Saturday, February 12, 2011

Strict Constructionalism Until It's Not Convenient...

So a recent report from Fox News shows that Republicans involved in the upcoming Iowa Caucus do have some pressing things on their mind for the 2012 election.

Let's see. We're at war. In two places. Our economy is growing slowly, but our undergraduates are still having trouble finding jobs. Real estate markets are moving - not sure in which direction - at a snail's pace, with more homeowners "under water" than there really should be, given the fact that the government bailed out those financial institutions. Who are holding on to the bail-out funds to give their own execs a bonus, or increase their bottom lines for the benefit of their stockholders.

That's a good start, right?

Nope. They're worried because President Barack Obama is "hiding the truth" that he's really not a Christian, in spite of more assertions than there would be if the guy was white...Let's call it what it is, folks. And that -- oh my.... He's MUSLIM. Except for the fact that he's not.

So, most of those folks consider themselves "strict constructionalists" of the US Constitution. Therefore, using logic (and it won't hurt, I promise), they should be pretty clear about Article Six and its obvious meaning.

Article VI of the  United States Constitution: (only the 3rd paragraph is relevant here, so I'll skip all that extra typing)

The Senators and Representatives, before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Can you read that, or shall I break it down? Oh, heck. I'll break it down. It's more fun.

Senators, legislators and any public elected official, including the judiciary, must take an oath to support the Constituiton. They do that, albeit they don't have a standard oath, as that was deemed a "test" and thus a violation. So, Congress may include "so help me God," but an individual may choose not to say the words. If you were to require the person to say them, that's a religious test.

The current oath is: I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreigh and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. (So help me God.)

Kennedy  had to deal with the whole "religious test" thing because people were worried that "Rome would be running the country." John Kerry actually put this issue to rest in his own campaign, by saying (I'm paraphrasing) basicially, "I was elected by many people of many beliefs. My own beliefs are my own. I was elected to do the will of the people, and that doesn't mean just the Catholic people. It means all the people in my district."

The religious test issue was brought up again in the 110th United States Congress, when Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress (Minnesota's 5th Congressional District) said he was going to use a Qu'ran for his swearing in. Funny thing - he used the Qu'ran that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Remember him??

The US Congress does not officially swear anyone in using any holy book. It's an en mass swearing in, and any other ceremonies using a holy book are strictly private.

So. We're back at President Obama. The guy has affirmed - multiple times - that he's a Christian. He's proven that he was born here. Don't go there, he was born here. Ask the Governor of Hawaii - he was there. And if you remember, he was sworn in using Abraham Lincoln's bible. Remember him? The greatest Republican president ever, some say.

There is no religious test. Obama doesn't have to prove, to anyone, any further, that he's a Christian. Because according to our own Constitution, he can be a Druid, a Wiccan or an atheist.

Our country was not founded as a Christian nation.

Behaving "as a Christian" is seen as behaving with good will toward all. Those folks in Iowa are somehow not focusing on the greater good. They're not focusing on the millions in our own country who go to bed hungry, or have no home, or have no job. They're not focusing on the 47 million + who are uninsured. They're not focusing on the country's incredibly enormous debt, and how that'll affect our children's children's children.

They're focusing on a non-issue fanned into flame by a non-news station.

I guess they've got nothing better to look at in Iowa. The 2012 election cycle is going to be interesting. The strict constructionalists are only "strict" when it serves them; otherwise, it seems they're perfectly content to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Unaware that the baby they're tossing out, our Constitution, is the one that belongs to all of us. Not just to them.

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