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Monday, March 8, 2010

Touchy Topic Tuesday- God and constitutional rights?

First of all, I have to say that I am SO SORRY for not spreading around any comment love for the last few days! I have not been able to be online all that much, but I appreciate your comments, and will try UBER hard to do better in the future!

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Welcome to Touchy Topic Tuesday!
Today's Topic: God and the People's Constitutional Rights!
Let me start this out by saying that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As a rule, this means that I take my relationship with God and with Christ very seriously, though my SPECIFIC religion has nothing to do with this, it just has to do with ANY religion that believes in God and Christ. But be forewarned. The examples I may use will be pretty strictly LDS, because that is what I am and that is what I know and identify with.

I DO, wholeheartedly, believe in the separation of church and state, which, by definition is


*the idea that the government and religion should be separate, and not interfere in each other's affairs. In the United States, this idea is based on the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which states that the government cannot make any laws to establish a state religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion.

Essentially, this prohibits the government to demand that all the people in the United States follow a certain form of religion. (For the type of devastation this can actually cause, please study up on British history.)

The Separation of Church and State also prohibits religious leaders from stepping up and taking over the government. This is not to say that a religious leader should not be allowed to run for president. If he were willing and able to keep his religion from running the government, then all things would be well. However, I do see this as a conflict of interest, and I think it would be difficult.

That being said, I do not believe that a person should be required to put aside their beliefs and their religion and what they have been taught and feel is right, if it pertains to God, when they vote. Doing so is NOT part of the Separation Of Church and State, in fact, it goes directly against the first amendment, which reads:

**Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There is absolutely nothing in the first amendment, which supports the Separation of Church and State, saying that a church cannot petition the government to change a law that dissatisfies them. There is nothing here saying that people who believe, because of anything, INCLUDING their religion, have to accept a law that is undesirable.

Furthermore, while it does not give religious leaders the right to run the government, it DOES give them the right to ASSEMBLE PEACEABLY- which, essentially means that they CAN rightfully request that their members vote a certain way.

In the whole history of my church, I do not ever recall our leaders asking us to vote in a certain way, only to pray about our decision and to actually VOTE and take responsibility in our glorious free country. UNTIL the onset of California's Proposition 8 in 2008, where they asked members of the church residing in California to vote yes for the bill stating:


***Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California

As a member of the LDS church, and one who did not vote on this because I am not, and never have been, a legal resident of California, I have been the subject of much personal ridicule about my religion, and my church leaders and their "unconstitutional act" and their disregard for the idea of "Separation of Church and State" because they donated a large sum of money to the campaign against gay marriage, when in fact, when a person understands in full the definition of both the First Amendment and the definition of the Separation of Church and State, the leaders of my church never overstepped their bounds.


And yet, I have not reached my point.

Everywhere one turns, one sees the influence of people- be they Atheists or Agnostics- who do not believe in God, claiming that the use of God's name in our schools, on our money, in our Pledge of Allegiance, in our newspapers and daily conversations are infringing on their constitutional rights NOT to believe in God.

I happen to belong to several chat boards, both for my blog and for my parenting, and birth boards. Daily I see one or more claim to this. Someone may mention a scripture passage, or ask for prayers for a sick child or family member. Nearly all of these types of posts are harmless, faith filled responses to a situation where no one is proselyting or suggesting someone join their religion lest they go to Hell. In fact, many of these comments are simple answers to a question such as, for example, a thread called "Pre-marital Sex: What do you think about it?" If one should mention that morally and religiously, they think it is wrong, they are immediately bombarded with posts requesting that they not force their religious beliefs onto that person because they don't believe in God, or that a person's view on a political topic is invalid because they are using God as their moral compass, instead of their compassion for human beings, or that it's invalid because they are not employing the idea of Separation of Church and State (which is a false claim, as mentioned above.) In every instance, these people claim that those people who are rightfully displaying and utilising their belief in God are robbing the unbelievers of their right to live without hindrance of accountability to a higher being.

My question is: Where are our rights? You have successfully eliminated God from our Schools and very much of society. The first Amendment, while I personally feel it it obvious that it also supports those who choose NO religion as well as those who DO choose one, gives us the RIGHT to put our prayers, and our scriptures out there! Stated securely in the constitution, it is said that they may NOT REVOKE THE FREEDOMS OF SPEECH OR PRESS! In essence, NO ONE may tell us that we are hindering anyone's rights because we choose to pray, and then write or talk about it. No one may tell us that we are hindering rights because we VOTE based on the moral ways we feel because of our knowledge gained through religion.

There is NO valid comment that a person can make in stating that a person's constitutional rights are being tramped on because a person with a belief in God has chosen to divulge their belief. The Separation of Church and state is not meant to remove God from every aspect of our lives and keep it hidden deep inside the walls of churches and out of our voting and our conversations, it is MEANT to protect the rights of those who chose to BE religious.



*Courtesy of www.historycentral.com

**Courtesy of www.usconstitution.net

***Courtesy of www.wikipedia.org

So what do you think? Do YOU feel that someone who talks about their God and religion is overstepping their bounds when talking to you? Why do you feel that your rights are more valid than theirs? Do you believe that a person should be allowed to freely express their belief in God? Let me know! And I know this is a HEAVY topic. We're moving up. Remember to PLAY NICE. Mean, personal attacks will be deleted. That's a warning. Keep it civil.

14 comments:

Momof3inVA said...

Good topic, and it can get very circular if you let it...

I feel we each are entitled to live our own lives as we see fit...(Libertarian here)...while it is perfectly fine with me that you (not you, but all 'you's' in general) express your beliefs, all I would ask is that you recognize that I have mine and shouldn't be forced to live my life as 'you' see fit.

The problem comes to be when people try to force their beliefs on others.

It is fine if 'you' are against gay 'marriage', from a religious or moral perspective as long as you don't want to force your beliefs on others.

And, right now, DC should be issuing the very first marriage licenses to same sex couple.

In my opinion, that shows there is hope in bringing Liberty back to our lives!

Lula Lola said...

I think geography influences, not the specific belief in God, but the way he's packaged. Don't get me wrong, I think God is bigger than any box we try to put him into. But, I'm from the deep south and the Baptists rule the roost around here. I grew up Baptist,some of my favorite people are Baptist, but as an adult have re-thought some of the beliefs I grew up with. I don't question God or Jesus, but the legalism I've seen Him reduced to in my neck of the woods.
I don't always speak of my beliefs, but I hope the way I live communicates them.
I'm fine with a church or religious organization petitioning the state. They should have as much right as any other group. I think it all comes down to taking a vote and letting the majority decide.
Gay marriage will likely never be passed in my area, in my life time. And that makes me sad. I don't like that a vocal majority makes the rules. And I don't like the prejudices that I see here in the name of God. Often the churches I'm familiar with sanction abuse. They'd phrase it that way, but it's obvious. Their are often abusive jokes that made from the pulpit and from church leaders. No one speaks out about it, because it's accepted as being right.
I'm all for talking about God and how He factors into the lives of others, and how He shapes opinions. I begin to feel uncomfortable when it's argumentative and there is no room for another view.
Hope this wasn't too scattered!

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

Thank you SO MUCH, guys for being nice about things!!! I think, if things keep going like this, then we could have a great conversation!

Actually, the gay marriage thing was just to illustrate a point in the correct possible use of the Separation of Church and State- not to imply that weather Gay marriage is right or wrong is the subject at hand. It was just an example. Obviously, my opinion is implied, but my topic is what's at the bottom.

I see it every day said that someone, by posting and asking for prayers or for mentioning any form of religion being told that they are forcing their beliefs, simply by stating that they HAVE them, when, by the rights given us as Americans, there is no reason that they CAN'T say such things. People claim that their rights are taken away whenever they see the word 'God' on a sign or a bill or hear it in conversation, and they essentially imply that people should not use it around them so as not to trample on their rights NOT to believe in God...and yet, by saying so, they are hindering the rights of anyone who uses the first amendment, which is just about anyone who believes in God.

So, maybe it's not YOU guys, and maybe you don't mind it when people talk about God. My assumption is that a LOT of people will say "I don't mind as long as it's not being forced on me" and they will not realize that they do it often. FORCING it on someone is when a person is constantly telling a person that they need to join your religion. Telling people that they are evil and wicked or going to Hell- but it is NOT, in my opinion, forcing a religion or God on someone when a person asks for prayers, or thanks God for an amazing thing that happened, or mentions that they have faith to make it through. It is not forcing religion or God on someone when, in a debate or vote, a person claims that they do not believe in a certain activity because they are religious and they are taught that it is morally wrong.

As far as the church goes, it is not forcing their God or religion on someone because they asked their members to vote against Gay Marriage. It was well within their rights, and it was the Gay community that were angrily picketing at our temples, not the mormon church who were picketing or throwing mean comments. The simple, easy, fast comment was only that the church members vote yes on proposition 8. Again, it's an EXAMPLE, not the topic.

So, what I'm asking is, what is your definition of someone FORCING their beliefs on you? When does talking about religion = forcing it? And where do you think religious people's rights end? What SHOULD they be allowed to say in public- by YOUR definition, unless it differs from the laws laid out by the First Amendment.

Lolidots said...

I'm with Sam on this one. I have zero problem with people professing their beliefs, whatever they may be. When said beliefs impede another's civil liberties (i.e. gay marriage being illegal), that's where my line is drawn. In addition, when those beliefs include damning those who don't believe them, I have a problem.

I don't think "talking about religion" ever equals forcing it. Freedom of speech says that religious and non-religious should be allowed to express those beliefs. The problem lies with trying to enforce one's personal religious beliefs onto another person's civil liberties.

I always say that if someone doesn't like gay marriage then they shouldn't do it. But, if another couple does it, how is that hurting anyone? The only ones getting hurt are those who aren't allowed to marry because of the religious views of some. To me, it really applies to gay marriage because marriage is a religious institution that our government sees as a legal one. There should be another option. I'm not religious but, to get our close minded government to recognize the legal relationship between my husband and myself, I have to enter the religious institution of marriage. That doesn't seem like separation of church and state to me.

The act of voting isn't forcing religion but, voting to impede someone's civil liberties based on one group's religious views is definitely impeding civil liberties.

Like I said, if someone thinks gay marriage is morally wrong, that is great and they shouldn't marry that way. But, it is not their right to tell someone else that they can't do it.

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

See, I disagree- as a person who believes in the bible, and that God says that homosexuality is wrong, I don't understand why in the world someone would think that I should just go ahead and be okay with it, and vote for it because it might make someone else happy. Drugs make people 'happy'- stealing makes people 'happy'- molesting a child makes someone 'happy'- I mean, no, it isn't all the same level, and it's not all exactly the same, but it IS the same concept. I don't belive that these things are good things. Why would I vote in their favor?

I don't believe it is right, and the government puts it up for a vote. I have the right to vote against it without having to separate my belief in what is morally right from what some believe to be a person's civil rights. The same thing can be said of abortion, smoking, alcohol. I do not believe that these things are morally good, so I vote against them. Is it any different from Gay Marriage? Not really.

If Gay Marriage should be legal to enforce people's civil liberties, then it should not be up for a vote- because there are obviously enough people who do not see it as something that is natural or correct. ALL VOTING IS BASED ON WHAT PEOPLE FIND GOOD AND RIGHT. In a country that is full of a majority of God Fearing people, the majority do not feel that Gay Marriage is wholesome, and people, as a whole, are not going to just sit back and say 'well, if it makes you happy...' because the way we see it, it's dead wrong.

That's what I can't get through my head- why do people expect me to vote YES for something that I feel a big resounding NO for? I am not going to change who I am because there's someone out there who might want to do something I feel is wrong only because I don't have to do it if I don't want to.

If there were not any doubt that it was a person's civil right to marry a person of the same gender, then they shouldn't put it up for vote. As the world stands right now, there is a HUGE doubt, and it would be taking away MORE people's rights to not let it be voted for.

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

Robin- for the record, as everything I have said so far is TRUE, AND for the sake of argument, I'll go ahead and post my REAL opinion here.

As far as Gay Marriage is concerned, I personally don't really care.

I have a firm testimony of my church and the gospel therein. I believe in my Prophet, and I will follow explicitly the things he tells me to do, because I DO pray and realize that he is led by God Himself. If I lived in California, I most certainly would have voted YES for Proposition 8. I have faith in my religious leaders, and obvously that is something that they deem important enough to ask us specifically to vote for. (For the record, our leaders DID say that they feel that there SHOULD be a legal UNION law available for those who are homosexual- just not a religious 'marriage' of two homosexual people. MANY MANY things that my church leaders have expressed have been taken out of context.)

However, that being said, when it comes down to it, I, like you, feel that 'if you don't like it don't do it.'

For example, I have a MIL who gets very upset about my church and their ability to baptize for the dead. She feels that our religion is absolutely wrong, and that it doesn't matter anyway because they're dead, and once you're dead, that's that. (She's Catholic- so, it's like, when a child dies unbaptized, they're in limbo or whatever- once they're dead, it's too late anyway.) Well, once she was going on and on about it and I just said to her 'Do you believe it matters?" She said "No." I said "Do you believe that our church, in baptizing someone in the name of a dead person damns the dead person's soul to Hell?" she said "No, because they're not here to make the decision themself." and I said "THen why does it bother you so much? If you don't believe it, then ignore it." and she didn't say anything else.

In essence, that's how I feel. I do NOT feel that two people of the same gender being married will lessen the sanctity of my marriage, which was done in a religious ceremony. (Some people argue that gay m arriage will tarnish the sacredness of a marriage between a man and wife, and that is just not true.) The way I feel about it is that it's THEIR sin, not mine. I have Gay friends, and while I do not feel that they are morally right, I feel that they are good, kind, decent people on a whole. I do not feel that Gay Marriage would harm me in any way-
HOWEVER, and I hope everyone can understand this, MY RELIGION TAKES PRESIDENCE over some of the things I think and feel because i have had personal feelings in quiet moments that the religion I follow is true. So I listen whole heartedly to my leaders.

I would NEVER vote in FAVOR of gay marriage given the beliefs of my church. However, if I had a REAL problem with it, I would simply not vote at all and keep my emotions out of it.

LOL. ANyway, it seems this touchy topic has become a gay marriage debate, rather than a first amendment debate. LOL.

Sabreena said...

I am fine with others expressing their beliefs as long as they respect mine. I don't feel trampled if someone starts dicussing their church or how they feel about God. No one's rights are more important than others. It's when you cannot express your opinion just as freely when the conversation doesn't work. Or when someone is rude about someone elses beliefs. If you don't like what someone believes that is what should be kept to yourself. If you don't agree how someone lives because of your personal beliefs that too should be expressed as an opinion and not be used as a means of judging or punishing that person. The only issues I have with most religion is the intolerance which can be present. I am fine with having different opinions and expressing them freely but I don't agree with using those beliefs to belittle or judge. Either way religion and belief systems are important as they have provided a framework of morals that everyone abides whether they believe or not.

Mama Zen said...

Interesting discussion. The Prop 8 controversy wasn't really about freedom of speech. The Church is free to say anything it wants about the issue of gay marriage. But, if it wants to retain its tax exempt status, it can't endorse a political candidate or attempt to influence legislation.

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

No, the prop 8 controversey wasn't ORIGINALLY about that, but it is what I, personally, as a memeber of the church, have been accused of on the subject- TO MY FACE, even though I had nothing to do with the proposition, OR voting for it, considering I am not a California resident. I find it ignorant that so many people (and there ARE many) have brought it to this point and it's all untrue.

The church did not endorse any specific candidate. And, as i have researched, it most assuredly CAN ask it's members to support a certain stance.

Jamie said...

You said in one of your comments: "ALL VOTING IS BASED ON WHAT PEOPLE FIND GOOD AND RIGHT." Historically, this wasn't always true. It wasn't that long ago that only marrying people of your same race was what many people (including our own church leaders) considered "good and right." Interracial marriage was illegal in some places, because it was put up for a vote. This is why we have the Bill of Rights, to protect minorities from the majority. There are some things you can't vote on, that the majority doesn't (and shouldn't) get to decide.

As a Mormon, I get really worried when our church does things like Prop 8. We may sometimes align with the majority, but we are not a majority. Some people that voted with the LDS church in Prop 8 would have no problem turning around and voting against us, depending on the issue. I bet if some ambitious politician or focus group wanted to, they could easily get public opinion turned against the LDS church. Maybe a proposition against temple marriage, because it often leads to temple marriage of multiple wives which often leads to child abuse. I know that's ridiculous, but many people think a lot of the claims the LDS church made about the possible implications of gay marriage were equally ridiculous. Or maybe there'd be a law against temple work for the dead, based on the emotions you describe from your MIL. Hopefully, none of these hypothetical laws would ever be put to vote, because religion is protected by the Bill of Rights.

But my point is, without the Bill of Rights, it would be really easy for the majority to take away basic human rights based on false assumptions and prejudices. Some things should not be up for popular vote, because the majority can be wrong.

Mimi said...

I'm always open to other people opinions.

I'm just stopping by from SITS to say hello & welcome!

Lolidots said...

I totally understand what you're saying, Brae.

The reason that it's different from drugs, stealing, murdering, molesting, abortion, etc., is that when two gay people marry, it's not hurting anyone. There is no victim.

But, when they are told they can't get married, they are the victims. Their civil liberties are being infringed upon because of other people's religious beliefs.

Do you see what I'm saying?

My thing is, marriage is a religious institution. A Christian institution. I have never understood why people who do something that is against Christianity would want to participate in a Christian ceremony. It really bugs me that there isn't a legal alternative. I'm married. Not because I'm a Christian that wanted to live by the Bible. Because my husband and I wanted the government to recognize our legal bond to one another. Marriage in and of itself being our only legal option is NOT Separation of Church and State because it's a religious institution. There needs to be another option.

Though, I worry that there are people who are so against civil liberties for ALL that they wouldn't be okay with a gay couple being a legal union even if they weren't religiously married.

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

Though, in many cases, people argue that there is no victim in the cases of Drugs (like, legalizing marijuanna), and sometimes, some people feel that there is no victim in an abortion.

Just clarifying, because I DO get your point.

Jamie- I DO understand what you're saying too. And I went off topic, and mentioned that it would be taking away MORE people's rights if things were not left up to vote- however, when I first stated that if something is taking away a civil right, then it should just be done instead of left up for vote, that's really what I meant- not everything SHOULD be voted for. There are actually quite a few ridiculous laws out there because people, on a whole, are idiots.

Robin- once again, I agree. There absolutely SHOULD be some sort of legal 'marriage' that has nothing to do with anything religious. I think it would solve a lot of the problems people have with this.

Lolidots said...

Thank you!!! I know how strong you are in your beliefs and it's nice to finally meet someone who is so strong in those beliefs but, understands the need for some option other than a religious marriage. I truly think that religious liberties and civil liberties for everyone can coexist.

Regarding your first part- I personally agree with the marijuana part. Do not think it should be illegal. Victim in abortion is a little bit more of a gray area. Thank you for getting my point though!

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