I’ve got the Republican “kiddie-table” debate on, but I don’t feel the necessity to pay extremely close attention to it, so I think I’ll take this opportunity to write a bit of frustration out.
I was beginning to have a little debate of my own earlier today, but because it was on someone else’s post (someone I love a bunch) and because the other commenter/debatee was also someone I know and care about, I decided to nip it in the bud there. It became obvious very quickly that we weren’t going to come to a place of agreement, and if I’m going to take the time to write out my thoughts, I’ll do it here rather than in a futile debate on someone else’s page.
Anyway, the whole thing started with a post comparing Mike Huckabee’s comment about religious law to that of Anjem Choudary’s comment about the same thing. (Don’t worry...I had to look him up, too. He’s a prominent British Muslim political activist.) The other person took exception to comparing Huckabee to a Muslim. Never mind that they essentially said the same thing, about religious laws trumping (Ha! Trumping!) those of man and of the courts. The argument was that Muslims kill people and Christians don’t. Then there was some back and forth about whether our country was founded as a Christian nation and what the founding fathers intended and following the laws laid out in New Testament but not following those in the Old Testament and...well, you get the idea. It’s a debate that I’ve had before and nothing is ever really resolved. I just didn’t feel like engaging in it again.
The core issue here was Kim Davis and her refusal to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. You all know how I feel about that. However, I feel that the larger argument is the question of whether people can refuse to obey laws based on their religious beliefs. Some have compared Kim Davis to Martin Luther King, Jr., which is absurd. Rev. King advocated for civil disobedience of laws in order to expand the rights of blacks; Kim Davis was going against the law in order to deny the rights of others.
This is a significant difference. I have no problem with people worshipping the way they wish. The First Amendment guarantees that the government shall not establish a religion, or prohibit people from the free exercise of religion. This means that you have the right to worship whatever god you want, or not worship any god at all. But that right ends when you infringe upon the rights of others. Specifically, those rights laid out in the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the laws. Kim Davis was not only denying the right of couples to a marriage license—couples both gay and straight—she was infringing upon the rights of those in her office who wished to do their jobs.
To use an extreme example, let’s say your religion requires human sacrifice. Are you free to practice your religion? Sure...but you cannot infringe upon the rights of others by taking their lives. If your religion requires animal sacrifice, you cannot violate animal cruelty laws. You are taking rights away from others based on your religion, and that is exactly what Kim Davis was doing. Those rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, the Supreme Court made the decision, and you’d best get on board or get out of the way!
This brings up another point when it comes to those who would like to see us be a theocracy. Who gets to decide which religion we’re going to follow or which religious book we’re going to base our laws on? Let’s go ahead and assume you’re going to say that no one has to decide...we’re a Christian nation, period (a point that I do NOT concede at all). How many Christian denominations are there? How much do those denominations differ in their dogma and interpretation of the Bible? Who gets to decide which belief system will prevail? Who is The Decider?? Is it the President? Whatever denomination he or she happens to be will be the one that we base our laws on? Is it the Supreme Court? Do they get to come to a consensus and vote on the denomination? Does the Congress decide? Or do we leave it up to the states? Do states with a large population of Jewish people get to base their laws on Jewish laws? Or is it up to the individual county? Or each city or municipality? (I’d probably be moving to Portland, Oregon.)
And hey, if it’s up to the President, what if he or she has an epiphany while in office and converts to Islam? Then decides to make that the official religion?
This is why we don’t base our laws on the Bible. We base our laws on the Constitution. We are not a theocracy.
I honestly do not understand why some people don’t understand this and continue to advocate for a religious influence on our politics. We are a very diverse country. We have people of all faiths and we have people of no faith. Our government cannot promote any religion or one religion above another.
I am happy to keep my government out of your religion. I expect you to keep your religion out of my government.
This ain’t Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, folks.