Representative Theocracy

By Sarah Braasch

Representative Bart Stupak from Michigan was paraphrased in a recent New York Times interview as saying that his resolve to defeat the healthcare reform bill, unless the bill includes his anti-abortion amendment language, is a straightforward matter of Roman Catholic faith. The article states that Representative Stupak said that he actually urged the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to toughen its stance on the legislation. Representative Stupak is also quoted as saying: “It’s not the end of the world if it goes down.”

What?!?! Let me say that again. WTF?!?!

I don’t understand how something like this goes unnoticed and unmentioned.

How does he get a free pass on saying something like that in his capacity as a US Representative? How does he not get called out on that?

He just proclaimed to the press that he holds religious law in higher esteem than the US Constitution. He just stated, unequivocally, that he intends to impose religious law upon the American citizenry. He just asserted that he intends to defeat healthcare reform unless religious law is deemed the supreme law of the land, usurping the position of the US Constitution.

I am trying to imagine the reaction if Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota were to say something similar. Keith Ellison is the first Muslim member of the US Congress. I am trying to imagine the resulting tumult and uproar if he were to defy his Democratic Party and vote in opposition to its platform, all the while maintaining that he was doing so as a straightforward matter of his Islamic faith, because he holds the tenets of Islam in higher esteem than the US Constitution, because the Quran and the Hadith demand that he impose Sharia (Islamic Law) upon American citizens, as a matter of principle and conscience. Does anyone honestly believe that a comment like that would go unnoticed in a New York Times interview?

Representative Stupak took an oath to support and defend the US Constitution. He is openly admitting to violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by attempting to establish religious law as US Federal Law. He may not seek recourse under the Free Exercise or Free Speech Clauses, because federal congressional legislation is textbook government speech. He is not acting as a private individual citizen when he acts in his capacity as a US Representative in Congress.

Is there something about the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, which Representative Stupak fails to understand? I find it fairly straightforward myself. In case you had forgotten, I am including our glorious First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There is no religious test for public office, but there should be a competency test for public office, to determine if one is capable of maintaining the separation between church and state, if one is capable of NOT violating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, if one is capable of comprehending the difference between government speech and the private speech of an individual citizen.

If immigrants desiring citizenship must take a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the United States Constitution, then maybe we should require the same of our Representatives and Senators, since they are also being asked to take an oath or affirmation to support and defend the Constitution and all.

For the record, I am not Catholic. I reject Roman Catholicism. And, I am deeply and personally offended that Mr. Stupak would abuse his position as a US Congressman by attempting to force me to kneel to Roman Catholic doctrine as a matter of US Federal Law in direct violation of our Constitution.

And, even if I were Catholic, what entitles Representative Stupak to interpret the tenets of Roman Catholicism on my behalf? I didn’t realize we had a Theologian Laureate in the United States of America. Thank God for Representative Stupak from Michigan. Thank God we have Representative Stupak to interpret Catholic doctrine and then legislate accordingly on our behalf.

I can sleep easy now. Congress is looking after my spiritual wellbeing. Congress is looking after my soul.

Of course Representative Stupak doesn’t care if healthcare reform passes or no. Of course he doesn’t care how many American citizens continue to die unnecessarily. He isn’t interested in saving our lives. He’s interested in saving our souls. For Jesus. Nothing unconstitutional about that.

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About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Arc of Fire, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.


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