Thursday, May 28, 2009

Six Catholics, Two Jews

At the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court would have, in religious affiliation, six Catholics and two Jews, with just one Protestant on the Supreme Court, 89-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens. How's that for imbalance? Does one's religious faith, traditions and beliefs shape the decisions of a judge or Justice? And why are there no evangelical Christians waiting in line?

One might recall that this nation was founded on the principle that there be no religious litmus test for its citizens nor its leaders. The wise Founding Fathers knew well the bloody religious wars on the European continent and wished for none of that in this newly created democracy.

Yet, poll after poll suggests that America is one of the most religiously affiliated nation in the modern world. How well are we citizens able to set aside our religious beliefs as we enter the voting booth? Does religious affiliation skew the vote in one direction or the other?

We know for sure that those who identify themselves as Protestant Evangelicals have voted for Republican candidates in overwhelming numbers in the past several elections. The Catholic vote is much more difficult to pigeonhole as they vote in fairly equal numbers for Democrats and Republicans. Jews have traditionally been strong supporters of the Democratic slate, although their population is fairly small, accounting for only 2% of Americans.

Apparently, that leaves the so-called un-churched Americans to choose the national leaders of this nation. According to our Founding Fathers, that is the way it ought to be. Nonetheless, people of strong religious beliefs are ever-vigilant, ever-active in the political affairs of this nation. The Prop 8 fiasco in California obviates the involvement of church in state affairs.

One would be shocked if an atheist or an agnostic were to be nominated for the Supreme Court. Imagine the uproar all across the land with demonstrations in the streets and at the White House. Imagine a Human Secularist as SCOTUS nominee! The nation would be torn apart in anguish.

Imagine Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin reappearing in the middle of the hubbub and asking, "What's going on here?" Then the answer, "The president nominated a non-believer to the highest court in the land!"

Imagine that.

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