Saturday, April 06, 2013
Two different news stories on careless thinking about amending the Constitution: religion, and guns
The Huffington Post reported shocking resorts of poll by YouGov showing one third of Americans support Christianity as a state religion. The story by Emily Swanson is here.
A minority of Americans thought it was constitutional for states to establish official religions. However the incorporation doctrine (established with the 14th Amendment) has been applied from the First Amendment to the states, meaning that they may not do so.
And a surprisingly low minority of people opposed or strongly opposed the idea of state religions. However, among Huffington Post readers, most were strongly opposed.
I’m reading Mary Neal’s “To Heaven and Back” (as another viewpoint behind Eben Alexander’s “Proof of Heaven”) and will report on it soon in my Books blog. But I’m struck by how Neal turns to God for direction and purpose and writes as if she does not believe people can morally decide upon their own goals. I wrote about this on March 24 here about individualism and religion. I can understand the need that people need responsiveness to need and “social context” in a manner that transcends personal responsibility in the usual sense, because things do happen, to us as individuals and to entire cultures, that seem beyond the scope of our own best intentions. That is the “it isn’t about you” idea of Pastor Rick Warren.
There’s another story today on constitution amending: Zachary Elkins has an op-ed in the New York Times Saturday, p. A23, “Rewrite the Second Amendment”, in order to clarity the reasonable limits on constitutional protection of the possession of “unreasonable weapons”. True, if we can say that someone can’t legally possess a nuclear weapon, we can probably say that he can’t possess an assault rifle above a certain performance level. Yet this could be a slippery slope. Well, where it gets slippery is in First Amendment areas, especially with the Internet. The NYT link is here.
The last chapter of my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book proposed two constitutional amendments, refining the “right of privacy” to protect all adult consensual relationships, to pin done rights on Internet speech. But proposing constitutional amendments is “risky business”, to refer to Tom Cruise’s leg dance in his 1983 film. I totally missed how COPA would evolve (I wrote my proposal in response to the 1996 CDA, which would get repealed by the Supreme Court i n 1997). I proposed a second amendment (which would have been #29 then) that amounted essentially to DOMA., but in 1997 encouraging the states to experiment with gay marriage without federal consequences was seen as a progressive and maybe necessary idea. How things have changed, and have come quickly.