The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, May 18, 2012

An[other] infuriating column by Cal Thomas

Yesterday I read a column in the Washington Examiner written by Cal Thomas, and as usual, Mr. Thomas' positions I find infuriating. Now in this column, he is actually advocating a position I share — that Obama should be opposed — but I think for all the wrong reasons. Thomas begins his column (named “The Gospel According to Obama”) with the paragraph:

It is one thing to talk about “fairness” when it comes to allowing gays and lesbians to marry; it is quite another to claim biblical authority for such relationships.

President Obama cited the Golden Rule about treating others as you would like to be treated. In doing so, he ignored the totality of Scripture and the notion that the Lord alone sets the rules for human behavior.

Now, Mr. Thomas seems to think that he alone is an expert on Scripture; or, more likely (since, if I recall correctly, he is a Roman Catholic) that all of the world is bound by what the Pope has said, and Mr. Thomas' deference to Papal infallibility should be shared by all. Now, whatever I may think about President Obama, I believe that he, as much as Cal Thomas, has an equal right to interpret the Scriptural meaning — and, in fact, I claim this right for myself as well. And in particular, since there are churches that are willing to solemnize gay marriages (even if his own is not), Mr. Thomas is in addition imposing a religious test contrary to both the spirit and the letter of Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

So Mr. Thomas is way off base. And later in the same column, he says:

I recently wrote that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people who believe the Bible is God's Word to impose their beliefs on those who disagree with them. But it is something altogether different for those who disagree with them to claim the Bible doesn't say what it actually says. Obama apparently hopes there are sufficient numbers of biblical illiterates — and he could be right about this — who either don't notice his sleight of hand, or don't care.

Again, Cal Thomas knows “what [the Bible] actually says,” while Barack Obama does not. But then he slips into a different argument:

Thousands of years of human history have sustained marriage between one man and one woman.

In other words, “this is how it's always been.” But of course, until the 1860s, “how it's always been” included slavery; and one can name all sorts of things that once upon a time could be described as “how it's always been.” That does not mean they were right. But then, Thomas goes back to the Bible, and fires off a number of biblical quotations, but fails to note that the Bible also says he should not eat pork, that a widow should marry her late husband's brother, etc., etc. So why do these quotes carry more weight? After these quotations, Mr. Thomas goes on:

Liberal theologians have tried to modify, or even change, what is contained in the Bible, and there are those in our time who are following their example with the issue of same-sex marriage. People are free to accept or reject what Scripture says, but not to claim it says something it does not. In modern times, that's called spin. In an earlier time, it was called heresy.

What “liberal theologians” say deserves as much credibility as Mr. Thomas, who is offering only one interpretation of what Scripture says, an interpretation which he certainly has a right to hold to, but not to bind anyone else to. Now, Mr. Thomas does say one thing which I actually find to make some sense:

As he seeks to justify his position on same-sex marriage and other issues with at best a questionable use of and at worst a denial of Scripture, President Obama might be said to be preaching another gospel. This could possibly lead to a fissure in his solid support among African-Americans, costing the president votes in November. It will also likely galvanize the culture warriors. Minorities mostly vote for Democrats, but they don't like their faith denied. That could cause some of them to stay home on Election Day, or even vote for Mitt Romney.

While I might challenge Mr. Thomas' characterization of President Obama's position as “at best a questionable use of and at worst a denial of Scripture,” I can certainly agree that there are African-Americans who might weaken their support for him, or possibly even vote for Mitt Romney, as a result of this; not many, because they seem so proud of having one of their number. But in the same issue of the Examiner, for example, columnist Gregory Kane, an African-American conservative who never did support Obama, mentions that his mother's support for Obama has been lost as a result of this stance.

In a sense, I should not gloat over someone casting a vote for Romney for a reason which I think should not govern a voter's decision. I shudder to think of the fact that I have people like Cal Thomas on “my team.” But I reason this way: Obama may lose some votes for the wrong reason. But if he does, I can't really shed any tears. Any reason that someone votes for Mitt Romney against Barack Obama helps remedy the terrible wrong that resulted from the 2008 election.

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