There was an article in The Charlotte Observer today about the guest preacher at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church yesterday. Tony Perkins, Family Research Council President, and a supporter of the marriage amendment, made an appeal to the congregation to amend the Constituion based on God’s will.
He said that “God has defined marriage” and “it is not up to us to redefine it”. He also said you should “[v]ote for the values that God has placed in your hearts”. Clearly, it is Tony Perkins’ opinion that his religion should be part of the NC Constitution.
I am not prepared to argue with Tony Perkins about his religious beliefs and I respect his right to choose his faith. What I do not understand is why he thinks that his religion should become the law of the land in this state.
Interestingly, Tony Perkins was asked about the doctrine of separation of church and state and based on his response, it is hard to tell whether he was serious or just looking for a soundbite. He said that the separation of church and state is actually “the separation of morality and truth from public life”.
To that I ask, whose morality and truth is he talking about? The morality and truth of just “his” church? And does he really think it is good for religious freedom, including his own, to make laws based on God’s will as interpreted by one denomination? What about the beliefs of others?
Talk about a slippery slope. What if the rolls were reversed and another religion had more warm bodies prepared to do their version of God’s will with the Constitution? Would it be appropriate for them to do so? Or course not. Why? Because the doctrine of separation of church and state does not choose sides based on the majority view. In fact, many of the so-called liberal opponents of Amendment One would be the first to step in to defend Mr. Perkins’ right to have his religious views respected in that instance.
And what about this for a split personality. The service at First Baptist apparently included videos calling for cuts to big government.
So now I really am confused Mr. Perkins. You want smaller government, but at the same time, you want it to be just big enough and strong enough to legislate your religion on the entire state. Isn’t there a conflict somewhere in your message? How can you want government to get out of your life, on the one hand, while at the same time asking government to impose your religious beliefs on others? The right of heterosexuals to marry each other will not be affected by this vote, so why do you feel compelled to tell others who they can and cannot marry or have a civil union with in the name of religion?
And herein lies the problem. Religion is a powerful force. It grabs on to people and won’t let go. That can be a very good thing, in many circumstances, but not in those situations where people of faith become blind to the beliefs and faiths of others and worse yet, seek to impose their religious will on others.
This country was settled by strong people, many of whom were seeking to avoid religious persecution and live in the land of the free and home of the brave. Our US Constitution was dead on with an amendment that protected the religious rights of all people to be free from government interference. Let’s try to keep these traditions alive on May 8th.