Separation of Church and State

I haven’t blogged about any of this in a while for a few reasons. First, the election is over, and I was hoping everything would die down. While it has a little, the fight to preserve traditional marriage continues. And frankly, I got a little worn out. I don’t like arguing with others. I don’t like when people are angry. I know this is a sensitive issue, but I still wish we could all just talk about it calmly and, even if we just aren’t going to see eye to eye, accept that we have different opinions and that’s okay.

But I decided to start writing about this again, because it’s still very important to me. One thing that I keep hearing about that is indirectly related, is the issue of separation of church and state. Opponents of California’s prop 8 keep arguing that it was unconstitutional for Mormons (among MANY other religious groups) to work together in support of an issue they felt strongly about. Our country’s laws do permit any agency to work together in regards to issues. Churches can promote issues, but not individuals.

But what about separation of church and state, you say? Well, there’s a very vital piece of information that people tend to forget about the concept of separation of church and state.

It’s just that, a concept.

There is no law concerning separation of church and state.

The First Amendment simply states that Congress shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereofmake no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” All that means is that they cannot force people to practice or forsake any particular religion. That’s why so many people left Europe in the first place – they wanted to practice a religion other than the state religion, free from the persecution which dogged them in Europe.

There is no law that says you can’t practice religion in public. There is no law that says you can’t pray in public for fear of offending others. There is no law that says a public official can’t mention God for fear of offending someone.

The idea of separation of church and state mostly comes from the philosophies of Thomas Jefferson and John Locke. (See the great wikipedia article on the subject here.) My favorite part in the article is this wonderful quote from Jefferson:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

He’s praising the First Amendment because it protects each individual’s right to worship how he pleases. It PROTECTS OUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Religion was that important to the founding fathers; they made sure our right to worship was one of the first things addressed in the constitution. By prohibiting people from expressing their religious beliefs in public, I believe we are stripping ourselves of our religious rights. Schools can’t have Christmas trees, public prayer is now a shameful thing, and heaven forbid you ask someone not to take the name of the Lord in vain. How come they can offend me as much as they want by swearing and using offensive language toward the God I love, but I can’t offend them by mentioning that very same God in a positive context?

Back to the issue at hand… The 1st Amendment DOES mean that a public official cannot use his or her office to promote a specific religion, or force others to believe it. Expressing one’s beliefs, however, is not necessarily promoting them.

If I’m a teacher, and one of my kids asks me about my religion, and I say, “I believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ,” are you turned into a believer? Of course not. It simply informs you of my beliefs.

If I said, “I believe that God will strike you down right now, if you don’t bow down and pray to Him,” then that would, in my opinion, be crossing the line. That’s threatening, forcing my beliefs on others.

In my opinion, this is part of what’s wrong with modern America. In our eagerness to avoid giving offense to – let’s admit it – the minority of Americans who do not believe in God, we strip ourselves of our rights to worship. Judges have used the phrase “separation of church and state” so frequently, in justifying their case rulings, that they have, in essence, created a new law, one that our lawmakers never intended. Judges are not intended to make laws, but to interpret them. (And legislators aren’t supposed to influence judges by telling them that they disagree with the laws the people just voted on. We DO believe in separation of powers, but hey, who cares about that part? Not our judges or legislators, evidently.)

Publicly elected officials are now scared to death to do anything that might be construed as religious, because they might get slapped with a lawsuit, and they might not get re-elected – the most terrible fate on earth, I know. In our society’s eagerness to be “politically correct,” we avoid any semblance of religion, including many “old-fashioned” values that seem too closely related to our Christian roots. And this is where the whole issue ties into prop 8 – our society has decided that it’s unfashionable to believe in being modest, honest, chaste, and polite, or anything else having to do with the Ten Commandments. It’s too religious. And heaven forbid we should use that freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by the First Amendment.

Unless, of course, your religion is Atheism. Because even believing that there is no God is a religion. It’s a way of looking at the world, and it informs your choices and beliefs. It’s different than 99% of the religions out there, so we tend to forget that it’s a religious way of life too. By not allowing those of us who believe in God to admit it in public, we are forcing the religion of Atheism on our country.

Where’s that idea of separation of church and state when you need it? Maybe I should go protest down at the courthouse.

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Why I think people saying that homosexuality is a natural impulse is a copout

I’ve been debating with myself for a while now on whether or not to post this. Not because I’m afraid of offending anyone – because I’m pretty sure I already have; but because it’s a bit personal. And I know lots of the people that read this blog. But I feel like I should make every effort I can to persuade anyone out there who is still undecided to vote in favor of Proposition 8, to preserve marriage between a man and a woman.

I’ve heard many opponents of Prop 8 use this argument: Homosexuality is a genetic impulse in many people; they were just “made that way” so why should we punish them by depriving them of the right to marry the one they love?

For starters, I don’t believe that outlawing gay marriage is depriving anyone of rights. Sorry, but you never had that right in the first place, until 4 of 7 judges decided to create a new law by overturning the vote of an overwhelming majority of Californians.

But here’s my main point: Even if we do accept the premise that at least some people are “naturally” gay – even though studies show that environment and upbringing do have a large impact on one’s sexuality – why does that make it a good thing? We have many natural impulses that are contradictory to the good of society, and we don’t legalize those behaviors just to cater to those individuals who have those impulses and act on them.

I’ll give you a few examples: A man “naturally” has a worse temper than other men. His anger management issues lead him to harm his family. Does he get out of trouble for his behavior and the harm he has done to those around him because he is genetically predisposed to be angry?

Some people are more likely to be overweight because of their genetic makeup. My brother is one of these. I am honestly afraid that he will die within the next ten years if he doesn’ drastically change his lifestyle. He is 31. Is it alright for him to just give up and say, I’m genetically predisposed to be obese, and everyone around me should just accept that fact? Should we all be content to watch him slowly die of his own self-neglect?

What about mothers who abuse drugs while they are pregnant and their babies are born with severe problems and drug addictions? Shouldn’t we help the baby fight the addiction rather than simply saying “it’s natural, so it’s ok”?

What about men whose inability to control themselves and their libido turns them into rapists, pedophiles, child abusers, and child pornography addicts? It’s natural for a man to have stronge sexual desires, isn’t it? But the way these men express their behaviors is harmful to society as a whole. Shouldn’t we punish them, even though sex drive is a completely natural human behavior?

And here’s the personal example I promised you: I have depression. It runs very strongly in my family on one side. I have struggled with it since I was about ten years old, I would guess, but I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was in college. My life as a teenager was extremely difficult, and I never understood why I was so different until many years later. I am genetically predisposed to the condition because of my family heritage. It makes me sad, angry, anxious, and lethargic. Sometimes all at once. There are days when it is a struggle just for me to get out of bed.

But I do it. Why? Because I love my family more. I have two small daughters to take care of, and a husband I love dearly. I support him by taking care of our children and our home. If it were just me, there are probably days where I would lie in bed and do nothing at all except let myself be sad.

I can’t indulge in that type of behavior, even though I want to sometimes. First, I know it is bad for me. Second, I know it is bad for my family. Third, I know it is bad for society – I have something to contribute to my neigborhood, my church, my city, and my state. I am responsible for more than just myself. The natural impulses that come with depression are quite strong, but my love for my family is stronger. I know that if I give in to those impulses, I would be hurting my family.

So my depression is natural. It’s genetic. I can’t help it.

I am left with a choice: do I give into my natural impulses, or do I fight it and do what is best for those around me?

And just because I have this “natural” condition, would that make it right if I did lie in bed all day and neglect my children?

Obviously not. It would be understandable, but it still wouldn’t be right.

So stop complaining that homosexuality is natural and we need to make concessions for gay people. We all have things that we are fighting, our own internal demons, but we still have to be responsible members of society, concerned with the greater good before our own desires.

What is tolerance

My husband read this great article by Orson Scott Card the other day, and I have to share it with you all. Go read it at http://mormontimes.com/mormon_voices/orson_scott_card/?id=4740.

Card writes about how we should be able to disagree respectfully, and why the LDS Church opposes legalizing gay marriage. His point that really caught my eye, though, was this:

“I speak from experience: My family and I have close friends who are gay, some of whom have entered into lawful marriages. They know we don’t agree that their relationship is the same thing or should have the same legal status as our marriage, but we all accept that strong and clear difference of opinion and move on, continuing to respect and love each other for the values we share.

Only when a gay friend demanded that I agree with his or her point of view or cease to be friends has the friendship ended. What is odd is that in every case they called me intolerant. They misunderstood the meaning of “tolerance.”

Tolerance implies disagreement — it means that even though we don’t agree with or approve of each others beliefs or actions, we can still live together amicably. When we agree, we aren’t being tolerant, we’re being uniform.

It’s uniformity or submission these former friends wanted, not tolerance at all.”

You might object and say that this refers only to Orson Scott Card’s understanding of the word tolerance. But you’d be wrong. Here’s what the dictionary has to say under the entry “tolerance”:

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

Tolerance, therefore, can only exist when we agree to disagree. Some gays are opposing Proposition 8 under the guise of desiring tolerance from heterosexuals. However, the ones doing the name-calling and vandalizing signs are more often opponents of Prop 8 than not. Legalizing gay marriage; requiring that we treat it the same as heterosexual marriage; teaching it as the same in school; suing photographers, doctors, newspapers, adoption agencies, and newspapers for expressing a different opinion and standing by their religions; threatening to even remove the people’s right to vote on the issue in San Diego… None of these things sound like tolerance to me. This is not peaceful co-existence. This is not agreeing, politely, to disagree. This is attempting to force the opinion and habits and standards of a vocal minority on the majority of the population under the guise of “rights” – even though the right to marry is not protected, and establishing gay marriage directly contradicts existing federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which states: DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws.

How can forcing the 96% of the population that isn’t gay to endorse homosexuality truly be considered tolerance? Gay activists aren’t fighting for tolerance of their behavior. Their rights are already protected as domestic partners under the California family code. They gain nothing by marriage, except the validation of the rest of the community, and the ability to force others to support their beliefs. Legalizing gay marriage does not gain them more rights; all it does is undermine our society and confuse gender issues until we are all one homogenized, featureless lump. They are fighting to PROMOTE A GAY LIFESTYLE. Not for tolerance. If they were so big on tolerance, perhaps they’d be a little more TOLERANT of their opposition. You know, those of us who are out there fighting for our children, our educational system, our right to parent our children and teach them our own morals, our religious freedom, our freedom of speech, and the rights of future generations of children to be born into a home with a mother and a father who love them and are socially responsible to them.

Please support real tolerance, and vote in favor of Proposition 8. Otherwise, dissent becomes illegal.

Letters to the CTA

These are actual letters that have been sent to David Sanchez, the president of the CTA. It always heartens me to know that I’m not alone in this fight. There are letters from parents and teachers expressing their displeasure at the CTA’s $1 million donation to the No on 8 campaign. I think the second one down is my favorite so far. If you readers have any letters to add, go ahead and add them in as comments – Please remove last names as I have done here, to protect individuals’ privacy.

Mr. Sanchez,

 

I have been a teacher for 30 years here in California . The position the CTA has taken on Prop 8 is a joke. Why is it so difficult for you to show real leadership and stand up AGAINST political pressure? I realize the union is filled with liberal democrats like your self and the people who work for you.

Your union that you are in charge of does not represent my views and what I believe in. I will no longer maintain my membership in ANYTHING associated with the CTA. If the union has a political stance on an issue, I will find out what it is and vote the opposite. Your views on Prop 8 are morally and ethically wrong. The million dollars spent could have been given to kids that need it instead of supporting a position such as gay and lesbian rights. Are you kidding me? You hide behind the cover of equal rights because you do not have the guts to call it what it is. It is morally reprehensible. The people of the state of California will agree with me, watch what happens on November 4th.

You are a disgrace to the profession of teaching, to your family and to the state of California .

I hope one day we can meet so I can REALLY tell you what I think of your liberal view points.

I hope I hear back from you, I probably won’t because you have no guts. You are a 100% coward!

I hope to hear from you.

Bill *****
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To David Sanchez, CTA President

Dear Mr. Sanchez:

I am very disappointed to know that the CTA has donated $1M to the “No on 8″ campaign. I read that your justification is that teachers believe “in teaching the importance of equal rights for all.” How ironic that you chose to support the rights of gay activists, at the expense of the children you are committed to serve. Clearly, gay rights are not the issue, as California law already grants homosexual unions the same rights as married couples. What is at issue is mainstreaming homosexuality into society by equating homosexual union with heterosexual marriage. And by so doing, you indoctrinate our children beginning in public schools with your politically correct definitions of the family unit and field trips such as in the recent news in San Francisco. What is so glaringly obvious is the fact that gay couples are not even capable of conceiving children naturally, and that in order to exercise their right to “parent,” they would intentionally deprive a child of either a mother or a father. The gay community could not have less of a stake in children’s rights. As teachers, you should also know that current science shows homosexuality to be a spectrum phenomenon whereby a person’s sexual identity is affected by environment as well as genetics. Legalizing gay marriage profoundly affects our children’s environment. The CTA’s support of the gay community’s right to change our society’s definition of marriage (which is the only right at issue in Proposition 8), is directly at our children’s expense. As teachers, you are expected to safeguard and defend children’s rights. Shame on you.

-Judy *****

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The following letters are some of the ones sent in on a blog:

http://beetlebabee.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/cta-tuesday-response/

Dear Mr. Sanchez,

To me, this has nothing to do with equal rights. All I am fighting for is to protect a word. MARRIAGE. I have a gay niece that is in a committed relationship and I support her in that. I have also told her that I do not believe that she should be able to say that she is married. Committed, taken, whatever, just not married. She even understands this and does not think that I am not fair in my views. My children do not need to know the specifics of what goes on in anybody’s (private/intimate) relationships. We as parents should discuss this with our own kids. I do realize that there are parents out there that are “dropping the ball”.

I never thought that I would be looking into the option of Home Schooling my 3 kids, but now, I may have to consider it. Or, move out of this state. Of all of the things for the CTA to support. Did they really think that this would not cause alarm with others? I cannot believe that anyone in their position could be that naive.

As for equality, what is not equal. We are all human beings with the same needs. To be loved and cared for. We all have that. Find a new word that works for this situation, and I will use it and support it. Not marriage, married or any sense of this word. It is taken by MAN & WOMAN / HUSBAND & WIFE.

As teachers and educators, you should be supporting children and their parents. I know quite a few teachers that are appalled at what the union did with their hard earned money. They will be fighting for refunds.

Discouraged,
Deanne *****

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October 21, 2008

Arcohe School
Herald, California

My children did not attend school today. As you probably know, there was a statewide sickout today for parents to keep their children home from school in protest of the recent political donation of OVER $1 MILLION dollars to the NO on Proposition 8 Campaign by the California Teacher’s Association. The teacher’s association should be involved with issues that support our children’s education, not in promoting an issue that is so anti-family and having nothing to do with education whatsoever. I am angry that the California Teacher’s Association is so closely tied with activist gay issues. Our schools are not social experimentation labs for the gay rights lobby. The amount of money the CTA donated to the NO on 8 campaign is staggering. It shows the lengths to which they will go in supporting the gay agenda in our schools.

We opted to not send our boys to school today in protest and want you to know that if the public schools start teaching about the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage and presenting it as equal to and as normal as traditional marriage, we will have no choice but to cancel our children’s attendance in the public school system. This is OUR state, and OUR public school. Please do what’s right for OUR children, and encourage the CTA to do the same.

Sincerely,
(signed)

 

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Mr. Sanchez,

I sent my daughter to school today because I did not want to hurt the local teachers. They work hard and are devoted to teaching our children. I cannot imagine that they would be happy with their hard earned money being spent on an agenda that clearly only benefits a minority of the members of the CTA. I am confident that your political statement was not the will of the majority of the CTA members and that is the only reason that I sent my daughter to school. I never thought that there was an agenda to indoctrinate my child in the school system until just now. Your actions convinced me gay marriage will in fact be taught in our school system if we do not pass proposition 8.

Sincerely,

Erik *****

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To the teachers of my (daughter),
I am contacting you today regarding CTA’s political contributions to the No on Prop 8 campaign. I was asked to participate in a state wide sick out yesterday, October 21, to protest CTA’s actions, and seriously considered participating. However, I placed the immediate financial needs of our school district above my personal feelings, and sent my daughters to school.
Please consider the message that those contributions are making to parents of public school children in this state. It was my understanding that the Union’s mission is to represent the needs of teachers, and that they can only make donations to issues that affect teacher’s “on the job” needs. Therefore, issues regarding a teacher’s private life should not be addressed by the union. Regardless of how you feel about same-sex marriage, I hope that you will demand a refund of the portion of your dues that were used inappropriately.
Thank you, (signed)

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David A. Sanchez,

I am appalled that you as the President of CTA thought it prudent to give over $1,000,000 to the “No on Prop 8” Campaign. Parents all over California have been afraid that the defeat of Proposition 8 would adversely affect our children’s education, that there would be a constant slant in all that our Teachers offer, that would try to legitimize homosexuality.

How incredibly arrogant of you and the CTA to try and push through the legalization of same sex marriage, when the people of California voted to have the definition of marriage to be between a man and a woman, a few short years ago. Obviously you all think you know what is best for our children, and we should no longer have the right to guide our children to have the ideals we hold dear. At the very least the CTA should have remained neutral on this issue, so that parents could feel as though there were a possibility that the whole same sex union idea could be approached with some objectivity.

Your actions in regard to Proposition 8 have made it clear that parents have much to fear if Prop 8 is defeated. I am convinced that your actions here are just a hint and a whisper of what is to come in our school system, and it really scares me.

I am the mother of 7 children and have had my children in California public schools every year for the past 27 years. I have 4 years left to go with my youngest. If Prop 8 is defeated, I intend to bring my children home, and home school them myself, and I know at least 20 other families who feel the same. How many families to you think will “jump ship” so to speak if Prop 8 is defeated? I would venture to say that there would be many unemployed teachers and administrators throughout the state of California….so you have apparently not only caused harm to families and children, but also the very teachers who rely upon the support of the CTA.

I want to make it perfectly clear that neither I nor anyone in my family would ever treat a same sex couple with any degree of disrespect, but Prop 8 isn’t about equal rights, because they already have them. I believe they simply want the world to validate their lifestyle so they no longer need to feel uncomfortable about living their lives contrary to the laws of nature.

Mr. Sanchez, I fear you have just made the biggest mistake of your life. You ought to think twice (or three times) before you take on the concerned parents of California. Our voices will not be silenced.

Sincerely,
Lynda *****

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Dear Mr. Sanchez,

The California Teachers Association, the organization you lead, exists to protect and promote the well-being of its members, to improve the conditions of teaching and learning, and to advance the cause of quality public education. I can’t help but ask, what does Proposition 8 have to do with advancing the cause of quality public education in our state?

Quite frankly I am furious that my money, my union dues, are being used in such a manner. CTA’s actions certainly don’t promote my well-being or improve the already difficult conditions in which I teach. By involving CTA in this proposition you have violated your own mission statement. You considered one side of this argument, made it your own, and used my money to support it.

To say that your decision to oppose Proposition 8 is based on CTA’s desire to promote human and civil rights is not only flawed, it’s a one-sided, close-minded perspective. What about my civil rights to believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman? Where am I being represented as a paying union member of the California Teacher’s Association on this issue?

Just today I heard an advertisement on the radio stating that California ‘s teachers support no on 8. I am infuriated that you have labeled me, a California teacher, as endorsing something I wholeheartedly oppose simply because I am a teacher.

In the past I have stood by CTA and my local San Juan Teachers Association as a representative. When called upon, I have willingly spoken on their behalf to local television, radio and newspaper outlets on issues relating to education. But now, Mr. Sanchez, I am angry and disappointed in your leadership. I see clearly now that you represent me in name only, because you certainly don’t represent my well-being, my civil rights and my opinions. If you are unable to capably stand as a leader for all paying members of CTA, perhaps it would be wise to instead stay out of an argument such as Proposition 8 and use your member’s money in a way that helps them better educate their students.

You had no reason to get involved in this matter, unless you are trying to use the political power and financial backing of CTA as the engine to drive your own personal or political agenda. It’s quite obvious that you are not interested in representing me and thousands of others who share the same opinion.

I look forward to your response to this concern, particularly a detailed explanation of how you have ethically represented me and held true to CTA’s mission statement in regard to Proposition 8.

Sincerely,

Dianna *****

Third Grade Teacher

Carmichael, CA

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Published in: on October 24, 2008 at 12:47 pm  Comments (3)  
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