In reading Richard Carrier’s excellent chapter in John Loftus’ superb Christianity is not Great in which I have a chapter myself, there is much to glean concerning matters of democracy and the American Constitution in the context of the Bible and religion.
It is funny how so many libertarians/right-leaners and political commentators in the US are fans of both religion and freedom of speech. Freedom of speech seems to be something which, though actually complex and problematic, is intuitively argued for by many who also favour free market economics and general human liberties. Often, in America, these same people are also religious (this is a somewhat hasty generalisation, but you get the point).
The problem is, the Bible doesn’t favour freedom of speech. And before Christians claim that the Old Testament is replaced by the New (and that, magically, all divine decrees in the OT are suddenly defunct and meaningless to anyone outside of that relative context), remember that Jesus, in the NT, stated that he would fulfil every “jot and tittle” of the Law.
Leviticus 24 tells us:
The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)12 They put him in custody so that the command of the Lord might be made clear to them.
13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. 15 You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin. 16 Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
This is fundamentally opposed to the tenets of the Constitution and the freedoms it affords. In other words, those who claim that Moses and the Old Testament are somehow the driving forces behind the US government and Constitution are wrong. Very wrong.
This passage states that anyone saying something untoward (regarding believing in another deity) should be stoned to death. This is not only a curtailment of religious freedom, but of freedom of speech.
Freedom of religion is a big concept for the American Constitution too. But, again, the Bible is not friendly to its tenets. Deuteronomy 12-13:
“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth…. Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God…. Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it….
If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt…
Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.
If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known), then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt.”
In what way could the Constitution possibly be based on the Bible? It couldn’t be further from the case.