Carol Platt Liebau: Townhall Column

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Townhall Column

I will be a bi-monthly columnist at Townhall, and my first column is up today. Titled "Harris' Misstep", it takes issue with a few of Katherine Harris' statements, most notably her assertion that "If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

From some of the mail I've received, it's clear that some people are misunderstanding my argument. In fact, I argue that nowhere in the Constitution is separation of religion and state required, but establishment of a sectarian faith -- and religious tests for office -- are prohibited. If conservative Christians start to argue that peoples' religious beliefs (or lack thereof), without more, disqualify them from holding office, what's the difference between that and the Democrats' attacks on conservative Christians like John Ashcofrt and Bill Pryor?

It strikes me as the obligation of all Christians to speak out against religious bigotry, whether it's directed against us, or against non-Christians. It's certainly fair game to criticize what people do, but I'd trust the legislating of "non-Christians" like Norm Coleman or Joe Lieberman over professed Christians like Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Mario Cuomo any day.


Blogger dodger said...

Regarding the obesity epidimic, so called, related ostensibly to french fries. Here is my question, did they just discover french fries within the past few years? Regarding the evils of smoking, did they just discover tobacco within the past 40 years? Let's see, have to tie this to the topic. Are Christians opposed to obesity? Smoking? Who are these people anyway? Who is in favor of obesity? Anyone? Wasn't it said that we should leave unto Caesar that which is Caesar's? Well, what is Caesar's?

12:02 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Uh..I'm not sure I quite follow, Dogdge. Please elaborate.

As to the thread, I thought Harris' clumsy, to say the least, statements are grist for the lib Christophobes who see theocracy lurking everywhere (they get better weed than I do). In general, to say that voting for Christians is the way to go might be a sound rule of thumb, as Carol points out, there's more to it than just religious affiliation. It would be nice to think that all Christian candidates are worthy of my vote, but again, my weed ain't that good.

10:34 PM  
Blogger dodger said...

My comment was clumsy. The point is whether we should be concerned if people make their vote based on theocracy. Or based on Catholic vs Protestant. My answer is we should be concerned. But what if a candidate says he/she will rule based on theocracy. I would not vote for such a candidate. And would, thereby, cast my vote based on theocracy? I would consider it a vote based on qualifications, namely a candidate's beliefs do not disqualify him, but his intent to insert those beliefs in governance do. We had a time in history where the Christian church functioned as the governing body. It was not good. I was confused when the term "moral majority" was introduced. I said to meself, what's the church doing, getting on one side or the other. It seems they realized this and have backed off, presumably on the grounds that it was divisive, not productive, and not helpful.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

I think the Church got out due to an increase of liberal thought within some denominations. They may not have the same make-up as the moral majority once did. But the Church, any church, is still an active part of this republic and therefor have a vested interest in policy decisions and their impact on society. The LBJ mandated IRS restrictions are an affront to the rights of these organizations and I would encourage legislators to work toward their repeal.

As to voting, I vote with my faith in mind. As a Christian, and I believe most religions feel the same, I am a Christian first, with my ultimate allegiance to God above anything or anyone else. This seems scary to some, but that's generally a result of ignorance of the faith. So when I vote, I'm concerned about how a given candidate might feel about issues that are contrary to my faith, because I believe the nation benefits by my input. My faith is not a threat, though some adherants may be. If I think a candidate is a good Christian, Jew, Mormon, or what we'd like to think is a good Muslim, the likelyhood of chicanery is lessened as is the possibility that he would support legislation I'd oppose. The thing is, everyone does this very thing. If there is no faith behind it, they've used something else as a replacement. No matter what anyone says, each of us holds to some form of ideology or standards or values that guide our political decision making. That some use their religion does not imply as is that they are theocratic in any way. Christian influence does not in and of itself lead to theocracy. Were that true, we'd already be living in one, since the founders were mostly Christian and so much students of the faith, that most would pass for ministers by their level of knowledge. I insist we have more to fear from a completely secular/atheist electorate and/or candidate pool than we ever will over Christian voters and politicians.

Also, the "rendering unto Caesar" quote is often used to support separation. And wrongly so. The incident wherein Christ said this was to illustrate obedience to civil authority, and to avoid using God as an excuse not to. In other words, we're to obey God, but also obey the law of the land. It has no relation to separation.

All in all, what matter whence comes my opinion? If you say you want a particular piece of legislation, I'm more concerned with whether or not the bill is a good idea for the country. Whether it's good or it sucks, whatever inspired it is not important. Reverse the situation and I'd ask you what does it matter that my faith inspired it? Is it or isn't it a good idea based on the merits of the idea? There's really no other consideration. The real questions are, has it been tried before, did it work before, why would it work for us? Similar questions should be asked of candidates regarding his faith pronouncements. Everyone was up in arms of JFK/s Catholicism. It came to nothing. (In his case it could've been for show, knowing what we know now.)

But back to the thread, I agree with Carol that it's the actions of the candidate, that is, his track record, that shows more than any pronouncement of faith. Some atheists act in a very Christian manner.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

One more thing:

Since our founders rightly felt that our basic rights come from our Creator, I most likely would pass on a candidate who didn't believe in one. Without the Creator, our rights are given to us by the gov. With a Creator, they come standard with every model. I prefer the latter.

5:45 PM  

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