Be Careful What You Ask For

Bill Neinast

Be careful what you ask for.  You might get it.

Governor Greg Abbott should consider that as good advice concerning one of his latest schemes.  He and some cohorts are attempting to accumulate state votes to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Homophobia seems to be the driving force for their initiative.  Although other reasons are given, the fundamental motivator for the amendment is that citizens should not be required to comply with laws that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

This relates directly to the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and the bakery owners who did not want to serve homosexual weddings.  These and similar actions relate directly to the Supreme Court decision that same sex couples cannot be denied the right to marry.

Abbott’s move is based on his Christian beliefs.  He might, however want to read the Constitution again.  That document guarantees freedom of religion, not just Christianity. 

Imagine what the country would become if every citizen were allowed to decide which laws to obey and which to  ignore.  If one did not want to comply with an onerous law, just claim that it violates a sincerely held religious belief and flip off authorities charged with enforcing all laws. 

If the Constitution is amended to excuse homophobia, what about other practices claimed to be based on religion?  Will pork products be banned from all public places because swine are anathema to Muslims and Orthodox Jews?  Will Mormon Fundamentalists be allowed to thumb their noses at the laws against bigamy?

Will cult leaders like David Koresh and Jim Jones be allowed to develop rules contrary to civil law and have their followers exempt from the civil law because of their sincerely held beliefs?

What if nudists began appearing nude in public with claims that their sincerely held religious belief that their God’s gift of a body should not be hidden and covered with any type of garment?

Sure this is ridiculous.  There is, however, a point and that is who will decide what is a bona fide “religion” and what are acceptable and sincerely held beliefs?  This would be a huge can of worms with so many worms escaping that they could never be reconvened.

So here’s the perspective.

If Governor Abbott and his cohorts want to be so politically or religiously correct, they should consider all of their Bible.  As recorded in the books of Matthew and Mark, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

These passages are generally interpreted as pertaining to the duty to pay taxes.   There is no doubt, however, that the 13th Chapter of Romans applies to obeying all law.  Specifically, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

There are no exceptions in that quote.  The admonition to obey the law is clear and unequivocal.

So if Abbott and his cohorts want to excuse the practice of homophobia, they should change the law to permit the practice, not say one can be homophobic in defiance of the law.

The doctrine of separation of church and state applies to all religions and does not authorize the disobedience of law because of religious beliefs, regardless of how deeply held.


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