Anyone with a reasonable background in history will agree, out of religion- spawned government, and with it, law. For centuries, the two were as one, and many governments grew with their own laws. These were defined by their own view of the world, religion. However, with the beginning of the industrial revolution, and consequently the beginning of "developed" and "developing" countries, the difference between the two was also through their rule; "secular", or finding morality without God, and "religious", defining their judicial and governing system mostly, if not wholly, on the diction of one God most accepted in the country.
Unfortunately, the most developed, and most powerful country in the world seems to refuse letting go of tradition, thus making secularism nothing but a distant dream, or for some- nightmare. Evangelical Christianity has affected the United States negatively by strongly influencing the political world and thus creating a society more concerned with the preservation of tradition and the "Old Ways" than pressing issues and creating a tolerant society. In the United States there has been much battle over the last few decades concerning several controversial topics in its legal arena; two of which will be discussed in this research essay.
The battle is between those affected, and those who believe they know better, the Evangelical Christians of the USA. Throughout religion, there has been prosecution towards most types of individuals at one point or another, and today, more than ever; people continue to fear the unknown. Since most types of discrimination have been outlawed, especially in such a progressive country as the United States, citizens no longer have the right to hate the unknown, one would think. Lucky for them, with the decline of gender discrimination in the 1970's, a new minority group arose for the world to fear, homosexuals.
The Republicans of the United States were in a state of shock earlier in 2004 when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to deprive homosexuals the right to wed. This was in addition to the controversial creation of legal civil unions in Vermont in 1999, and of a Domestic Partnership Registry in California, all of which give homosexuals all the rights given in a marriage a state is allowed to offer. These rights are not recognized in other states. In fact, eleven states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriages as of November second; Hawaii, Alaska, Nebraska and Nevada are some examples (Page, 2003).
Continuing his quest for tradition in his second term, President Bush hopes to pass a constitutional amendment to correlate with the Defence of Marriage Act of 1996, stating that marriage is between one man and one woman. A bill of the same wind passed in the House, the Marriage Protection Act, a last resort to attempt to decelerate the legalization of gay marriages, a "federal law that says that no state has to recognize same-sex unions established in any other state" (Mary Fitzgerald and Alan Cooperman, 2004).
This is a failsafe for the government in case of a pro-gay decision being made in the federal government that would forced all states to recognize gay marriages as legal by deciding on the constitutional validity of the Defence of Marriage Act. The Constitution is not only doubted, it's being ignored. The first amendment states that all have the right of free speech and freedom of expression. The homosexual population is being deprived the freedom of expression in the sense that they cannot express their love for each other via marriage, as the heterosexual couples can.
The ninth amendment is also being violated in such a case as well; it states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. " (caselaw. lp. findlaw. com) This amendment was put into place to create a tolerant environment where people's rights are not allowed to be taken away- marriage is a right. Secondly is the 'Full Faith and Credit' clause, which asserts that all states must accept the laws from other states.
Taken to it's fullest extent, the moment one state legalizes 'marriage' for homosexuals, all other states must recognise that law, as they are subject to that clause. This way, as of yet, there has not been a single state to declare homosexual marriage legal, as the interpretation of the word is still "up in the air", so to speak. The Marriage Protection Act infringes upon the rights of homosexuals to marry through changing legislation to make it illegal for federal branches to judge on the constitutional value of a bill.
It seems as though there are more than enough legal ways to create a legalized institution of marriage that would not exclude those of an alternative lifestyle. The question of why is hasn't been done though, will not be found in any law book at any law school, office, or library. The reason for the continuous struggle against the allowance of a certain type of people to "invade" an age-old institution is found within the source of creation for that same establishment, the bible. "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable [or, 'an abomination'].
They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. " (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) Excerpts such as these appear all over the Old and New Testaments (more so in the New) and were the molding stones of law since the very beginning. Unfortunately, in a growing secular society, there is no longer room for such blunt accusations against the lifestyle choice certain individuals in such developed and supposedly free nations, most distinctly, the United States. A person cannot choose how they die any more than they can how to live it.
Euthanasia is defined as "the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment" by the dictionary. Those who see the true meaning of the word define euthanasia as even more than that: an honourable death. The battle for honour continues, seemingly, in the name of God. Who are the people that the American media creates monsters out of? These suicidal individuals who wish to take the easy way out.
Perhaps the vision the government gives its citizens is not precisely as accurate as they might think. Through the media people receive the impression that euthanasia is much like Feudal Japan's "Seppuku", or ritual suicide, considered for 600 years as honourable suicide, now seen as a barbaric act of the past. Movies have, since the beginning, played on the now well known, "pull the plug" scenes, followed by some miraculous cure for whatever was ailing the dieing individual. The real image though, is far more saddening. The United States is, unlike with gay marriages, consistently sympathetic with euthanasia.
Support for euthanasia has been over half for several years, and yet the government refuses to acknowledge this. There are two main interlacing arguments against the legalization of euthanasia. The first argument is that of the religious: it is impossible to live an afterlife with The Lord after committing suicide. Taking a life is wrong. It is not the person's right to take away a life that is not his or hers- God gave everyone life, and He will be the one to take it away. Thus by taking over one of God's functions, death, that person is effectively titling him or herself, God.
Through euthanasia, an individual is foregoing their entrance to heaven, regardless of the kind of person they might be, or the life they might have led. Through euthanasia, Jesus' suffering is insulted. Through euthanasia, all good deeds are thus made null, and both the person and the doctor made criminals. Many argue that there has not been a law legalizing such assisted suicide not because of condescending religious beliefs, but to avoid the corruption and abuse it will lead to. How then, does any bill get passed? The fear of corruption would then taint every single attempt at change, or even conservation of the old.
The reality of the situation is that there is corruption everywhere. Euthanasia scars the people around the person in question far more than some might imagine. Doctor Jack Kevorkian, from the now known saying "The Kavorkian Scarf" assisted hundreds of his patients to die with their dignity. Kevorkian even created a machine called the Thanatron, made out of 30 dollars in spare parts, to make the final move be that of the patient's. Through a long and arduous battle with the government, and acquittal after acquittal, the final straw was not an assisted suicide.
In his last act of euthanasia, Kevorkian killed a man via lethal injection, and he received and is currently serving 10 to 25 years for second degree murder and 3 to 7 years for administering a controlled substance (Humphry, 2003). No jury would convict him of assisted suicide, nor first degree murder. President Bush is, obviously, right winged on both gay marriages and euthanasia. The born again evangelical has been using religion from his first day in politics to dictate his every move. The Bush administration is the most openly religious administration since Woodrow Wilson, and is proud of it.
Whenever the topic of terrorism arises, Bush continuously refers to terrorists as 'evil'. He does not use the Bible to make every decision, he does not need the advice of various religious leaders, he takes all he knows from the basic teachings of the New Testament, as well as the definition of Good Vs. Evil. This simple definition shows how deeply entrenched the biblical ideas are into Bush, and thereby, into the American government.
- Associated Press, Bush Looks to 2005 With Ambitious Agenda, Dec 21, 2004. Dec 25. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=349738