A Biblical Value in the Constitution: Mercy, Clemency, Faith, and History

21 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2012

See all articles by Mark William Osler

Mark William Osler

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: 2012


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.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional law, law and religion, law and Christianity, pardon clause, pardon, clemency

Suggested Citation

Osler, Mark William, A Biblical Value in the Constitution: Mercy, Clemency, Faith, and History (2012). University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 2013, Forthcoming, U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-29, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2150353

Mark William Osler (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
(254) 717-7032 (Phone)

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