Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Today's Special: Jefferson on a Spit

Bill to allow school proselytizing sails through Virginia House panel

Legislation that would open all public property — including schools — to preaching, praying and proselytizing breezed through a House committee on Feb. 4.

The bill would also write into the state Constitution a ban on same-sex marriage. It was endorsed 14-4.

With only four dissenting votes, the House Privileges and Elections Committee advanced a proposed change to religious-freedom guarantees rooted in the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and reflected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
I don't even know where to begin. The first amendment of the US Constitution (apparently a minor and non-binding document the Supreme Court uses for grins) states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Government property is not your publicly funded church and the government is not permitted to sponsor or endorse religion (any religion). One's right to freedom of expression does not supercede the right to freedom of religion of another. If you want to proselytize, do it somewhere other than public schools and government property. It is not my responsibility to fund your religious activities, especially those targeted at infringing on my rights so you can try to convert me to your religion.

The religious-freedom resolution found wide support for remedying what its sponsor, Del. Charles W. Carrico Sr., contends is a growing bias against Christians.

He said other nations upheld their founding religious tenets and compelled respect for them, specifically noting the Muslim culture of Arab countries as an example. Then, he quoted Patrick Henry in appealing for greater leeway for Christianity.
Yes Henry wanted more leeway for Christianity, and yet, he did not prevail in attempts to make the US a country with a state religion. I think it's a safe bet to say he lost the appeal because his suggestions were not consistent with the general consensus of our forefathers; had they agreed the language of the first amendment would have been much different than what was ratified. There is no growing bias against Christians, nobody is preventing Christians from practicing their religion as they see fit. There is, however, a ground-swell of people who do not want so-called "Christians" forcing (secular people, people of other religions, non-fundamentalist Christian denominations) their religion on us.

Carrico's reference to the Muslim culture in Arab countries (you know, the religious culture we're currently fighting to bring Democracy & ostensively to provide "freedom" to their people) have something this country does not: a state religion. Despite the fact the majority of Americans happen to be among the drastically endangered Christian religion, the United States is not a Christian Country.

I'm no expert on Constitutional Law, but I'm not sure a state is allowed to create laws that are in direct violation of the US Constitution.
If laws are applied equally, what is to prevent use of government buildings & public schools to indoctrinate children in the evils of Christianity, G-d and Jesus is wrong (Go Satan?!), well those laws won't apply to equally to everyone. Those proposing & supporting these bills make it clear, the laws will be based on their specific interpretation of acceptable religious belief and/or scripture.

How does this bullshit get through the minds of rational people? Well either they're not really rational, they have an agenda that may seem innocuous to you know but may not be consistent with what you think you'll be getting in the long run, or they actually buy into the blatantly incorrect and politically motivated assertion that voluntary religious expression has been threatened or banned. My guess is there is a distinct agenda to not only obliterate the separation of church and state but to openly declare a state religion. It's interesting, though not surprising, that this is tied into an attempt at banning gay marriage (Virginia , where fornication is fine as long as you're straight). Abortion couldn't achieve this goal because when it comes to affecting their own lives, people will break with church doctrine of their own religions; but when it comes to homosexuality, many straight people focus on the sexual aspect of a gay relationship and, since they do not understand and do not think they'll be affected, they'll support measures based on their own internal "ick" response. What these people don't realize is that once you break with the protections of the 1st Amendment in this manner, legislation can (and will) be based on religious doctrine - in this case, Fundamentalist Christian doctrine.

Virginia is not the only state to decide to legislate with an eye to religion. New Mexico is playing the same breach of the 1st Amendment as VA.

NM legislators aim at banning gay marriage, infringes on freedom of religion as well. Rep. Gloria Vaughn, R-Alamogordo introduced House Bill 445 which not only limits marriage to heterosexual couples, but it provides fines to clergy who perform same-sex marriage ceremonies; specifically doesn't recognize same-sex marriages from other states or countries; and nullifies the New Mexico marriage licenses granted to gay couples in Sandoval County last year. Vaughn admitted there are religious intentions behind HB 445. "It defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, which is according to Scripture. God made Adam and Eve, not 'Adam and Steve.'

If Christian religion and scripture defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, the Christian Churches should not be sanctifying marriages that are not acceptable under their religious doctrine. Religious activities are not under the domain of the state and, as such, church doctrine should not be under consideration in development of civil legislation just as the government should not be dictating religious dogma and practice. This is especially important when considering that not all religions have the same views and doctrine (there is even 100% agreement between Christian denominations).
"Marriage is not defined that way in Hebrew scripture," said Rabbi Marvin Schwab of Temple Beth Shalom. "Whoever says that ought to read the Bible. And when they say they want the law to follow Scripture, do they support public stoning of women who commit adultery?"

Schwab said he considers HB 445 to be a violation of the separation of church and state and an infringement on his right to "interpret the dictates of my religion, as someone who was ordained to do that."

If you're Christian and not too keen on gay folks, these stories may not bother you much. Of course, you're idea of what a good Christian is, does and feels is acceptable may not be the same as the good, moral Christians making the laws. Are you sure you'd be accepted as a good moral Christian to all other Christians who may be in charge of legislating your activities & behavior?


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