Okay, I admit this is really not news. The entire Christian fundamentalist movement(s) has as its goal “restoring” a Biblical society that never existed and basically turning back the clock to the “good old days” when the Church could punish with fiery death anyone who disagreed with it.
What the AFA has done is to promote a comprehensive agenda for this return. Supporters call it a “Personhood Amendment” which is a very positive-sounding name for something that is positively medieval in construction and intent. After all, these Christofascists aren’t really all that interested in persons if they’re gay, or Muslim, or pagan, or feminist. A lot of people, if the AFA and its cohorts on the religious right had its way, would lose their personhood.
The personhood amendment was already tried in Colorado. Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.”
They have managed to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot in Mississippi for 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial elections. According to realitycheck.org, “two prior efforts in 2005 and 2007 failed to win enough support to get the question before voters.” It reads as follows:
Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.
One problem is that the state’s Constitution doesn’t allow voter referendums to alter the Bill of Rights (maybe they should start calling it the Bill of Restrictions – or better, the Ten Commandments). Not at all certain how they intend to get through that except by pulling a “Dubya” and simply ignoring the Constitution. One happy coincidence for these medieval advocates: the American Family Association (AFA) is headquartered in Mississippi.
Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:
“So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.”
Bryan Fischer used the opportunity to push his usual violations of the Constitution and his vision of a medieval-style theocracy:
“One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.”
This is not just a move to ban abortion and overturn Roe vs. Wade but an attack on science and on the Constitution. It is also a violation of the Constitution because it promotes the viewpoint of a specific religion. It is the insistence at the heart of these amendments that a Christian viewpoint be the only relevant viewpoint that is the most objectionable. Most of these people, if polled, would likely react violently to any suggestion that Islamic principles govern the process; so why should Christian principles be seen as any less objectionable?
If you go to a site like personhood.net you find the following rationale:
Throughout the history of the Church the doctrinal teaching of the “Sanctity of Life” (Genesis 1:26-27) has been the belief that Man is created Imago Dei (Latin: in the image of God) and therefore has worth at all stages of life. This is the bedrock of Western civilization’s understanding and practice of human dignity.
Besides being misleading (human life was valued before Christianity) the statement is also demonstrably false. Christians slaughtered human beings of all ages with happy abandon for nearly 2000 years before the European Enlightenment freed the Western World of some of the Church’s darker practices – big killers too, like crusades, inquisitions, and witch-burnings – you know, real pro-life activities.
Les Riely, sponsor of the Mississippi amendment, revealingly says,
Isaiah 59 tells us that ,’ the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear’ so we first give all praise and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ for hearing our prayers and giving us the victory in this round.
It’s Jesus this, Jesus that. Jesus isn’t in the Constitution. Neither is Christianity, neither are the Ten Commandments.
It’s a little late now to try to convince us you really do value life. Did you really have to kill millions to make that point? If all life is sacred, why do women have to die to save a fetus if her life is endangered by her pregnancy? That would have been the effect of the “life-loving” Colorado amendment.
There is no reason at all once you cast aside Christian insistence on being considered “True Religion” and the concomitant assertion that only their viewpoint is valid, which is exactly the determination government is not permitted to make according to the Constitution.
It is not as if Christians are being told they cannot be Christians, or hold firm to their religious convictions. No one is forcing Christians to have sex outside of marriage, or to have abortions, or to marry a person of the same sex, or to accept stem cell treatment. If you don’t believe it’s right, don’t do it. You have that right. But you positively do not have the right to force these beliefs on others by legislating them into law. The Constitution forbids this. The Constitution is about granting and defending rights; the Ten Commandments are about restricting them. Let’s not confuse them.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.