The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. - John AdamsJohn Adams was a well-known devout Christian. He credited the faith that his family held with their success in the new world. Adams was also a free thinker and a wise man, who understood that the key to the success of the new nation they were founding depended on not repeating the same mistakes that they had left Britain to escape - namely a theocratic monarchy ruling the country and a state religion that was enforced through government mandate.
The history of America is well-known, or at least it should be. Our founding fathers came to this country to escape the religious rule in England. The Church of England was the supreme authority there, they chose kings based on a divine revelation from God and Catholicism was the official religion of the country. Indeed, England was founded as a "Catholic nation" and what resulted was an hierarchy and government based on religious mandate. Incidentally, the church also levied excessive taxes on the people, another source of dissatisfaction for the colonists who came to the new world. Our founding fathers came here to escape a government founded upon and run by religion, there is no arguing this as it is historical fact. The men themselves may have been devout Christians, but their vision for America was one of religious freedom. The most important values our founding fathers had were the preservation of freedom and liberty for ALL men.
The brilliance and wisdom of our founding fathers was never more evident than in their very specific separation of church and state when drawing up our constitution. They explicitly provided for the protection of religious freedom as part of the first amendment, because they were by and large men of faith themselves and they valued the importance of protecting their rights to observe and practice their faith without persecution. However, they clearly drew a line between the influence of one's faith in how they conducted themselves in their personal lives and that faiths influence on how government ruled the people. They believed, wisely, that people should be free to believe whatever they want but government should be without religious bias, in order to best preserve that freedom.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [in England] and in New England" - Benjamin FranklinThis quote reflects the fundamental reason why our founding fathers wanted a clear separation between church and state. Benjamin Franklin wisely noted that religions have historically persecuted each other and even religions that began as the persecuted minority often became the persecutors themselves as they gained strength and prominence in a society. When those same religions gained influence over the government, the problem became far worse because now those religions not only persecuted opposing religions, they now had the strength of the government and its armies behind it. Think about the Crusades during the middle ages, when England sent out its vast armies to conquer countries of different religions, destroy its churches and kill anyone who wouldn't convert. Think about the Spanish Inquisition and how non-believers were tortured and killed and it was all sanctioned by the government. This is the inevitable, historical consequence of a government where church and state are not kept separate.
You can even look to modern times and see the current target of political demonization, Sharia Law, as an example of the importance of separating church and state. Sharia Law is the religious mandate of Islam applied to government rule of the people in countries that have adopted it. Many on the right have tried to create a wedge issue out of Sharia Law by conjuring up a scenario where this law would come to America and American women would be forced to walk around in burkha's and so on. While this is absolutely NOT going to happen in this country, now or ever, it creates an opportunity to examine the hypocrisy of Christian fundamentalists who oppose being "forced" to abide by Muslim law, but would love to see all of America "forced" to abide by Christian law instead.
Not everyone in America is an evangelical or fundamentalist Christian. Even among those in this country who describe themselves as Christian, most do not practice their faith at a level that would characterize them as "evangelical" or "fundamentalist". Most Americans who describe themselves as Christians don't go to church every Sunday, they don't read and study the bible, they don't always obey all of the 10 commandments or the moral mandates of the church, and so on. This isn't an indictment, it's just a fact. I know a lot of people who say that they're Christians, I've gotten drunk and high with some, had sex out of wedlock with others and seen more still pushed into the back of police cars after being arrested. Death Row is full of Christians - as are all prisons in this country. The percentage of Christians in this country who have never done anything to disobey bible law is very small.
I say this because there are those in politics who want to see America adopt Christian fundamentalism as its basis for governance. There are some Christian voters in this country who would love to see that happen as well. However, many people who don't have a problem with the idea of basing the laws of our country on biblical mandate don't fully understand what, exactly, that would mean for them.
Many people who consider themselves Christian enjoy having a few drinks now and then. Many who consider themselves Christian enjoy having casual sex out of wedlock and using contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy or getting an STD. Many who consider themselves Christian enjoy looking at pornography, wearing revealing clothing, swearing, smoking and so on. It's not even just about more "traditional" sinful behavior such as that, either. Many Christians work on Sundays, a violation of biblical law. Many Christians think that certain behaviors are perfectly acceptable, but those behaviors are a violation of the strict law of the bible.
So, what's my point?
First and foremost, I am a believer in the core principles upon which this country was founded - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I believe in these things above all else. I defend these principles and would lay my life down for them, because I believe they are essential to the greatness of America and they are the foundation upon which our country has stood strong for over 200 years.
When I say that I believe in liberty, I mean it. I believe in personal liberty and freedom with every fiber of my being. This means I believe in the right of the evangelical to practice his or her beliefs just as much as I believe in the right of the atheist to have no beliefs at all. I believe in the right of the Muslim to practice their faith freely and without harassment and I believe in the right of the Buddhist and Jew to do the same.
I believe everyone in this country should have the freedom to believe whatever they want and to live their lives in whatever way brings them the second important founding principle of our country - happiness.
I believe that every American has the right to a life that makes them happy. If being a devout Christian and attending church regularly makes you happy, then I fully support your right to do it. If being an atheist and not attending church at all makes you happy, then I support your right to do that as well.
In my post yesterday, I spoke about the right of "life" as implied in the constitution and how there is some hypocrisy by many who claim to be Christian as to which "life" is worth preserving and which isn't and how there is no distinction made in either the bible or the constitution about which "life" is sacred and protected and which isn't. Today, I'm talking about liberty and happiness and how the only way to preserve both of those things for ALL Americans is to keep church and state separate.
You see, the difference between my views on Christianity and a fundamentalist like Rick Santorum's views on non-Christians is that I support the right of Christians to be Christian. I support the freedom of men like Rick Santorum to practice their faith without persecution and in the manner that they see fit. If Rick Santorum has an issue with abortion, then I support Rick Santorum's right to be anti-abortion. If Rick Santorum has an issue with contraception, then I support Rick Santorum's right to be anti-contraception.
However, Rick Santorum does NOT support my right to be pro-contraception or pro-choice. He does NOT support my right to view pornography or have casual sex for enjoyment. He does NOT support my right to do many of the things that make me happy and which don't affect his ability to practice his faith according to his beliefs in any way.
And that's why I have a problem with church law becoming the law of the land.
You see, my beliefs allow for others to disagree and have a differing opinion from my own. My beliefs allow for men like Rick Santorum to live their lives however they want to. My beliefs allow for evangelicals and fundamentalists of all religions to practice their faith without harassment. My beliefs are that you should be allowed to live your life however you want and do whatever makes you happy in life, so long as you are not infringing on my right to do the same.
Christian Law does not allow that same freedom.
Christian Law, the law that Rick Santorum would like to lead by, does NOT allow me to live my life however I choose. It does NOT allow individuals to believe what they want and behave how they want. It does NOT allow consenting adults to have the freedom to make their own decisions and engage in behavior that is objectionable to fundamentalists. This is why I have a problem with it.
Like I said, Rick Santorum and every American who thinks like him has the freedom in this country to believe whatever they want to believe, to practice their faith however they see fit and to live their lives in the manner that they feel is best for them and their religious ideology. That is a good thing. I am perfectly fine with fundamentalists and evangelicals being able to conduct themselves in accordance with their faith and religion and you will never hear me say otherwise.
What I don't want, what I cannot abide, is a country where those people would presume to tell ME how to live MY life. Where MY freedoms are compromised in order to conform to THEIR view of how society should behave. I appreciate that my love of porn, casual drug use and profanity is quite objectionable to the evangelical Christian, which is why I would never support a law that forced Christians to watch porn, use drugs or curse. Thus, I refuse to support the idea of those same Christians forcing me NOT to do those things.
Incidentally, this opinion extends to ALL religions for me. I would be no less opposed to a Muslim Law or Jewish Law society than I am to a Christian Law society.
I believe in freedom, I believe in liberty, I believe in the right of ALL Americans to pursue their own vision of happiness and I believe in letting adults do what they want to do in order to find that happiness, as long as it doesn't prevent any other adult from enjoying that same freedom. My love of porn does not affect the ability of a single Christian to live a life free of it. My love for the occasional adult beverage or herbal medicine does not affect the ability of a single Christian to live a life of sobriety. My love of the "F" word does not affect the ability of a single Christian to never utter that word in their lives. My love of the things that make me happy never conflicts with the love a Christian has for the things that make THEM happy and I will never support a law that would change that.
Thus, I will never support a politician who would seek to change that essential and fundamental vision of America that our founding fathers sought to preserve above all else. I will never support a politician who seeks to rewrite our nation's history and impose their own personal view of morality as the law of the land. I will never support a politician who does not support my right to live my life as I see fit, so long as I'm not breaking the law or negatively affecting anyone else through the decisions I make. I will never support a politician who says that they will govern with their faith, because it is NOT my faith and I will NOT have the beliefs of another imposed upon me. This is AMERICA.