In this brief story, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is quoted at the Conservative Political Action Conference:
“It all starts with acknowledging that God is our Creator and it is from God that we receive our values and principles.”Pawlenty noted that the freedom of religion protections in the U.S. Constitution were “designed to protect people of faith from government not government from people of faith.”
This is troubling because, obviously, if people of faith govern according to God-given values and principles then the people being governed are subjected to and not protected from a government of faith. If government is not protected from people of faith, government is not protected from faith.
Re-writing Pawlenty’s statement as separate sentences helps uncover what he may really mean:
(1) Religious protections in the Constitution were designed to protect people of faith from government.
(2) Religious protections in the Constitution were not designed to protect government from people of faith.
Is Pawlenty using “protection” in the same way? We cannot tell because he does not specify the “what“ that needs and does not need the protecting from. Pawlenty, however, seems to imply in (1) that people of faith are protected from being persecuted by government for their faith. We will assume that is his meaning.
What about (2) though? He is religious so why would he say that government does not have “protection from” people like him? Is it that they are benign to government and therefore the idea of “protection” from people of faith is not a real concern? Or, does he mean that those who want the protection of church-state separation have no constitutional ground to stand on? That is more likely the case.
Considering that in his quoted statement Pawlenty emphasizes (2), that government is not protected from people of faith, only implies we should have government according to faith.
Pawlenty’s statement is a sophistry that is intended to imply that there is no church-state separation. He will not say so explicitly for obvious reasons.
It is both immoral and contrary to individual liberty for religious believers to use government - which is essentially coercion institutionalized - to make laws and policies that intervene in the lives of the governed which are based on “values and principles” that are “God-given,” meaning: non-demonstrable, non-provable, non-valid; in short, imaginary. In a free country under a constitution that is built on principles of political science which are derived from experience in reality, those with imaginary beliefs should keep them to themselves where politics is concerned.
Lastly, a question for Pawlenty is, do people without faith deserve protection from a government of people of faith?
I think I can predict the answer.