Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why Do You Always Find It So Hard To Read?

In the United States of America, the supreme law of the land is the United States Constitution. There are many states and municipalities, all with their own unique set of laws and statutes, but all must adhere to the Constitution. We here in the U.S. tend to think of the Constitution as something akin to a holy document – whether rightly or not, we place our faith in the “founding fathers” and their vision for the future that protects us from our government, ourselves, and those who would do us harm. It protects us in that, inter alia, we have the freedom to say whatever we want, whenever we want – a right we often times take for granted – and we can sleep soundly at night knowing that there won’t be a government “enforcer” at our children’s schools to make sure that they are dressed appropriately or divided into ethnic, gender, race, or other categories – although this is a more recent development than our constitution, and a work in progress. We are free to believe what we want to believe, and practice our beliefs in whatever way we see fit, so long as we do so in a way that does not bring harm to others, or infringe upon the rights of others.

It is, therefore, peculiar to me that in several state legislatures and local government institutions we are seeing a push to ban Sharia Law – something at its base level more akin to the Ten Commandments than to the Western notion of common law and legislative statutes – and inexplicable to me that at the Federal level, we are seeing attempts to ban same-sex marriage with a Constitutional Amendment, all in the name of the Christian ideology. Leaders of the religious right advocating for amending the Constitution to more closely mirror the, “word of the living God,” are becoming commonplace in that sector of the political world, all demonstrating a clear lack of understanding as to what the Constitution means, and what the intentions of the founding fathers were. Thomas Jefferson, on 1 January 1802, famously wrote to the Danbury Baptists and made some very salient points:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State

Thusly, he made it abundantly clear that a person’s religion is not a matter to be determined by the State, and likewise, the State will not create any laws in favor of one religion over another.

It is, therefore, fairly evident to all who can read, that the United States Constitution clearly leaves a person’s religion to said person’s own determination, as well as very obviously prohibiting any laws or judicial rulings in favor of one religion or another, and yes, this does include Christianity. It is for this reason that I must strongly warn against statutes that are clearly based on religious law or that are based on discriminating against certain religions. Banning Sharia Law is completely pointless because it is already prohibited. Similarly, basing American law on the Book of Leviticus is equally prohibited. It’s too bad that the religious right doesn’t understand this at all.

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