WICHITA, Kan. - Throughout our political history politicians have accepted the wise imperative that one's personal faith should be separate from politics. As President Kennedy took great pains to explain to a nervous, protestant majority back in the sixties, his faith as a Catholic was not a factor in his role as an elected official. Kennedy explained that he would be president of all the people, not a Catholic president with a hotline to the Pope.
Our Constitution prohibits any religious tests for office. What did this mean beyond the obvious? It meant our Founders were clearly trying to avert a situation where government might be torn apart by sectarian violence. The Founders clearly understood that one's personal faith should have no bearing on the day to day business of government. Religious dogma was dangerous to good government. If public officials were to promote their own personal doctrines into public policy for all citizens to obey, such as the abortion issue, it would have the affect of destabilizing government.
Elected officials in Kansas appear highly uneducated and arrogant by disregarding this important fundamental truth about our secular government. Cardinal Brownback, along with many other Kansas officials, have forgotten they serve all the people of Kansas, not simply the Catholic Church or other religious beliefs. If Catholics choose to embrace a truth I personally think is false, that's their business. But elected officials, Catholic or otherwise, cross the line with impunity when they decide to legislate against a woman's right to reproductive freedoms based upon their religious views.
If Catholics and the Religious Right can pass laws to restrict women's privacy rights, then no one should complain if American Muslim officials decide to pass laws to veil all women in America or exclude women from receiving an education. As I have stated numerous times, if you want to be a public official in our secular, nonsectarian government, your religious doctrines cannot violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Let me state this one more time: blocking a woman's right to choose is based upon a religious belief therefore, it is an establishment by the state of a particular faith forced upon all others, and that is a violation.
All Americans, but especially Kansans should be very concerned when any elected official decides to stand as the next great expositor of God's truth and labors to bring that religious truth to everyone else. Brownback has not only stepped forward to lead the Catholic charge against abortion in his role as Governor, but has quickly appointed former buddies of Phill Kline into positions of power in the state with religious motives.
Brownback just elevated former warden of the El Dorado Correctional Facility, Raymond Roberts, to head the Kansas Department of Corrections. Why should Kansans be concerned about this apparently ho-hum appointment? Roberts is the warden notorious for pushing his evangelical dictatorship of Christ at the prison. Inmates of other faiths or of no faith have discovered they must tread lightly around this man of God who does not tolerate any other view in his presence. This is the same prison in El Dorado that built the million dollar Spiritual Center while atheists, humanists and secular inmates requesting to meet like other religious groups at the El Dorado Facility, were treated as lepers and denied this same right.
When I confronted prison officials and their lawyers, the results were predicable. They hid behind bogus "reviews" and rules and forms they claimed inmates did not complete while ignoring their own rules or changing the rules to fit their story because they have the power to do whatever they want and the public doesn't really care about inmates who are dirty filthy atheists anyway. Even when the national organization of Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the state regarding this unconstitutional treatment of inmates at the El Dorado Facility, Kansas state officials refused to respond.
I've seen the paper trail inmate Richardson and other inmates filed again and again to obtain the right for a secular group to meet in peace at the prison. When Mr. Richardson tells me that there is a double standard in the prison system giving perks to good Christian inmates, while threatening and denying privileges to inmates who refuse to find Christ, he is absolutely correct in his assessment.
Is it just a coincidence that Brownback has elevated Warden Roberts as Kansas Secretary of Corrections? Brownback has made this appointment because he supports Roberts' efforts and believes all inmates in the correctional system should discover Christ, too. Barely two weeks as Governor and we have a clear picture of Brownback's Kansas; the land of the Religious Right holding hands with the Catholics as they bring a theocratic stamp to all Kansans.
I wouldn't be surprised if the next bill introduced into the legislature will require all Kansans to register as Christians, with Secretary of State Kobach granted the authority to deem all such voters ineligible who refuse to comply.