By Mark David Blum, Esq.
This nation was founded by three basic groups of people: The second sons, corporations built for greed, and puritans. Puritans are my personal favorite because they left Europe and Scandanavia to found a place where the rules are more strict and life is more regulated.
With the Republican nomination of Governor Sarah Palin as their Vice Presidential candidate, Republicans want God to be again on the ballot. John McCain is not a God person. With Sarah nipping at his side, John McCain has his own personal attack dog whose main focus is on God and issues involving morality. Sarah Palin is the Republican moral milestone.
First came Abraham Lincoln, a Melungeon. Next, Catholics owned our hearts and souls with John F. Kennedy. We lived through the horrors of Quakers with Richard Nixon. Joe Lieberman the Jew almost made it until stopped by the Supreme Court. Mormons almost stormed the White House behind Utah Governor Mitt Romney. Congressman Keith Ellison has opened the door for Islamic influence in our law making processes. Even our first President George Washington, though a Deist, is also reputed to have never set foot into a house of worship. Who next; Tom Cruise or the Moonies?
America’s President is our representative abroad, Commander in Chief of the military, and obligated to enforce the law as determined by Congress and the Courts. To get the job that pays a few hundred thousand dollars a year, candidates spent hundreds of millions of dollars convincing homeless and broke and hungry people to vote for them. Each candidate has every specter of sludge from every nook and cranny of their colon blasted on Fox/CNN/MSNBC and thoroughly analyzed and criticized by every talking head in sight. The blogosphere never stops its hunt for a mistake or faux pas to destroy a disliked candidate. Frankly, it is a job I never want. The lust therefor is certainly understandable. Will Rogers said that as a child he was told anybody could grow up and be President and as an adult he has learned this is true. Our incumbent proves the case.
According to the Constitution of the United States, CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF. These are the very first words of the First Amendment. Logic requires we assume these principles were our Founders’ primary concern in our Bill of Rights. Boiled down to its gravy, in America the God you choose is your own damn business. Nobody, especially not government can pass judgment thereon.
Still, our Courts have taken it upon themselves to judge the authenticity of belief in a religion. Our judge made constitution has also invaded the sphere of the practice of religion. While respecting your right to kneel to Flying Spaghetti Monsters, you are not free to practice or behave as freely as you may think. Marijuana based religions, Indian Peyote traditions, human and animal sacrifice are among the limitations to the absolute right to the “Free Exercise thereof”. Ask the folks at FLDS in Texas.
I am not going to get into a discussion about religion or whose religion is better than whose. After all we all know my God can beat up your God. It does not matter if you are a Jew or believe in doctrines in the spin off religions of the Islamo-Christian heritage. While the Islamists went East to conquer and evangelize at the point of the sword, Christians went West slaughtering White Europe. Puritans who first landed at Plymouth Rock were fleeing societies deemed too free and open. Today, we refer to those type folks as being cultists.
That is why I am so horrified and ashamed of how my nation is treating a Presidential candidate. Whether I vote for him as President, that last item on the list of qualifications are blatherings by his Minister. In many ways, Wright is wrong. In so many others, I understand what he is saying. Unfortunately his hyperbole is clouding his message. But that too is irrelevant. It is also absolutely irrelevant whether Senator Obama is Christian as he proclaims or a Muslim as claimed by Republican swift boaters. I could care less whether he agrees with Reverend Wright or Reverend Hagee. Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, or Presbyterian; it’s all the same mishmash.
The majority of Americans are of Christian faith. Spanning the morphed Churches including the great Schism between the Church of England and the Vatican, we find one common factor. Every one of them believes in the resurrection. That is an absolute. Everything else is just interpretation. No mention thereof is in the United States Constitution.
We need to focus our attentions on the candidate’s civil capabilities, not ethnic or personal beliefs. Face it my fine feathered friends, Christianity itself and its holiest of texts contains commentaries and acts horrendous in nature by today’s standards. Should I be wrong, then please let me begin throwing rocks at my kid. Had the Romans just continued to feed Christians to lions instead of succumbing to Paul’s ministry, the world would be a very different place.
Christianity, both in practice and in history is not a religion that can withstand strong scrutiny. Yet, many of our nation’s Presidents were Christians of one form or another. At a minimum, they so proclaimed. This is the first time I know of that a candidate’s Pastor’s words are the focal point of so much discussion. Jeremiah Wright is not running for President. His opinions, however interesting, do not deserve more airtime than the federal budget. Our nation is at the brink of economic chaos, wrapped in an endless war, and all anybody wants to discuss is the role Wright played in Senator Obama’s life and history. Excuse my Hebrew, but what American gives a damn?
I will judge Senator Obama as a candidate for President based on how he handles himself. Much of what he proposes I find troubling. Senators Clinton and McCain are going to be likewise judged. After a half century of collective time in government, I dismiss the latter two as being the cause, not the solution. My comfort is in knowing most candidate’s bad ideas are outside their area of control. Possessed with the world’s largest bully pulpit, the President can certainly propose and focus the national discussion. Fortunately, Congress still legislates.
At the same time, I do solemnly swear that no decision I make will be based on the religion or tenets or leaders thereof of any candidate. Billy Graham’s anti-semitism is famous and the list of Christian knuckleheads is almost as deep as our national debt. Likewise, I would not vote for a candidate because they were a Jew.
Religion is personal between the adherent and their God. Keep it that way.
Presidential candidates should not be scrutinized according to a religious litmus test. The expressions of their spiritual leaders are not an issue. No doubt I could rip open the statements and belief systems of every other Presidential candidate, member of Congress, and sitting Judge. Just tell me what religion they are and give me 24/7/365 access to a major cable news network and I guarantee you as much trouble as is being caused presently for Senator Obama.
One paramount quality I look for in a President is their ability to maintain calm in the face of apparent collapse. How do they react when they are feeling fire coming from all directions? These are the character traits I feel necessary to handle the job. Not tears, not blame but courage and uplifting. This reflects inner strength and self confidence. So far, given the heat of the Wright rage, I applaud Senator Obama. It must have hurt deeply to lose a long time friend and spiritual adviser over something as stupid and irrelevant as Presidential qualification.
The tendency to usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will best be guarded against by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others." (James Madison, "James Madison on Religious Liberty", ISBN pp 237-238).
Among the legal rights of every natural born American over the age of 36 is the right to run for President. That right is not conditioned upon a candidate being held to account for their religion or its messengers. It should never be, so help me God.