The Daily Montanan published former Associate Justice of the Montana Supreme Court James C. Nelson’s article “Women are victims of ‘Supreme’ hypocrites,” on June 25, 2022. Nelson’s tactics are straight out of Saul D. Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. He writes, however, under the protective coloring and false flag of a “liberal.” His radical christophobia and hate speech against the Church defames liberalism and liberals for whom he pretends to speak.
The tactics begin immediately in the title where he calls six of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court supreme hypocrites. (Rules 4, ridicule; 5, accusation of hypocrisy; and 13, personalize the target, polarize the target, isolate the target from sympathy). This theme of hypocrisy weaves throughout the article. It climaxes when Nelson says, “in an ultimate display of hypocrisy, Justice Barrett sanctimoniously proclaimed . . .,” which Nelson wrote sanctimoniously.
Nelson claims all Roman Catholic Justices of the Supreme Court are, simply because they are Roman Catholic, disqualified from deciding whether abortion belongs in federal judicial imperialism or in the states and with the people. This applies a negative religious test as a qualification for office though Nelson claims to uphold the U. S. constitutional abolition of such religious tests. This tactic is Rule 6, “A good tactic is one people enjoy.” Anti-Catholic bigotry has a long, varied, ebbing and flowing history in America, and this is another moment when it is fashionable, stylish, and enjoyable in American society.
But Nelson’s phobia extends beyond Roman Catholics to all Christians. Nelson titled another article earlier the same month, “Before add [sic] more religious-based laws, we should clean up the religions,” June 6, 2022. Look at what he is talking about. “We” – whoever that is – “should clean up the religions.”
Who is “we? Who are “the religions?” What does Nelson mean by “clean up?” For “we,” does he mean the Church? Is Nelson now a Bishop? Is he speaking for the Church? Does he mean the State, so that his radical “separation of Church and State” is a one-way separation where the Church must stay out of the State, but the State retains the prerogative of invading the Church to clean it up? If neither, then who, pray tell, is this “we” who should clean up the religions?
Nelson’s article begins by identifying another group of Christians, “Conservative/evangelical religions,” for the same radical treatment he gave to Roman Catholics. He lumps them all together as pedophiles who should have nothing to say about abortion. He expands his indictment to all denominations. He says, “Not to pick on just the Catholic and Baptist Churches, every institutional religion, regardless of denomination, has its own stories of child sexual abuse at the hands of its ministers–mishandled in essentially the same ways.” So, it is not just anti-Catholic or anti-Baptist or anti-Evangelical. It covers all Christian denominations.
Nelson’s climax and conclusion is a classic example of Alinsky’s rule, “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” Nelson says:
These politicians and religions need to recall Matthew 7:5, wherein Jesus said: “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Nelson warps the words of Jesus from their spiritual and religious meaning into a secular political bludgeon. He writes as if Jesus is saying that abortion is a “speck” while pedophilia is a “plank.”
That is the interpretation, the textual hermeneutic, the exegesis because from Luke’s Gospel we learn that in saying this, Jesus “spoke a parable to them.” (Luke 6:39) As literate people, we know what a parable is and how a parable is interpreted. The word parable comes from the Greek παραβολή parabolē, literally “throwing” (bolē) “alongside” (para-), by extension meaning “comparison, illustration, analogy.” It was the name given by Greek rhetoricians to an illustration in the form of a brief fictional narrative. So, there is no parable unless we are comparing the log and the speck to something. What, in the human story to which Nelson is pretending to apply Christ’s parable, compares to or corresponds with the log and the speck? If the log is not pedophilia and the speck is not abortion, then what, pray tell, in Nelson’s article is the parable?
Christ does not say abortion is a speck. In the Pentateuch Christ says it is homicide. It is not always deliberate homicide or what the English Common Law called first degree murder. It did not always, therefore, call for capital punishment. In certain cases, the punishment was a fine or a restitution. Of course, an Alinsky radical will deny that it was Christ who gave the Pentateuch to Moses. They usually propagate the hyper-humanistic, christophobic notion that only for 33 years walking up and down the Roman province of Israel did Christ speak. Suppress Christ’s speech in Moses. Shove Christ into a corner. Tell him to sit down and shut up when what He is saying in an unfashionable part of Scripture is incapable of being twisted by radical rules into a tactic against the Church.
But even in the words Nelson acknowledges are from Jesus, Christ persists in saying, no matter what interpretation you give to the parable, that the speck does need to be removed. He never says the speck is not a speck and He never says that just because someone else has a log, the speck does not need to be removed. He says that this person suffering from a log in his eye cannot see to remove the speck. But the speck still needs to be removed. Someone else’s hypocrisy cannot make my speck righteous.
Nelson’s distortion is just one more tired, hackneyed, and incompetent formulation of the notion that “Because you are a sinner, because you are a hypocrite, I am righteous to keep on sinning.” Because you are all pedophiles, all of you, all denominations, all clergy, therefore the Church can say nothing about who, jurisprudentially speaking, has jurisdiction of homicide.
Since Nelson’s views are extreme, absolutist, rigid religious dogmas that control his civic jurisprudence, did they not disqualify Nelson as a member of the Montana Supreme Court if Roman Catholicism disqualifies the Justices of the U. S. Supreme Court. That is Nelson’s own principle, that he violates. Who is the supreme hypocrite? Nelson, first remove the plank from your own eye before you go around cleaning up all religious denominations.
 My own religion is confessional Lutheran Christianity as taught and confessed in the Book of Concord, including Phillip Melanchthon’s Treatise Against the Power and Primacy of the Pope, which are profoundly divergent from Roman Catholic theology. So, I am not defending Roman Catholics because of being one, since I am not one, but because civically they are citizens and persons entitled to equality and fair treatment, unlike what Nelson gives them and unlike what he, a lawyer and former judge, would have the law do to them.