Point of View Columns

Because the Bible Tells Me So?

On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, the State of North Carolina is predicted to take this country on another spin of the spiral towards a theocracy in the United States. The Amendment One referendum effectively bans gay marriage or civil unions and its supporters contend that they are acting in accordance with the dictates of the Bible. The separation of church and state is one of the founding principles of this country. And now we see the right wing of the right wing trample this concept as wave after wave of zealots establish a society that fits their interpretation of their religious values.

The so-called Founding Fathers were far from perfect as they included slave owners (Thomas Jefferson), womanizers (Benjamin Franklin) and unabashed social climbers (George Washington). But they got it right when they articulated in the Constitution the separation of the church (or mosque or temple) and state.
The freedom for every citizen to worship in the manner in which they wished also meant that no one could impose their religious beliefs and principles on another person.
It seems so elementary in retrospect. There is no freedom of religion if religion can be imposed on another.

This concept has been reiterated and restated by every President, by the United States Congress and the Supreme Court countless times. Despite the ritual invoking of the Creator by countless politicians, few have had the temerity to suggest that the government should adopt and impose values based upon any particular religious disposition.

But that was then and this is now. The zealots have been emboldened by the right wing firestorm that has spread through much of this country. And it is this negative energy that has given rise to such initiatives as Amendment One in North Carolina. Much of the opposition to gay marriage and same sex unions bubbles up from deep seated phobias that would require brigades of psychiatrists and psychologists to unravel.

It is difficult to understand to how any civil rights can be the subject of a referendum or public vote. Civil rights accompany the citizenship of every person in this country. If citizens have the right to vote or to use public facilities their race, gender or sexual preference simply cannot be an issue.

Once we begin making distinctions in terms of which citizens are entitled to enjoy which rights we will find ourselves in a society where more people will be restricted because of the will of the majority. Rights cannot be subject to majority rule –either they exist for all citizens or they don’t really exist for any citizens.

In North Carolina a relentless band of right wing, bible-toting, God-fearing Christian zealots have moved Amendment One forward based upon their interpretation of the Bible. Pursuant to that interpretation it is claimed that gay marriage and same sex unions are banned by the Good Book. Based upon that interpretation, thousands of men and women in North Carolina are going to be denied their right to marry and to have legally recognized families.

It is interesting to note that the Bible has been used to justify all kinds of behavior that we now find to be reprehensible. The Bible was used to rationalize slavery as well as the genocide committed against Native Americans. The Bible has been used to justify the subjugation of women and to deny women the right to vote.

And the Bible has certainly been used to justify the bloodshed and carnage that accompanies every war from The Crusades to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Bible has certainly been referred to in imposing segregation in the United States and apartheid in South African. And the Bible has certainly been referenced in promoting one hate-filled ideology after another.

The point is that referring to the Bible to deny certain men and women basic civil rights is obscene and shameful. What is worse is that Amendment One is the precursor to any number of constitutional initiatives and referenda that will result in this country becoming the theocracy that it was never supposed to be.

It is certainly bizarre that throughout this country we have seen the fear of Islamic Sharia law being imposed upon unwitting innocents. Meanwhile, we are seeing Christian-based biblical law being imposed and proposed.

It is said that if you want to boil a frog you put the reptile in a pot of cold water and slowly heat it. The gradual heating of the water is not noticed by the frog until it is too late.

Hopefully we are not that frog.



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