Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul — it sounds like a law firm instead of the Republican candidates who are still standing. The only one who, if he went back to his roots may not totally embarrass moderate Republicans, is Romney and while winning delegates he is still having a hard time galvanizing support. With Santorum winning Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana it is clear that the Republican fight for the nomination will continue to shouts of glee from Democrats.
Looking at the close polls, it would appear that if Mitt Romney had run as he did to become governor of Massachusetts (embracing his record, including healthcare reform) he would have had a chance to beat Barack Obama. He couldn’t win the Republican nomination like that but then this year neither could Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan if they ran on their records. That is something the Republican Party will have the next four years to ruminate about.
As Americans, we need to take a long look at how to ensure we are living up to our Constitution. We are a nation born out of the quest for religious freedom and the separation of church and state was recognition of that and the desire not to foist one set of religious beliefs on everyone.
The Republican candidates are defiling the meaning of religious freedom. They pretend that many religious institutions are still supported by the generosity of their believers rather than by money from the government, which is paid by all of us. Consequently if they hire outside the religion they can no longer expect that everyone working for them should be obliged to live within the principles of the religion that operates the institution.
Republicans exemplified by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum think they can turn the world upside down claiming that government is impinging on religious freedom when it insists that a hospital or school receiving public money allow its employees access to the healthcare they would have in every other situation. They conveniently forget we are a nation where Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Baptists, believers and non-believers alike have equal rights under civil law.
There is a wonderful website called Stop the Hate, stop-the-hate.org, which has words of wisdom from many religions, poets, politicians, activists and authors. They all speak of loving your fellow man and woman. It seems Republican candidates have forgotten that and instead are preaching hate and separatism in the name of religion.
One of the roles of government is to protect minorities and ensure they have the same rights as all others. Our Constitution is a living document and we have amended it many times over the years, but always to guarantee rights, never to take them away. Church law and policy, as in the Catholic Church, has also changed over the years from having popes who were married with children to requiring them to be single and celibate. Another example of the flexibility of the Catholic Church would be welcoming Gingrich who is on his third marriage while Catholic doctrine doesn’t recognize divorce. It is time that we as a nation reject those who would try to use either the Constitution or religion to deprive people of their civil and human rights.
While I favor moving forward it would be appropriate to go back to a time when we adhered to a doctrine that this country stood for: separation of church and state. John F. Kennedy eloquently stated that doctrine in a speech he gave in 1960 when he said, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote. And where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish, where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source and where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials and where religious liberty so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.” We elected him because he was willing to state those views so clearly.
Not only will the next president have a say on how this doctrine is applied but he will also have the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court justices who will sit in judgment on the issue for many generations to come.