Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nothing New In Nation "Under God"

Since the presidential primaries are coming up next year, a lot of hopeful nominees, for the Republican Party in particular, are already setting up for campaigning. Two of particular interest are Roy Moore, a former Supreme Court Chief Justice who lost his position because he refused to remove a copy of the ten commandments he put in an Alabama courthouse, and Newt Gingrich, who needs little introduction; he’s had 2 affairs, been married three times, 2 of which are directly related to previous infidelities, was formerly a House Representative and gave up that position over 10 years ago when Democrats took over the House, becoming a pundit instead. Both of these men are looking for nomination in the Republican Party, among others, such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, both of whom I’ve spoken of at length. But one has to wonder if they’re even capable of getting significant support.

Moore was campaigning recently in Iowa, getting support from Tea Party supporters and middle class evangelicals, neither of which surprises me. Tea Partiers seem to be really strong on individual rights, including your right as an employee of a secular government to put up explicitly religious paraphernalia in direct opposition to the principle that the government should not reflect any support of a particular religion in its administration. If this guy wants to put up the Decalogue in his house, I have no issue. Put them on the front yard if you want, but in a court room, there’s no reason you’d need it, especially considering you’d have a distinct possibility in such a religiously diverse country as the U.S., to encounter people who don’t’ follow half of them or might know more about them than you do, such as the potential mistranslation you might be posting of number 6, even presented to me as “Thou shalt not kill,” when it’s universally agreed by scholars to be “Thou shalt not murder,” which is a pretty large restriction in lieu of the amount of indiscriminate divinely mandated or originated killing in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. It’s not like the guy doesn’t have some positions I could align with, like his opposition to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and advocating that the U.S. seek out new sources of energy so the oil crisis doesn’t reach a fever pitch. But the guy also opposes gay marriage in the same breath he’d say he opposes DADT, so the amount of compartmentalization he has to do borders on psychotic. Not to mention the obvious misunderstanding he seems to have of any idea of the First Amendment’s religious establishment clause that almost makes Christine O’Donnell look smart about it, which is hard. The guy persists in emphasizing that “Without God, there can be no ethics,” which was his response to the panel that removed him from his Chief Justice position, primarily due to his vehemently resisting a court order to remove the Ten Commandments. The guy tries to sound like he’s for the separation of church and state, but he also emphasizes that God is overarching across both church and state, which means he thinks (il)logically that we should recognize God’s sovereignty in courtrooms across the country: seems like the church is getting a bigger piece of the pie than the state is. If the state wants to restrict the use of religious monuments by a federal employee directly advocating one religion over another, especially if it’s paid with taxpayer money, then Roy Moore just shoves that restriction to the side. Since God “clearly” overrules any human law, since it made those ten rules that are somehow legally binding upon us, even though only about half of them have anything to do with law. I’d sooner vote for the next guy than this one…but not really.

Newt Gingrich has never been popular with me in politics. I did an article last year on him and Palin both railing on Obama, as if they could manage things better. Even if they put both their heads together, I can see things going much worse than Obama has supposedly made them. Gingrich, who’s also running for a Republican nomination in 2012, spoke at Cornerstone Church, headed by John Hagee, who had wanted to endorse John McCain when he ran in 2008, but was rejected on the grounds of anti-semitic sounding remarks he made concerning the Holocaust. Basically, he said Hitler was part of God’s plan to advance the growth of the state of Israel. But enough on a preacher who’s potentially crazier than Newt Gingrich and Roy Moore put together; let’s talk about Gingrich’s concern he voiced at his speech. He said he was worried that America would become “a secular atheist country…dominated by radical Islamists,” This is already a pretty clear contradiction; we’re beyond paradox. You can’t have a secular atheist country that’s run by Islam, a majority of which would support both a theocracy and a theistic religion as the source of law. If anything, he seems to think that somehow, radical Muslims and radical atheists will be willing to team up, which seems silly. If anything, there’s only a possibility that one half of the country would be Islamist and the other half atheist. But it seems like if it’s going to be one way or the other, it can’t be a shared endeavor, since Islam and atheism are at least descriptively opposed in not both being theistic. Christians and Muslims, maybe; atheists and secularists, sure, but not secularists or atheists alongside Islamists, unless they’re Muslim in name only, which is something critics of Islam say Muslims can be: that is, affirm Muslim tenets, but in reality believe only in atheist ideas (though that’s a bit of an oxymoron, since atheism isn’t a religion).

The whole concern here is focused on Gingrich’s worry that people will forget the “American ideals,” which to him are being Christian and Republican, in that order. One can understand where he might be worried people are trying to censor the Founding Father’s individual beliefs concerning Christianity and such, but history seems to demonstrate that many of the men who were the impetus to the U.S. declaring independence from Britain didn’t care whether Americans were Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist, among other possibilities. The basic freedoms in America are not a matter of freedom to be one of many varieties of one religion, as many fundamentalists and overly politically oriented devotees of Christianity seem to want to convince everyone around them. That was something of the original idea of the earliest settlers, but as diversity continued to expand, it only made sense that being American was not about strict standards for what constituted identity, but shared ideals. If Gingrich is worried people will forget what being an American is, perhaps he might consider that we’ve always had a good idea of what it means to be American; it’s people like him that are skewing the idea to a more narrow and exclusive perspective that pushes out any other religion from public view. They’ll say other religions, like Islam, have a right to practice, but that Christianity gets priority for historical reasons. And that’s not only unjustified, but it’s unconstitutional. Even putting favor towards a religion as an elected official is impermissible by the First Amendment, since even if it isn’t a matter of law, it’s still trying to make us believe that Christianity and the Ten Commandments are where our Constitution originates from, when that’s clearly not the case. I can’t say I’d recommend voting for either of these guys, assuming they even get in the primaries. Vote Mitt Romney before you even think of the proverbial Four Horsemen of 2012: Palin, Gingrich, Moore and Huckabee. Until next time, Namaste and aloha.