Monday, April 25, 2011

Kersten: It's me and God and screw the rest of you!

St. Katie of the cornfields delivers her Easter homily: a giant Easter egg

Before heading out to check out the supermarket specials, and pick up her Easter "we're not Jews!" ham, Katherine Kersten penned her column for Easter Day. And it's a humdinger.
America was founded on the belief that God is the source of [liberty and equality].

*  *  *
 Think of the Liberty Bell, emblazoned with an inscription from the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible: "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof."
Think of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Think of the Constitution, the founding document of our current republic, which doesn't mention the word "God," much less identify a deity as a source of the law. In fact, in Article VI, the Constitution specifically prohibits any religious test for public office in the United States. And, of course, the First Amendment allows the free exercise of religion, but prohibits the establishment of one by the federal government, and via the Fourteenth Amendment, one by a state.
It is highly ironic to me that perhaps the most important statement by a presidential candidate disclaiming the influence of a religious persuasion on government was John Kennedy, who said in September of 1960:
[N]either do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test, even by indirection. For if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it.
 . . . [C]ontrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President.
I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.I do not speak for my church on public matters; and the church does not speak for me. Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected, on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views -- in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
 But if the time should ever come -- and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible -- when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do likewise.
But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith; nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I'd tried my best and was fairly judged.
 But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.
 We got another lesson about Article VI when Keith Ellison was elected in 2006 and decided to take his oath of office on (Thomas Jefferson's as it turns out) a Qur'an; Dennis Prager and many other right wingers howled. The law cannot prohibit or require either a Bible or a Qur'an -- or any other religious tract of any faith for that matter -- when taking office, nor can the person taking the office be required to utter the words "so help me God."

There is so much coloring book history in Kersten's column that it will take another post or two to finish up.

The most fundamentally misguided notion in her homily, though, is that we governed by natural law. But make no mistake about it: every law that you or I must obey was made by people.

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