Written By: Sara Ledesma
The brilliant political minds who masterminded the construction of our country deserve resounding praise for one of their finest founding tenets: the separation of Church and State. How marvelously fortuitous to be a citizen in a country where you are without fear of being held captive to the subjective interpretation of morality or religious beliefs of another person or entity!
Which one of us can deny the ingenuity of guaranteeing protection against the tyranny of one’s values over another, the claim of moral superiority of one religious philosophy over another, the hegemony of one absolute point of view? Those shrewd political strategists who brought the ideal of freedom, equality and justice to life in the creation of the United States of America knew one thing with absolute certainty: Freedom starts with our heads, our hearts and our souls. If we have no freedom to believe as we choose, to define morality, spirituality and our own concept of God, for ourselves, we will never genuinely experience freedom.
To fully comprehend the absolute necessity for separation between Church and State as a pre-existing condition of freedom and Democracy, we only have to look at the disastrous consequences wreaked upon our government when the distinct line between the two is blurred.
Enter the religious right and it’s self-righteous, minions in the Republican Congress. Beginning with President Ronald Regan it has become advantageous, and accepted, in Republican politics to legislate morality, based on a subjective interpretation of a conservative, Christian, religious doctrine. Flash forward to current times, it has become the solid basis upon which the Republican platform is built. Consequence for all citizens, regardless of political persuasion: the eradication of the crucial, freedom-safeguarding, separation of Church and State. What began as a sanctimonious crusade to legislate, and thereby legally control, the morality of you and I, backfired heinously when politicians elected on their self-proclaimed pious values set themselves up as the moral standard by which we should all aspire and then refused to embody those same values.
These law-making hypocrites condescendingly told us how “good, Christian” people with family values should behave, and then proceeded to behave exactly the opposite in their personal. Arrogant enough to believe they were above the laws they sought to tyrannically impose upon us, they became exposed as hypocritical examples of men who lack any integrity or values.
I fear living in a country where someone’s personal interpretation of religion, values, or morality becomes my lawfully mandated way of life. As citizens of the United States of America, our constitution guarantees us protection against such dangerous religious tyranny. Why should publicly recognized moral failures be the ones to dictate religious morality?
It’s wrong to drag a politician’s personal life into the public spotlight, especially if it will negatively impact their family. The personal choices an elected official makes are not the business of the constituents he or she serves—as long as it does not adversely affect the job they are elected to perform. If a legislator decides to have an affair, for example, it is between that person, their conscience and their family. It only becomes a matter of public concern when that politician is asserting himself as a defender of family values, or herself, as a model of religious and moral piety.
It’s the arrogant and insincere hypocrisy that adds salt to the wound of the transgression these politicians make against the constitutionally protected distinction between Church and State. It is the assertion of moral superiority to their counterparts in the Democratic Party, and their opponents in their own party, that brings their personal lives into the public. When a politician’s personal choices and private behavior become political, it is a danger to all whom cherish the freedom of thought and belief our country is loved and envied for by people throughout the world. To these self-purportedly, pious lawmakers I say: stick to your job making policy and law; and leave religious and family values to us and our families. We can’t do a worse job determining our own guiding principles in our lives then you are doing in yours.
To illustrate the point, a few case studies: Five Republican congressmen who dared to define for us what was “moral,” while clandestinely violating those same values themselves. Have these supposedly devout Christians ever heard the biblical teaching: Those in glass houses should not throw stones?
•He branded the Democratic Party as: “decadent,” “permissive,” “sick,” “selfish” and, of course, “liberal.”
•He vehemently demanded Clinton resign for having an affair with a staffer.
•At the same time he vilified Clinton for sleeping with someone other than his wife, and charged that his personal sexual exploits made him unfit to do his job as a public servant, the Georgia Republican was on his second marriage and carrying on a secret affair with the young Capitol Hill clerk who later became his third wife.
•In 2007, he admitted that he was cheating on his wife while simultaneously chastising President Clinton for consorting with Monica Lewinsky.
Today: Gingrich is a spokesman for the Republican Party and a possible Presidential candidate in 2012.
Paul Stanley, (Senator, TN)
•This southern lawmaker resigned from the state Senate just last week after an investigation into an extortion case exposed his adulterous affair with a 22-year-old intern.
•Stanley‘s disgraceful exit statement: “Due to recent events, I have decided to focus my full attention on my family and resign my Senate seat effective August 10,”
•His Mistress’ boyfriend, Joel Watts, is charged with trying to extort $10,000 from Stanley in April. Watts allegedly threatened to release naked photos the Senator took of the intern to the media if Stanley did not pay up.
•Stanley is a married father of two children.
•He advocated against funding for Planned Parenthood citing his sanctimonious belief that unmarried people should not have sex.
•The conservative legislator sponsored failed measures to ban gay couples from adopting children. Being gay apparently offends his sincere dedication to traditional family values.
•The lawmakers patronizing excuse for his hypocrisy: “And just because I fell far short of what God’s standard was for me and my wife, doesn’t mean that that standard is reduced in the least bit.”
Mark Sanford (R-NC):
•This self-proclaimed believer in the sanctity of the family, pursued a clandestine affair with a women from Argentina, flying to South America to visit her on numerous occasions, all while participating in marriage counseling to save his failing marriage.
•Sanford has been married for nearly 20 years to the mother of his four sons.
•Sanford’s wife, Jenny, was her husband’s political adviser for most of his career. She is cited as a major player in crafting his political success.
•He disappeared over Father’s Day weekend to rendezvous with his mistress in Argentina, not providing any information about his whereabouts to his four sons or his confused staff.
•He lied to the public he was elected to serve, as well as the staff who aids him in running the state, about where he was during his irresponsible abandonment of his professional duties.
•Sanford held a press conference to “confess” his sins, once they were exposed by an investigative reporter. He apologized first to his mistress and, later, his wife.
•His wife’s comment on his family values:”… the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recantations of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.”
•Governor Sandford portrayed himself as a champion of conservative, Christian, family values to get elected in South Carolina, and then eagerly discarded those values for an Argentinean lover he enjoyed a romance with while his wife raised his 4 children and diligently worked as his political advisor.
•Stanford Called for Clinton to resign, declaring his extramarital affair made him unfit to continue to hold office. Now that he himself has been exposed as an adulterous politician, Sanford doesn’t feel he should be held to the same standard.
Today: The South Carolina Governor seems determined to continue his term in office, despite being shown as a fraud to the principles upon which he was elected.
John Ensign: (R-NV)
•John Ensign publicly acknowledged his covert affair with a woman on his staff. Like Stanley, a man involved with the woman—this time the woman’s husband—demanded money from the lawmaker to keep the matter out of the media.
•Senator Ensign had an affair with the wife of his own administrative assistant and long time friend, Doug Hampton.
•Ensign transferred his staffer and friend to another position (without telling either Doug Hampton or the new employer the reason) so he could have sex with his mistress more easily and frequently.
•Senator Ensign employed the teenage son of his mistress, Cynthia Hampton. The young man was paid $5,400 according to Federal Election Commission records. No one on the Commission, or from Ensign’s office, has stepped forward to explain what services the Hamptons’ son did to receive this paycheck.
•Cynthia Hampton’s salary escalated during the time she and Ensign were committing adultery.
•Ensign’s parents paid out nearly $100,000 to the Hamptons. This money was supposed to keep cuckolded Doug Hampton quiet. After receiving the money, Doug Hampton blew the scandal open by going straight to the media.
•Ensign publicly destroyed two families with his extra marital affair.
•Senator Ensign, and his wife Darlene, have three children.
•Sinner Ensign’s remorse: “I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions.”
•Previous to his outing as a hypocrite, Top of FormEnsign received a 100 percent rating from the Christian Coalition.
•He fervently called for Clinton to resign for having an extramarital affair.
•Ensign zealously impugned Sen. Larry Craig when he was caught in a sex scandal.
•If he has the courage of his convictions, why doesn’t Ensign resign? Easy answer: He is a hypocrite who tells others how to behave, but feels the same rules don’t apply to him.
•Ensign declared: “Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation.”
•Ensign is a born-again Christian and member of Promise Keepers, a male evangelical group that promotes fidelity.
Today: Ignoring his arrogant hypocrisy, John Ensign has yet to resign for the same peccadillo for which he vilified Bill Clinton and Larry Craig. Evidence is quickly accumulating that he concealed his affair through the misuse of public funds. He is up for reelection in 2012.
David Vitter: (R-LA)
•Vitter’s phone number was found five times in phone records for the upscale brothel run by the now-famous D.C. Madame
•The Canal Street Bordello in New Orleans also claims Vitter as a former client.
•Vitter issued a statement on July 9, 2007 admitting: “This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.” He added that he has already made peace with his wife and his God.
•David and his wife Wendy have four children.
•The conservative Family Research Council presented Vitter with an award for his diligence in preserving family values.
•The first line of his official biography reads, “David Vitter is dedicated to making life better for his young family and all Louisiana families.
•Vitter campaigned by promising to protect “the sanctity of marriage.”
•Vitter co-authored the “Federal Marriage Act” that sought to prohibit courts from interpreting same-sex marriage laws, and said of marriage, “I don’t believe there’s any issue that’s more important than this one.”
•He contrasted himself to impious Louisiana politicians of the past by portraying himself as a holier-than-thou reformer against immorality and corruption.
•Vitter went to Washington in 1999 after winning a special election to replace Rep. Bob Livingston, who had resigned in a sex scandal when his marital indiscretions were publically aired. Vitter cultivated an image as a reformer who would rid Louisiana politics of sex scandals like the one that ended the career of his predecessor.
Today: David Vitter is currently running for re-election to the Louisiana Senate. He promises to champion old-fashioned, Southern, conservative values. His capacity for insincerity and incongruity knows no bounds.
THE END SCORE: Vitter, Ensign, Gingrich, and perhaps even Sanford, have maintained their positions and political viability among the conservative base.
Hypocrisy in Republican politics runs rampant like an infectious plague. From the more benign transgression of trading in campaign promises of religious conservatism and family values for hedonistic adulterous affairs, to the more repugnant offenses of Larry Craig (soliciting sex from a stranger in a public airport restroom), Mark Foley (vulgarly propositioning underage boys working as staff pages) and Ted Haggard (engaging in sex with male prostitutes while high on methamphetamines), the scandals keep coming. Some of these moral failings are merely two-faced and damaging only to their own families and others are criminal offenses that break the laws these men are elected to uphold, injuring the common good of society as a whole.
Family values as defined by adulterous, hypocritical, politicians who believe themselves above the law, need to be re-evaluated. Those who fail to live according to the mandates they would legislate for others, are in no way qualified to legally define what is moral for the rest of society. They obviously possess no religious fortitude or insight that makes them, in any way, suitable to mandate their personal religious values, familial or otherwise, for others. It is no longer acceptable to say, I flagrantly refuse to live by these principals I espouse, but that will not impede me from forcing them upon you and your family. I don’t want to live in a country where the sinners dictate the legality of the personal choices I make regarding my body, my mind and my relationships.
I refuse to live my life according to a code of values instituted by lying, cheating, hypocrites. Evidenced by their own personal actions, these politicians have no sense of true morality or integrity.
In other words… Separation of Church and State should be paramount in any elected official’s values. As for their religious beliefs and personal notions of family values, they should keep them in their family and church where they belong—and out of the office. The only values that have any place in government are secular values, such as justice, compassion, civil liberties, fairness, equality, freedom of thought, religion and speech. Those we elect to run our government should stick to policy and leave religious values and personal philosophy to individual conscience.