The Voice of God?


Friends of Padre Steve’s World

As I was ruminating last week I watched the classic film Inherit the Wind, a film that I think should be required viewing for anyone seeking to impose their religious views on others through force of the law.

In the movie there is a climatic exchange between Spencer Tracy playing the fictionalized version of Clarence Darrow (Henry Drummond) and Frederick March who played the fictionalized version of William Jennings Bryan (Matthew Harrison Brady), the opponents at the famous Scopes Monkey Trial.

Drummond: How do you know that God didn’t spake to Charles Darwin
Brady: I know, because God tells me to oppose the evil teachings of that man.
Drummond: Oh, God speaks to you
Brady: Yes!
Drummond: He tells you what is right and wrong,
Brady: Yes
Drummond: And you act accordingly?
Brady: Yes.
Drummond: So you, Matthew Harrison Brady, through oratory or legislature or whatever, you pass on god’s orders to the rest of the world! Well, meet the prophet from Nebraska! Is that the way of things? is that the way of things, God tells Brady what is good, to be against Brady is to be against God.?
Brady: No! Each man is a free agent!
Drummond: Then what is Bertram Cates doing in a Hillsboro jail, supposing Mr. Cates had the influence and the lung power to railroad through the state legislature a law saying that only Darwin could be taught in the schools
Brady: Ridiculous! Ridiculous! There is only one great truth in the world. The gospel…
Drummond: The gospel according to Brady. God speaks to Brady, and Brady tells the world!
Brady, Brady, Brady almighty!
Brady: The lord… the lord is my strength!
Drummond: Suppose that a lesser human being… suppose a Cates or a Darwin had the audacity to think that God might whisper to him, that an un-Brady thought might still be holy? Must a man go to prison because he differs with the self-appointed prophet? Extend the testaments. Let us have a book of Brady. We shall hex the Pentateuch and slip you in neatly between Numbers and Deuteronomy!”

The film reminds us of how easily faith can take on an evil character, and how even well-meaning people who honestly believe that they are doing God’s will often presume, and sometimes can act as if they were the voice of God.

So when I hear Ted Cruz, or any of the hundreds of men and women running for office at every level of government proclaiming that they are speaking for God I get worried. I really do, especially when other well-meaning people, followers of the politicians, pundits, and preachers that claim to be speaking for God, take action to punish their enemies, believing that those enemies are also the enemies of God.

Such is a recipe for tyranny, a tyranny that the founders of the United States sought to avoid.


Padre Steve+



Filed under History, Political Commentary

4 responses to “The Voice of God?

  1. Pinky

    Great article for anyone who thinks and does just go along with the crowd! I was actually just reading the article here about cults. I think I actually liked the page on FB and BTW I disabled my page for a few days to run diagnostics on the computer also I am in a health crisis.
    So anyway I liked the page of the church in the article because friends sent me and invite I liked it and didn’t look at it again but I need to unlike it. It remind me of what you are saying about politics and I agree.

  2. I had forgotten this movie. Yes and an even more resounding YES.

  3. I have seen this movie several times. What is sad is that by keeping church and state seperate, the church part, Brady, has to brought to the essence of his believes. Those believes that in reality have the face of self rightgiosness and bigatory
    Fact is that it is totally correct that trial ended in favor of the accused teacher; still I feel pity for Brady’s bewilderement and unbelieve.

    • padresteve

      Me too, he is a tragic character. The real man he was based on was William Jennings Bryan who was often a populist champion of the poor, campaigning against big business. Ran for president a number of times and served as Secretary of State under President Wilson.

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