AN AMERICAN'S PERSPECTIVE - "Religion On My Sleeve?-Moral Values"


By Roger Propst

I don't know whether you know this or not, but America is at war on more than one front. We are obviously in a global war on terrorism perpetrated by extreme radical Islam, but we are also in a cultural war. The radical left in this country wants to eliminate any reference to God or religion in public discourse under the guise of "separation of church and state". Any utterance or display of personal faith or religion violates the "separation" clause of the Constitution, but does it? In fact, the Constitution has no such clause. Instead it simply states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". It does not prohibit public officials from uttering references to God or their faith. The American people can judge its leaders conduct as candidates and then as officials; if they are uncomfortable with aspects of their behavior, they can exercise the right of choice by their votes.

In exit interviews on Election Day 2004, one in five voters indicated the most important issue affecting their vote was "moral values"; more than the economy, the War on Terror, jobs, etc. What a revelation this was. Since the election, the mainstream press, network television, CNN, and MSNBC, all of whom openly supported the Kerry candidacy, have had their shorts in a knot about this issue. The front page of the New York Times resembled the Kerry Campaign newsletter more than the newspaper of record it claims to be. For the life of them, they cannot figure how these issues could possibly be more important than the aforementioned issues to American voters. Instead of exploring in an in-depth manner why these folks voted as they did, they almost immediately deduced that moral values equated to two issues, same-sex marriage and abortion. The mob that constantly referred to their "nuanced" views saw no nuance, only ignorance and bigotry in the red-state voters.

Let us make something perfectly clear to these groups. Opposition to gay marriage isn't about disallowing homosexuals the same basic rights we extend to everyone else. It is about recognizing that marriage between man and woman is the bedrock of our society. It is about the citizens of this country saying, en masse, that they are unwilling to deconstruct certain basic and essential norms in our culture and society. People who oppose gay marriage are not bigoted gay bashers because of their beliefs, but rather clear thinking Americans who value the basic tenets of their society.

Abortion is a deeply divisive issue in America, and will never be legislated or adjudicated away; but to label those citizens who believe this to be taking the life of a living person as religious whackos wallowing in their own ignorance is demeaning and insulting. Proponents of a woman's right to choose say that the government does not have the right to legislate what she does with her body, thus the term pro-choice. Of course this is not true, since the government already dictates she may not choose to prostitute her body or put certain substances into it. Citizens whose core beliefs reflect opposition to this practice have every right to express those beliefs, and should not be demeaned for them; enlightenment is in the eye of the beholder.

Nowhere is the view of the liberal elite stated more clearly than in a column by Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, who believes people who follow God pose a more significant threat to the modern world than terrorists do. He states, "The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face."

In the recent presidential election, Senator Kerry expressed that he did not wear his religion on his sleeve, an obvious reference to President Bush, who is criticized by the political left for bringing religion into his public discourse. The Left apparently feels that one's religious faith is something carried around in a briefcase that can, and should be, placed outside the polling booth or before entering a public building, and then picked up on the way out. What they fail to understand is that a person's faith is as much a part of his being as is his arm or leg, not something defined by organizational rules or tenets. He can no more separate these views from who he is, than he can remove a physical appendage. Therefore, to utter references to faith in the normal discourse of daily life, is as natural as speaking of the weather, not as many would like to label, "wearing my religion on my sleeve".

Moral values are important to mainstream Americans, and encompass much more than the two issues the liberal elite have concluded. Americans place a high value on family, faith, country, and community. They believe in sharing their abundance with the less fortunate, both at home and across the globe. They believe the American people and the country itself is a force for good in the world, and resent the "blame America first" crowd. These are just some of the moral values expressed in the exit polls; they are not Republican or Democrat, but simply American. Should either party shun the values of mainstream America, they do so at their own peril.

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