MoveOn.org has created an online poster that has been getting a fair amount of play on Facebook. The page is entitled “The #1 Reminder Every GOP Lawmaker Needs To See.” It then quotes “American Hero” Jamie Raskin, a law professor, before successfully running for Maryland’s State Senate himself, testified before the Maryland State Senate in 2006. Back then, he had this to say:
Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn’t place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.
That sounds very clever, doesn’t it? Nice parallelism, and a definite superficial truth: American politicians don’t swear to uphold the Bible. Of course, that cute little parallelism ignores a deeper truth, which is the fact that the Constitution includes this nifty little Amendment called the First Amendment:
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.
The classic religions (as opposed to recently created New-Age spiritualism) all define marriage, and they all define it as a union between a man, on the one hand, and a woman, on the other hand. Freely exercising ones religion means that, constitutionally speaking (and lawmakers are charged with upholding the Constitution), the government doesn’t get to redefine marriage to include other sexual variations.
In 2008, during the Prop. 8 debate (when California voters were asked to, and did, pass a Proposition defining marriage as being between a man and a woman), I spoke with a very smart, very liberal friend who couldn’t understand why the Catholic Church was taking a stand against Prop. 8. I suggested to him that the Church was concerned that there would come a time when it would be sued for refusing to perform a gay marriage and that it might lose that suit if gay marriage is deemed a civil right. He scoffed: “The Church is opposed to abortion, but no one sues it for that.” What he couldn’t grasp is that the Catholic Church doesn’t perform abortions, but it does perform marriages.
The HHS fight over funding contraceptives and abortifacients proves that the concern I raised in 2008 is precisely correctly. Suddenly, through the purse, a Leftist government was trying to get the church to perform abortions.
When Leftist government passes laws that conflict with a religion’s doctrinal points, it has no problem ignoring the First Amendment and using the power of the state and the purse to force the religious organization and its practitioners to abandon their doctrinal concerns. In other words, Leftist government is happy to enact and enforce policies that essentially prohibit the free exercise of a religion.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the government should get out of the “marriage” business. The government’s control of “marriage” is residue of a time when church and state were inextricably intertwined, rather than Constitutionally separate. Let’s leave “marriage” to the religious organizations, and let them define it as they will. The state, which has a huge interest in promoting stable unions that result in healthy, happy children, should then bend itself to the task of figuring out how best to promote those unions. Promoting them, of course, boils down to money. The state needs to figure out how to entice people (hint: tax breaks) into joining together and having stable nuclear families. Civil unions, folks. In this day and age, it’s the only way to keep the state’s hands off the church.
Looping back to law professor and ignoramus (oh, and American Hero) Jamie Raskin, someone needs to give him a constitutional refresher course: When the lawmakers place their hands on the Bible and swear to protect the Constitution, they are also swearing to protect people’s rights to practice their Biblically based, life-affirming beliefs without state interference.