I’d like to respond briefly (as time is short) to a fresh wave of debate in the light of this election on the issue of church and state. The 2004 election has proved one thing: Americans still vote strongly on moral issues, mostly due to the influence of evangelical Christianity.

Their argument goes something like this:

(1) (Premise) – The Constitution of the United States was based on the teachings of the bible and the Christian faith;
(2) (Premise) – The laws of the United States should be fully compliant with and wholly subservient to that Constitution;
(3) (Conclusion) – Therefore the laws of the United States should be based on the teachings of the bible and the Christian faith.

Unfortunately I have to take issue with the two premises, which deal with the subject of how legislation in America should be formed.

On Premise (1): there is no single statement in the Constitution which specifies the importance of Christian principles or morals. At no point is Christianity in any way singled out as the basis for anything which the text asserts to be true. The Founding Fathers wished to create a fair, equal and protected system of rights in contrast to the system in Britain that they left. There is no basis for the argument that the Constitution embodies the Ten Commandments in any way; in fact it could be argued that at least one of the Commandments (regarding forbidding the worship of other gods) is repudiated by the Constitution, which provides the right to worship anyone or anything that a person wants.

And I can’t let Premise (2) to pass unchallenged either. The Constitution was written well over 200 years ago. There are issues today which the Constitution isn’t as clear about as it could be, like the subject of gay marriage, for instance, or the limits of the federal government on taxation. As life goes on and we realise the need to think constantly about where we are and what affects us, we could surely do better.

That some Christians don’t seem to be able to live and let live isn’t a surprise. People have always wanted to legislate their way to their idea of the perfect society (be it a Christian ideal or another). That the lawmakers can be swayed through the democratic process by people who wish to prevent others doing what they want (even though it doesn’t infringe on their own rights to liberty in the process) is the real concern.

It seems many of my rants over the coming years may focus on the moral right.

John Wright