, the culture wars continue to heat up as Republican candidates for their party’s nomination go on the offensive and claim that President Obama has perpetrated a “war on religion.” This is supposed to, and often will, create feeling amongst religious conservatives that the President and nation are too secular for United States ’s own good. What these candidates seem to miss, is that President Obama not only re-funded the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, but actually bolstered its funding and internationalized the program. America
Let’s not forget that the Constitution and Treaty of Paris all note that liberty is not a faith-based contrivance and that it is clearly noted in the First Amendment that there is SUPPOSED to be a separation of Church and State. American scholars and statesmen such as the twin Deists Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both knew and personally saw the destruction that organized religion could have on freedom and constitutional democracy.
As Founding Fathers of the American Revolution, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, each wrote extensively on the dangers of mixing politics and religion. They also saw organized faith as counter-intuitive to allowing personal freedom grow the young nation.
Jefferson held slaves, no doubt a failure of his legacy, he knew that true slavery came in the form of organized religious tyranny. Amongst Jefferson’s other claims to fame was his insistence on the use of the phrase, “Separation of church and state” to describe his feelings towards liberty being apart from religiosity.
The pretzel logic of what these ultra-religious folks are arguing is as follows: They’re saying that if the government intervenes or dares tell a religious person or faith-based entity that they are violating the civil rights of others, in essence breaking the law, that in turn the government is violating the consciousness rights of those who interpret their religion as giving them full right to deny professional or any services to others.
Since no one is supposed to be above the law, this religious consciousness argument is fallacy and holds no merit as religious belief is subjective and therefore not anywhere near a valid reason to void or obviously violate laws which secure liberty and freedom for all.
Based on their interpretation of the Constitution, this means that if I accepted the Flying Spaghetti Monster as my person lord and savior (in fact I do) that based on my interpretation of the teachings of that Church, that I could do the following to any other class of citizen based on my religious beliefs:
- Deny them an education
- Deny them medical or other health treatment
- Deny them access to information
- Deny them access to participate in the political process
- Deny availability to federal, state and local government programs
- Deny others the right to live when and where they wish to
- Deny them the right to vote
- Deny them access to transportation
- Perpetuate slavery and violence against others
If we were to accept the argument and allow a privileged class the right to deny other’s their civil and equal rights based on religious consciousness, we will have totally Balkanized our society. In some states, such rights of consciousness are enforced in law. This means in part, pharmacists have the right not to prescribe medication, doctors do not have to perform abortions, private schools can teach creation myths instead of science, and parents have the right to pray for health rather than provide their sick children medical attention.
If this is the
that those on the religious right say we are denying them as a “war on religion” then we must not stop enforcing the law. Otherwise we will have moved fully away from a secular society where everyone has the same basic human and civil rights. As such, we will be living in a theocratic state which makes and enforces laws based on one specific group’s holy texts. America
This sounds a lot less like the
of the last two hundred and fifty years and more like radical nation-states in the Middle-East whose laws come from the other-worldly. Or certain current and former Communist nations where doctrine and dogma inhibit the civil rights of individual citizens to live free and prosperous lives. United States