Friday, December 14, 2007

Congress Shall Make No Law

But there's nothing keeping them from nonbinding resolutions.
I have complained about nonbinding resolutions in the past, particularly in Missouri a year or two ago. This time, I'm not so much complaining about the resolution (though I am), but rather, like Lauren Smith at Americans United, I'm complaining about the actions of one Republican Congressman. You see, Representative Steve King (R-IA) sponsored a resolution recognizing "the importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith," describing Christmas as "a holiday of great significance to Americans."

While I tend to think that these resolutions are, well, stupid, I have a different reason to be annoyed at this one, as Ms. Smith points out on this article. I'm annoyed because while Rep. King saw fit to sponsor this resolution, he apparently determined it important to NOT VOTE on the nonbinding resolutions that recognized Ramadan as a "month of fasting and spiritual renewal," and on the resolution recognizing Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, and described as of "great significance" to Indians and South Asian Americans.

Ms. Smith cites former justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and I will repost the quote here, because I think it is quite poignant, not just in this situation, but in a general approach to religion and government altogether: "Governmental endorsements of religion send a strong mesage that adherents are "favored members of the political community." Justice O'Connor also noted that nonbelievers of that religion are "outsiders, [or] not full members of the political community."

Someone might point out that Rep. King did not vote against the resolutions for Diwali and Ramadan, here just didn't vote. Well, that's great. But he did sponsor the resolution for Christianity. Put the actions together, and how does that not create the appearance of endorsement of religion? Another example, from a deposition I once read:
Q: Did you ever spend the night with that man in New York?
A: I refuse to answer that question.
Q: Did you ever spend the night with that man in Miami?
A: I refuse to answer that question.
Q: Did you ever spend the night with that man in Chicago?
A: No.

If you were a Muslim or a Hindu in Rep. King's district (and I recognize there might not be many in the greater Iowa area), would you feel that your interests were being considered by your Congressional Representative? Or would you feel oppressed under the tyranny of the majority? His actions in this situation were wrong in this situation.

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