published Monday, July 1st, 2013

Smith: Our future — The Divided States of America

Robin Smith

The events of the last few weeks triggered tons of emails, social media postings and texts to me expressing anger, weariness, sorrow and disgust.

A tremendous number of those recognized as Christian and/or conservative have voiced a sense of frustration.

Reading through and responding to many of the messages, there is a common theme:

• First, many of our elected officials respond to special interests and an echo chamber of opinions that do not reflect the citizens who elected them.

• Second, our foundational documents, including our Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, have not changed. What has changed is our culture. It’s exchanging proven principles for the license to pursue personal gratification and behavioral acceptance.

Recent attacks on the beliefs of values voters include the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare; IRS targeting of pro-Israel, pro-Christian and conservative groups; and discipline of military personnel who outwardly live their Judeo-Christian faith. These have stirred individuals who do more than simply take the name of God, but instead, live their faith daily and see their vote and support as acts of personal accountability, not just politics.

The Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration bill. Thousands have called Congress to express concern that border enforcement must precede the legalization of illegal immigrants — a matter of equal justice.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court voided one section of the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The court’s ruling allows same-sex couples who legally marry to qualify for spousal benefits, file taxes jointly and qualify for government benefits, such as Social Security.

Neither decision mandates that states must change nor recognize same-sex marriage unless that is current law or legislated in the future at the state level. Still, the written decision equated opposition to homosexuality as bigotry.

Yet, take heart! It’s a matter of perspective.

Through votes and issue stances, it’s becoming easier to identify the folks committed only to re-election and populism. These conflicts answer the question: Does their symbolism match their substance?

In the times of Christ, persecution was so prevalent, strangers would often greet each other in caution by drawing a fish in the dirt. The Ichthys served as a Christian symbol with the acrostic Greek message: “Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter,” or Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

This gesture, seemingly simple, identified one’s faith, one’s worldview, and functioned in the growth and survival of the Christian Church. The symbol matched their authentic substance.

So, what’s ahead in politics?

A more vocal body of believers is likely to engage politically with a disregard to party labels and a departure from stereotypes of the past. The issues that put one’s faith in conflict with one’s politics are already beginning to transcend racial and socio-economic lines.

The precedent of the tea (taxed enough already) party in 2009 demonstrates that unrest exists among informed voters whose beliefs are ignored. Values voters make decisions based on their beliefs: whom to associate with, how to spend their entertainment dollars, where to send their children to school. At the same time they are squinting to find reasons to remain loyal to a political party or support elected officials.

Bottom line, there’s guaranteed division ahead. And history has shown that in times of extraordinary crisis and trouble, those of faith will only deepen their roots, brace for unsettled times and endure.

Always remember, a united minority can be victorious against a divided majority.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.

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daytonsdarwin said...

As long as Christian fundamentalism and repressive political ideology could hold political power over blacks, gays, freethinkers, atheists, religious liberals, reproductive issues, science, books, television, and religious indoctrination in public schools, Smith was happy to continue the charade of "Old Glory and Jesus" de facto suppression of liberties.

Now that her brand of religious and reactionary smallness has been gutted by science, reason, and a cosmopolitan view of freedom of thought and action, Smith looks to revive her ineffective lap-dance of censorship, faux-morality, and failed institutions of religious intolerance.

Like a worn-out, haggard, and aged stripper, only those with failing eyesight and feeble minds are excited by her pole dance. On closer inspection one realizes her ship sailed long ago and no amount of spastic gyrations will make her desirable and exciting without backwards wishful thinking.

July 1, 2013 at 7:05 a.m.
SaraB said...

Along with my comments earlier about trusting people with my vote, I agree with this. It's along the lines of what was said all day yesterday in my church and around our family lunch table.

July 1, 2013 at 7:35 a.m.
MyGen said...

Cool info on the fish in the dirt.It's sad but true that politicians get away with talking a big game during their campaigns and don't represent their home districts after they get elected. It's also pretty interesting to see only pretty wealthy folks get elected who stroke their own checks. I guess that's their fish in the dirt. I learned something today. Thanks.

July 1, 2013 at 9:32 a.m.
Facts said...

Just based on our local government, I'm ready to leave the Republican Party-Fred Skillern, Billy Hullander, Curtis Adams, etc.. Add to that the recent Haslam mess with no-bid contracts, his refusal to come clean on his financial reports and having Tom Ingram on every payroll. Then, travel onto Washington. Our US Congressman has to have others either speak for him or write his answers. In the 6-7 meetings I've been in with his participation in the business community, he's truly embarrassing. And finally, as much as I truly respect Senators Corker and Alexander, it reallly is insulting to have the rights of non-citizens who are only in the country because our laws go unenforced to be valued more than those of us here legally and who have sent all of these gentlemen to represent us.

I'd never be a Democrat simply based on the policies that seemed aimed to destroy our country, nevermind the cast of characters who lead that party. So, I'm officially looking.

July 1, 2013 at 8:28 p.m.
ToHoldNothing said...

If you don't want your beliefs ignored, consider whether those beliefs are warranted or even grounded in anything beyond speculation, paranoia and a general distaste for relative progress in favor of antiquated traditions

July 1, 2013 at 9:21 p.m.
Facts said...

"Antiquated traditions" is your notion of the Judeo-Christian faith held by millions for centuries? Thank you for making the point of this article. It actually does make it easier to identify those who view government as the solution and I suppose your god.

July 1, 2013 at 9:56 p.m.
ToHoldNothing said...

The length of time a belief is held in no way necessarily increases its credibility

Government is neither the solution by necessity nor is it anything I worship, since worship implies surrendering a great deal of critical thinking and independence for the sake of security, neither of which I'd prefer in a political situation.

July 2, 2013 at 8:44 a.m.
Facts said...

It must feel so good to have control over your entire being, need no wisdom, need nothing greater than yourself. In other words, it must be wonderful to be your own god. Thank you.

July 2, 2013 at 12:18 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

Robin,

Folks in my family said the same thing when Brown v. board of Education was handed down. Religion is being attacked and the country is going to Hell. They couldn't imagine an African-American in their church.

Perhaps you should go back and read some of the New Testament where it says look into your own heart to determine what YOU should do, where it carefully states also NOT look into it to determine and judge what you should tell or force other people to do. That is in Another's job description.

July 2, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Facts, it must feel good to live in absolute certainty without any shred of proof, to grovel and prostrate yourself in fear of offending some deity invented by nomadic, ignorant, bronze age sheepherders.

It appears you equate "wisdom" with your religious beliefs. Wisdom is acquired from critical thinking and reason. Blindly following dogma does not equate to "wisdom".

Wisdom is gained from understanding the world around you, not some belief in a vengeful deity who has shown a propensity for endorsing murder, genocide, rape, and other atrocities.

Oh, and love your handle. Facts indeed.

July 2, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
ToHoldNothing said...

I am not in control of my life beyond the choices I make. Wisdom is acquired through living and through other people, not through imagined projections of some infantile need to have security beyond what we can manage.

The universe is already greater than me and I don't think myself the greatest person alive. That'd probably be other great and prolific thinkers, such as Isaac Asimov and even Christopher Hitchens, ironically enough.

I cannot be what I believe to be a useless concept, e.g. a god. I am a relative arbiter of my destiny, as it were.

July 2, 2013 at 8:50 p.m.
Ozzy87 said...

I'm not too happy with the Prop h8 decision. We didn't lose any gains, but the S.C. punted the issue back to the district court, shirking their responsibility to uphold the Constitutional principle and freedom to ALL citizens. The narrow interpretation of DOMA and Prop h8 hasn't stopped the legal challenges in the future. When a legally married couple moves from a Constitutional supporting state to a restricted state, what will happen when one of them dies? Since states control marriage rights, will the surviving spouse be exempted from state taxes the same as their heterosexual counterparts? NO. What about custody of children if there is an accident and the biological parent is killed? Will the surviving spouse gain automatic custody of their children? NO. So this ruling was just window dressing until one of these scenarios reaches the federal courts. Then (if Scalia and Thomas have been poisoned by their own venom and no longer on the S.C.)the real issues of the stomping on the Full Faith And Creditability Clause, the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments will be considered.

July 3, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
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