Cherry Picking Religious Freedom: Sarowski Strikes Again

cherryAfter a couple of weeks off as I put together my first columns for publication in the Petoskey News-Review, I am compelled to write again on an answer to the way Nancy Sarowski sees the world.  I promised the News-Review that I wouldn’t use my column to regularly counter Ms. Sarowski’s points, but I will continue to try to make sense of them here from time to time.

If you’ve been reading her columns from the beginning, you know she claims a strong link between conservatism and Christianity.  The fact that many conservatives continue to act in very un-Christian like ways when it comes to women, gays, the poor, etc. has seemingly escaped her notice. But in the words of Pope Francis, “who am I to judge?”

In her latest column she tries to argue for more religion in government while at the same time professing to understand both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  Through a difficult to follow trail of quotes and citations, she concludes that “’Church’ talk is different than ‘God talk’.”  Presumably this means that Christian prayer should be allowed in public schools.  The basis for this absurdity is that she conveniently forgets about the Fourteenth Amendment in building her argument.  (Remember a couple of weeks ago the 14th Amendment was the foundation of another of her arguments.)

Since all the restrictions on government found in the Bill of Rights were extended from the federal government to all the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, and since schools are run by the state, prayers in public schools are clearly prohibited by the First Amendment.  This is settled policy and it has made our country a better place.  When we stop indoctrinating students with our religious beliefs (which many times contradict our own morality) we have a better chance of building a tolerant and inclusive society.

As Ms. Sarowski always does, she finds a way to blame President Obama for some failure in our society.  Apparently the Affordable Care Act is somehow a violation of the First Amendment because it bans pharmacists from doing harm to people because they personally don’t approve of contraception.   If you’re hopelessly lost trying to follow this argument, don’t feel alone.   But hang on to your seat…here comes another whopper… “Contraceptive products are oftentimes a form of abortion.”  This is beginning to sound a lot like the remarkable Arizona Representative, Kimberly Yee, who has introduced a bill claiming that pregnancy begins two weeks BEFORE conception.  Crazy?  Well, for the right-wing legislature of Arizona, it wasn’t crazy at all.  They have passed this bill and sent it on to the governor for her signature or veto.

I’m truly afraid that left to their own devices, the right might soon be sending women to the electric chair for menstruating since they ejected an ovum that might have one day have grown up to be a baby.  And masturbating men everywhere better be looking over their shoulder for wasting seed that was intended only for procreation.

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider that in Arizona and apparently in Ms. Sarowski’s mind, contraception is killing babies.  Forget that in order to be viable and called a “baby,” there should at the bare minimum be a pregnancy.  Federal law allows abortion at a woman’s discretion through the first trimester without government interference, yet the people who claim to believe in the rule of law, have tried to undermine this provision to absurdly laughable levels.

But I digress (or she did, and I went along for the ride.)  No liberal I know begrudges anyone practicing their religion.  I think it is fair, however, to judge how people act versus how they say they act and that has caused many people to question the level of hypocrisy displayed by people who claim to be very religious.  This isn’t limited to radical “Muslims” who kill in the name of Muhammad, “Hindi” who ban women for being widows, or “Christians” who treat homosexuals as sinners.  All of these people are high-order hypocrites who are using religion to justify their bad behavior.  And it was for precisely this reason that Jefferson, Madison, and others looked at Europe and decided that the United States would never allow our government to be run by people who claim to get authority from their god.

Encroaching upon the wall which separates religion from democracy must always be met with resistance.  Sarowski’s long term vision is a republic run on her “Christian” values.  School prayer, nativity scenes on public property, prayer openings of public meetings, etc. are all such encroachments that the radical right hopes will eventually lead to the kind of nation many people fled when this country was established.

No matter how many citations Ms. Sarowski delivers from Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bible, the truth remains plain to see: our society is threatened when religion and politics mix…and thousands of years of human history stand ready to prove it.

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