Church/State separation not written in stone


If stoning, as described in the Bible, was allowed on American soil, US Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) would be in a great deal of pain today.

The liberal Democrat is taking heat from the conservative religious right for questions asked and comments made made during a Senate confirmation hearing for Federal Appellate Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor.

Barrett, a practicing Roman Catholic, has a record that must be considered when a lifetime federal appointment is being discussed.

In Catholic Judges in Capital Cases, an article published in the  Marquette Law Review, Barrett wrote of her views on what religion can/should mean when cases on which the Catholic Church has strong views, such as capital punishment and abortion, come before judges.

In her article (of which she was co-author), Barrett rejected the position stated by Justice William Brennan, also a Catholic, during his 1957 confirmation hearing. His words have since been considered the standard for members of the federal judiciary.

Brennan to the Senate: “…what shall control me is the oath that I took to support the Constitution and laws of the United States and [I shall] so act upon the cases that come before me for decision that it is that oath and that alone which governs.”

Barrett and her co-author wrote:

17 0 We do not defend this position as the proper response for a Catholic judge to take with respect to abortion or the death penalty.

During her hearing, Barrett stated recusal could be an appropriate choice for a religious hearing a case that would have moral implications based on religion. However, she also stated she couldn’t “imagine … any class of cases” where faith would force her recusal.”

Nan Aron, president and founder of Alliance for Justice, pointed out.

But Barrett has commented extensively about that very thing: cases that are morally difficult for a Catholic judge. The Judiciary Committee could have insisted on hearing how the same person who wrote that for Catholics the “prohibitions against abortion and euthanasia … are absolute” and that “Catholic judges … are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty” could suddenly be at a loss for examples of cases she would avoid. Instead, the nominee was allowed to send mixed signals: Maybe she’d recuse, but more likely she wouldn’t.

Some on the right ( for example, here, and here) consider it an outrage for Feinstein to have raised the issue, claiming the long-serving Senator was really trying to make sure Barrett never gets to the US Supreme Court, where she could possibly vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

That might be true. As Feinstein told Barrett, ““When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

In 2017, Strong believers, despite taking oaths to uphold the Constitution of the United States, are increasingly becoming less likely to accept the notion there should exist a church state separation.

A U.S. Air Force chaplain who ministers to thousands of men and women at an Ohio base is asserting that Christians in the U.S. Armed Forces “serve Satan” and are “grossly in error” if they support service members’ right to practice other faiths.

In an article posted on BarbWire.com three days ago, Captain Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain for the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, criticized Christian service members who rely on the Constitution “and not Christ.”

He wrote: “Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home—which means they have no accountability for their souls (Heb. 13:17). This is why so many professing Christian service members will say: We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.”

Hernandez continued: “Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.”

If this is what he believes, he needs to be removed from his position, pronto.

But will he?

Where does it end?

Or does it?

Eventually, perhaps, we’ll all get stoned.

McBarronBlog Bonus: 

Constitutional Myth: The Constitution Doesn’t Separate Church and State




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