Constitutional “Reform” a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

I have no problem with faith. In fact, I find it inspiring when a person’s dedication to God reaps a dividend of compassion, tolerance and understanding. However, as of late faith seems more of a crutch for hatred, misunderstanding, and ignorance than one for acceptance and love.

But you know what? As much as it pains me to admit, people are entitled to live in the dark, and there isn’t a law on the books that says someone can’t be a miserable hypocrite. Some people just don’t want their eyes opened, and as long as their misguided beliefs don’t intrude on mine, I have no quarrel with them.

But as you’ve read, I do have issues with those who would choose to force their morality on another, particularly when the onus of debate isn’t even correct. There are hundreds of different faiths co-existing tenuously in the United States of America; what makes one any better than the other? As far as the federal government should be concerned, nothing.

All of this could change this year, though. A bill that has been quietly brewing in the minds of the religious right for the better part of two decades has made its way to the floors of both the House and Senate. If passed into law, America is one Pentagon Prayer Meeting away from a theocracy.

The bill is the Constitutional Reform Act of 2004 (H.R. 3799 and S 2082). Supported by the likes of Senator Sam Brownback and disgraced Justice Roy Moore (the same wingnuts trying to shut down Howard Stern and position the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses, respectively), it takes its cues from Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution by empowering Congress to decide what cases the Supreme Court can and cannot hear.

Sounds fairly innocuous, right? Wrong. Read on:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review … any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element’s or officer’s acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.”

What’s this mean? Simply put, the Constitutional Reform Act makes God’s law the law, trumping federal jurisdiction entirely. Theoretically, a gay man could be brought up on sodomy charges and stoned to death, and neither federal nor Supreme courts would be able to review the case.

Even worse, the bill’s vague language would act to silence judges who might rely on law from other countries or states in arriving at their decisions:

“In interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States, a court of the United States may not rely upon any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than the constitutional law and English common law.”

Imagine a judge forced to resign for being progressive enough to look to other parts of our own country and consider their judgments on a similar case. It could happen under this legislation. Even in the hands of the most responsible judiciary, this is a nightmare waiting to happen. So which God gets top billing? The Judeo-Christian one, naturally, leaving millions of Americans who believe differently not only disenfranchised by their own government but subject to biblical law as well.

I don’t think it’s unfair of me to ask that the government continue to keep one’s faith a personal matter. Most important, religion should play no part in the creation of law in this land. By favoring one, you tip the scales against the rest.

Americans often look to the Middle East and laugh as they watch their societies collapse upon one another because they have varying interpretations of the same religion. It’s a shameful conceit considering the turmoil and self-righteousness slowly percolating here in the United States. Care to imagine a tightly knit Islamic political organization working towards a religious coup in our own government? The average voter would be crying “terrorism,” yet replace “Islamic” with “Christian” and that’s exactly what’s taking place at the highest levels of our republic.

It’s not just about Halloween, folks. It’s about fighting for the right to believe what you wish and not be tried by the dicta of a long-dead Mesopotamian you could care less about. This is the foundation of my hatred of religious fundamentalism in any faith. Religion is weakened when faith is enforced, and they reveal themselves as the small-minded individuals they are in the process.

A small town in Georgia doesn’t track with the rest of the United States. This legislation, however, has the fervent support of a lot of Christians who honestly think they’re doing the Lord’s work by rolling this country back into something out of John Calvin’s dreams.

Never mind that Christ taught to love your brother even if you don’t see eye to eye with him. Never mind that hatred and bigotry have no place in a Christian heart. Never mind the schism that will invariably result should this law take hold.

After all, God’s got a plan. “We are not going to stand for those coercive utopians in the Supreme Court and in Washington ruling over us any more,” extolled Pat Robertson in 1986 when the groundwork was laid for this monumental lapse in judgment. “We’re not gonna stand for it. We are going to say, ˜we want freedom in this country, and we want power.'”

Christian freedom. Christian power. At the expense of all else.

Somebody start building the Inquisition pyres. We can toss common sense, reason, fairness and compassion on top of the fire before we start adding the bodies of the witches and unbelievers.