Clearly the arguments pertaining to the separation of church and state as it pertains to the United States Constitution are nuanced and complex, as most arguments involving legal documents tend to be. Legal experts all the way up to the Supreme Court can debate, and many have, from here to tomorrow and still be no further along than they were yesterday. So it should not come as a surprise that when it comes to the general populous this debate rages furiously (and in circles) time and time again.
One observation I have is that there seems to be an over-abundance of people who refuse to see the bigger picture and acknowledge that as it pertains to matters of federal law it is a multi-layered and remarkably complex web in which it is all to easy to get tangled. I am certainly guilty of this, or have been on occasion, but also firmly believe that regardless of how the interpretation of law unfolds that there should be one indisputable characteristic: that the law is applied equally to everyone.
Another observation I have is that there are always people who will selectively interpret highly complex documents in order to further an agenda or attempt to force specific belief on others. There’s a certain irony to this when the U.S. Constitution is involved, seeing as parts of that document and it’s amendments were specifically written to allow everyone the freedom to believe whatever the hell they want even if you disagree and especially if you disagree.
A final observation, it’s really just different instance of the observation I just made, would be that there are a rather large number of Americans who apply this notion of selective interpretation to the Bible in an effort to tell another large number of Americans how they can or cannot live their lives.
This completely boggles my mind.
My friend Gordon over at Skeptophilia posits that, based on a recent survey done in the U.S., as many as 34% of Americans would support a theocracy. Granted, the question asked wasn’t, “Would you support a theocracy?” but still, the fact that so many people supported the idea of adopting Christianity as a state (34%) and/or federal (32%) religion is absolutely insane.
What’s really interesting about this is there wasn’t a mention of which denomination it would be or how it would be chosen. This actually makes me laugh, and it should, because it’s just that ridiculous. I am quite certain that it would be a remarkably difficult task to pin it down to one but if anyone’s taking bets put me down for a stack of Benjamins on Baptist. I am also quite certain that when it comes to specific interpretation of any version of the Bible that achieving consensus on everything in it would be damn near impossible.
So, to bring all of this together, what it all boils down to is that there are people who for one reason or another will fight tooth and nail defending the right for people to be able to believe what they choose and in the same breath use those very beliefs to attempt to dictate what other people – the ones who disagree with them – can and cannot believe themselves.
But this is a post about equality, so of course I’m going to point to the 2013 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the rights of all legally married couples – regardless of the gender makeup of the marriage. That’s right, if you are married, then the U.S. Federal Government will grant you all the benefits that this entails. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, gay pretending to be straight, or straight pretending to be gay (does that happen?); if you’re married, that’s good enough for the Feds.
Naturally, when the decision came down, a good number of people (see above observations) went completely batshit crazy. The more recent decision in the summer of 2015 even more people went batshit crazy (or maybe it was the same people and they were just louder, I’m not sure). Regardless, this made me angry. Really angry. I happen to be in the (barely) majority opinion that everyone should be treated equally. It’s not a new concept. In fact, almost a couple thousand years ago some guy named Mark told a nice story about some guy named Jesus who said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” [Mark 12-31] That’s a pretty cool concept if you think about it, and you can find it in all kinds of religions all over the place. They even gave it an awesome name: The Golden Rule.
|Bernard d’Agesci (1757-1828), La justice, musée de Niort.
The funny thing is, as far as marriage is concerned, the U.S. Government has declared that it’s none of their business. Marriage is marriage as far as the laws are concerned. They’ll mark down your Social Security Numbers and the marriage certificate number and make the appropriate changes to their files. It’s actually quite a nice showing of equality, and if you’ll permit me one grandiose expletive, it’s about fucking time.
Equality means equal.
There is no version of equality.
There is no sort of equal.
There is no equal, but…
Equality is an absolute, and on that there is no room for interpretation.