I would like to see Nike print and promote a new t-shirt: “Discrimination — Just Do it.” I love watching the mental contortions the First Church of the Material World’s evangelists twist themselves into while making a case against their pseudo-sacred beliefs. Choices in food, fashion, transportation, housing and almost everything else are part of this cult, exercised and promoted among every income and social level in our utopia.
These choices have expanded to include lifestyle, gender, and even life or death, as in being “pro-choice.” There’s just one area of this society where choice is never welcome, indeed it might land you in jail or fined: discrimination in commerce. We are forbidden to deny service to anyone on account of race, creed, national origin, gender, suspected gender, or any other distinguishing characteristic. Is that the way an actual free society conducts its affairs, without discrimination?
Now, let me say, I do not wish to be featured on Maddow for “opposing the Civil Rights Act” or other stupefying attempts at humiliation in lieu of debate. Any Christian [r]epublican or Libertarian worthy of their Thomastic or Bastiat credentials should loudly denounce any state effort to enforce its association codes, including the ones the CRA of 1964 was intended to demolish.
This brings us to Arizona and the latest media-created controversy over its bill “Relating to the free exercise of religion” — SB 1062. The bill, if signed by Governor Jan Brewer, will simply reinforce the old, uniquely American tradition that a citizen’s religious beliefs and practices belong to him and are not subject to approval or alteration by his state if its constitution prohibits such a thing. The Arizona Constitution does this in Article I, Section 12, but it does not secure the expression of religious freedom itself. This leads some to believe that citizens will be compelled by state or federal judges to perform business services that violate their faith.
If the service in question happens to involve homosexuals then this religious exemption is called discrimination, and now the entire world of print, digital and broadcast media is being brought to bear on the veto pen of Arizona governor Jan Brewer. Most folks in favor of the Arizona bill are missing the target entirely and are relying on what I call the Founding Father’s first-amendment-trump-card while the other side relies on a farcical definition of “fairness” (the same fairness used to exterminate the unborn in their mother’s wombs).
But I can sum up this controversy in one sentence. The old world of God versus the new world of Material World God; I call this new God, ‘Government.’ Government God was supposed to be restrained by the Constitution but what’s been happening for the last century is the exact opposite. Someone should tell our heavenly God to look out when his earthly counterpart is on the move.
Thrown into this maelstrom are innocent, posthumous bystanders James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. These men left us an ample supply of instruction manuals to deal with the problem of “religious freedom,” and yes even denying service to homosexuals (or heterosexuals) in our businesses. It is a well kept secret that Jefferson was the brains behind Virginia’s truly revolutionary Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, the godfather of the Constitution’s First Amendment. He famously instructed his survivors to carve into his gravestone three accomplishments, among them was “AUTHOR OF … THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.” In this document Jefferson lays out the reasons why he thinks your religion’s dogma should not become a free people’s legal dogma:
“[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” [emphasis mine]
Some may wonder what on earth could have inspired the “sage of Monticello” to compose such a thorough and forceful rebuke to religious compulsion? Had he or someone he knew been ordered to render a wedding portrait featuring a happy couple of Virginia Squires? In answering that question we can accomplish several things, 1.) why a prohibition on establishing a religion is a good thing for the people of any state and 2.) why Arizona SB 1062 doesn’t establish a religion, doesn’t compel anyone to worship or contribute to a house of worship, and its effect is limited to Arizona (we used to call that federalism).
I hear near-unanimous argument from “both sides” on the Arizona bill about what the First Amendment says about this law — it says nothing and here’s why. The Virginia Statute, since it pre-dates the federal First Amendment, is of great importance to the Arizona case because it demolishes the ignorant mantra that the federal Bill of Rights applies not only to the states of the American Union — it doesn’t — but to every state in the known universe including the Ice World of Hoth and Khan’s prison home Ceti Aplha 5. That’s a joke but ask any NRA member how far the Second Amendment is in effect and I may have shorted it by a galaxy or three.
Young James Madison was a member of the Virginia Assembly at the time a bill was introduced there to restore the Episcopal Church to its pre-revolution status and grant it an “establishment.” Madison was so alarmed by the bill which was a favorite of Patrick Henry’s that he dashed out a hurried letter to Jefferson, seeking his advice on the matter. “Several Petitions came forward [o]n behalf of a genl Assessmt [for] The Episcopal Clergy… The foundation of it was that the whole body should be legally incorporated, invested with the present property of the Church, made capable of acquiring indefinitely — empowered to make canons & bye-laws not contrary to the laws of the land, and incumbents when once chosen by vestries, to be immovable otherwise than by sentence of the Convocation.”
In other words, establish the Episcopal Church as Virginia’s official church, turn over any property it claimed was due to it and make the Church’s officers nominated for life terms removable only by a vote of the state-wide congregation. Later a bill for “assessments,” meaning compulsory tithes (taxes), was introduced and was gaining support. That is what drove Jefferson’s efforts to get his dormant 1776 draft of the Statute passed. This was animated by Madison’s efforts in a pamphlet he would write titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.”