A Theocracy? #1

This is my first paper following the election. As I’ve written previously in these pages, the Bush victory was no surprise. I was more upset by the Ohio Constitutional Amendment #1. It was a measure to outlaw any recognition of gay marriage by any State entity. Unfortunately, it was written so broadly that it might be construed to apply to, for example, older unmarried couples who want to provide financial support for each other. It passed by a large margin, 62% vs. 38%. Two letters follow. The first one was written by Raymond A. Merz, and was published in the Dayton Daily News on November 20, 2004.

Now that the season of inflamed rhetoric, namely the election campaign, has past, it’s time for this retired pastor to express some alarms. It appears that we are drifting away from our democracy toward a theocracy, or a government controlled by the church.

Christians are taught that we have special responsibility for “the least, the last and the lost,” whereas history shows us theocracies justify exploitation for economic gain.

Christians are taught that the peacemakers are blessed, whereas history shows us that theocracies find holy ends to justify any form of brutality.

Christians are taught to love our enemies and not let bitterness take root, whereas history shows us that theocracies classify anyone who differs with them as an enemy and then relegates them to silence and an inferior status.

The alarms are all around us. Our Founding Fathers know the dangers of theocracy from experiences both in Europe and in the colonies. That is why they created this wall of separation that would be friendly to both sides, but controlled by neither side.

The next letter was written by myself and sent, with slightly different wording, to the two Ohio senators, both republicans, both of whom opposed Issue #1. I’ll be interested to see if I get any response, other than the polite one, from either of them.

Dear Senator Voinovich:

First, we congratulate you on your recent re-election. We also wanted to thank you for your opposition to Ohio’s Constitutional Amendment #1. Unfortunately, in spite of your opposition and our “no” votes, it passed handily, with 3,250,000 votes.

We regard the Ohio Constitution as a document that is fundamental to how we operate our government, and to use it to express moral preferences strikes us as a serious abuse. It also sets a precedent for using it so, and who is to say where that very dangerous road will lead?

We noticed that you won your re-election with 3,380,000 votes. We think it is a fair assumption that a large part of your supporters also supported the Amendment. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, you are now holding a tiger by the tail? That in spite of your reasonable opposition to this issue, an increasing number of the conservatives who are mostly your supporters (as well as Mr. Bush’s supporters) are no longer interested in reasonableness? That, among many other congressmen, your support of Mr. Bush’s agenda has so empowered the conservatives that the fundamentalists are now setting the agenda?

We’re not asking for you to change any of your policies, nor to change whom you support. We’re merely suggesting that you pause, step back, and reflect upon where your supporters and your party appear to be taking this country, and ask yourself why so many moderates like ourselves are growing increasingly worried.

I am sure many conservatives and fundamentalists would argue that they are only defending themselves against an activist judiciary. I would ask if any ruling on gay marriage has either (a)forced anyone to do anything against their will, or (b)prevented anyone from doing as they wished?

November 20, 2004

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