Monday, August 21, 2006


The War of the Words

Mesa County commissioner Janet Rowland has just been tapped to run for Lieutenant Governor of Colorado. Hefting some considerable baggage, her candidacy promises to touch off heavy skirmishes in the culture wars. Some of her prior statements:

Re separation of church and state:

It’s not in the Constitution. We should have the freedom OF religion, not the freedom FROM religion.
Well, actually, that is more correctly "We have the freedom OF religion because we have the freedom FROM religion imposed by government."

Re teaching creationism or evolution:

Either both or neither. All religions are welcomed in the schools except Christianity. This is wrong.
Now this is either that she thinks evolutionary theory, in particular, is a religion; she thinks science in general is a religion; or she thinks Christianity belongs in science classes, none of which make sense. Worse, it almost certainly means that she considers anyone who accepts evolution not to be a Christian.

And more generally:

Rowland said Friday that attacks on religious expression take on special venom when they’re directed against Christianity.

The Constitutional directive that Congress make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof "means I have the freedom to practice my religion."

It also means there is no right someone else can claim against not being offended by her beliefs.

"I’m offended by things I hear every day," she said, "but there is no freedom not to have to hear those types of things."
I know of no one trying to stop her from practicing her religion but I don't doubt that there are many who want to stop her using taxpayer money to do so. And she's right that mere offense is not enough to stop her from practicing her religion as she sees fit. People are, however, free to stop her from violating the Constitution.

But most worrying for the citizens of Colorado might be the signs she is suffering from paranoia. Certainly anyone who thinks that, in a nation that is overwhelmingly Christian and where Christians feel free to tell a Jewish family that "If you want people to stop calling your son 'Jew boy' you tell him to give his heart to Jesus!," it follows that Christians are somehow the victims of "special venom," is so out of touch with reality that they should be in state institutions rather than running them.

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