Some of you have probably been shaking your heads at the colorful (and I mean that in personality, not color of skin) Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers’ lawsuit against the Almighty for various reasons, the least of which is “terroristic threats.” Although I think it likely from Sen. Chambers’ track record that this is partially a jab at Christians and/or the religious in general, he has another expressed purpose: showing just how absurd the reasons for suits can be. (By the way, Chambers’ outrage stems from the recent case in Nebraska where the word ‘rape’ was prohibited – in a rape trial.)
The statement is an interesting one, and certainly Chambers is getting plenty of publicity for the stunt. But most of us probably didn’t expect a response from God.
I should say first that the idea of suing God is amusing to me, and some of the same things ran through my head that went into the (obviously fictional) response. (Actually, I was initially reminded of a The Onion article of yore, “Judge Orders God To Break Up Into Smaller Deities“.) I say “obviously fictional” not because I doubt the possibility of God responding – as one of the kids iterated in the movie Angels in the Outfield: “Hey, it could happen” – but because the view of God in it is just so…stereotypical. (And the fact that God’s signature is particularly atrocious. I mean, seriously, guys.) The three points of rebuttal are still worth repeating:
- “No proper and sufficient service of summons has been made upon GOD.” Chambers requested in his initial suit that personal service be waived because of the defendant’s omniscience (a cute move, I must admit), so it is interesting that the impersonator emphasized this point. (By the way, I can’t find an instance where the court could waive personal service, even though the defendant can do so by agreeing on a waiver form to accept the given petition. Is there a lawyer in the house?)
- “Complainant is barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel from asserting GOD’s existence after a life time [sic] of denying his existence.” You may not understand the doctrine of collateral estoppel (or agree that “GOD” is right in thinking it applicable in this suit), but the idea of Chambers having no reason to complain about a person who he doesn’t believe in is right on the money. (Of course, we all know he’s not serious about that.)
- “GOD does not issue terroristic threats, but HE will visit an appropriate punishment upon the blasphemous Complainant by seeing that he is removed from office next year.” This is what I mean by a stereotypical view of God. This point is sort of like saying, “I don’t get mad; I get even.” And while there might be a point to be made in the statement “‘Vengeance is mine,’ saith the Lord,” I think God is probably 1) shaking his head at the things His creation do in their idleness, 2) laughing at how ridiculous people can be, or 3) both (hey, why not?).
Even though the suit is not at its deepest level about religion, it is a very interesting choice of subjects for Chambers to go after. Coupled with the fact that Richard Dawkins’ site is playing up the fact that Chambers officially “came out” as a “nontheist” back in April, it is perhaps indicative of where we are as a society. Seeing what happens next might tell us even more.