Massachusetts shakes it up

Much like the spins at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, it seemed at times there was no end in sight.

This past week has been rife with topics to opine on-former Alabaman Chief Justice Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments, Bush and Blair, Massachusetts and gay marriage, Michael Jackson, Iraq-you get the point. But it’s the two big hits the Christian right took this last week I want to address.

Not in a point-your-finger-and-laugh sort of way, even though that’s how I feel about it. The decisions handed down by the courts in Alabama and Massachusetts are going to have more impact than simply vindicating the Christian right’s opposition.

First, the Massachusetts decision, more so than the Alabama one, is going to force some serious discussion about original intent and just where the line should be drawn on the influence of the Christian values our nation was founded on.

(And to clarify for some of my readers who were offended at my calling the United States a Christian nation, it is a Christian nation. I don’t mean to imply, like some accused me of, that Christian nation means for Christians only, because it doesn’t; and I don’t believe that it does. The Western World is a Christian world, like it or not.

For me, it’s as simple as this: If it walks like a duck, talks like duck and looks like a duck, it’s a friggin’ duck, not a duck-billed platypus or even one of those smashed people from Eugene. It’s a quack-quack, good-Chinese-delicacy duck.

This is what I mean: Every president has been sworn in with his hand on the Bible, as have most or all governors, judges, etc., even though there is no requirement to do so. If you were being inaugurated as president, you could use a copy of “Trainspotting” or “The Celestine Prophecy” or even “Mein Kampf” as the book.

The Supreme Court, Congress and even state legislatures hold Red Mass, a Catholic tradition, before opening their sessions each year.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are filled with subtle and outright references to Christian ideals.

And the examples go on. It doesn’t make it right, and I’m not saying that it does or that I agree with it; but one can’t change the past, only deal with it.

Now back to the subject.)

The Massachusetts decision is great not only for sticking it to the Christian Right and relieving some fears of the impending Christian coup d’퀌�tat. It is undoubtedly going to spark heated debate and possibly even push the Coalition into making some moves that will offend the more moderate (and silent) majority in the nation that simply doesn’t pay attention to current affairs.

Plainly speaking, it’s going to cause more unrest – just what we need in this country. It’s so hot an issue there is actually talk of amending the Constitution – a subject that many Americans have been traditionally uneasy with. (Why they’re uneasy, I have no idea. In my opinion Jefferson was right: The Constitution needs to be looked at once every generation).

Our legal definition of marriage is based on a religious definition, and that is the core of the debate, but hardly the whole of it. Realistically, with all the rhetoric that has engulfed the topic, it almost seems tangential. And that’s the problem.

As I’ve noted before, the first amendment prohibits Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion.” Defining marriage vis-퀌�-vis the Bible for legal purposes (i.e. the married-filing-jointly option on income tax returns) is a violation of that clause, albeit a murky one. That’s why I call this particular decision great. It opens the door for meaningful debate, debate about where that aforementioned line is drawn and just how far we are willing to encroach on individual liberties.

The Roy Moore decision in Alabama was a little more cut and dried. Where the issue of gay marriage is a more level battlefield and can transcend religious concerns (for the record, I say let them be), putting a 5,000-plus-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments in a state courthouse is as lopsided as a Pop Warner football team taking on an NFL team. You just don’t it. It’s what can be seen as indicative of a theocracy, not to mention a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

Pushing the issue certainly didn’t help the Christian Coalition win any new supporters. What it may have done is move more of the apathetic to thinking. People in my life that traditionally pay no attention to current affairs have been increasingly curious about what’s going on. I’ve seen signs of concern from those same disinterested people about the direction the government is heading.

Moderate Christians themselves are so worried that they’re organizing a liberal movement to serve as the antithesis to the Christian right and its cohorts.

So get ready, people. Things are going to get intense.