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Religion strangling US rights


This editorial article from the Arizone Republic makes some interesting points:

Religion, holy ones strangling U.S. rights

By Linda Valdez
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 18, 2005 12:00 AM

An extraterrestrial sent to study the United States would look at the headlines about John Roberts' confirmation hearings and think the biggest issue facing the nation is abortion.

E.T. would be wrong.

The issue is religion, not abortion.

Questions from Democrats about Roberts' views about the right to privacy were code for: Hey, America! Religion has a stranglehold on your government.

Do you care? Can you show the gumption to keep government out of your personal decisions? Or will you allow yourself to be ruled by a bunch of holier-than-thou busybodies?

Some people believe abortion is wrong. They should never have one. Others feel differently. The Constitution, as explained in Roe vs. Wade, supports the rights of both groups.

Roe neither endorsed nor condemned abortion. It put the choice in the hands of the individual, where it belongs. It also spelled out that there are times when the state has an interest in protecting an unborn child.

Some people with particular religious beliefs immediately objected to any choice. They wanted their views to supersede the Constitution and the constitutional rights of others.

The Constitution protects their right to live according to their interpretation of biblical teachings. It also protects anyone else's right to live free of biblical dictates.

The Bible does not trump the Constitution.

The United States was not meant to be a theocracy.

Politicians of courage would have politely and sternly said that.

Instead, Republicans saw a constituency in search of a party. They linked arms with some who call themselves Christians and marched up the right side of a hill called Moral High Ground.

It didn't matter that others who also call themselves Christians disagreed.

It didn't matter that atheists, Jews and pagans can be adversely affected when some people's religion becomes entangled with everybody's state.

The "we're right" Christians now have an entire political party in their collection plate.

God's Own Party controls Congress and the White House. They've got a bead on the Supreme Court.

Talk about intelligent designs!

They want to control what your children learn. They don't just want to bring back prayer to the public school, they want it taught in biology class.

Darwin, Schmarwin.

Let me tell you about the sixth day. How's that for giving kids what they'll need to gain a competitive edge in tomorrow's world economy?

George Bush's Food and Drug Administration did the bidding of the Holy Right when it refused to make the "morning-after pill" readily available for emergency contraception. Date rape? Incest? Lapse of judgment? Tough luck.

Here's how Marc Kaufman of the Washington Post explained the decision to hold back the pills:

"Religious conservatives and some members of Congress say that pregnancy begins with the fertilizing of the egg. They argue that anything that harms the resulting embryo amounts to abortion."

Hello? Abortion is legal.

Hello? People have different beliefs about when a fetus becomes a person with inalienable rights.

Susan Wood, the FDA official in charge of women's health issues, resigned over this, saying "scientific and clinical evidence" had been "overruled."

The desire to control what Americans do reaches from the womb to the tomb.

Think Terri Schiavo. Think how a brain-dead woman who previously had told her husband she would never want to live that way became a symbol of the strong arm religion has around America's neck.

The courts let Schiavo have the death with dignity she wanted despite the shameless efforts of Congress and the Bush brothers to keep her alive to satisfy the Religious Right. What happens when the right gets full control of the courts?

That was the subtext at the Roberts' hearings.

It wasn't about abortion.

It was, and is, about whether Americans will retain the right to make their own decisions and pick their own gods and goddesses.

Reach the author at linda.valdez@arizonarepublic.com.