Tuesday, November 4, 2008

religious freedom

In the war of words that has become the prop 8 debate one troubling concept demands discussion. I'll leave the homosexual debate for another day, I'm talking about the first amendment. It reads "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."

Despite the constant barage and never ending repetition to the contrary...it is constitutional for me to vote based on my religious world view. The first amendment gaurantees that right. Common sense supports that right.

All laws are moral in their basis. ALL laws are moral in their basis. We all vote depending on what we feel is right or wrong, what is of greater or lesser value.

To categorically say that a group of people who believe the Bible cannot vote based on morals they have developed related to that belief is fallacy. A vote is expressing one's opinion, not forcing it upon other. A vote from a religious world view is no more force than a vote from any other point of view. We can develop our morals however we want, then vote as we desire based on those morals.

If we are to say morals based on the Bible are somehow not appropriate, it begs the question what books are appropriate to base your morals on then? Ayn Rand is okay? Stalin okay? Anything in favor of God..not so much? We can read books by political pundits, but not anything religious? Or is it just certain religions that are singled out? Who chooses this? Popular opinion?

Perhaps it is the number of people believing in a certain book...so if a certain percentage of the population read and votes based on Obama's books would they also be forcing their views with their votes?

Which beliefs are forced and which are inappropriate even in the Bible? The Bible teaches pretty strongly against murder. Shall I vote against that or is that also forcing my beliefs on others? How about child abuse? Am I allowed to vote against one moral issue, but not another and how is that decided and who is it decided by? You?

It becomes clear that I am only allowed to vote based on my religious world view when it agrees with the "general public" . Now by general public I do not mean the majority of the population that actually has religious faith, but the minority of the population that does not! On a more personal level, if the person I am speaking with disagrees with my moral stance on any law *I* am forcing my religion on them. Are they forcing their lack of religion on me? Or is this a one way purely anti religion tact? Are my morals of lesser consideration because my religion has influenced their development? Is this decided on a case by case basis?

How about religious people who vote differently from me? Are they forcing their views on me? If they vote similarly to you is it still wrong for them to vote based on their religious world view?

I am clear that I should not vote my religious practices into law. I do not think anyone should be forced to believe anything..if that were even possible. I do not think either that specific practices, such as requiring certain clothes, reading certain books or praying a certain way should be legislated. That is what the first amendment is all about. The government allows people to practice their religion or lack there of, but does not enforce any certain manner of religious practice.

But religion is not solely practices. Religion is not a checklist of beliefs that I consult, or a list of doctrines I memorize. It is not a set of counsel that I am to follow. The counsel to vote in void without my religion is implying I could. I cannot. My beliefs are intrinsically a part of me. Religion effects what I eat, where I live, what kind of job I seek, what kind of books I read, how I see the world. I cannot leave my world view at the door. Can you? Can you somehow leave everything you have experienced and felt and lived at the door of the voting booth in some sort of blank slate phenomena? If I could leave my world view at the door, what would be the cost? Would I also be leaving everything that is compassionate, giving and serving at the door as well as my sometimes troublesome morals?

The constitution demands that we value the votes of all. Those who believe as we do, those who disagree, those who are young or old, male or female, black or white...we all have unique life experiences, different morals and different political opinions. That is one of the reasons why this nation is so amazing. We all have a voice.