Churches Have No Role in Making Policy

church-and-state3.jpgby Eric Jayne

It's sadly ironic that the same election that gave America its first black president is the same election that denied equal treatment for gays and lesbians in three states. A Nov. 16 Star Tribune article mentioned that representatives from "Join the Impact," who organized several rallies across the United States, including one in Minneapolis, asked protesters to refrain from targeting faith groups that supported the marriage ban.

But it seems to me that that's exactly who should be targeted. It's shameful, but not surprising, that churches and faith groups continue to use their influence and money for efforts that deny civil liberties and equal treatment for certain minority groups. Progress and religion have been incompatible throughout history, and it's not healthy for our naturally progressive democracy to be so easily influenced by religions that follow archaic dogma.

The "divine" dogma that faith organizations and religious institutions follow often prevents women from leadership roles in their respective institutions. The Mormon Church, which funneled millions of dollars to the Proposition 8 campaign in California, claimed that black people had the "mark of Cain" and denied black families full membership until just 30 years ago.

If we simply ignore religious arguments we are left with no rational reason to deny the right of federally recognized marriages to same-sex couples. It is no accident that our Founding Fathers made absolutely no mention of God in the Constitution, and we need to remember that our secular Constitution is our country's sacred document that evolves and guides our democratic policies. Not the Book of Mormon, not the Torah, not the Koran, and not the Bible.


[Originally published in Star Tribune, Letters to the Editor November 23, 2008]

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