A Biblical Value in the Constitution: Mercy, Clemency, Faith, and History
Mark William Osler
University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)
University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 2013, Forthcoming
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-29
The United States Constitution is a strikingly secular document, and claims that the United States was founded as a “Christian Nation” find little support there. However, the majority of Americans are Christian, and it should not be surprising that many of them look for a reflection of their faith’s values in the government that is structured by that secular Constitution.
This article urges that those who seek Christian values in the government processes allowed by the secular Constitution pay greater attention to the neglected pardon clause. The exercise of mercy is a fundamental Christian imperative, and the idea of pardon is an important and compelling theme in the gospels themselves: Jesus was nearly granted clemency by Pilate, and Jesus himself grants a pardon to the woman who is about to be executed in John 8. To the serious scholar who believes in both the imperatives of Christ and the secular limitations of the Constitution, the pardon power provides a rare instance of those roads running together.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: constitution, constitutional law, law and religion, law and Christianity, pardon clause, pardon, clemency
Date posted: September 22, 2012