Death to rebellious children: What the Fuqua?

Every so often, you come across a story that just blows your mind. There are plenty of people who have extreme right-wing views or a peculiarly warped fondness for Old Testament notions of justice, but to find someone who combines the two in spades while running for political office is new to me.

Charlie Fuqua is a Republican candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives, and he believes in the death penalty for “rebellious children”, because the Bible says it’s OK. Still, don’t worry – he’s not a nutter or anything. He explains:

This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death.

Actually, you look pretty well stoned already.

On that subject, I can think of at least one, but maybe Fuqua’s speaking about following the “due process” described in Deut 21:18-21 (which is some way short of the sort of legal safeguards I’d want for myself), or maybe he holds the death of Jephthah’s daughter against God, rather than Jephthah. You do wonder, though, if it’s occurred to him that there may have been many thousands that weren’t recorded.

Still, if no one’s actually going to take advantage of this opportunity for judicial filicide, as he suggests, what’s the point of proposing such a bloodthirsty legal innovation other than as a piercingly loud dog whistle to the religious right? Fuqua’s got an answer to that:

Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.

So that’s alright, then. I’m glad no one’s proposing anything grotesquely brutal and illiberal just so that children might be slightly less lippy.

Right now, you’re probably thinking one of two things. If you’re a Christian, your first thought will be that he’s missing the point, that Jesus changed all that. And if you’re an atheist, you’re most likely of the opinion that at least he doesn’t try to explain away the nasty bits, and follows the vile bits as well as the nice, fluffy bits. (Independently of those, I’ll allow the possibility that Poe’s Law might have crossed your mind.)

But neither view’s quite right. Christians still regard the Old Testament as holy scripture, and while Jesus presented a different, friendlier face, he said he came to fulfil the Law, not to abolish it, and that text remains in the Bible to be grappled with. And Fuqua may accept this passage as God’s will, but given his casual attitude to wearing mixed fibres, eating pork and shellfish and most of the rest of the Mosaic Law, this looks less like intellectual honesty and more like cherry-picking.

And I haven’t even mentioned his fear that liberals and Muslims are conspiring to stir up a “bloody revolution”. It scares me that he could even be considered as a political candidate.

Photo by orangeacid, used under Attribution License

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

12 responses to “Death to rebellious children: What the Fuqua?”

  1. rodalena says :

    Wow. Just…wow.

  2. callmequirky says :

    It’s a pretty interesting state politically. Leaves your mouth wide open, slack jawed, with wonder and puzzlement. In other news, 2 more politicians from Arkansas said slavery was a blessing in disguise for African Americans, Abraham Lincoln was a criminal, and white students were made lazy by black student’s work ethic. Very intelligently the GOP has distanced themselves from all 3 of these candidates (I have no political affiliation what-so-ever). You have to wonder if the humidity causes an inordinately large population of idiots?

  3. Ellen at Defenestrated Feet says :

    Your title pretty much summed up my reaction. Seems this guy wants a turn at playing God. I mean, God has put his rebellious children to death quite frequently, no? @_@

  4. unklee says :

    Not to take away from your general horror at this guy, which I share, but when Jesus said he came to fulfil the Law, “fulfil” means to bring to an end as far as I understand it. This is made clear by the quote in Luke 16:16-17:

    “The Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets were in effect up to the time of John the Baptist; since then the Good News about the Kingdom of God is being told, and everyone forces their way in. But it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest detail of the Law to be done away with.”

    So we have a choice, to remain 100% in the old, or come into the new. But most christians misunderstand, because no-one can remain in the old (there is no temple) and no-one wants to (except maybe this geezer).

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      Not to take away from your general horror at this guy, which I share, but when Jesus said he came to fulfil the Law, “fulfil” means to bring to an end as far as I understand it. This is made clear by the quote in Luke 16:16-17:

      It may be clear to you, but not to me. The first sentence of your quoted text rather cryptically starts to sound like one thing, but the second sounds quite different, and appears to indicate that the Law is eternal. At best, you could say it’s complicated. But this sort of thing is always going to happen while the OT is considered a God-breathed part of scripture. While that status isn’t under threat, the most a Christian can level at this guy is poor judgement.

      • unklee says :

        I’m surprised you don’t find Luke 16:16-17 clear, though it may depend on the translation. The Good News Translation (which I often use) says:

        “The Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets were in effect up to the time of John the Baptist; since then the Good News about the Kingdom of God is being told, and everyone forces their way in. But it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest detail of the Law to be done away with.”

        That makes it clear (to me, at any rate) that the OT had a use-by date. You can rely on it after that date if you want, but it’s not recommended, and you have to take all or nothing. (Most christians take some.) But the NIV is less clear but still says the same thing:

        “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached,and everyone is forcing their way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

        I think the problem with “inspiration” is the definition of “God breathed” – does it mean God said it (breathed it out) or used it (breathed into it)?

  5. duanetoops says :

    If it is necessary for one to demand respect under threat and pang of death, it seems to me this is not an example of genuine authority but rather a glaring indication of powerlessness and impotency.

  6. christianagnostic says :

    It’s just a natural outflow of the beleif that what’s wrong with the US is that it’s laws are not based on God’s Law. His thinking is entirely consistent to his worldview.

    To me, one more reason to abandon the Bible all together as a source for moral guidance. Slavery, Patriarchy, physical beatings, death to disrespectful children, no pork…can’t we please let the Bronze Age fade into history and stop trying to pretend that safe, stable democracies are built on such abuses of human rights?

  7. unklee says :

    “can’t we please let the Bronze Age fade into history”

    I agree. As a christian, I believe in Jesus, not Moses, and Jesus turned much of the Old Testament on its head, not necessarily because it was “wrong”, but because it was outdated. I would like to see christians understand this. (And I would hope that non-believers might then be able to see it also.)

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