Saturday, December 05, 2009

Church - State Separation Is A Lie in America

Earlier in the week I bookmarked a post by Jeremy Hooper at Good As You that looked at the myth of freedom of religion in New York State after the defeat of the marriage equality bill in the new York State Senate. As I said before, anti-gay legislation in the final analysis comes down to one thing: discrimination based on religion. Since GLBT Americans do not conform to the beliefs of more reactionary forms of Christianity, we are deprived of equal rights and indeed, until 2005 in the Lawrence v. Texas were still criminalized in 13 states. Jeremy quotes the mindset behind the no vote via one of the Christo-fascists who lobbied to sway the gutless senators who have basic contempt for the true meaning of freedom of religion:
Rev. Duane Motley, Senior Lobbyist for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, made the following comments: . . . The legislation placed freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in jeopardy. New Yorkers’ voices were heard today.” McGuire added, “The authentic marriage movement in New York is a movement based on love and justice. Our existing marriage laws are just. They do not violate the Constitution, nor do they violate the civil rights of same-sex partners. All people are created equal, but not all choices are equal and not all relationships are marriages. We are pleased that today a majority of the senators recognized and upheld the true purpose of marriage.” . . . According to the Word of God, marriage is and always will be the union of a man and a woman. Since God created marriage, only He has the authority to change it.”
There you have it: the Christianist RELIGIOUS view must be the law - even the CIVIL laws. It's a mindset not unlike the Islamic obsession with imposing Sharia law. The irony, of course, is that the Founding Fathers knew well the dangers posed by having one set of religious beliefs enforced via the civil laws in the form of the Anglican Church that was the official church in many colonies prior to the Revolutionary War. Here in Virginia one of the most revered figures in Virginia history, Thomas Jefferson was most emphatic on the hypocrisy and evil of religious discrimination in doling out civil liberties - something the Virginia Legislature has forgotten as it has deprived GLBT Virginians of what Jefferson called natural rights of all citizens. I have posted it before, but Jefferson's draft of the Virginia Statute for Religious freedom says it all. Here again are some highlights:
[Sec. 1] Where as Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, . . . and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
[Sec. 2] Be it enacted by the General Assembly: [N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
. .
.[T]he rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.
By their "no" votes, 38 New York senators demonstrated absolute contempt for ideals of Thomas Jefferson's - probably one of the greatest minds in the nation's history. Oh yes, Christianist will try to argue that Jefferson was not in favor of sodomy. Unlike the narrow minded Christiansts and like bigots, Jefferson soaked up knowledge and embraced new discoveries and science. One need only visit Monticello to see this - something I have done probably more than 50 times over the years (UVA students once got in for free with their student ID card). Unlike the present day merchants of intolerance, I find it inconceivable that Jefferson would shun new medical and mental health knowledge on sexual orientation. I suspect that had he been voting in the New York Senate he would have cast a resounding "Yes" vote.
Until the day arrives when GLBT Americans have full civil equality in every way, America's claim that its citizen enjoy freedom of religion will continue to be a cancerous lie.


Lightning Baltimore said...

I sent a nasty (but polite . . . no swearing) message to the NOM via their website and ended up on their mailing list. It is incredibly blatant that they want our laws based on religion and discrimination.

Quotes from a couple:

on the loss in NY:

This great victory will reverberate up and down America, putting the fear of God--and the American voter--into the hearts of weak-kneed and weak-willed politicians everywhere.

on the proposed legalization of same-sex marriage in DC:

Don’t be fooled. This is not only about the Catholic Church. This is about every faith in this nation that knows and teaches that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. If bills like the one proposed in the District are passed we will all be treated as second-class citizens.

We’ve said all along that there is a direct threat to religious liberty posed by the redefinition of marriage.

It's sickening.

David Ivester said...

Good points well put. Thank you.