Separation of Church and Signs
It is common for people to assume Libertarians hurt Republicans. They see us aligned with Republicans on economic issues and presume we split their vote. Wrong!
Besides serving as the Libertarian Party state chairman, I also am serving my second term on the city council of Lago Vista, TX. Last night at our council meeting we had a discussion about having religious advertising on a sign paid for with taxes. Can you guess what my position is?
I will add that this is one of the strongest Republican Party areas in the state of Texas. If you ask most city council members or voters around here what party they support, it will be obvious to you. I can tell you the predominant sentiment of our council is that we should not be afraid of the ACLU and that religious material is fine.
Well on this matter I am proud to stand with the ACLU. As a matter of fact I often stand with the ACLU where Republicans and most Democrats dare not go.
As is my custom, I have already posted my opinions at www.PatDixon.org. If I can’t bother you to go there and read it, let my summarize.
A few weeks ago we had a vote on whether to have a community sign provided by the city government, paid for with taxes. I cast the lone dissenting vote. While the amount of money is small relative to the overall budget, our budget is very tight and we made lots of cuts to avoid raising taxes. Therefore this expense, though small, should not stand while other more urgent causes are cut. However, the real problem is not financial. I warned that having such a sign would result in a fiasco of contention and rancor over policy. Last night’s council meeting proved my point.
Our city staff prepared a draft policy for the sign at last night’s meeting. It contained an exclusion for content of a religious nature, which I support. In order to clarify the interpretation of this policy I started the questioning by presenting several examples from the church I attend. A fellow councilman asked if a vacation bible school could be advertised. This went on a good long while with the mayor concluding he doesn’t have any problem with using taxpayer’s money for advertising items of a religious nature.
Let me set some further context here. We begin council meetings with a prayer to Jesus Christ. I oppose this. I haven’t actively done anything about it because I have so many other battles to wage, but I would certainly welcome a policy change here.
Why would a Catholic who goes to church twice every Sunday oppose religion in city politics?
Perhaps you are familiar with the first amendment to the US Constitution. Perhaps you are aware of the inspiration the first amendment derived from Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps you are aware that Muslims, Jews, Atheists, and others have the same rights as Christians. Perhaps the Muslim, Jew, or Atheist wonders if they will get a fair shake on a zoning variance after the entire council prays to Jesus. Perhaps you are aware of the atrocities of the Taliban.
I take my faith seriously. I do not need George Bush, Bill Clinton, or any other politician being the middle man in my relationship with God. If we continue to empower politicians to take our money to promote their church, what happens when their church isn’t your church?
Now ask yourself, do I sound like a Republican to you?
Let me be more clear:
- I cast the lone dissenting vote against an ordinance allowing government to ban cell phone use in school zones
- I cast the lone dissenting vote to renew our curfew law
It is easy to stand on the sidelines and call yourself one thing or another. The true test of your identity is when you are outnumbered but refuse to compromise your principles.
So, do Libertarians hurt Republicans? Yes, when they are in power. We have had Republicans in power until recently and Libertarians have appealed more to voters that see their failure of leadership. The same will happen with Democrats. Research proves it
In conclusion, if you are wondering who will pay as much attention to your privacy and individual rights as your economic rights, don’t listen to what people say. Look at what they do. I am happy to stand with the ACLU and Jefferson. Are you?