November 22, 2006

The Religious Right and SSM; A Reflection

Wudrick's latest, found here, is an insightful look at the arguments surrounding SSM and the acceptance of differing opinions. Here, ALW makes some valid points.

To argue that SSM is a granted right as wrong, is correct. As ALW makes clear, marriage is a symbol. The foundation of that symbol is different for different people, hence why we have the debate of whether or not SSM should be allowed or not. However, the general symbolic value of marriage is the same for everyone. Simply, it is the unity and commitment of those who wish to share their life together. Yet, it is this general concept that our law must recognize. If our society believes itself to be just and does not value one person over another within the confounds of law, then the privilege (if it's not a right but is lawfully allowed then it's a privilege) that is granted to heterosexual people must be granted to homosexual people as well. We cannot base our privilege granting powers on religious grounds because we have a separation of church and state. Therefore, if Diane Haskett were to be elected to the House and set-out to force her moral judgement, it would be a violation of the principles of our society and our government; the recipient and the purveyour/protector of just, respectively.

The only position that is acceptable, lawfully and socially, to deny gays the right to partake in this symbolic act, is one of harm. There would have to be evidence of harm shown by Tim and Tom getting married. So far no Christians, or any other 'religious' persons, have been harmed by a gay couple being married. If anything, there is evidence to the contrary if we're talking about the institution of marriage.

Wudrick is also right to mention that we cannot fully expect people to check their "strong religious convictions" at the door of the House upon entering. However, there is a difference between asking them to check their religion and their values. You see there is a huge difference between the two. Religion (read: organized), for better or worse, has no place in the House because of the separation between Church and State. This is an accepted practice within the Canadian political realm and if Diane Haskett wants to run to be apart of politics here she should and can be expected to check her religion at the door. Her values, on the other hand, do not need to checked.

Values are the guiding principles by which each individual lives. Integrity in the application of a "value" ensures its continuity and this continuity separates a value from beliefs, opinion and ideas.(1) The values for which our Constitution and our entire democratic system were founded upon favoured equality and inclusivity, of all citizens. And if we're talking about the values of a Christian, then we're also talking about those same ideas. Equality, acceptance, reaching out, etc. are basic pillars of the faith. You see, Christian values are a funny thing to discuss. Too many people confuse the values found within Christianity and the views of the Church. The values found within the Christian faith would be much more accepting of gays, no matter how much it may be seen as against the teachings of the Bible. The whole 'What Would Jesus Do' campaign makes a strong case that all Christians should try to follow in the footsteps of Christ. So how would Christ act towards gays? He would accept them, tolerate them, treat them with respect. He would be non-judgemental, as all Christians are commanded to be. Most of all he would reach out to them and do everything in his power to make life better for them while trying to show them the way. To treat them as second-class citizens, to openly judge and condemn them, to systemically attempt to suppress them are things that Christ would not have done but yet the churches of the religious right all seem fit to. But let us remember that Christian values are unfortunately all too separate from the religion. And unfortunately, if Ms. Haskett wants to push the views of her church within the House then she would be in the wrong.

Still, there needs to be proof of harm for anyone, who has accepted a role within the realm of Canadian politics, to justify taking away equality from a minority group. To systemically and lawfully deny a group equality, without proof of harm in granting the privilege, is tantamount to oppression. This would fly in the face of both the values for which our country is based on and that which is found in Christianity. If Ms. Haskett, or any other person, insists on denying equality to gays without proof of harm, then they do not deserve to hold a seat within the House. They should instead be on the outside of the system, working on their theories to find that proof of harm. Otherwise, they are just a group of people, with an agenda, trying to use the system, wrongly, in an attempt to create systemic oppression based on their judgements.

Now note, I have not called anyone a bigot. I have, however, implied misguidance, confusion and the like. Though, I do agree with Wudrick when he says that too many on the left use the term bigot and pass their own judgements while claiming to be on the side of open-mindedness. Let's not forget though, that there are many bigots who do claim to stand at the pulpits of the 'right'eous. Just as there are many hypocrites that claim they speak for the left. For Wudrick to argue that most intolerant, tolerant people are on the left, in attempt to gain some ethical point for the right however fails abysmally. Of course they're mostly on the left. Many on the right are admitted to being intolerant, especially when it comes to the issue at hand - same-sex marriage (using an opinion to deny equality without proof of harm equals intolerance). Many on the left have zero tolerance for intolerance because there is no place for intolerance in our political system. They do have tolerance for those that wish to uphold the principles of the system. If harm could be shown or if it could be shown that there are other negatives attached to allowing gay marriage, then you might find that many on the left would be all ears to reconsidering their position (if not, then the left could not champion the left). However, in the end, Wudrick has only emphasised that right is the side of intolerance and for those that are willing to accept intolerance. In our society, a just society, intolerance cannot be accepted especially within the system that is designed to guarantee that justice prevails.

1 comment:

ALW said...


Yeah perhaps I was a bit harsh - there are certainly bigots on the far right as well. My point was simply to point out the irony of those who claim to be 'tolerant'. It's not good enough to label whatever you feel as 'intolerance' and then feel justified acted intolerant in return.

Why aren't the reasonable lefties like you out on the front lines, eh?!

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)