Monday, March 27, 2006

We'd Like To Compliment You On Your Awesome Principles That We're Trying To Undermine

The Family Research Council cites and lauds Jefferson and Madison's work in the Virginia state legislature and US congress as proof that in America, religious freedom was absolutely crucial from the start. They offer this up in contrast to Afghanistan, where Condi Rice tried to explain the near-execution of a Christian convert by noting they were a "young democracy." How much Madison and Jefferson's work translated from parchment to practice is difficult to ascertain, but the point is well taken--these two founding fathers made sure to protect religious liberty even at the most fragile point in our nation's history.

However, it is important to remember that Madison and Jefferson were both staunch church/state separationists. This was a principle they took very seriously, and it is embodied in both the texts the FRC cites (the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom of 1786 and the 1st Amendment). Jefferson himself was the author of that much-detested (by the FRC) phrase, "wall of separation between church and state." Jefferson and Madison led the charge against public funding for religion in any respect whatsoever, and were adamant that the union of church and state tends to destroy and degrade both. The FRC takes precisely the opposite stance, urging ever-more integration between religion and the government. The end result is that either religion will become the vassal of the state, or the state will become the vassal of religion--and I'm not sure which is scarier.

Jefferson and Madison's contribution to protecting religion in America was absolutely noble, but it is a legacy that the FRC has consistently opposed in its political and rhetorical advocacy. To claim it as one of the crucial aspects of American democracy is definitely true, but incredibly ironic.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Hundreds of years from now, historians will refer to the current period in American history as the Ironic Age.

Anonymous said...

Long War
Iraq Intel: The Spy Who Failed Me
The Larger WMD Question And Iran
Complicated Iraq