Wednesday, December 26, 2007

248. John Yarmuth - Present, Yes, or Otherwise.

Three votes - two Yes and one Present have gotten my friend John Yarmuth in some hot water with a few folks. They argue he is anti-Christian - something of a strong accusation for our Jewish congressman from Louisville. Without hesitation or condition, I assure you he isn't. John is not anti- much of anything. And he is one of the most sincere people I've ever met. But, then I voted for him, worked for him, and frankly had one hell of a good time partying the night he got elected a little over a year ago. Still, these votes of his trouble me if only a bit.

The one everyone is saying he got wrong is the one I am confident he got right in light of the United States Constitutional bar of a law respecting the establishment of one religion over another. Notice I didn't say anything about Church and State. Those words aren't in the Bill of Rights. What is in the Frist Amendment are the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." And that one word "respecting," the gerund form of respect, is why John is alleged to be anti-Christian.

As is outlined below, Congressman Yarmuth voted on three House resolutions concerning various religions and celebrations. He voted Yes in support of the first two and Present on the third. He should have voted Present on all three. Voting yes on the first two could arguably be unConstitutional; unConstitution actions are usually undertaken only after direction from Big Dick Cheney's office. My congressman isn't dictated to by Big Dick Cheney. He is dictated to by his conscience, and that is sufficient for me and the other 122,488 people (in addition to me) who elected him on November 6, 2006.

Read the "Resolved" parts of the resolutions below for yourselves and then read the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. (For the neo-cons and Republicans out there, the United States Constitution is America's rule book. I understand you may not be aware of its presence). All are reprinted below.

I'm not worried about any long-term repercussions of these votes. I just wanted to say that there is a law against establishing a law respecting religion in this country. I hope the next time the congressman is presented with a bill respecting one religion over another, he casts a proper "Present" vote, just as he properly did on December 11 when he cast a Present vote on Christmas and Christianity.

*****

October 2, 2007 - H. Res. 635:Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world;
(2) expresses friendship and support for Muslims in the United States and worldwide;
(3) acknowledges the onset of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and conveys its respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this occasion;
←→(4) rejects hatred, bigotry, and violence directed against Muslims, both in the United States and worldwide; and
(5) commends Muslims in the United States and across the globe who have privately and publicly rejected interpretations and movements of Islam that justify and encourage hatred, violence, and terror.

*****

October 29, 2007 -- H. Res. 747:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) during this time of celebration, in order to demonstrate support for Indian Americans and the Indian Diaspora throughout the world, recognizes Diwali as an important festival;
(2) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of the festival of Diwali;
(3) recognizes and appreciates the religious diversity in both India and the United States and throughout the world;
(4) acknowledges and supports the new relationship of collaboration and dialogue in international efforts between the United States and India; and
(5) in observance of and out of respect for the start of Diwali, the festival of lights, acknowledges the onset of Diwali and expresses its deepest respect to Indian Americans and the Indian Diaspora throughout the world on this significant occasion.

*****

December 11, 2007. H. Res. 847:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;
(2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;
(3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;
(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;
(5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and
(6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

*****

Amendment I of the Constitution of the United States of America
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

3 comments:

  1. Since you have parsed the language of the first amendment, may I parse a little?

    1) Congress shall make no "law" respecting an establishment of religion

    Note the House votes were on resolutions, not laws. Enforceable? I hardly think resolutions are. But a law sure would be.

    2) Congress shall make no law "respecting an establishment of" religion

    "Respecting" a religion and "respecting an establishment" of a religion are hardly the same thing. Remember the folks starting our country came from Europe, where countries such as England (who owned us) had religions "established" as state religions.

    Your definition of respect suggests one definition of "esteem". Another definition of respect is the word "concerning" or "regarding". Rather interesting if we replace respecting with concerning: Congress shall make no law "concerning" an establishment of religion.

    3) Congress shall make no law .......prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Not making laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion by it's very nature means respecting religion. As in respecting the exercise of it. At least the definition of respect you have intended here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also think Yarmuth should have voted "present" for all 3. But I think it shows how desperate the Right is to defeat him that this is the only mud they can drag up.

    ReplyDelete

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Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.