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August 26, 2006
The Katherine Harris Follies Continue

Easily the most dysfunctional Republican campaign this year is the Senatorial bid of Katherine Harris in Florida. Her staff keeps walking out on her, and in a state where Republican Governor Jeb Bush remains very popular and George Bush won twice, she trails by almost 30 points to Bill Nelson. And just when the GOP thought Harris couldn't possibly get any worse, she told people that God wants the US to dump its secular traditions:

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics.

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.

Harris, a candidate in the Sept. 5 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, said her religious beliefs "animate" everything she does, including her votes in Congress. ... Harris told the journalists "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will. Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," she said.

"And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws. That's not what our Founding Fathers intended, and that certainly isn't what God intended."

Well, great. If we go by the polls, it looks like God wants Katherine Harris to shut up, but Harris isn't listening.

The founding fathers never intended for religion to be banned from the public square, but they certainly didn't create a theocracy, either. Secular laws allow for all people to unite in a just and open society, where all religions can practice openly without fear of government suppression. People of faith can and should serve in elected office, and of course they should apply their values to the decisions they make on our behalf, but that doesn't equate to rejecting secular law for temporal government.

It's hard to understand what Harris means in her assertion that the founders never intended to create a nation of secular laws. The very first entry in the Bill of Rights states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion[.]" That doesn't mean that people have to be barred from religious expression in public, but it very clearly states that the new nation would stay out of the business of faith. The creators of the Constitution understood that this would bar them from passing anything but secular laws, and with just a century between them and the Roundhead revolt, that's exactly what they had in mind.

Besides, Christians aren't the only people who avoid sin, and not even all of us do that enough. Jews share the same sense of sin and atonement, and modern and moderate Muslims do as well. Atheists also understand the social issues involved in sin, even if they reject the concept of spiritual offense. In fact, if one wants to see what happens when someone puts a government in charge of stamping out sin, one only has to look as far as the Taliban.

I'd love to support the Harris campaign in Florida, but she makes it impossible. As a Christian American, I find it offensive to state that only Christians should be elected to public office, or that the role of our government is to enforce Christian law. Our values should influence the laws we create to regulate our society, but the secular structures of American government exist so that all people can join in that debate. If Katherine Harris does not recognize this, then she does not belong in office.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 26, 2006 4:54 PM

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» Oh Katherine! from Middle Earth Journal
I haven't posted on Katherine Harris because it's not nice to make fun of people with severe disabilities. But she has entered an alternate universe that makes George W. Bush's universe look almost normal. Rep. Harris Condemns Separation of Churc ..... [Read More]

Tracked on August 26, 2006 11:28 PM

» Cruella de Ville is an embarrassment from Strange Women Lying in Ponds
Perhaps this is Katherine Harris' notion of a Hail Mary pass in hopes of reviving a flagging campaign. But whatever she was thinking... er, she couldn't have possibly been thinking:Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not [Read More]

Tracked on August 27, 2006 7:01 AM


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