#BSG and #Religion: Bastille Day

‘Bastille Day’
Bastille Day picks up shortly after the events in “Water“. The collection of the planet water has not yet begun and Commander Adama and President Roslin discuss the option of using the prisoners on the Astral Queen as labor. We find out that there are 1500 prisoners onboard the prison transport ship. “Apollo” heads over to the Astral Queen to enlist prisoners as laborers and presents them the chance to earn their freedom. When given the opportunity to help, only one prisoner comes forward, Tom Zarek, and that is to inform Apollo that prisoners decline the offer.

Zarek is a political activist who was imprisoned for terrorist activities, including blowing up a government building on the colony of Sagittaron. Sagittaron is one of the poorer colonies, due to centuries of exploitation by the other eleven colonies. This makes Zarek a freedom fighter to some. The decision is made by Apollo to go through Zarek to get to the other prisoners.

Meanwhile, on Caprica, Karl “Helo” Agathon and another copy of the Sharon model (Number Eight) are in search of an unknown radio transmission that they picked up. (Note: The Caprica version of Sharon and the Galactica version take on totally different personalities as the series progresses.)  A Number Five (Doral) and a Number Six monitor their progress from a distance.

Back on the Astral Queen, all hell breaks loose as the prisoners orchestrate a jail break while Apollo and Zarek are talking. Dee, Billy, Callie, and Apollo, along with the crew of the Astral Queen are taken prisoner. Zarek’s conditions for the release of the hostages are 1) the resignation of Laura Roslin and 2) free and open elections.

Zarek: The crew are my prisoners. They will not be harmed. But I have two conditions before I release my captives. First, the government which controls our fate…is illegal and illegitimate…and it must submit to the will of the people. I demand the immediate resignation…of Laura Roslin and her ministers. Second, I demand free and open elections to chose a new leadership. And a new government that represents all of the people. These demands are made not for me…or the former slaves held on this ship…but for you, the people, the survivors of the holocaust…and the children of humanity’s future.

A little later, there is an exchange between Zarek and Apollo.

Zarek: Who voted for Laura Roslin? You? Did you vote for her?

Lee: She was sworn in under the law.

Zarek: The answer is, no one voted for her. And yet she’s making decisions for all of who, deciding who lives…and who dies. Is that democracy? Is that a free society?

Lee: What is it you want from me? You want me to say she shouldn’t be president? We need a government. We need rules, we need a leader.

Zarek: We need to be free men and women. If we’re not free, then we’re no different than Cylons.

Zarek’s message resounds with a lot of people today, especially in American politics. However, what they fail to acknowledge is all authority, even the authority to rule comes from God alone.

Every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God. So anyone who opposes the authority is standing against what God has established. People who take this kind of stand will get punished. The authorities don’t frighten people who are doing the right thing. Rather, they frighten people who are doing wrong. Would you rather not be afraid of authority? Do what’s right, and you will receive its approval. It is God’s servant given for your benefit. But if you do what’s wrong, be afraid because it doesn’t have weapons to enforce the law for nothing. It is God’s servant put in place to carry out his punishment on those who do what is wrong. That is why it is necessary to place yourself under the government’s authority, not only to avoid God’s punishment but also for the sake of your conscience. You should also pay taxes for the same reason, because the authorities are God’s assistants, concerned with this very thing.

So pay everyone what you owe them. Pay the taxes you owe, pay the duties you are charged, give respect to those you should respect, and honor those you should honor. Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, t and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. 

Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is what fulfills the Law. (Romans 13:1-10)

It’s like this was ripped from today’s headlines and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Zarek is the Tea Party. Yeah, I went there!

But as we see, freedom is not Zarek’s true intention. He wants the military to storm the Astral Queen on Roslin’s orders which would, in Zarek’s mind, cause the government to collapse. In the end, Apollo convinces Zarek to free the hostages in exchange for turning control of the Astral Queen over to the prisoners and elections.

Zarek talks a lot about freedom, but what is true freedom? We tend to associate freedom with being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. But true freedom isn’t being able to do whatever we want.  That leads to anarchy. And as Christians, we recognize that true freedom comes from God, not from the government!

Of course, Roslin and Commander Adama don’t like this.

Roslin: I don’t believe this.

Adama: It’s unacceptable.

Lee: It’s done. Prisoners have full control of the Astral Queen. We evac’ed all the guards and support personnel. It’s their ship.

Adama: They’re a threat to the entire fleet.

Lee: They’ve been disarmed. The ship itself has no weapons.

Adama: The ship itself is a weapon.

Lee: They’re totally dependent on us for food, fuel…and they’ve agreed to organize the workforce for the water detail on the moon.

Roslin: You’ve committed me to holding elections within a year.

Lee: Madam President, with respect…you’re serving out the remainder of President Adar’s term. When that term is up in seven months, the law says there’s an election. I’ve only committed you to obeying the law.

Roslin: You were not authorized–

Adama: You sound like a lawyer.

Lee: I swore an oath to defend the articles. The articles say there’s an election in seven months. If you’re telling me, we’re throwing out the law…then I’m not a captain, you’re not a commander…and you’re not the president. And I don’t owe either of you a damned explanation for anything.


About Craig

I'm a former American Baptist turned Agnostic turned Lutheran. I have a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. I write for Simul Iustus et Peccator and Unsettled Christianity. View all posts by Craig

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