June 11, 2002
Religious tolerance update

I see that the story of the Texas GOP and its broadly inclusive platform have been fairly widely noticed in the blogosphere. Today, state Democratic chair Molly Beth Malcolm fires back:

State Democratic Chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm on Monday said the new Texas Republican Party platform is a religious document that tries to question the loyalty of Democrats.

"I think it is rather frightening that these people are trying to say everybody ought to believe alike or they are not good Americans. They are wrong," Malcolm said.

"When the Republicans try to say they are people of faith and the Democrats are not, they also are very, very wrong," Malcolm said.

It's illuminating, I think, to look at what the state GOP platform calls for and what the Democratic platform calls for:

Besides the call for a Christian nation, some of the other faith-oriented items in the GOP platform include:

  • A call on Congress to sanction any country that persecutes citizens for religious beliefs. The platform specifically calls for rejection of "most favored nation" status for the People's Republic of China until it allows freedom of religion.
  • A restoration of the chapel in the Texas Capitol.
  • Increased government attention on promoting faith-based community and business organizations that help the needy.
  • Public group prayer in schools as well as "the return of Bibles and other religious books to the shelves of all public schools and libraries."

The party also called for character education "based upon biblical principles upon which our nation and state law system were founded."

For the folks in Santa Fe who've been harassed about their beliefs - including a lot of Christians - that first one is undoubtedly a barrel of irony.

Now compare to the Democrats' statement:

The state Democratic Party's 2000 platform, subject to revision at the party's state convention later this week, calls for "government to scrupulously honor every Texan's right to religious freedom while respecting the separation of church and state," according to the state party's Web site.

The platform adds, "We recognize the importance of religion and prayer in the lives of Texans and support every individual's right to practice his or her own beliefs without imposing them on others."

Which one sounds to you like it's more in tune with the First Amendment?

Owen Courreges left some good comments in my last entry about the philosophy of the "separation of church and state". While I can see where he's coming from, and agree to a certain extent, I hope it's clear why I prefer that the two maintain their distance. I have no faith that the position as stated in the state GOP's platform cares one whit about those who practice a non-evangelical faith, let alone those who choose to practice no faith. That's not the America I believe in.

BTW, Ginger gave a list of platform items from a mailer she got in March. Even putting aside my disagreement on many of these issues, it's hard to see why some of them are such priorities. Don't we have Important Things to be worrying about, such as the $5 billion budget shortfall?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 11, 2002 to Election 2002