Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Obama's Sermon on the Mount References, 2006 and 2008

Barak Obama made a speech in his Keynote address back in 2006 in which he made brief reference to the "Sermon on the Mount". The point of the speech, which I agree wholeheartedly with, was that although religion is very important in many people's lives and those beliefs should be respected, we are a nation of free individuals. As such, our laws and our governments must pass secular muster. That is, if you believe a tenet of your religion should become law, you must make the logical case for it so that it makes sense to, and applies to everyone.

I did a post with a similar theme recently, but avoided quoting or referring to scripture to make my point. I was trying to practice the theme of the piece while writing it.

Obama, evidently, couldn't resist the temptation to go against his own advice recently when he again referenced the Sermon on the Mount to support his view on gay marriage. I guess he wants to score points with the Christian voters by showing that he knows his Bible. The problem is, as he once said himself, he's not running for minister. Our government is supposed to apply to all individual citizens, regardless of religion or lack thereof. There's nothing wrong with any candidate being very religious and proudly saying so, but when it comes time to explain policy, it should be done in a manner that everyone can relate to. Linking it to a specific religion shuts people out of the debate.

I recently attended a local Republican function at which an invocation was read touting the importance of Christian values and having "Righteous" leaders. Most of the crowd added "Amen"'s and other sounds of approval. It suggested to me that people who didn't share the same religious views as this particular (small) group, were not welcome there. To be fair, a later gathering of a different group of Republicans had no such flavor, and in fact stressed the importance of making everyone feel welcome in a community.

Point being: If we are going to be a country of free individuals, whose freedoms shall include the freedom of religion, government must stay out of the spiritual realm. Government's function is limited to enabling the free association of diverse individuals in peace. It is not our collective guru or mentor, it's our referee. You may apply whatever additional laws and principals to your own life that you wish, but those that apply to everyone should be restricted to what's necessary for peaceful interaction.

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