Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Needed: Constitutional Conversation, Not Moral Debate

Most have probably heard of the flap about O'Donnell's questions, concerning the words "separation of church and state". WaTi has a report. 

"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" Ms. O'Donnell asked while Democrat Chris Coons, an attorney, sat a few feet away.

Mr. Coons responded that Ms. O'Donnell's question "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes a separation."

She interrupted to say, "The First Amendment does? ... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"

Technically she is right, those words aren't there.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;......"

"Shall make no law" and "prohibiting the free exercise of" are the operative phrases here. They are not the least bit vague, they are very clear.

Many of the evangelical leaders (who get involved in politics) use this to lobby in certain moral issues that get brought up during the course of every election. This is their rationale for wanting to legislate morality. This is something that is never wise to do, unless it is an issue that directly and adversely affects another person. Our rights all end, where our neighbors' begins.

Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with voting a person's conscience.... for it is our constitutional right to do so and it is an elected official's, as well. There is nothing wrong with a person's faith guiding their tough decisions as long as it does not impose upon, nor restrict the freedom of others. But if we are discussing this in a deeply analytical way, we must consider something else besides the Constitution when answering this moral dilemma.

When Christ's followers asked Him if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, He asked for a coin and inquired as to whose inscription was on the money. They told him it was Caesar and He proceeded to admonish them to give Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and God the things that are God's.

In my book, this speaks pretty plain as to what Christ thought of government. It was to be respected and the laws were to be obeyed (unless any of them restricted their rights to practice their faith), but both entities were to be attended to separately. If we truly heed the words of the Holy Bible, this story must not be overlooked or disregarded.

"Congress shall make no law" is a powerful directive that binds the arms of any government that would seek to impose its beliefs onto its citizenry. So if this really be the case, candidates should not promise to make such a law, nor should they promise to impose their personal beliefs on others. Once elected, they must obey the Constitution because it is their Christian duty to do so.

It is at this point in the campaign, whereby moral issues are not important to win independents. They are not looking for pastors, they are looking for leaders to manage the government properly. They want those leaders to create and support the freedom for them to practice whatever faith they choose. In the meantime, liberal interviewers and debate moderators are chomping at the bit to trip up strong candidates, because of social issues. Moral issues are the last ditch gasps they can muster and can be expected to be used even more so, as the election nears.

This is why I get so frustrated with some conservative candidates.

When asked questions that involve personal and deeply held beliefs that are not relevant to any constitutional or government discussion, it is better off to ignore those questions and focus on the issues that are going to sink us as a nation. Instead of being sucked into an irrelevant sidebar, they should be redirecting the conversation back to these things that are of the utmost importance.

How to stop the out of control:

1. spending
2. accruing massive amounts of public debt
3. borrowing money to cover the losses
4. growing government

...and generally screwing up the natural order of things.

These are the things people need to hear, because government is wanting to restrict and tax even more than they already have to this point and they'll do it if we do not rein them in. What does the source of homosexuality have anything to do with anything? Is that going to get people back to work and off the public dole?

In the final two weeks, we need to stay on track and focus on the messages that got us to this point and on those principles that beget this movement. It's time to start the purge of dead weight in the legislature and can those who do not share those principles begin planning the next phase of the purge that will come in 2012.


Greg said...

I couldn't agree with you more, LAS. This is why I sounded the alarm on O'Donnell weeks ago: it is clear she wants to impose her silly religious views on public school students, and that is anything but conservative. It is big gov't at its worst.

Also, as you correctly point out, her views on masturbation, dinosaurs, and family values are irrelevant to an electorate that is struggling to make ends meet and/or is concerned about its financial future. I have grown very tired of a number of wacky tea party candidates who don't seem to get it.

Worst of all, O'Donnell's win in the primary sealed Coons' victory. And the problem isn't just with these candidates, but also with people voting for them and thereby shooting themselves in the foot. We haven't learned our lesson from 2008? Sure McCain wasn't the greatest candidate if you're a conservative, but he sure would have been better than Obama no? A lot better! Many conservatives out there still don't get it.

LASunsett said...

By the same token, Greg, there are RINOs like Corker and McConnell who do not get it. Read this:

These are prime examples of why O'Donnell won the nomination, her GOP opponent was one just like these two.

It's time to get with the program. It's time to talk about real conservatism, which leaves social issues alone, strips the federal government of its power, and creates freedom to live how a person wants to long as they are within the limits of the law.

You cannot control behavior with legislation, but you can protect freedom by keeping the government out of our lives as much as possible. Right now, it is more important to preserve the republic by getting the government out of our lives as much as possible.

Evangelicals have some valid points about a lot of things, but right now we need to defeat the arrogance of big government and save this nation from bankruptcy. We can discuss their concerns later, after we have saved the nation from tanking out.

Mustang said...

I do agree that “separation of church and state” does not preclude religious expression, as most leftists (godless heathens that they are) would have us believe. Leftists don’t really believe that anyway —they only believe in suppressing Christianity. For example, the United States has never issued a “Christmas stamp,” but has issued stamps commemorating Jewish and Islamic religious holidays. Leftists use the ACLU to argue against putting up nativity scenes on government property (although, government property by definition, belongs to the people; if the people want to have a nativity scene erected at the court house, why right do courts have to prohibit it?). Where was the ACLU when the Eid Stamp was published in 2001, or the Hanukah stamp in 1996?

Personally, as a former teacher, I do not agree with reciting the Lord’s Prayer in schools. This isn’t because I’m a bad person … it is because if you allow Christians to recite the Lord’s Prayer, then you must also allow Moslems and Jews to recite their prayers. Our children are already stupid, so we don’t need to take more time away from instruction so that children can mouth prayers that none of them understands, or which accomplish nothing more than fomenting problems among students of various religious backgrounds. No one wants to kick ass more than an in-your-face Southern Baptist.

Still, like you and Greg, I believe no one is more dangerous to a free society than a religious zealot is. Whether they are Christian, Jew, or Moslem … it always comes down to their way, or the highway. This would be okay were it not for the fact that in Islam, the highway is a hangman’s noose or a very large pile of stones. So then what was Christine O’Donnell attempting to tell us? Perhaps her point was a fundamental observation that individuals who take an oath to uphold the United States Constitution should actually know the Constitution; they should know what they are upholding. Apparently, Coons does not know that, or any of the law school graduates who tittered in the audience. As for O’Donnell, I think she is too immature at present to sit in the United States Senate. She should have begun her rise to fame in the House of Representatives.

A.C. McCloud said...

The problem is the other side is advocating their 'religion' on a daily basis, which is generally what motivates the God folks to participate in the first place.

O'Donnell was no more a fool on the 1st Amendment question than Coons, who couldn't name but one freedom guaranteed in the document. I'm not sure from the tape whether she was objecting to the SOCAS words or the establishment clause itself. It's clear she's no scholar, then again, it's clear the president doesn't know much about it either or worse--wants to change it.

If you want conservative rule you must put up with the social conservatives in a two party system. Ostracizing them will result in liberal rule for eternity, unless we get a third party to split up the vote.

LASunsett said...

//As for O’Donnell, I think she is too immature at present to sit in the United States Senate. //

As was the case with Palin, in 2008. I think she has had her introduction, now it is up to her to educate herself further so she can be more effective down the road.

LASunsett said...

//If you want conservative rule you must put up with the social conservatives in a two party system. Ostracizing them will result in liberal rule for eternity, unless we get a third party to split up the vote.//

I think you are right. But by the same token, I am not advocating they be ostracized. I'd rather say it is a gentle redirection.

O'Donnell was nominated because she came down on the right side of economics, while her GOP primary opponent was trying to be Democrat Lite. I just want these people to stay with what got them this far and not get crossed up in the secularist media's attempts to defines them through issues that are not at the forefront of the debate.

Both you and Mustang make some valid points as to the reasoning behind this galvanization of evangelicals on social issues. And I said in the post, there are some legitimate concerns. I think schools are overstepping many of their traditional boundaries by teaching morals that are consistent with Leftist thinking.

I have no problem with schools teaching tolerance towards homosexuals, but I do not think it's okay to teach that it is normal to be so. That is a value judgment that they must learn to make for themselves. I can respect people and treat them like a decent human being, without putting my approval on their lifestyle.

I have no problem with keeping the schools religion free, as long as the same thing applies to Islam and every other religion. When schools cannot have a Christmas tree but can insert a block of instruction on Islam to coincide with Ramadan, we have a discrepancy.

There other theological social issues that need to be discussed down the road. But until we get a hold of this runaway Congress and stop this reckless fiscal policy, none of the rest of this is going to matter in 5-10 years.

Always On Watch said...

Note that the First Amendment specifies what Congress cannot do.

At the time that the First Amendment was ratified, many of the ratifying states had established religion in those states, i.e., state-supported churches.

If O'Donnell had made that point, she'd have more credibility, I think.

LASunsett said...

//If O'Donnell had made that point, she'd have more credibility, I think.//

I think you are right, this is the crux of the matter. She has charisma, but so does Obama. She has a high energy level, but not enough temperance and wisdom to channel it into productive discussions.

But like I said, such was the case with Palin.

A.C. McCloud said...

I don't have a problem with religion being taught in schools as long as they cover all of them, and reasonably go into the history and contributions, etc.

Of course, it would cause outrage when teaching about Islam's recent contributions (assuming they could cover it) so they best leave it alone..

Anonymous said...

clarification of the separation of church and state has been offered several times to expand beyond the terse wording in the first amendment.....

The phrase "separation of church and state" became a definitive part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S. 98 U.S. 145 (1878), where the court examined Jefferson's involvement with the amendment and concluded that his interpretation was "almost an authoritative declaration" of its meaning.

LASunsett said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for weighing in. I am strapped for time right now, but will go back and research that ruling to see what it said.

I will say that I know it was based on a Mormon wanting to practice polygamy.