How Far Will Ideologues Go? Rep. Harris On Church, State and “Legislating Sin.”

If there was any shred of doubt left about where Rep. Katherine Harris (FL) stands on the political spectrum, there is none now. She has moved beyond conservative, beyond even far right, and set up camp somewhere in the exurbs of funny fringe land. She, the woman who presided over one of the great election debacles in all of US history, damaging people's faith in democracy, now says the founding fathers never intended for church and state to be separate.

She said that the separation of church and state is, "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws (like abortion). That's not what our Founding Fathers intended, and that certainly isn't what God intended."

Let's check in with Thomas Jefferson on that:

Almighty God hath created the mind free … No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion …

Rep. Harris' comments are evidence of a larger rift within the nation, and in particular the Republican Party, as social conservative ideologues are increasingly being held accountable for their reckless rhetoric. Voters who once believed, now doubt that the term "conservative" means protecting the rights of the individual, and that having leaders whose decisions were "informed by faith" means that those same leaders respect all faiths.

This erosion of the founding principles of our democracy is the logical, dare I say, evolution, of the anti-choice movement that has come full circle to claim its prize. From small groups of genuine people practicing their faith–but in the process trying deny the ability of others to practice theirs by denying women's rights to a basic health procedure–a radical ideological movement of social conservatives has grown power hungry. In its wake, we find not a reasoned approach to determining how best to reduce abortion, but rather a full fledged movement that seeks nothing less than complete control of the body politic and the establishment of one theocracy, indivisible, with liberty and justice for some; and choice, contraception, sexuality education, stem cell research, etc., … for none.

The attack on Roe v. Wade remains their centerpiece as is seen in South Dakota. Beyond reproductive health, this radical movement has threatened the education of the coming generations. At a time when science literacy should not be an "elective" for students, this movement believes genuine learning should be replaced in public schools by their beliefs and theirs alone.

At the end of life, Rep. Harris' home state of Florida provided the nation with a tutorial on just how far the radical right fringe will go in pursuing their belief that families across America should not have the right to make personal life decisions for themselves. They usurped every level of governmental authority in an attempt to keep Terri Schiavo alive. Now, her husband Michael Schiavo is actively campaigning against candidates whose "holier than thou" approach to his wife's years of languishing in a persistent vegetative state, combined with their political ambition, contributed to a better understanding of just what the radical right is really all about.

Sen. John McCain (AZ) is trying to have it both ways in his effort to wrap up the GOP presidential nomination before the 2006 mid-terms. He wants to be the Heir to the Bush family claims to the White House–divinely chosen, according to Rep. Harris one assumes–but his famed "Straight Talk Express" is veering off course into, as John Stewart said "crazy base land" to cozy up to those who believe like Rep. Harris that, "if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

As Mr. Jefferson said, Rep. Harris is entitled to freely, "profess and by argument to maintain, (her) opinion in matters of religion."

Because he wrote that into the essence of our governing principles, so can we all.

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  • pjean

    Let’s see…she says God chooses our rulers, but we need to be “involved in electing those godly men and women”. How does she stack up to godly standards? Accepting illegal campaign contributions, taking bribes from a defense contractor whom she later requested 10 million in federal funds for, lying by posting endorsements from House members on her campaign website who did not actually endorse her, had police and staffers confiscate any notes from citizens attending a town hall meeting (they might ask embarrassing questions, don’t you know); and, oh yes, helping to fix a federal election.
    Lord, please save me from godly people such as these!