conservative local governments in the 2010s. The conversion is not simply a sign of the recent “shift to the right” in Japanese politics under the administration of Abe Shinz┼Ź. Instead, it reveals a longer-term issue of nationalist assaults on the narratives in local peace museums and the vulnerabilities of progressive official narratives.

From Wikipedia:

ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
(2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Romans 13:1-4 From BibleGateway.com:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

We live in an age where in "modern" countries the people control the government instead of the government controlling them, at least in theory. According to their respective Constitutions, in both the United States and Japan the people are sovereign and the government exists to serve the people. Both countries are intended to be Constitutional Democratic Republics. The people elect the government and those who serve in government represent the interests, desires, and aspirations of the people who elected them. The supreme law of the land is the Constitution and the primary purpose of the Constitution is to limit the ability of government to violate the will of the people. In short, at least in theory, in both the United States and Japan, the real governing authority is the people themselves, not the people who serve in government. The first Constitutional Republic was Great Britain. The first Constitutional Democratic Republic was post-revolution France. The United States became a "Constitutional Democratic Republic" instead of a simple "Constitutional Republic" with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. This amendment removed the power of the individual states to appoint senators and by doing so, removed the last impediment to direct citizen control over the federal government. At least in theory, ever since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment both the legislative and administrative branches of the federal government serve solely at the discretion of the people who elected them. So, in summary, if you are an American or Japanese citizen then for all legal and practical purposes, you are the "governing authority" described in Romans 13, and not the representatives elected to serve in your respective national government.

Unfortunately, ever since 9/11 the dynamics of international diplomacy have dramatically shifted. The "War on Terror" has directly resulted in citizens of many modern Constitutional Republics, including both the United States and Japan, surrendering more and more of their sovereignty to the people elected to represent them. In both countries we now find ourselves at a dangerous tipping point. With very little effort, either the United States or Japan could easily slip into a highly aggressive, ultranationalistic military dictatorship. From the local level to the national, more and more zealous patriots are being elected to government and some of these "patriots" carry the same ideas as the leaders who brought the United States into the Civil War and brought Japan into World War Two. This is a very dangerous time in both countries. Now more than ever, the people must be extremely vigilant and must demand, not request, flat-out demand honesty and accountability from their elected representatives. If the people of either nation decline to participate in national politics, become too distracted to make educated votes for public officials, or simply refuse to care about the comings and goings of their elected officials, then at some point they will find their respective Constitutions either suspended by national decree or simply ignored by national politicians. If that happens, then overnight we will find ourselves in an entirely different and extremely dangerous New World Order.

There are many reasons why it is important for Japan and the United States to take the lead in battling terrorism. By combining their economic authority and supporting it with American military power, there is no coalition of nations that could possibly stand against complete global domination. Not Russia, not China, not France, not Great Britain, not even an alliance of these four with support from all the lesser nations of the world could possibly oppose an Japanese-American military and economic alliance that dedicated itself to world domination. The sole limit on the dreams of global power held by many in both American and Japanese politics today is their reliance on the votes of their people in order to retain power. You and I, voting for people who truly represent our personal vision of the future direction of our world, is still the final authority on that direction. We are in danger of losing that control. Deception, trickery, misdirection, and even the flood of entertainments available to us, threaten to blind us to the backroom political deals being made that lead irrevocably to the destruction of national Constitutions which preserve the true sovereignty of the nation in the hands of the people. This is the real problem with Prime Minister Abe's drive to "reinterpret" Article 9, as well as President Obama's relentless drive to "reinterpret" the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments. By changing the meaning of the law of the land, they are seeking to remove the control of the people and take that control for themselves or for those who come after them. Both leaders seek to distract their people from their true intentions through creative misdirection and in some cases, outright lying.

Japanese peace organizations and American civil rights organizations have become "useful idiots" in this debate. By allowing the national debate over creative reinterpretation of national Constitutions to revolve around racism, war, and fear rather than the intent of those who wrote these Constitutions, they encourage creative reinterpretation to continue, power to coalesce around the national leader, and sovereignty to be stolen from the people. There is no national organization in either country that is now dedicated to preserving the power of the people over their leaders. There are national organizations dedicated to bringing peace, to countering bigotry, to fighting excesses of big business, to limiting police authority, and in America, to preserving citizen armament, but there is no national organization in either country dedicated to preserving the power of the people. Communist and socialist groups in both countries claim they are fighting "for the people", but the actual policy statements and actions of both groups clearly demonstrate that they are solely concerned with insuring that their chosen elites replace both the sovereignty of the people and the people currently serving as the people's representatives.

Sooner or later, much to the distaste of atheists and other non-believers, every political debate comes down to each of us individually choosing who we will serve. Either we serve heaven by voting for and supporting people who demand the sovereign power of the nation rest in the hands of the people through government transparency and honesty, or we serve hell by voting for and supporting people who promise to keep us fed, keep us safe, and solve all our worries if we just turn a blind eye to the means they are using to achieve their utopian vision for our future. "Fresh interpretation" of our respective national Constitutions is just another way for them to justify ignoring the Constitutions entirely. The moment we allow them to "shine a fresh light" on those laws which restrict their power over us we open the door to their demanding we conform to their interpretation rather than they conforming to the literal words of those laws which protect us from them. If we are to preserve our sovereign power then we must demand compliance with the documents that provide the foundation of our society. Americans must demand the freedoms protected by their Constitution are genuinely protected and the Japanese must demand that if Japan is to have a role in the war on terror then Article 9 must be repealed by the people of Japan. As long as the people of Japan cannot be persuaded to abandon the pacifist stance written into law by Article 9 then the Japanese government must refuse to participate in the war on terror, regardless of any pressure they receive from the American government, the United Nations, or any other group, including groups within Japan that support a more warlike stance.

Romans 13:1-4 demands believers not rebel against governments put in place by God. Under the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Japan, the people are the government and not the people who serve them in official capacity. Do you understand this? You are the "governing authority". Romans 13:1-4 gives your government the responsibility to obey you, and not the reverse. We are not living in a time when governments serve by "divine right". The people serving in Tokyo and Washington are not the representatives of God. Their job is to represent you. The divine right rests in the people, not in their elected representatives. You cannot rebel against yourself. If the time comes that our elected leaders refuse to represent us, then we have a moral obligation to remove them from power; hopefully through peaceful means such as voting them out of office or by protesting their decisions so loudly they cannot ignore us.

The important thought to take away from today's blog post is this: the government exists to serve you. When the government stops serving you, they are in violation of both the Constitution that created our nation and the divine authority given to you by God. You hold the divine right, not the national government. So yes, as a Christian, it is incumbent upon you to demand transparency and honesty from elected officials. Participation in politics while living in a Constitutional Democratic Republic does not violate Romans 13:1-4, it fulfills it.