California’s successful passing of Proposition 8, which reads “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” raises the question if state laws can be constitutional if they are based on religious belief/bigotry?
This question is important because if the state democratically passes such laws by plebiscite, then can it maintain the First Amendment’s separation of church and state? Which has greater authority: the Constitution or the temporary majority of one vote? How about a vote to outlaw religion? If 50%+1 could ever be achieved to outlaw all religion, would all the members from the various denominations respect this law and disband, give up their beliefs out of respect for the will of the majority? More importantly, should they respect the law passed by majority vote moreso than respecting <i>first</i> the law of the Constitution which guarantees religious freedom?
There is a cost in liberty and freedom to every citizen when a religiously inspired piece of legislation passes into law and undermines that vital component to religious freedom called the separation of church and state. Whether it’s the commandments on courthouse walls, prayers in legislative chambers, governmental consultations with religious organizations shaping legislation, or scripture embossed on military hardware, every encroachment by religion into the public domain even for the best of intentions is another chip removed from the foundation of the religious freedom component of the US Constitution.
The religious would do well to ponder that cost in liberty that they themselves levy upon us all in the name of legalizing their favoured beliefs; someday, the same exercise of a majority vote will take away the legal right to individual religious freedom, using the same democratic tyranny of the majority that these religious supporters are so willing to use to take away the legal rights of those minorities whose rights and freedoms they wish to reduce.
A case in point is the organized effort by two main religions to fund the successful passing of Proposition 8:
Documents unveiled later revealed the Catholic and Mormon churches played a major role in passing Proposition 8.
An e-mail from the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the bishops and a cardinal said Catholics were crucial in providing money and volunteers to qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot.
The e-mail also praised the Mormon Church, saying it had provided “financial, organizational and management contributions” for the measure.
A memo by a Mormon Church public affairs officer said the Proposition 8 campaign was “entirely under priesthood direction,” and the minutes of a Mormon Church meeting said members should not take the lead in promoting Proposition 8 but should work through protectmarriage.com.
The church document said a teleconference had been held in Salt Lake City with 159 of 161 Mormon leaders in California. The leaders were told to encourage members to contribute $30 each for Proposition 8, toward a projected goal of $5 million, in addition to general fundraising.
From an article in the LATimes here.
Every Catholic and every Mormon who supports this legal discrimination is supporting the ongoing attack against their own religious freedom. Too bad that so many people simply refuse to see that their religiously inspired bigotry and bullying – because that is what it is to reduce the rights of others to be less than your own – in that honest light. But that’s nothing new. Even Jesus from the cross supposedly had to ask god to forgive those who knew not what they were doing to him, so I guess there is precedence as we try to forgive these people who so righteously claim false victory by trampling on their own rights and freedoms while thinking that they are protecting them.