Thursday, December 21, 2006

Faith and the Law

Today, there’s been a big furor over Keith Ellison's choice to place his hand on the Quran in his private swearing in ceremony. During his public oath of office, he’s going to be doing the same civil ceremony as everyone else (raise your hand, swear to uphold the Constitution) but during his private ceremony for friends and family, he’s going to place his hand on the Quran instead of the Bible.

This has some lawmakers up in arms because they say that the only book you should ever swear on is the Bible and that it’s horrible that this man is using another book to take his private oath of office. They even try to state that the Bible is the book that binds the American people together.

I think that these people need to be removed from office. They need to be taken out of office right now because they have, in a thinly veiled manner, expressed a very dangerous sentiment – that the laws of the people of the United States of America (who are quite a diverse group no matter how it seems at times) should be governed by an entirely Christian law system and that is by no means in the best interest of the people whom they are supposed to represent and serve (politicians serve you. Never forget that).

A politician’s duty is to act in the best interest of the people. It is not to act in such a manner that the tenants of his faith become law. That would be no different than the laws which limited the rights of non whites. Here’s a brief recap of United States civil rights history – those laws were struck down and for good reason – because they put the interests of one group of people above all others for the simple reason that they could (not because it was what was best for the people, and not because it was the right thing to do as was the case in mandating that buildings be handicap accessible, but because the group of people in power wanted to make sure they kept it).

One of the reasons (though by no means the only reason) that people first started settling here was to get away from the enforced religion of the Church of England. Now the politicians here are trying to become what the settlers were running away from.

The document which ties the people of this country and their political representatives together is not the Bible (which so many people seem to swear it is). It is the Constitution of the United States. If you want to swear your official oath of office on a document, do it on that one, because the faith you are should not matter. What matters is that you do what is best for the people.

It should not matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Zoroastrian, or the member of any other faith. The document that ties you together with your neighbors, the people down the street, and the ones in the next town, the next county, and the next state over is not your book of faith. It is that piece of parchment that says that you have a right to free speech, that you have the right to bear arms, to peaceably assemble, and above all that the religions of others should not interfere with the making of laws or how they are enforced.

Religion is a private choice. It is something that impacts your life on a personal level. The law and how it is carried out impacts everyone that it affects no matter their gender, race, sexual preference, or religion and it should not be determined by the tenants of one faith over another.

By all means, be proud of your faith (I am). Let it help guide you in the choices of your personal life (I do). However, don’t go forcing it onto other people (whether it be through laws, rules, proselytizing, or other means).

Current mood: annoyed
Current music: Wire Train – I will not fall

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