Theocrat Gary Glenn Challenges Stabenow

Debbie Stabenow is not a strident voice of liberalism in the United States Senate. Of the progressive legislative actions we’ve tracked, Senator Stabenow has supported only 30 percent. Yet, one of the Republicans competing for the right to challenge Stabenow in next year’s election counts her as among the most extreme liberals in the Senate.

Although our legislative tracking system finds 34 Democrats and one independent in the Senate who have a more liberal record in the current session of Congress, County Commissioner Gary Glenn calls Stabenow “one of America’s most liberal senators”. Given this discrepancy, it’s important to undersand what Glenn counts as liberal.

The Separation of Church and State, as provided for in the Constitution, is a widely accepted principle, but Glenn seems to regard it as unacceptably liberal. Although the Constitution explicitly forbids any religious test for public office, the very first of his qualifications for the U.S. Senate cited by Glenn is that he is Christian.

Glenn proposes the idea that the United States is a Christian nation, with the government providing only a limited sort of religious freedom – that which protects Christianity in particular. His campaign site declares, “Gary Glenn believes the United States has from its founding been a nation of destiny, blessed and protected by God specifically because of its commitment to protect religious freedom and the Judeo-Christian faith and values shared by our Founding Fathers and by most Americans of the time.”

The protection of religious freedom is contained in the Constitution. The protection of “the Judeo-Christian faith” is not. In order for there to be true religious freedom in the United States, the government cannot provide special protection for any religion. If Christianity in the United States were to wither away, the government would not have the authority to prevent the change, as it would be an expression of the free will of American citizens.

Yet, Gary Glenn expresses the idea that American rights don’t come from the Constitution at all, but rather from the deity that he worships. Does Glenn believe that the Constitution itself is too liberal?


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3 Comments on “Theocrat Gary Glenn Challenges Stabenow
  1. Guys and gals, this summary is a distortion of my views on the subject — perhaps an innocent distortion, perhaps not, but a distortion nonetheless.

    For the record, I believe the Constitution does in fact protect freedom of religion for all individuals, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, which is not inconsistent with my belief that America was blessed by God because such freedom of religion and conscience was among our founding principles.

    Further, the Constitution provides that the government shall not apply a religious test to candidate for public office, thus no American can be required to subscribe to a certain faith or creed in order to run for or be elected to such office. However, the American people — the voters — can apply any test they please, including a religious test, in determining for whom they’ll cast their votes.

    Are you actually, literally, suggesting that identifying myself as a Christian on my campaign website is somehow unConstitutional, i.e., a violation of the law? Surely you’re not that Constitutionally illiterate.

    Then again, you may be, since one thing that’s not found anywhere in the text of the Constitution are the words “Separation of Church and State.”

    As the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals observed in 2005 in its unanimous decision in ACLU v. Mercer County: “The ACLU makes repeated reference to the ‘separation of church and state.’ This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.”

    “Extra-Constitutional”…the prefix “extra” meaning “outside of” the Constitution. Unanimous decision. Second highest court in the land. Six years ago. (Writing this in small phrases so you can assimilate this affront to your hardcast liberal dogma without going into apoplexy.)

    Finally, I do in fact share “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God,” a founding principle that President John F. Kennedy identified in his Inaugural Address of 1961 as being among the “revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought.”

    No doubt JFK had in mind the words of one of his heroes, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights” and “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.”

    Thus, both Kennedy and Jefferson identified God or “our Creator” as the originating source of our rights as human beings, with Jefferson writing that the purpose of government — in our case, the Constitution — is to protect those God-given rights, and with Kennedy expressly rejecting the notion you suggest that those rights come from the state, via Constitution or otherwise.

    Forgive me for hoisting you with your own petard, but do you consider Democratic icons and presidents Jefferson and Kennedy to also be “theocrats” or unacceptably conservative, since they expressed the precise views — “the idea that American rights don’t come from the Constitution” — which you attribute to me?


  2. I am not suggesting that you stating your Christianity as your first and foremost qualification for public office is unconstitutional. It is, however, an indication that you have no respect for the concept of the separation of Church and State, and that you would act in order to weaken that core constitutional right. You’ve stated clearly that you believe that the federal government should act to the advantage of just one religious tradition. That’s theocracy, Mr. Glenn.

    The separation of Church and State is indeed a concept in the Constitution, though the particular phrase is not in the Constitution. The phrase “free speech” does not appear in the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean that free speech is not provided for in the Constitution. Your claim that the Constitution does not establish the separation of Church and State is dishonest.

    Once we accept the idea that the Constitution somehow requires the government to support religious laws – Christian sharia – then where do we stop? Who gets to say what the laws of God are – or if there are any at all? What’s stopping some prophet from marching up to the White House and saying that God just spoke to him, and said that Americans can’t wear shoes any more, and so the government has to enforce a ban on shoes?

    It’s an absurd notion that your religion in particular, out of all the world’s religions and philosophical traditions, is specially given the status of law over all Americans, Mr. Glenn. No matter who asserts such a notion, I reject it. You may expect me to write in a partisan manner, but party identity isn’t what matters to me. What matters are ideas.

    As for ONE OF the U.S. Courts of Appeals making a ruling… that doesn’t make it law. The HIGHEST court in the land has supported the interpretation that the separation of Church and State is the Constitution over and over again. (I don’t think I need to be insulting to you by writing in short little phrases.)

    You’re not addressing the fact, Mr. Glenn, that you claim that the U.S. government has the duty to defend Judaism and Christianity, a position which makes freedom of religion impossible. Why are you avoiding that subject?

  3. Not avoiding any subject at all, CW. The U.S. government does have the responsibility to defend a citizen’s right to practice the Judaic or Christian faith. It has the same obligation to equally protect a citizen’s right to practice any other faith, or no faith at all. Your insistence that I’ve taken any position other than that is simply false.

    Specifically, your personal (and erroneous) interpretation of my comments — “You’ve stated clearly that you believe that the federal government should act to the advantage of just one religious tradition.” — is false, a falsehood unaffected by how strenuously you may insist that you know better than I what my position is.

    In fact, I firmly reject the position you falsely attribute to me. And that’s not inconsistent with my website statement that I believe America has been blessed by God for having protected religious freedom, including (but certainly not limited to) the predominant Christian faith of the founding era. If my website comments were not stated with sufficient clarity to make it impossible for you to distort them, my position is clearly stated here.

    In fact, I do believe in the original Jeffersonian concept of separation as stated in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which he coined the phrase in ensuring them that the federal government would not at any point require Americans to join or financially support any particular religion or denomination (a situation the original colonists had fled in England).

    But since Jefferson during his presidency himself attended Christian worship services held on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, he clearly did not understand the concept of separation to mean what some have misinterpreted it to mean today, i.e., a posture of outright hostility to public acknowledgement of religious faith.

    And in fact, the term “freedom of speech” — obviously synonymous with “free speech” — does appear in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Right up there with the phrase that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” which of course has no legitimate application to a high school senior (who’s not a member of Congress) speaking of his faith (which is not a law) during a graduation ceremony (which does not constitute governmental action respecting an establishment of religion). Misinterpreting and misapplying the doctrine of separation so as to censor, muzzle, and suppress the valedictorian’s testimonial would, however, be at odds with the Constitutional guarantee that Congress shall not “violate the free exercise of” religion.


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