By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
With the Defense of Marriage Act taking a hit from the U.S. Supreme Court last week, there are many who are questioning what is happening to the values of our nation.
There are a couple of problems with that kind of thinking.
The problem with an overreaching government is that a majority of the people believe that it is the bureaucracy in Washington that determines our nation’s principles.
That has never been true and never will be.
For Christian Americans, which make up more than 76 percent of the population of this country according to the American Religious Identification Survey, there seems to be a movement to minimize our beliefs and our ability to exercise our religion freely.
In another attack on Christian freedom, Michael Salman, a former gang member turned family man and pastor, was jailed in Maricopa County, Ariz., for holding a Bible study at his home.
We look at these actions, and some become more hesitant about sharing their religious beliefs. Quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, we question if this is the same country that was founded more than 200 years ago.
The answer is yes and no.
We still function under the same Constitution, but the framework was flexible enough to modify for a changing society.
The founders could not have predicted automobiles, the Internet and a host of other innovations that would require some sort of regulation, but the Constitution still works.
It was made to do so, and it will be flexible for hundreds of years to come.
But the founders would not recognize this country as the same.
As long as democracy prevails, they would be pleased that it still functions.
Perhaps Thomas Jefferson would not be so happy. He hated cities, loved the rural lifestyle and believed that the tree of liberty needed to be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots every 20 years or so.
When the people are in control, they can have as much or as little government as they choose.
But there would also have to be personal responsibility. Government, after all, starts with how we govern ourselves.
The first self governent test is a pesky little word that has been abused lately called tolerance.
The fringe groups believe we have to tolerate anything that they do. If we believe it steps over our own line, then we are the intolerant.
To the contrary, our beliefs are just as valid as anyone else’s, and in a tolerant society, all views must have an equal opportunity to be shared.
I do not believe in communism, but it is not illegal to be a communist. They can share their views on socialism, I can share my views on freedom, and the people decide the direction.
Either way, the losing view is not outlawed or silenced. They can still share. That is what tolerance is. It is allowing minority views.
Today, we only tolerate what is politically correct.
There is an attempt to silence anything else.
Paula Deen recently admitted to using the “N” word about 30 years ago.
I don’t defend the use of the word. But free societies have to tolerate it.
When we decide what we will tolerate, and what we won’t, we no longer have a free society.
The protections for freedom of speech were not put in place so we can all say what is popular and accepted. It’s so those that do not agree with what is popular and accepted can still discuss their views.
That’s how freedom works.
In the free market, businesses have the right to disconnect from Deen if they choose, but they are also demonstrating that they are not tolerant outside the maintstream views.
George Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Should we remove them from Mount Rushmore and rename the capital?
The gay marriage issue is a perfect example. What would have happened if a restaurant chain found out they had a gay spokesman and fired her?
It is illegal. You can’t fire someone for sexual preference, even if it was hurting the business.
But get them to laugh at an off-color joke, and you can bounce them in a heartbeat.
The gay marriage issue shows that what was once a deviant view has become more acceptable. The Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing gay couples to have protections given to heterosexual couples does not make it acceptable to a wide majority of Americans.
Maybe one day, but not today.
We are confusing government action with our values.
They are not the same.
As Christians, we have seen some churches accept gays as leaders. That is their choice, but for the vast majority of us, we will never accept it. No Congressional action or Supreme Court ruling can make us accept that. There is a difference between what is legal and what is right. The government can determine what is punishable by law. They can say a man’s Bible study in his own home is illegal. They cannot determine for you or for me what we believe to be right and wrong.
And everything that is wrong is not illegal. Gays can do what the law allows. For many of us, it is not right, but it is not illegal, either.
We need to realize that the government will not protect our values, nor should they.
What they deem as legal does not mean we have to accept it.
They can legalize whatever they want, but you have to govern yourself first. Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right.