Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Christians vs. Christians

John Danforth:
During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.
I think that a lot of people in this country are concerned about the way the courts are taking control away from elected representatives. I certainly am, but it's not motivated by my religious beliefs. It's because I believe in democracy, that we should have a voice in determining what kind of society we live in, short of actually oppressing entire groups. And denying men the right to marry other men is not oppression. This "religion has no place in politics" meme is just another sophistry, intended to disenfranchise large groups of people whose political views are informed by their religions. What it basically boils down to is that the left and libertarians should be free to attack religion and morality and the religious shouldn't be allowed to defend it.
Religious people have not tried to impose sectarian views on society. Most of our traditions and laws dealing with morality were originally the consensus, shared by humanists and religionists alike.
It was not the religious who brought their views into politics, but the anti-religious who have used the courts to attack long-held rules.

The filibuster being used by Democrats right now is a last-gasp attempt to protect their hegemony over the judicial system, which has been so pliant to arguments that every previously immoral act is now a Constitutional right. Danforth pays lip service to allowing courts to interpret the law, but if he doesn't recognize the danger of the trends in jurisprudence, he's out of touch with his old political base. The Schiavo case isn't about religion, it's about decency, respect and due process.

Update: Hugh Hewitt's answer is right on:
[Referring to the quote above] I do not know any prominent and influential Christian conservative who disagrees with this agenda, and in fact know many who have worked ceaselessly to enact it. But they also have an agenda that seeks to reduce the number of abortions, to empower parents in the lives of their children, to preserve marriage as it has always been, and to assure that schools are not the preserves of left-wing ideology. It is simple arrogance to assert that these goals are not consistent with the historic traditions of the party of Lincoln, which began as a party of moral certainty that slavery was wrong. In demanding that morality not play a part in the party's council's, Danforth is the one arguing for an abandonment of the GOP's history.
In a piece on the same subject Hewitt writes:
The speed with which issues that excite the passions of people of faith have arrived at the center of American politics is not surprising given the forced march that the courts have put those issues on. It was not the "religious right" that pushed gay marriage to the center of the public debate; it was courts in Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It wasn't the "religious right" that ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed; it was a Florida Supreme Court that struck down a law passed by the Florida legislature and signed by Governor Jeb Bush which would have allowed Terri Schiavo to live. And it isn't the "religious right" that forced the United States Supreme Court to repeatedly issue rulings on areas of law that would have been better left to legislatures.
That about nails it.


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