That was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) response to Michelle Bachmann’s (R-MN) comments on the Supreme Court ruling which struck down DOMA. Bachmann said in a statement, “Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.” When asked what she thought of Bachmann’s statement, Pelosi shrugged her shoulders and drily remarked, “Who cares?”
Before you conclude that you are about to read a post defending Michelle Bachmann, let me assure you that you have nothing to fear. What I want to point out here is really a stunning and fearful reality that we as a culture have entered.
Notice what went on here with Pelosi’s statement. A member of the United States Congress expresses her view on a major ruling handed down by the highest court in the land. That Congresswoman’s view is informed by her religious beliefs, specifically, that there is a higher authority than that of the government to which all are accountable. Rep. Bachmann was expressing a religious assertion in objective terms, meaning, if she is correct, that assertion applies to all and if incorrect, that assertion applies to none. Rep. Bachmann made this statement as a citizen of the United States, and as a public servant. No matter what your political or religious views, these facts are beyond dispute.
When Pelosi–another member of Congress, a colleague of Bachmann’s, indeed, the Minority Leader–was asked her response, she did not do so with another objective assertion challenging the one Bachmann offered. She did not care what Bachmann said, and was unafraid and unashamed to say so. Furthermore, the response she got was laughter from the other members of Congress who were joining her on the dais.
Political commitments and party affiliation aside, this is an alarming little incident. It is alarming because here you have the utter dismissal of religion and the religious assertions of a citizen and member of Congress by one of the highest ranking officials in the government. “Who cares?” she said. What has happened in our culture is that religious people–and religion, by extension–have become a joke because religious assertions are seen as completely irrelevant, useless, rubbish.
When something is considered rubbish, it is discarded with the other rubbish. If religious assertions are viewed as useless, then what happens to the freedom to make those religious assertions? Well, there’s no use for that either, so it gets thrown away also. Of course, it perfectly fine to throw conservative religious views to the trash heap. But does it stop there? When the freedom of some is discarded, can the freedom of any be maintained?
Don’t be so alarmist, you say. It was only Pelosi laughing at Bachmann, not Pelosi denying anyone’s religious freedom. OK, that’s probably true. But while that may be true, there is much more here than meets the eye. Everyone in this country should be concerned when the dearly held religious beliefs of a citizen are cast aside as a punchline by a member of the US Congress. Instead of laughing at Bachmann, we should all sit up and take notice. Next time, it may be your dearly held beliefs that are tossed aside by the state. And when that happens, when does it stop?