Thoughts on the Ten-Year Anniversary of Kelo

The tragic Supreme Court Kelo decision was a symptom of a much larger cultural and political and personal problem.

Here is story that is not merely sad, but an example of the great evil enveloping America—a glaring indictment of the failure to love our neighbor seen in certain people’s transformation of civil government into a tool of oppression and plunder, rather than a humble servant of the people.

It was posted by the Daily Signal: “Dreams Demolished: 10 Years After the Government Took Their Homes, All That’s Left Is an Empty Field.”

When the Supreme Court assisted in the theft of land from Susette Kelo and others, it signaled that the memory of America’s birth as the “Great Experiment in Liberty” was on life-support. Rather than bringing order and keeping peace, government had become every bit as rapacious–and moreso–than the British system we threw off in the 18th Century; our taxes are incomparably more onerous to pay, and instead of residing an ocean away our oppressors live amongst us.

Ten years later, Mrs. Kelo’s land remains stolen, and vacant, and our masters in the halls of power have inflicted numerous fatal wounds to liberty: Obamacare, the totally misnamed Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security, the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership, etc., etc.–each one a glaring example of “leaders” willing to use unprecedented deceit and secrecy to implement laws for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many.

We are being ruled, not served.

As much as many don’t want to hear it, this is the sad product of rejecting ultimate reality. It is the inevitable and expected fruit of hearts not willing to bow to Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to consider the good of others even above our own.

[See also, “New Jersey Claims Eminent Domain over Man’s House because They Might Want It for Some Reason.”]

In the Kelo case, we should have reminded our leaders that God’s command “You shall not steal” did not end with the phrase “except by majority vote.” All who stood by and watched this neighbor’s property be seized without passionate protest should be forced to memorize the tragic words of Martin Niemoller:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Failing to stand up for a neighbor who is the victim of injustice hastens the day when injustice will stand with spiked-club in hand on our doorstep. But a people whose only gods are personal peace and comfort will never pay a price to stand up for others… until it’s too late for anyone to stand.

Thought the quote’s origins are in doubt, there is great wisdom in words attributed to George Washington by the great American writer, Upton Sinclair:

“GOVERNMENT is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

A fearful master, indeed. And the only way to tame the beast is for the hearts of those who hold elected office to have been tamed by the love of God. The only hope for a rebirth of liberty is to pray for a rekindling of the great spiritual fire which burned at our founding, when the Bible was our national textbook, and the love of Jesus flooded the land.

In the words of historian Charles Wolfe, America’s beginnings were truly a “Church relocation project”—the Pilgrims made their journey to advance the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to have freedom to worship God as their consciences (and the Bible) dictated.

America was always, and ever will be, an imperfect land—fallen people are incapable of producing perfection. Chattel slavery was a great evil that haunts us to this day. Instead of repenting by setting everyone free, however, it seems as if some believe the answer is to make everyone a slave of the State.

It is hard to deny that the original restraints upon government—what Thomas Jefferson called “the chains of the Constitution”—were a key foundation of liberty that temporarily prevented power from being used as a tool of plunder and oppression. Government is now unchained, and we are all paying a heavy price.

Citizens throughout history—and in virtually every nation today—are resigned to their leaders unjustly stealing from them—it’s what pagan governments do. Have we so suppressed our history and ideals that we’re willing to allow America to become just like all those others?

Without re-embracing the Divine ideals with which we began—and ultimately the Person who embodies those ideals, and enables us to love them—theft and barrenness will not only increasingly be our present, but also our future.

It doesn’t have to be that way.