All the jailed Kentucky clerk has to do is resign her post and she is free…

September 6, 2015

 

UPDATE: (9/8/15 2:31 PDT)

So real quick I see that the defiant clerk has been let out of jail. But she still maintains she should be able to defy man-made law by what she interprets to be God’s law. I need to study all this, but what I can say is that if every government official, elected and otherwise, and using their own interpretation to boot, were allowed to decide which public laws to follow, what a mess things would be and that would be the end of our democracy.

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Sorry, but I don’t get the story of the Kentucky clerk who opted to go to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to homosexuals.

I mean she had the option of fulfilling here duties in office and following the law or resigning.

She states that issuing licenses to homosexuals violates her religious beliefs.

It seems that some fundamentalists don’t understand that freedom of religion means that our government is secular. We cannot favor one religion over another or countermand laws passed by our legislatures or as interpreted from the Constitution by our judiciary based on the beliefs of one religion or sect thereof.

I ask: what would Christian religious fundamentalists think if a county clerk decided to act on laws out of the Koran or some other religious book because he or she followed that religion?

We have a secular government and that’s the way it is.

I do think sending the woman to jail is harsh and wished that could have been avoided. Actually, it seems to me she just should have been relieved of her post and that is that. It may be that under the legal system in effect that was not a possible route. And it is clear that she voluntarily chose jail to make a statement.

I just think that Christian fundamentalists only support freedom of religion when they feel it benefits them, but really feel that we are a theocracy. Or they believe that Christianity (and their form of it) is at least the de facto state religion.

The First Amendment  of our Bill of Rights 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.

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Now I’m not going to get into some kind of scholarly interpretation here, but I think the first sentence makes it clear or has been interpreted to mean that the government just stays out of religion — except to guarantee everyone has the freedom to believe as they choose. If you as a government official simply chose not to enforce laws that you feel are counter to your religion and your right to do so was upheld, the government would in effect be saying that such religion is the established religion. And put another way: we just can’t have individual office holders and bureaucrats deciding which laws to enforce and which not, based on religion or anything else.

But certainly I believe the Kentucky clerk in no way should be forced by the government to do something that violates her religious principles. But the remedy is clear: resign the post.

p.s.

Even though I am not officially religious, I have to admit in my upbringing Christianity seemed to be synonymous with religion or going to church, even though I recognized that there were other religions. And furthermore I saw that public institutions sometimes bent the rules a little with Christian prayers used to begin meetings, traditional Christmas celebrated in the school, and we even said a little prayer in my public school kindergarten before we had our Graham crackers and milk. None of this hurt anything, except that was then and this is now. I have not read yet that people have actually been forbidden to follow their religion on their own time, as long as they were not somehow involving others or forcing others who were not so inclined to do so.

I’m all for tolerance, though. My dad once told me when they were doing an invocation: “just look at the floor”.

 

 

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Appreciating and giving thanks for Thanksgiving…

November 25, 2010

The freeway was crowded with cars last night what with everyone going here and there to be with family. Well if everyone goes somewhere, who stays home?

I’m in a good mood, even though I also have the sadness that this will be the first Thanksgiving in more than 40 years I will not spend with my wife, she having passed away this past summer. I’m in a good mood because I will be with family and family is what I need right now.

It is heartening to me to see that people are so eager to be with family. Maybe we all haven’t quit the family thing after all in this increasingly impersonal world.

Of course I know the holidays can be a tricky time too when it comes to family get togethers. Sometimes old rivalries and jealousies, aided and abetted at times by alcohol, come out.

But let’s hope that is not the case for you reading this, and my advice is that if you see it coming — back off, nothing is to be gained.

I’ve been so busy driving the long haul that I am not fully up on the latest nonsense from Sarah Palin, but from listening to John Rothman on KGO last night I understand she has criticized JFK for a statement or speech he made about separation of church and state.

You’ll recall that his campaign for the presidency was threatened by charges that he being a Catholic would mean he would be taking cues from the Pope. He answered that although he was indeed a devout Catholic, he understood the need for separation of church and state in a nation where our constitution guarantees religious freedom.

There’s a lot of irony here. We know from our earliest school days, dressing up like pilgrims, that those funny-clad folks came over here for religious freedom. But strangely they would not have been too tolerant of anyone who did not believe like they did.

But here’s the deal as far as I can see it — and like so much else, I have blogged this before:

You cannot have religious freedom (which to me includes the right not to be religious) if the government in any way favors or otherwise recognizes one religion over the other.

On the other hand, we (the U.S.) are by our history nominally (maybe not the right word) a Christian nation. And we do have In God We Trust written on our money (although that does not specify the Christian God, but we know that is what it means). But we have also agreed to allow all to worship or not worship as they please.

I’m not going to go on with all of this now, since I need to prepare for visiting with family and chowing down on Thanksgiving dinner.

But I will say I am thankful for family and the bounty God (or whatever supreme power) has bestowed upon me. And I recognize that not all are so fortunate.

And what do I do for the less fortunate? Not a lot. I do not feel that I have the money to spare for charity directly, but I do pay taxes, and I do not begrudge any of that money going for those in true need.

And I am trying to get out of this blog and not digress into further subjects or variations of the same subject. But I wish there were some way to create a public assistance program that targeted individuals and families in true need due to circumstances beyond their control, such as unemployment and health problems. But a lot of our social service funding is wasted (and I mean a lot) on people who make a career out of gaming the system. Yes it works that way at both ends of the ladder. People at the bottom game the welfare system and people at the top game the federal tax structure and the financial system.

Honest people carry the burden. But they also have a clean conscience and will not have so much explaining to do when they meet God (or the supreme power).

And that is my sermon for the day.

Enjoy! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Is religious freedom provision understood???

January 3, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think when someone laments that “they won’t let children pray in public schools,” or “they’ve taken God out of the schools”, that is a false notion.

It is my understanding that no one is prohibited from praying in school, but public school authorities are prohibited from leading that prayer. I think there also is a caveat to prevent prayer activity that might be disruptive. But certainly a personal silent prayer done at a time and place that does not interfere with anyone else would not likely fall into that category.

I think that some people just don’t want to accept that the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights provides for freedom of religion by denying the government the power to establish an official religion or the power to prevent the free exercise of religion, as well as providing for free speech (and some folks have problem with free speech, as well).

The First Amendment 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.”

As I understand it, for instance, a school child could pray by his or her self in a way that would not be disruptive to others, and there is no authority to stop that. On the other hand, if a teacher or other school official were to lead in prayer that would amount to the sanctioning of religion or a type of religion, as in establishing an official religion. And certainly anyone could see that with all the different religions (and even atheism) and the various denominations in those religions, it would not be wise for school authorities to put their mark of approval on any one single form of practice. You can hardly have freedom of religion if official authority is leading you in the practice of a religion.

And then there is the ongoing question of whether religious groups can meet at public schools. I don’t know the precise status on all the legal rulings on this and I don’t want to get into all the legal research.

But the idea of religious clubs forming at public schools is what brought this topic to my mind. I read in my morning newspaper some man (and woman)-on-the street responses to the question:

“A California court this year will decide whether students can form a Bible club at a public school. What do you think?”

I’ll give the responses and then my response to the responses:

A student: “I think they should have the option to form one if they want, but I don’t think it should be mandatory.” That’s probably closest to what I think, but not so much in a legal sense. Certainly they could not be mandatory, otherwise we’re back to state-sponsored religion, and as we know, some nations have that – Iran anyone? Iraq anyone? for that matter.

An equipment mechanic: “I think they should have one. I think it’s very important that they have that in schools.” So this man, as I would imagine a lot of folks are, is in favor of Bible clubs for students. He does not address the fact that what he thinks might not be what others think, and he does not address what the First Amendment says (but, then again, no one else did either).

A retired teacher’s aide: “I believe they should have the same access as any other group that wants to form a club. I don’t think they should be denied access.” I kind of feel that way too. And the U.S. Supreme Court majority did hold in 2001 (Good News Club vs Milford) that a school could have a religious club because to not allow such would be counter to the First Amendment’s free speech clause. And to me it seems it might be argued that it ran counter to the clause against the government “prohibiting the free exercise (of religion)…” But that’s just me.

An apartment manager: “I think it’s great. They should be able to form any club they want to. There should be teacher coordination with that too.” I’m not at all sure what he means by “teacher coordination”, but certainly that sounds wrong, because then we are mixing government and religion, contrary to the First Amendment.

A student: “I am not against it. I think students should form clubs as they see fit as long as they don’t break any school rules.” Well that seems reasonable.

A food service worker: “Yes, absolutely. I think you should be able to.” Thanks for your input.

So there you have it. No atheists, heretics, or antichrists in the bunch.

Irrespective of the constitutional aspects, I tend to agree with the prevailing mood here. Let them form Bible clubs.

But the one thing I always have to ask myself is why do religious folks want to meet at public schools? Why not at their own churches? I suppose convenience is one factor.

On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a right-wing fundamentalist religious movement that wants to make inroads into all public activities, be it the public schools or politics, and who wants to force its doctrine on all.

I also think the assumption among many of these groups is that a Bible club would of course be a Christian group using the King James version of the Holy Bible. Would they be comfortable with a turban-wearing group carrying copies of the Koran? Would they want teachers leading everyone in a prayer to Allah?

No so much.

P.s. One thing that causes problems in all of this is that often First Amendment religious issues pit atheists on one side and unyielding and intolerant religious fundamentalists on the other, while most of the public falls in between. Nonetheless, we all live with the ultimate court decisions that are framed from arguments made by the polar extremes.