Friday, May 27, 2011

The Tennessee Constitution

The State of Tennessee was founded by some pretty darn intelligent folk, strange that it is now being run by a complete set of idiots. The founders of Tennessee must have been able to foresee a time that our state would fall under the control of extreme morons. Proof of their ability to see into the future can be found in Article 1, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution;

Declaration of Rights.
Section 1. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are
founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the
advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right
to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.

Let's take a close look at what the founders of our state said in this section of the constitution. They didn't say that government exists to protect the peace, safety and happiness of businesses? No, they stated that government exists to protect the the peace, safety, and happiness of the people. It doesn't limit this to wealthy people, or heterosexual people, it says people, all people.

Recently the legislature of Tennessee passed a law making it illegal for local governments to protect their citizens, specifically their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens, from employment discrimination. This seems to fly directly in the face of the concept of the government existing for the benefit of the citizens it serves, as stated in Article 1, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution.

The lawmakers that supported this law stated that it would prevent businesses from having to deal with a confusing patchwork of regulations that could be different in every city in the state. Interestingly no businesses had complained about this issues probably because they are already used to dealing with different regulations, tax rates, and laws in the counties and cities they operate in. Also this law only effects employment discrimination which is a very limited part of the regulations that businesses have to deal with. Most interestingly this law does nothing to protect the citizens of Tennessee. In fact, it repeals a law passed in Nashville that would have protected members of the LGBT community from discrimination and so at best it could be described as a law designed to protect businesses, but Article 1, Section 1 plainly states that our government exists to serve people, not businesses.

But Article 1, Section 1 goes beyond stating the purpose of government. It grants the citizens of Tennessee the right to recourse, if the government fails to fulfill its duty to the citizens of Tennessee. Is it time that we stand up and defend our position as the true holders of power in our state and "alter, reform, or abolish" our state government since it obviously isn't interested in the people of this state's "peace, safety, and happiness"?

Can we bring a class action suit against the state? Should we all march on Capitol Hill and tell the law makers we elected that they are all fired? Is it time that we remind our legislators that they work for us, all of us, and that their bigotry will not be allowed to interfere with our peace, safety, and happiness? I would hope that we, the citizens of Tennessee, could make the founders of our state proud, because right now they are probably spinning in their graves as they see their worst fears, a government that doesn't serve its citizens, becoming reality.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Biblical Literalists

I know several people, friends and relatives of mine, good people, but people who I have a basic disagreement with. You see these people claim and believe that the Bible, every last word of it, has to be followed directly and specifically. They believe that every word of the Bible represents the Word of God and therefore every word in the Bible is perfect, divinely inspired, and represents how we should live our daily lives.

First of all we have to remember that the Bible itself has undergone many changes throughout its history. The inclusion and exclusion of several books of the Bible has generated considerable discussion, even in the early days of Christianity. Even today different denominations read different versions of the Bible so we still don't consensus on what the Bible is and so it seems the literalists would have to agree that what is the Word of God is still up for debate.

Furthermore I have been unable to find anyone who agrees with and follows every word of the Bible. It is pretty difficult to find anyone who thinks it is OK to sell your daughters into slavery or that your child should be stoned by the town elders if they misbehave. I have also found it hard to locate many Biblical literalists who think eating shellfish is an abomination, I know several literalists who eat pork as well. Of course the wearing of blended fabrics isn't even thought about these days. There may be some individuals who follow every word in the Bible, but I haven't met any so far.

But that may not be a problem. You see I, and the Biblical literalists I know are Christians, and as Christians we follow the teaching of Jesus Christ and try to live our lives in a way that follows the example set out by Christ. This is where it gets interesting because Christ actually instructed his followers to not follow some of the commands laid out in the Bible.

For example the Old Testament tells us to seek revenge from our enemies but Christ tells us, in a very direct way, to not follow these words. Even the Old Testament ban on eating pork is challenged in the New Testament. If Christ tells us, as Christians, to not follow some of the directives found in the Old Testament how can we then think that the Bible is perfect and every word equally valuable?

For some this may a difficult question, but for me it is quite simple. The Bible, all of it, gives us great insight into how we should live our lives as Christians. At the same time this is a book that was written thousands of years ago and some of it may not apply to us today. The Bible is a living document and we should treat it as such, God created a world that changes, thankfully he also provided us with a text that is deep and wide enough to show us how to relate to the world we live in, even all these years later.

Christ told us to follow the Ten Commandments and to love one another. There are no exceptions in either of these statements, we must follow all of the Ten Commandments and we must love one another, no matter who they are or who we are. This gives us enough of a starting point to live by and I doubt there will be any debate on this.