The Religious Motive Behind Rand Paul’s Filibuster
Paul Leaves the Floor, Refuses to Yield Values
As the thirteen-hour filibuster ended, Rand Paul left the floor to a roar of applause. He took the floor alone, but now the entire twittersphere and even the Republican leadership joined his crusade against the Obama administration’s drone policy. In one day’s time he has reached the name recognition of his father for standing for the same sort of issues. Again, like his father, he has forced the Republican establishment to join him as cobelligerants for the cause of liberty.
The past three decades of American politics have been blessed with two generations of men who are unafraid to be political game-changers. Ron and Rand are Leaders seemingly incapable of “relinquishing” their values. Rand’s thirteen-hour filibuster is a good tribute to his father’s legacy of refusing to “yield” to politics as usual.
One has to ask what creates such men?
The answer may be a surprise to many. Presbyterianism.
Rand’s Religious Background
The Kentucky Senator is a Presbyterian. Like his father he holds to the Constitutional heritage of our country, a heritage that can be traced directly back to the French Protestant John Calvin. Back in 2010, Rand explained how he was influenced by his religious convictions.
“I’m a Christian. We go to the Presbyterian Church. My wife’s a Deacon there and we’ve gone there ever since we came to town. I see that Christianity and values is the basis of our society… 98% of us won’t murder people, won’t steal, won’t break the law and it helps a society to have that religious underpinning. You still need to have the laws but I think it helps to have a people who believe in law and order and who have a moral compass or a moral basis for their day to day life.”
Even the subject of today’s debate points back to his Presbyterian background, in its emphasis on Biblical Law and prescription of due process. The premise of his argument came straight from Deuteronomy 17:6 “at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” To men like Rand Paul, the law of God is the standard of morality that leaders must adhere to.
What is Presbyterianism?
Charles Hodge defined Presbyterian as,
“1. That the people have a right to a substantive part in the government of the Church.
2. That presbyters, who minister in word and doctrine, are the highest permanent officers of the Church, and all belong to the same order.
3. That the outward and visible Church is, or should be, one, in the sense that a smaller part is subject to a larger, and a larger to the whole. It is not holding one of these principles that makes a man a Presbyterian, but his holding them all.”
But even more, Presbyterianism is the faithful expression of the Biblical faith. It is deeply rooted in Reformation, Medieval, and Patristic history. The origins of Presbyterian thought are through and through Christian, Calvinistic and Augustinian. American Presbyterian Churches can trace their heritage back to the Scottish Reformation and John Knox, who studied under Calvin in Geneva.
The American Revolution: Patrick Henry to Dr. Ron Paul
During America’s Colonial period there were so many Presbyterians in America that the British called the “American Revolution” the “Presbyterian Revolt.” The young nation’s future leaders were Presbyterian, including more than a dozen signers of the Declaration of Independence. America’s craving for liberty was birthed and later realized through the work of men like Patrick Henry. Men who proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Patrick Henry’s father had emigrated from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in the 1720s, settling in Virginia, where Patrick was born in 1736. Their family was under the pastoral care of Samuel Davies, an evangelist and Presbyterian minister, and the fourth president of Princeton University.
Throughout his youth Patrick attended services with his mother at Davies’s Church, where he picked up Davies powerful oration style. Henry himself claimed that Davies had the “most profound influence” on him, and considered him to be the greatest speaker that he had ever heard.
Our generation’s champion for liberty is Dr. Ron Paul. His campaign for liberty has stood against the flood of modern tyranny: from the encroachments of our civil liberties to protecting our earnings from the federal government. Fifty years ago, Ron married his wife Carol in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania at Dormont Presbyterian Church and together they nurtured their children in the love of liberty. Also, Paul’s brother Jerry Paul is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Paul should be credited for having laid part of the groundwork for liberty in modern America.
LEX REX: Rutherford to Rushdoony
The Presbyterian political theory that created Patrick Henry, Ron Paul, and his son was shaped by Samuel Rutherford. In 1644, this Presbyterian produced Lex Rex or The Law and the Prince. Rutherford’s work criticized the “divine right of kings” doctrine and set up Scripture as the standard by which to judge the actions of civil government. Resisting tyrants, he said, is a Scriptural duty. This work was recognized as “laying the ground for rebellion;” His book was burned throughout Europe and Rutherford himself was charged with high treason. Near death Rutherford uttered his famous words, “I have got summons already before a Superior Judge and Judicatory, and I behove to answer to my first summons, and ere your day come, I will be where few kings and great folks come.”
Modern Presbyterians continue to emphasize this view of God as the lawgiver. Few were as vocal about Biblical Law as the foundation of the American Republic than the late R.J. Rushdoony. Continuing Rutherford’s work, he wrote The Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) modelled after John Calvin’s work the Institutes of the Christian Religion. It is also worth noting that the connection between Presbyterian thought and the Paul legacy is more than intellectual. Rushdoony’s son-in-law, Gary North, served as research assistant for Congressman Ron Paul in Paul’s first term (1976).
Rand Paul – The NEW Presbyterian Rebellion
Rand Paul’s stand and his future actions as a senator are part of a new American Revolution- a new Presbyterian Rebellion. Today’s declaration was as clear as the one of Independence that the Presbyterians signed over two-hundred years ago: “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
Providentially, our Lord used the King’s imposition of taxes, the deprivation of trial by jury, and the exciting of domestic insurretions; to awaken the patriots of the 1700’s. In their rebellion they established the most free and prosperous nation known to man. Today, our Lord in raising up men like Rand Paul to be new Patrick Henrys in defense of Christian liberty.
Will you join him?
Steve Macias is on the board of directors for the California Republican Assembly and the executive director of Cherish California’s Children. http://www.cherishca.org
Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.