On Freedom of Religion, How the U.S. Will Palin Comparison


By Elizabeth Burke
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report

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This morning, I was wondering what to write about. There is so much going on, so much about which I want to comment, so much interesting news out there. But then I saw this: ex-Governor Sarah Palin — not former, she quit — saying that the Judeo-Christian belief system was the basis for American law and should continue to be used as a guiding force for creating future legislation. And immediately my head exploded — literally exploded. And the timing of this insane statement and how I spent my weekend could not have proven my point more clearly.

This weekend was a true mix of religious rites of passage and military celebrations. I watched as my lovely niece walked down the aisle of a Catholic church to receive her first communion. There were rows of little girls, like china dolls, in white dresses with their handsome escorts, little boys in blue blazers and ties, taking part in a ceremony as old as John the Baptist in an experience shared by Catholics around the world, including the lapsed ones like me.

That evening, I was honored to attend the 50th anniversary of the Western New York Armed Forces Week Military Ball with my brother, Lt. Colonel John Burke, and his beautiful wife, Tami. I was so moved during the nondenominational invocation, the shared national anthems — Canadian, then American. (Being in Buffalo, I appreciated this sign of friendship and respect for the Canadian armed forces in attendance.) And I was also moved by the moments of silence for the POW and MIAs. I was reminded that while we may disagree about why we go to war, these are the men and women who, with courage I do not have, protect our ability to worship and live in complete, unfettered freedom. They don’t fight just for Christians, but for all Americans, no matter which God, plant or invisible superhero they chose to worship.

Finally, on Sunday, back in New York City, I performed in a show, The Boychick Affair. It is a celebration of a Jewish boy becoming responsible for his actions and becoming a Bar Mitzvah — a man. This is a beautiful, ancient rite that includes family, friends and a moving religious ceremony. Not to mention great food and dancing.

This is America, where we share different religious views, political views and enjoy the freedom to express them. In fact, I consider questioning authority the most patriotic thing we can do. It’s exactly this kind of verbal, religious and capitalist freedom that keeps people coming to our shores, or over the Rio Grande.

Yet this pandering, intellectually vapid, $100,000-a-speech I-quit governor actually wants to implement religious law in a country founded on the belief that religious freedom is an inalienable right. Does she not know that the separation of church and state is the only way to create a truly democratic, free society? The founding fathers — unlike the ones Palin believes existed — were more secular humanists than religious fanatics. Does this woman not realize that one of the reasons people risked their lives coming here from their home countries 400 years ago was so they could practice their religion without risking death? Not that they were very tolerant after they settled here, but that’s another story.

The founding fathers also rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Though they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion, too. Most of them believed in deism and attended freemasonry lodges.

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Oh, and Ms. Palin, read this: The Constitution reflects our founders’ views of a secular government, protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief. As the historian Robert Middlekauff observed, “The idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.”

Like radical Muslims, Palin apparently believes that the law should reflect one specific religion — her religion: a vague, ill-defined Christian religion. She wants us to base our laws on the Ten Commandments, including — yes — the one her daughter Bristol broke: “You shall not commit adultery.” This Commandment, by the way, is either number six or seven, depending on what version you read. There are three different versions in the Bible alone. There are also Christian, Jewish and Protestant versions. Oh, and wait for it, there are Islamic commandments, for while the Koran does not explicitly speak about the Ten Commandments given to Moses, the substance of all the commandments are found in its text. Therefore it is safe to say that the 10 statements are taught by all Abrahamic religions.

Let me address this next part to Gov. I-Quit Sarah Palin directly.

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Sarah, if we are to implement Sharia in the U.S., you need to be very specific. The mullahs — and now, the Taliban — have had centuries to get it right, to implement the exact punishment that goes with each crime. Are you prepared to cut off the hand of a thief? Will you join Sen. Joe Lieberman in stripping Americans of their citizenship before they’re convicted of crimes against the country? This is a slippery slope you’re on. I don’t think you have the intellectual capacity to realize what you’re saying. You trot out your fabricated beliefs like the flag in which you disingenuously drape yourself. Shame on you.

Now back to all of you.

Palin states:

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“What in hell scares people about talking about America’s foundation of faith? It is that world view that involves some people being afraid of being able to discuss our foundation, being able to discuss God in the public square, that’s the only thing I can attribute it to.”

Well, trust me, I am never afraid to talk about religion, God or anything in the public square. What I am afraid of is Palin’s version of Sharia becoming reality. What I am afraid of is the day I am severely punished for disagreeing with Palin’s world view. What I am afraid of is no longer having the freedom to even question it.

Palin’s intolerance, her flippant disregard for the basis of what makes the U.S. stand apart, her pandering to the most base of her base disgusts me and shows what a narrow-minded, dangerous ideologue she truly is. I am grateful every day that she is nowhere near the White House or any seat of actual power.

Oh, one last note for Palin directly:

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Sarah, ex-governor of the state you rarely see these days, before you open your uninformed mouth again, please acquaint yourself with the U.S. Constitution. It is also displayed at the National Archives so you can actually see Amendment I of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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If you need a dictionary for what those words mean, let me know.

Elizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16. Burke’s Law does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.