Sunday, December 02, 2007

When Alan Keyes Comes Calling

The other day I received in the mail an appeal from arch-conservative and perennially failed Republican candidate Alan Keyes, better known lately by his full name Batshit Crazy Alan Keyes.

Before I continue, I have a confession to make. In the runup to the 2000 election, I did give some support to Alan Keyes in his quixotic quest for the Republican nomination. I was in my second and final libertarian phase at the time, and while I blanched at his God talk, he struck me as the most libertarian of the Republican candidates on issues like the income tax and school choice. I even attended one of his speaking engagements at a Republican Party meeting in Ozone Park when I was living in Queens. But we all make mistakes, right?

When I saw the envelope from Keyes in my mail, I anticipated that its contents would make for a good blog post, and sure enough it did not disappoint. I opened the envelope and pulled out the letter within. After the opening salutation, Mister Keyes got right to the point: "I have decided to enter the presidential fray as the candidate who publicly pledges to lead our people in an American Revival, supporting and defending the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States..."

Keyes continues, "In these troubled times, America must elect a person of faith who above all will honor God, and by so doing "Honor the Oath" of public office." A "person of faith"? For a man who purports to be upholding the Constitution of the United States, Keyes must have somehow overlooked paragraph 3 of Article 6 of the Constitution, which states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." And what about the oath of office, what does the Constitution have to say about that? "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

So, let us pause a moment and tally the score. Godless Constitution - 2. Alan Keyes - 0. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Further on down the first page of Keyes' letter, he goes on to declare that "our rights as American citizens rest upon the existence and Authority of God. This is explicitly stated in our Declaration, the philosophical well-spring of the Constitution." The Declaration of Independence, writes Alan Dershowitz in his book Blasphemy: How The Religious Right iIs Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence, has been called "the birth certificate of America." However, says Dershowitz, "partisans of the Religious Right have tried to transmogrify this document of liberty into a baptismal certificate for a Christianized America."

Dershowitz goes on to make the case in Chapter One of Blasphemy that while the Declaration of Independence contains references such as "Nature's God", "Creator", and "Divine Providence", the "omission of any reference to Jesus Christ, or to the specific God of Christianity or of the Bible is far more significant than the inclusion of generic words that were consistent with non-Christian deistic beliefs." The Declaration of Independence was primarily drafted by Thomas Jefferson, who Dershowitz describes as "an Enlightenment rationalist who believed that 'the alliance between church and state' produces only evil, and that a wall of separation must be maintained. His God was most certainly not the intervening Judeo-Christian God of the Bible." Dershowitz quotes Jefferson scholar Allen Jayne, who describes Jefferson's god as the "watchmaker God of deism... who established the laws of nature at the time of creation and then left it alone."

Keyes goes on to rail against abortion, which he claims is in violation of the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims, according to Keyes, "every person is equal and shall be protected not by the choice of the mother, nor by distinctions of age or condition...but by the Will of God." When Alan Keyes makes such claims, it is clear that he is either ignorant or dishonest about what exactly the Declaration of Independence was. The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to announce to the world the reasons why the colonists were seeking to sever their connection to Great Britain. It was a work of propaganda, not a body of statutory law. Therefore, Alan Keyes can couch his anti-abortion rhetoric in the language of the Declaration of Independence all that he wants to, but no court of law in this country will take him seriously. The Constitution is the highest law in the land.

With regard to the already mentioned fact that the Oath of Office of the President does not mention God, Keyes says in his letter that America's presidents have traditionally concluded their oath of office with the words "So help me God". Problem is, the first president to have done this was the obscure Chester Arthur in 1881. Somehow the Republic managed to survive nearly a century without presidents making such an invocation at their inaugural addresses. Godless Constitution - 3. Alan Keyes - 0.

Keyes laments that "the nation has become increasingly unfriendly to the free expression of Christian faith and piety, and Judeo-Christian ethics and morality, especially regarding sexuality and the family." According to Keyes, the "leftist elites in America want to de-legitimate, even criminalize the Christian moral understanding of the natural family -ordained by God - where one man and one woman in covenant accept responsibility before the Creator for the well-being of their children."

I don't know where Alan Keyes is getting the idea that there is a movement in this country to criminalize the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. If any of my readers can enlighten me on this, I would appreciate it. But what I can say in response to Keyes is that there is a movement in this country to expand the concept of marriage beyond the Christian idea of the "natural family." The issue of gay marriage is a topic for a post in and of itself, and I will not get into detail on it here. Others with a greater stake in this issue than me have written and will continue to write eloquently and passionately on the subject. What I will say from my own point of view as a married man and atheist is that I cannot think of a meaningful reason to object to same-sex marriage. I don't see how I can be harmed by it. Furthermore, not only are gays such a small percentage of our population (I doubt it tops 5%), but the number of gays who would take advantage of the right to marry if it were granted to them would likely be much smaller than that.

As for Alan Keyes and his family values, we all know how he handled the coming out of the closet of his daughter Maya Keyes.

I got a mild chuckle near the end of the appeal where it reads "I am sending you this letter because I know you care; I know you are a God-fearing person who believes as I do." (Emphasis mine). Wrong again Alan! Try again. Even if I did believe in a god or a creator, I would reject the idea that such a being would need to be feared. It always amazes me how some really religious people can hold such conflicting ideas in their head. On the one hand, they will rail against "the guvmint" encroaching on their personal liberties, and yet the god they worship is a Stalinist dictator who must be simultaneously loved and feared. I would like to think that any being capable of creating this vast and complex universe in which we live would be above such nonsense.

In conclusion, if you would like to contribute to Alan Keyes presidential campaign, the address is Keyes 2008, P.O. Box 2008, Houston, Texas 77219-2008. You can legally give up to $2,300 if you're feeling generous.

1 comment:

tina FCD said...

No thank you, I'll pass.