Iowa Straw Poll Needs Rationality

Lately we have seen quite a bit of buzz concerning the Conservative Republican candidates for president coming to Iowa and campaigning for support.  One of the biggest platforms that any of these candidates has is that of religiosity and a strong faith in a Christian god.  Some have even gone so far as to sign a controversial pledge from the Family Leader concerning same sex marriage in Iowa, which indeed described slavery as preferable to same sex marriage.  This platform can also be seen in much of the more recent political rhetoric concerning abortion and same sex marriage or concerning how Christian teachings should be brought into school classrooms.  What is especially troubling is that Iowa is seen as a barometer for political support, yet the GOP candidates come here to see who can “out Christian” who.  This needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

For one, it makes our state look bad. It makes us look like a bunch of people that don’t care about other important issues like the economy or foreign policy, but that Iowans only care about social policies. This is obviously not true, and I encourage all politicians and media sources to stop feeding into this social policy war and focus on what Iowans really care about; making our state and country a better place to live. It also makes us look like a state that does not understand the Constitution.

The very real reason this needs to stop is because much of what is advocated is downright unconstitutional.  If we were to allow Christian teachings, or any religious teachings, over the teachings of any other religion, non-religion, or philosophy, we are tainting the very law itself. We are telling our citizens that our law derives not from the consequences of peoples’ actions, but from a specific religious belief that has been codified.  I can hardly think of anyone that would like to live under a law that tells citizens their religious or non-religious beliefs are illegal or at least not protected.  I think the vast majority of Iowan’s get this, but a very loud minority does not seem to and these are the ones being courted by Conservative GOP candidates. These people seem to think that if we allow THEIR specific religious beliefs to come into law that it is somehow a more just society or a society more in line with the “founding fathers”. This is definitively false, and we don’t need founding fathers to show us this to know that we must have a separation between church and state.

One point that has sprung up on this topic again and again has been the idea that “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution. It doesn’t have to; it is self-evidently true that there MUST be a separation of church and state if we are to have a law that applies equally to everyone.  We could not have Christian law ruling in Des Moines and Jewish law in Ames and still adhere to a equal protection clause in the Constitution.  I mean, could you imagine the problems transporting pork and livestock between the two cities?  Let’s not even get into literature and other media, and woe unto any couple that wishes a divorce.  These are some silly examples, but very real examples nonetheless. We cannot have religious doctrine intertwining with civil law but rather the civil law must be, and generally is, created with the consequence of that law in order to further the happiness and productivity of all citizens.

I think most Iowans understand this point and strive to keep a rational head on our shoulders. Going forward, let us keep our law secular, the way it was intended and avoid being swayed by charismatic religious Conservatives looking for your vote. Go into the polls with a clear head and a rational mind, Iowa and prove to the country we are worthy of our political position.

Jason Benell

Press Officer

Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers



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