Want to live in a neo-Christian theocracy? If your elected officials have their say, you may just get your wish.
I have no problem with faith. In fact, I find it inspiring when people can dedicate their life so completely to a belief or an intangible. After all, when such dedication reaps a dividend of compassion, tolerance and understanding, we all win. However, as we've seen of late, faith seems to be more of a crutch for hatred, misunderstanding and a fundamental lack of awareness of the origins of said beliefs.
But you know what? As much as it pains me to admit, people are entitled to live in the dark, and there isn't a law on the books that says someone can't be a miserable hypocrite. Some people just don't want their eyes opened, and as long as their misguided beliefs don't intrude with mine, I have no quarrel with them.
But as you saw with last week's microcosm of ignorance, I do have issues with those who would choose to force their morality on another, particularly when the onus of debate isn't even correct. There are hundreds of different faiths co-existing (sometimes tenuously) in the United States of America; what makes one any better than the other? As far as the federal government should be concerned, nothing.
All of this could change this year, though. A bill that has been quietly brewing in the minds of the religious right for the better part of two decades has made it to the floor of both the House and the Senate. If passed into law, America is one Pentagon Prayer Meeting from a theocracy.
The bill is the Constitutional Reform Act of 2004 (H.R. 3799 and S 2082). Supported by the likes of Senator Sam Brownback and disgraced Justice Roy Moore (the wingnuts who are trying to shut down Howard Stern and position the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses, respectively), it takes its cues from Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution by empowering Congress to decide what cases the Supreme Court can and cannot hear.
Sounds fairly innocuous, right? Wrong. Read on:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter," it reads, "the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review ... any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." (emphasis mine)
What's this mean? Simply put, the Constitutional Reform Act makes God's law the law, trumping federal jurisdictions entirely. Theoretically, a gay man could be brought up on sodomy charges and stoned to death, and the federal and Supreme court would be unable to review the case.
Even worse, the bill's vague language would act to silence judges who might rely on law from other countries but other states in arriving at their decisions:
"In interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States, a court of the United States may not rely upon (emphasis mine) any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than the constitutional law and English common law."
Imagine a judge forced to resign for being progressive enough to look to other parts of the globe and consider their judgments on a similar case. It could happen under this legislation. Even in the hands of the most responsible judiciary, this is a nightmare waiting to happen.
Lest you question which God gets top billing in this Administration, it's the Judeo-Christian one. Millions upon millions of Americans who believe in a different faith or deny the presence of a god figure altogether will suddenly find themselves not only disenfranchised by their own government, but they will be subject to biblical law, something utterly antithetical to the spirit of the founding of our nation.
I don't think it's unfair of me to ask that the government continue to keep one's faith a personal matter. Most importantly, religion should play no part in the creation of law in this land. By favoring one, you tip the scales against the rest.
Americans often look to the Middle East and laugh as they watch their societies collapse upon one another because they have varying interpretations of the same religion. It's a shameful conceit considering the turmoil and self-righteousness slowly percolating here in the U.S. Imagine for a moment if a tightly-knit Islamic political organization worked towards a religious coup in our own government? The average boob would be crying "terrorism," yet replace "Islamic" with "Israeli" or "neo-Christian" and that's exactly what's taking place at the highest levels of our "democracy."
It's not just about Halloween, folks. It's about fighting for the very right to believe whatever you wish, and to not be tried by the dicta of a long-dead Mesopotamian you could care less about. This is the foundation of my distaste with religious fundamentalists... of any faith. They do a disservice to the religion they serve by blinding themselves to the fact that not everyone agrees with their opinion. It doesn't help that they reveal themselves as the small-minded individuals they are.
80 people in a small Georgian town don't track with the majority of the people in the United States. However, this legislation has the fervent support of a lot of Christians who honestly think they're doing the Lord's work by rolling this country back into something out of John Calvin's dreams.
Never mind that Christ taught to love your brother even if you don't see eye to eye with them. Never mind that hatred and bigotry have no place in a Christian heart. Never mind the schism that will invariably result should this piss-poor idea get enacted into law.
After all, God's got a plan. "We are not going to stand for those coercive utopians in the Supreme Court and in Washington ruling over us any more," extolled Pat Robertson in 1986, when the groundwork was laid for this monumental lapse in judgment. "We're not gonna stand for it. We are going to say, 'we want freedom in this country, and we want power.'"
Christian "freedom." Christian power. At the expense of all else.
Somebody start building the Inquisition pyres. We can toss common sense, reason, fairness and compassion on top of the fire before we start adding the bodies of the witches and unbelievers.
Canon Fodder is a weekly analysis of politics and society.
If you consider yourself a religious Christian but believe that forcing dogma on someone else is not the way to practice your faith, I urge you to write or call your representatives and tell them you respect freedom of religion and don't want to see it used to further political ends (any more than it already is).