I have no issue with religion, any religion. My issue is with the insistence of some in this country that religion belongs in our government. I believe that allowing religion into government opens the door for those who practice the Christian faith to dictate their personal morality to everyone else.
I read a letter online recently that I think is worth sharing. It’s an open letter to Senator Rick Santorum from Jon Carroll (written 3/1/12) and speaks to the Senator’s views on the role of religion in government. An excerpt follows.
I have heard your cry to make religion more a part of the government and, by extension, more a part of the law than it is at the moment. ….When you say you want religion closer to public policy, you’re not just talking about any religion. You’re talking about your religion, which is an insular form of Roman Catholicism. If, say, the precedents of Shariah law were accorded some deference in Supreme Court rulings, you might not be as happy with the intermingling of church and state. If the tales of Shiva, maker and destroyer of worlds, were somehow to become a fundamental part of the curriculum in public schools, this development would, I wager, cause you some distress.
We are considered a Christian country; Christians comprise 78% of the population, the majority of people of faith in this country. Like the letter’s author, I believe that those looking for religion to play a larger part in our government mean that religion to be Christianity. Approximately 147 million Americans, however, are of other faiths and 480 million prefer no religious affiliation. Should Christians morals become law of the land?
Clearly, the ability of any faith to usurp the rights of Americans is not what the founding fathers meant when they wrote the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Often cited to support the right of free speech, that one sentence Amendment also provides that
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
Here’s the rub for me: I don’t believe that’s what Senator Rick Santorum and others of the religious right are espousing. And, they don’t speak for 78% of this country.
When one religion becomes part of our government, and thereby has the ability to set rules for all, is that not counter to the intent of the First Amendment?