As we get increasingly closer to election day and conversations become more political, I hear more of my friends and acquaintances trying to opt out of these discussions.
“My vote doesn’t count,” they will say.
“There’s not really a difference between the candidates.”
“I’m not political.”
It does — there is — you should be!
“We believe in a nation under God, a nation indivisible, a nation united, a nation with justice and liberty for all. And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a new president that will commit to getting America working again; that will commit to a strong military; that will commit to a nation under God that recognizes that we the American people were given our rights not by government, but by God himself.”
—Mitt Romney – campaign speech September 9th, 2012
I’m sure that’s all very moving to the more devout Christians in the crowd but does he truly believe that our rights come to us from the Christian god?
Certainly, many people seem to think so, but how do they support this assertion?
I have read their Bible but I’ve never noticed any list of enumerated rights or freedoms therein. Certainly, they’ve got all the “Thou Shalt Not’s” spelled out pretty clearly. Very big on telling people what they must and must not do, is the Hebrew god, but not so much with the rights and privileges.
Due Process? Not in there.
Search and seizure? Not a word.
Cruel and unusual punishment? Well, actually the Bible is chock full of cruel and unusual punishments, usually dealt out to the “sinner” or the “unbeliever” which should give anyone from outside the Abrahamic religious tradition significant cause for concern regarding any alleged dispensation of rights from “on high”.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
—Preamble – United States Constitution – 1787
“We the people … do ordain and establish.” We have the power to make our own liberties without the providence of some jealous middle-eastern deity. The vehicle through which we have established our rights is the rule of law as instituted by a democratically elected government which is concerned with the general welfare of it’s citizens.
So why should it matter if a man like Governor Romney thinks our rights are bestowed upon us by his particular flavor of deity? After all, as Thomas Jefferson said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
It matters, I think, because men like Governor Romney have an avowed opposition to secularism in governance. In their eyes, the Pagans, Buddhists, Atheists and Muslims are to be “tolerated” by their fellow citizens in a display of Christian compassion while any loss in their own exalted status is viewed as an attack on the cultural heritage of the nation itself.
The next president will likely find himself appointing as many as two new members to the Supreme Court. I, for one, do not want to see any more Justices who’s understanding and application of the law is that a sort of institutionalized Christianity was part of the framers original intent.
Our votes do matter! And not just in the “big” elections.
This man, Paul Broun, is a medical doctor, a U.S. Representative for the State of Georgia and a member of the Congressional Committee on Science and Technology. He also states openly that, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
He also believes that the Earth is only 9,000 years old and was created in 6-days!
Let me be clear, I believe in the freedom of religion as guaranteed us in the Bill of Rights. It is the first freedom that the founders chose to spell out and I think rightfully so, as it is, in many ways, the most important.
While Rep. Broun is free to believe whatever he wants, I have to wonder he really belongs on the Committee on Science and Technology when he obviously does not understand even the most basic precepts of scientific theory?
I don’t even know that I would want him as my doctor.
It is not that I think his beliefs make him ineligible for public office. I simply don’t think that a man who tried to have 2010 proclaimed the “Year of the Bible” really grasps the idea behind the Non-Establishment Clause. I can only imagine how his position in the House Committee on Science and Technology will affect the future of NASA, the EPA and the Department of Energy.
We, the people, have won for ourselves a great many rights. Had these freedoms been granted to us by some all powerful god it is likely they would not be in such constant jeopardy. Our brothers and sisters have fought in wars and marched through the streets to secure for us these liberties. These are the core values of our nation which supersede any particular religious creed, even as they guarantee our freedom to believe as our conscious dictates.
The First Amendment to the Constitution enshrines not only Freedom of Religion but the Freedom of Speech. The Vote is our most precious form of national speech and it is the linchpin of all the other rights we so often take for granted.
While we certainly have the right to remain silent, to do so assumes our assent in the continued erosion of our collective freedoms. We abdicate our rights at our own peril. Someday we may find that our silence is not so much a right as it is a mandate.
Our rights come from us. Exercise them.