Posted by: chiarraigrrl | August 5, 2010

“Liberty and justice for all”…

When I was a kid growing up in the hinterlands of Upstate New York (yes, there is a whole state outside of New York City), every morning at school we were required to face the American flag, put our right hands over our hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. For those who don’t know it, the Pledge of Allegiance goes like this:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The last line has been ricocheting around my head a good bit the last several days, thanks to two recent events from America that came to my attention. The first troubling item was the furore in relation to the possibility of a mosque being built two blocks from Ground Zero. In the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (part of the 10-amendment Bill of Rights created by the Founding Fathers), it states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”. What it does not say there is that this freedom of religion, and the right to peaceably assemble, only applies to certain groups, or certain places. People attempting to prevent the construction of a mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero are making the tremendous mistake of blaming an entire religion for the actions of a few nutcases. The Constitution of the United States, which many of these people claim to uphold, protects the very people they’re protesting against. Imagine, for a moment, if England had reacted similarly during the worst days of the Troubles, and discriminated against Irish Catholics during the IRA’s bombing campaign. It was a time of high emigration from Ireland, many of whom went to the UK, and such a reaction would have proved disastrous for many.

The second irritant happened this morning, and also relates to the concept of freedom of religion in a certain sense. Unfortunately, someone decided to post this tweet, and I’m sorry I even saw it: “California voted overwhelming against Gay Marriage – a single Judge today said “SCREW YOU VOTERS I’LL DECIDE” your vote means nothing”. If this is the attitude, can we expect a return to segregation in the South, as well? Much of the work overturning segregation was done through rulings of the Supreme Court. “Liberty and justice for all” means just that – liberty for everyone, even people you don’t approve of. Furthermore much of the argument against gay marriage is based on the idea that it’s “against God’s will”. This is imposing your religion on people who don’t necessarily subscribe to it, and therefore contrary to the First Amendment and unconstitutional – and as an argument, null and void in the eyes of that Constitution many of the opponents of gay marriage claim to love so well.

Come on, America. It’s time to live up to those ideals you so loudly profess to the world.

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Responses

  1. Great post – And I fully agree on all points – I suppose the only thing I would add is that some of us ‘religious’ people, myself included actually believe that God does NOT will the exclusion of people who are gay no more than God is in favour of slavery or sex-trafficing – The problem arises when any of us think ‘our religion’ is equal to the reality of God.


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