Monday, August 28, 2006

Katherine Harris: Separation of church and state is a lie

Conservative U.S. Rep Katherine Harris, who as former Florida Secretary of State helped deliver the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, leaps back into the headlines. CNN/Jack Cafferty just aired a segment on her based on an interview she granted to the Florida Baptist Witness. A few days ago, the Sun-Sentinel quoted the interview in which Harris says that the separation of church and state is a lie:

...God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that a failure to elect Christians to political office will allow lawmaking bodies to "legislate sin."
How does Harris know God's intentions for America and who can say definitively what is sin? The "sin" concept is a matter of freedom of religion. My beliefs, I daresay, differ greatly from Harris' and other Christians of her ilk. Did she get an email announcement from God, your God, my God, everybody's God on her revelation? What of atheists' non-god? There's more:
In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, Harris described her faith, saying it animates "everything I do," including her votes in Congress.
She warned that if voters do not send Christians to office, they risk creating a government that is doomed to fail.
"If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," she told interviewers, citing abortion and gay marriage as two examples of that sin.
We have a Congress full of Christians and yet that doesn't seem to protect Americans from corruption and bribery schemes. Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham, anyone? Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed know a lot about "sin" as well. The Republican-dominated Congress, many of whom are Christians, defeated the anti-gay marriage amendment. And what is sin? The Quakers thought the Iraq resolution passed in Congress was a horrific sin. And that's the bigger point. In Harris' specific religious denomination, gay marriage is a sin. Other Christians do not agree. According to my Creator, gay marriage is a blessing being denied to America's lesbian and gay couples and that's a sin! Also, abortion may be a mistake for some, but not for all, and it certainly isn't the hellfire and brimstone idea of sin that Harris believes in. But that's my religious belief as protected under the Constitution.
Doing so, she said, "will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don't know better, we are leading them astray and it's wrong..."
Ha! She really needs to catch up on some reading. World opinion polls cite America as a bigger problem to world peace than Iran. U.S. credibility and image needs a comeback after Bush's disastrous misadventures in Iraq. Check with American opinion about Bush's standing with foreign leaders too. And then there's a matter of the president's poor approval ratings. Bush says he believes in God and certainly makes a lot noise about it. So, Ms. Harris, your point about U.S. world leadership would be? Are you trying to say George is a hypocrite and that's why the world and most Americans don't approve of him?
Harris said that Americans "have internalized" the "lie" that church and state must not be mixed. In reality, she said, "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will.
Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," Harris said. "And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws. That's not what our founding fathers intended and that's (sic) certainly isn't what God intended."
Well, perhaps Ms. Harris' and the SCOTUS' role in choosing Bush in 2000 was an act of God in her mind. But I wonder if Ms. Harris has ever read the Constitution that the founding fathers wrote. In a democracy, we elect representatives, not rulers, and they are accountable to the people. Ever heard of impeachment? Cornell Law School explains (with emphasis):
Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the "separation of church and state. Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of "blue laws" is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a persons practice of their religion.
Favoring Christians over Jews or Muslims or Wiccans is not what the founders scribed or intended if one reads the Federalist Papers. Frankly, I think Harris has lost her mind and is one of those wannabe SDO authoritarians infused with religiosity and demagoguery that Sara Robinson has written about. Good news is she lags far behind in polling so her chances of being elected in the GOP Senate primary grow dim. Let me pause and give thanks to the Goddess!