After many moons (yes, many; this post was written on July 25 of 2006), I suppose I've come to terms with the gist of what he's is saying, and most fundamentally disagree.
I was trying to tell you the other night that when you rail against the fundamentalist for trying to legislate his/her morals or values, you are being a hypocrite. Everyone in this country has a right to introduce legislation that promotes his/her morals and values. The fundamentalist does, and so do you. Your only defense was that your morals and values respect a wider plurality than do those of the fundie, but that is beside the point. It doesn't matter what their morals are versus yours; what matters is that you are trying to do the same thing that they are trying to do, which is legislate your own morals and values onto the general public. You can't get angry with the fundie for doing that which yourself desires to do as well. You can get angry at them for what it is they are trying to legislate, but you can't get angry at them for trying to legislate. All you need to do is redirect your anger and you won't sound so hypocritical.
And I may be wrong; that is for you fine readers to decide on your own, but nevertheless, here goes.
And I still hold that the key difference between what I would like to see legislated, and what your run-of-the-mill fundie would like to see legislated is more in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution by which our country is governed. But, as Tom said, that is a little (but only a little) beside the point, the utmost of which is the concept of individual liberty.
I believe a plethora of beliefs and lifestyles are key to a society which is healthy, vibrant, and strong (with the understanding being, of course, that you have a right to live your life the way you wish as long as it does not infringe on another's right to live life as they wish). In fact, this is one of the very premises of our founding document, why we wrote it in the first place: All men are created equal. And in Amendment 14, the Constitution says quite clearly:
One individual's liberty is no more important, or any less important, than any other individual's personal liberty. In fact, one of the greatest lies told this past century was that our country was A Christian Nation, when in fact we have not been, nor will we ever be, such. The Constitution simply doesn't allow for it. In fact, the Constitution states quite clearly that no religious test shall ever be used for taking the oath of office, and, on top of that, the government can't even refuse the establishment of a religion in our borders, nor prevent the practice of any such religion.
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
[emphasis, of course, is mine]
But beliefs are a lot more intangible than that, aren't they? One can very well believe something outside of the context of a church, synagogue, mosque, or any such religious building or symbol. And beliefs are what allow us to thrive as human beings. The fact that we sometimes don't like what others believe is of no consequence on an individual, one-person-at-a-time level (despite claims to the contrary) when one respects the boundaries of personal, individual liberty. Joe Schmoe's beliefs are of no consequence to Jane Brown's as they both go about their day, go to work, feed their children, go to sleep at night, relax on vacation, whatever.
But religion has never been a respecter of individual liberty. Religion is one of "collective," almost "tribal" mentality, as can be observed not only in weekly (or more) group meetings, group prayers, group songs--the very premise of the Christian church in particular is to fellowship with one another, reprove one another, polish one another, keep tabs on one another, lest one "fall into sin." Almost every religion has some sort of mentality along these lines, each with their pros and cons as to individual liberty and sense of self. Several key phrases of the Christian tenants come to mind: "Die to yourself," "Die to your sin," "Live for Christ," and on and on. Islam has many of the same tenants, as does Judaism, each in their own ways. Religions of the world are not interested in individual rights or liberties, but that you do the will of their respective (or one could say all of their single) god(s). To "fight the good fight" for god, to spread the word not "being a respecter of persons." (I'll be the first to admit, this needs fleshed out a bit more, but this isn't off the mark--just not entirely spelled out as much as I would like...)
And herein lies the true crux. The fundies were upset not too long ago that a man swore on the Quran to uphold the Constitution, something they said the Quran blatantly says one cannot do if one holds to the precepts of Islam. It's almost a shame that their Bible asks them of the same thing: That, when it comes down to God or Constitution, you must come down on the side set forth in the Bible. (One wonders what keeps them from seeing this same conundrum with the thousands who swore to uphold the Constitution on the Bible.)
Sky god is pretty clear, isn't he? When it comes between law of the land, and law of god, I doubt you'd find a Christian this side of hell to say they'd uphold the Constitution. Which is to say, if they have a chance to make this a country by, of, and for Christians, they'll do so, just so they can have their cake and eat it, too. That's really what this legislation against abortion and gay marriage and various other "taboo" topics are about, aren't they? While nowhere does the bible exhort them to make laws which will force everyone to behave as they believe, this "community" mindset which religion advocates openly may have something to do with the fact they feel they will collectively be found at fault for allowing laws to be passed contrary to the law of their book. And even though a passing of a "gay marriage" law would still allow for them to live by their codes and their so-called "laws," as a "community," they may be found "wanting" even though they would still have the right to call it "wrong," not have a "gay marriage," or even be called upon to partake in an "abortion" or "oversee" a gay marriage if they so chose not to (this is where "freedom of religion" comes into play). Their beliefs and mores are in no way threatened by these acts of others. But they feel that all should abide by their laws for the good of the "community."
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Lev 24:21-22 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I [am] the LORD your God.
Deu 28:58-59 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, [even] great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
Agnostic Mom touches on this briefly in one of her posts. She says:
She goes on to point out a lot of strides this country has made over the last forty to fifty years in the way of rights and freedoms for collective minorities as well as for the individual. But, alas, we've been hearing this lament for years from the conservatives, mostly within the context of "walking away from the laws of god" type of way. But America has never been about the laws of god. It's always been about individual liberty. The right of people to live a life free of both religious and governmental interference. Only a cursory reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution makes that plain as the nose on a face. But, then again, religion has never been a respecter of the individual:
During a recent airing, talk show host Dennis Prager spoke to a man who apologized to his son for "giving a worse America to you than my father gave to me."
A worse America? This wasn't a new concept to me. Having grown up all around conservatives, I've heard this complaint many, many times. People lament what they perceive to be a decline in American values over the last forty years.
Although there may be a small amount truth in the statement, I have to wonder if it is really so, overall.
This is definitely not in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution. Dare I say, it is the antithesis as such.
Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Romans 2:11-12 For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
1 Peter 1:16-17 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear.
And hence, my disagreement with Tom's conclusion: That I am a hypocrite for being against them able to legislate their morality, while pushing for the legislation of my own. The very fact that we are a country who respects persons and does not respect mob mentality or group think, any type of legislation that would take away from a persons right to live the way they wish would be a hypocrisy for me to justify or get behind. The fact that I only support legislation that allows for diversity in freedom (as opposed to legislation which prohibits any type of freedom for persons) makes it non-hypocriphal. Now, if I were to support a ban on straight marriage while actively seeking a law to legalize gay marriage, therein would be a hypocrisy. If I were to support laws that take away a woman's right to bear arms while at the same time urging for a law that would make atomic weapons available at WalMart for only men, that would be hypocrisy (as well as a Republican party platform!) If I would advocate legalization of gay marriage with the intent to force conservatives and fundamentlists to perform such ceremonies against their will, this would be the hypocrisy I think Tom reads into my intentions...
But it is not a hypocrisy to advocate for legislation which expands individual rights while being against legalization to limit them. When laws only add to the rights we stand for while at the same time not taking away previously held rights of other groups (whether minority or not), this only adds to the spirit of the letter of our laws. Not laws from a book written by desert nomads or Roman citizens in persecution. Not laws written by crazed persons seeing angles and finding scrolls in Egypt. Laws written by our founding fathers. Laws that respect the individual. Laws of liberty.