Lawsuits against God

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Lawsuits against God have occurred in real life and in fiction. Issues debated in the actions include the problem of evil and harmful "acts of God".

Actual suits[edit]

Ernie Chambers[edit]

In the U.S. state of Nebraska, State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a suit in 2008 against God, seeking a permanent injunction against God's harmful activities, as an effort to publicize the issue of public access to the court system.[1] The suit was dismissed because God could not be properly notified, not having an address. The Judge stated, "Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice".[1] The senator, assuming God to be singular and all-knowing, responded "The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgement is a recognition of God's omniscience ... Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit."[1][2] Chambers filed the lawsuit in response to another lawsuit that he considers to be frivolous and inappropriate.[3]

In response to Chambers' case, two responses were filed. The first was from a Corpus Christi lawyer, Eric Perkins, who wanted to answer the question "what would God say".[4] The second was filed in Douglas County, Nebraska District Court. The source of the second response, claiming to be from "God", is unclear as no contact information was given.[4]

On July 30, 2008, local media sources reported the Douglas County District Court was going to deny Chambers' lawsuit because Chambers had failed to notify the defendant.[5] However, on August 1, Chambers was granted a court date of August 5 in order to proceed with his lawsuit. "The scheduling hearing will give me a chance to lay out the facts that would justify the granting of the motion," Chambers was quoted as saying. He added, "Once the court enters the injunction, that's as much as I can do," he said. "That's as much as I would ask the court. I wouldn't expect them to enforce it."[6]

However, a judge finally did throw out the case, saying the Almighty was not properly served due to his unlisted home address.[7] As of 5 November 2008, Chambers filed an appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court.[8] The former state senator John DeCamp and E. O. Augustsson in Sweden, asked to represent God. Augustsson's letters, mentioning the Bjorn (see the BjornSocialist Republic) were stricken as "frivolous". The Appeals Court gave Chambers until February 24 to show that he notified DeCamp and Augustsson of his brief,[9] which he did. The case was finally closed on February 25 when the Nebraska Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and vacated the order of the district court. The court quoted cases according to which "[a] court decides real controversies and determines rights actually controverted, and does not address or dispose of abstract questions or issues that might arise in hypothetical or fictitious situation or setting".

Pavel M[edit]

A Romanian prisoner, identified as Pavel M, serving 20 years after being convicted of murder, filed a lawsuit against the Romanian Orthodox Church, as God's representatives in Romania, for failing to keep him from the Devil, essentially stating that his baptism had been a binding contract.[10] The suit was dismissed because the defendant was neither an individual nor a company, and was not subject to the civil court of law's jurisdiction.[11]

Fictional suits[edit]

In the comedy film The Man Who Sued God (2001), a fisherman played by Billy Connolly successfully challenges the right of insurance companies to refuse payment for a destroyed boat on the common legal exemption clause of an Act of God. In a suit against the world's religious institutions as God's representatives on Earth, the religious institutions face the dilemma of either having to state God does not exist to uphold the legal principle, or being held liable for damages caused by Acts of God.

Similarly, in an Indian film, Oh My God (2012), the protagonist Kanji Mehta (character played by Paresh Rawal) files a lawsuit against God when his shop is destroyed in an earthquake and the insurance company refuses to take his claim, stating that "Act of God" is not covered under his insurance policy.

In the "Angels And Blimps" (1998) episode of the television legal drama Ally McBeal, a boy with leukaemia attempts to sue God. In the episode "The Nutcrackers" (2006-2007) of the television legal drama comedy Boston Legal, a woman sues God for the death of her husband. "God in the Dock", a 1980 episode of Christian TV series Insight, featured Richard Beymer as God put on trial by humanity.[12]

In the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov (1880), one of the characters tells the story of a grand inquisitor in Spain who meets an incarnation of Jesus, interrogates him and exiles him.

Former Auschwitz concentration camp inmate Elie Wiesel is said to have witnessed three Jewish prisoners try God in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people during the Holocaust. From this experience, Wiesel wrote the play and novel The Trial of God (1979). It is set in a Ukrainian village during 1649 after a massacre of the Jewish inhabitants,[13] possibly as part of the Khmelnytsky Uprising. In the play, three travelling minstrels arrive in the village, having intended to perform a play. Instead they perform a mock trial of God for allowing the massacre. The verdict is innocent, after a stirring lone defence by a stranger who, in a twist, is revealed to be the Devil.

The television play God on Trial (2008), written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, depicts a scene similar to that attributed to Elie Wiesel, but is also described by Boyce as "apocryphal".[14] In it, three Auschwitz prisoners sue God. The trial returns a guilty verdict, although with likely reasons for appeal.[15]

In the Touched by an Angel (1998) episode "Jones vs God", a town is dying from a drought while other towns around it have received rain. Mr. Jones therefore sues God for unfair treatment. Tess represents God in the matter.

In a satirical news piece, The Onion parody newspaper published an article stating that New York attorneys had filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the Children of Israel (the Israelites).[16] The suit alleged a breach of the religious covenant between God and his chosen people, and sought $4.2 trillion in punitive and compensatory damages.

Blameless in Abaddon, the second book of the Godhead Trilogy by James Morrow, features a magistrate who tries God for crimes against humanity.

Christ on Trial is a book written by Roger Dixon describing a TV program trying Jesus Christ in a US court.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Suit Against God Thrown Out Over Lack of Address ", Associated Press as published on yahoo.com, 15 October 2008, accessed 20 October 2008[dead link]
  2. ^ MSNBC (2007-09-17). "State Senator Ernie Chambers Sues God". Retrieved 2007-09-17. [dead link]
  3. ^ Nate Jenkins (2007-09-17). "Chambers sues God in protest of another lawsuit". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  4. ^ a b "'God' Gets an Attorney in Lawsuit". AP. Sep 21, 2007. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Nebraska Senator's Lawsuit Against God Fizzling", KOLN/KGIN.com. Retrieved 8/1/08.
  6. ^ Cole, K. "Chambers Aims to Get Judge's Blessing", Omaha World-Herald as published on RedOrbit.com. Retrieved 8/1/08.
  7. ^ "Suit Against God Thrown Out Over Lack of Address ", Associated Press as published on yahoo.com. Retrieved 10/15/08.
  8. ^ Heller, Matthew "Plaintiff in God Lawsuit Appeals to Higher Power", On Point News Retrieved 11/11/08.
  9. ^ Paul Himmel: Chambers aims to revive case with 'all-knowing' argument
  10. ^ Prisoner sues God Ananova, undated, accessed 20 October 2008
  11. ^ Romanian prisoner sues God Novosti Russian News and Information Agency, 18 October 2005, accessed 20 October 2008
  12. ^ "Insight" God in the Dock (1980) at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ The Trial of God: A Play in Three Acts Barnes and Noble online store, accessed 20 October 2008
  14. ^ Losing my religion The Guardian, 19 August 2008, accessed 20 October 2008
  15. ^ Last Night's TV: Lost In Austen, ITV1 God On Trial, BBC2, Thomas Sutcliffe, The Independent, 4 September 2008
  16. ^ Israelites Sue God For Breach Of Covenant The Onion, 23 February 2000, accessed 20 October 2008