Consistent Conservative: Delaware blogger opposes government-sponsored sectarian prayer
A conservative blogger in Delaware has come out in support of Americans United’s lawsuit challenging the Sussex County Council’s weekly recitation of the Lord’s Prayer to open its meetings.
Frank Knotts, writing at DelawarePolitics.net, said he thinks the plaintiffs “have a good case.”
“As I have said,” Knotts continued, “I feel that as individuals we are guaranteed a right to believe or not believe in a higher power. To pray or not to pray. But I also feel that as a body of government, the Sussex County Council has no place in leading prayers at official government meetings. Where, I might add, they are elected to represent all citizens, of all faiths, or of no faith. To have the council supporting, condoning, or promoting any one specific faith, while it may not be technically establishing a religion, is not inclusive of all citizens and is dangerous to all citizens and their rights.”
To bolster his argument, Knotts cited an array of church-state separation quotes from James Madison, the Father of the Constitution.
Knotts seemed a little sheepish about his stance.
“Now I know that this opinion will not sit well with many of my fellow conservatives,” he said, “but it is my understanding of the original intent of The Constitution.”
Good for Frank!
It has always been a mystery to me why more conservatives don’t speak out in favor of church-state separation. Those on the right generally want smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation. If you really believe in those concepts, you have to be for church-state separation.
If we didn’t have that constitutional mandate, government officials could intervene in our lives, imposing any religious perspective they choose. They could raise our taxes to support churches, church schools and other ministries. They could regulate houses of worship in an arbitrary and intrusive manner.
The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, often called “Mr. Conservative,” strongly backed a wholesome division between the institutions of religion and government.
In a 1994 essay, Goldwater wrote, “I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state. The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.”
Speaking in 1981, Goldwater said, “By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars…. Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northern Ireland or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?”
So Frank Knotts stands in a respectable conservative tradition with a sound ideological pedigree.
Stick to your guns, Frank! I wish more conservatives would be consistent on this issue.