John Adams said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion ... . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Prosecutorial abuse is a particularly pernicious example falling within the scope of Adams' warning. How can justice prevail when individuals are willing to allow political passion, fueled by an overriding commitment to a particular end, to twist the means by which that end is reached?
"Payback time in Wisconsin" (Comment & Analysis, Dec. 18) pointed out a particularly appalling example of this, saying the effect of the Milwaukee County district attorney's investigation of prominent Republicans and conservatives in Milwaukee "is that partisan Democrats in the district attorney's office — 43 of whom signed the petition to recall Gov. [Scott] Walker — have the freedom to paint Republicans as criminal suspects since 'they're under investigation.' Any conservative who complains about the treatment or who speaks up in his own defense can be jailed. ... The conservatives who rallied to Mr. Walker's defense are now targeted for investigation. Unions and liberal political groups are not."
How can government reach into hearts and minds to constrain those who wield the power to paint opponents as criminal suspects, so that they use only ethical and nonpartisan methods? It can't. Only those constrained by moral and religious conviction can rise to the level of living by the principle that the end does not justify the means.
As both the end and the means to the end, Jesus — not government — can infuse this level of constraint. Our government is wholly inadequate to us if we are not guided by this kind of moral and religious conviction.