One of the most important things founding fathers (and mothers – if you think I’m just politically correct, quickly read Abigail Adams) recognized the importance of establishing our great nation as a nation free from the problems brought on by having an official state religion. While having no objection to religious beliefs being held by the people of the United States, the founders were almost entirely against the idea that the national government could say which religion is better and which should be avoided.
Most famous, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists Association of Connecticut, in response to a question from them, in which he described his belief in a wall of separation between church and state that cannot be neither too wide nor too high. The Founders feared the dangers to freedom that would inevitably come with one faith being officially favored over another.
James Madison, who is often (and rightly) called the Father of the Constitution, was even more blunt. In 1811, he vetoed a bill that would have incorporated the local episcopal church into government, warning that such an act was both constitutionally illegal and simply a bad idea. In 1785, in response to a proposal to make a particular faith the tax-funded faith of Virginia, Madison took up her pen to write no less than 15 objections to the idea. And perhaps more clearly, he wrote: “The purpose of the separation of Church and State is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless conflicts which have bloodied the soil of Europe for centuries.
Which, of course, brings me to Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
It appears that, as reported in Colorado Politics, Representative Boebert told a little story to a group of supporters in which she showed what she thought was wit and intelligence. After seeing Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, enter a Capitol elevator, Boebert claims to have said, “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, that should be fine.” Funny stuff, right? Kidding that another elected member of the US House of Representatives could, because of his hijab and his faith, be a suicide bomber. But no backpack, so we’re all safe.
Funny stuff, right?
Not really. While her immediate audience laughed and applauded the anti-Islam joke, the video of her, well, racist and religious fanaticism did not receive good reviews. It lays bare the core of its convictions and guiding principles. Due to the backlash, Boebert offered one of those “not quite real” apologies, in which she apologized to “anyone in the Muslim community” that she might have offended. Oh, and Rep Omar says the event never happened, so there you go.
I could (and probably will in future columns) go on and on about how the modern GOP has embraced deep racism and a host of other bigotry as its political strategy. And I suspect that Boebert isn’t saying anything that she doesn’t believe in. Back in her famous Rifle restaurant, she probably expressed her intolerance to the guest who probably applauded. But she doesn’t run a restaurant now. Rather, she is supposed to be the elected representative of an entire district: a district larger than several US states. But just like her political hero, a certain recently defeated president, she apparently doesn’t think she has a real duty to represent those she denigrates. While I rarely agreed with this district’s previous GOPer, Scott Tipton, at least he had some semblance of honor.
Boebert’s failed joke (maybe?) Says a lot about her. And the fact that she thinks it’s a smart idea to repeat bigoted words to followers also tells us that she’s not serious about actual portrayal. But at least the House GOP leadership condemned her for her bigotry, right?
Famous anti-Trump GOP representative Adam Kinzinger condemned his remarks, but the actual GOP leadership – still firmly in the grip of Trumpism – refused to defend the religious freedom of a colleague.
So, it is quite clear that the Founders were quite specific in matters of religion. If we were to allow a formal state religion and people like the modern GOP were to decide which religions were acceptable and which should be banned, we don’t need to look any further than the brand new Western Slope MP for a guide. on how it would turn out. outside.
And, tragically, at a time when a presidential candidate at the time could call for a ban on the entry of Muslims into the United States, without the constitutional protections accorded to us, we could live in a nation where the beliefs religious would also define their rights and freedom.
And for those of you who agree with the idea of, say, banning Muslims in the United States, I would ask if you would still feel that way if another religious group seized power? How would you react if, say, Protestants were denied the right to stand for election?
The wisdom and brilliance of the Founders is that they understood the nature of humanity. We must not allow one group to dominate another, whether because of religion, race, gender, orientation or other factors that too often divide us.
Jefferson was right and Lauren Boebert finds herself on the wrong side of history and Mr. Jefferson’s wall. I have little hope that it will reform, but I do hope that CD-3 voters take note and refuse to re-elect a proudly self-proclaimed fanatic.
Hal Bidlack is a retired political science professor and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught for over 17 years at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.