The petition will most likely fail as well as make us look bad. Not worth our time (and I speak of time promoting it & getting the word out, not only the few minutes it takes to sign it)." -- Felicity Jones, YNA (Commenting on the Clothing Optional Access Petition)
After posting and defending an article written by an "anonymous guest blogger" that was highly critical of the recent clothing optional access petition on grounds that included the opinion that "We the People" petitions are a waste of time and never accomplish anything, Young Naturists America seems to have had a change of heart at least with regard to the usefulness of the petition site.
On February 9, 2014, YNA posted a petition of their own calling on the Obama Administration to "Abolish the Term 'Marriage' From All Federal or State Issued Certificates," arguing that the government should issue civil union certificates only.
The aforementioned petition is likely to offend just about every single American who becomes aware of it for one of several reasons that readily come to mind. Fortunately based on the fact the petition had only attracted 11 signatures as of the date this column was published, it doesn't seem there is too much awareness of it at this point. Let's look at the particulars to see why the petition isn't likely to be popular.
"We at Young Naturists America strongly believe in the founding fathers' vision of a secular United States and a clear cut separation between church and state."
The opening paragraph makes use of illegitimate historical revisionism in a transparent attempt to support personal opinion. The Founding Fathers of the United States had no such "vision of a secular United States" and to suggest otherwise is completely absurd. No one who had engaged in even a modicum of historical research would have even considered writing something so nonsensical. There are three references to God in the Declaration of Independence alone. Freedom "of" religion, not freedom "from" religion is enshrined in the First Amendment. Consider a few quotes from some of our notable Founding Fathers.
“Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do--then do it with all your strength.”
-- President George Washington
"Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God...What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."
"Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System."
-- John Adams, 2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
"Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."
-- John Hancock, 1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence
"Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped."
-- Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Unites States Constitution
"And as it is our duty to extend our wishes to the happiness of the great family of man, I conceive that we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world that the rod of tyrants may be broken to pieces, and the oppressed made free again; that wars may cease in all the earth, and that the confusions that are and have been among nations may be overruled by promoting and speedily bringing on that holy and happy period when the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and all people everywhere willingly bow to the sceptre of Him who is Prince of Peace."
-- Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Father of the American Revolution
"The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!"
-- Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
-- Patrick Henry, Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution
I could go on ad infinitum as there are literally thousands of quotes like the above, but I think the point is fairly made, no secular vision here.
Likewise, there exists no "clear cut separation between church and state." Separation of church and state continues to be a hotly debated issue among constitutional scholars. Anyone with even a modicum of understanding of the Constitution knows that the term “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the Constitution. The concept comes from the metaphor, a reference to a “wall of separation” between church and state found in a letter President Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, a dozen years after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified. The manufactured phrase has since taken on a life of its own that bears little relation to the context in which the original Jeffersonian metaphor was used.
The First Amendment does say that the government shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It is well to stick to the actual words of the Constitution. Forbidding an official establishment of religion is something quite different from the much looser, imprecise phrase “separation of church and state.” The Constitution merely forbids government sponsorship and compulsion of religious exercise by individual citizens.
If one chooses to embrace the concept of separation of church from state as YNA evidently does, then of course it is quite impractical to then turn about and ask the federal government to violate First Amendment constitutional protections by grievously interjecting government into what is clearly the realm of religion.
According to the prestigious Gallup Poll, "The large majority of Americans -- 77% of the adult population -- identify with a Christian religion, including 52% who are Protestants or some other non-Catholic Christian religion, 23% who are Catholic, and 2% who affiliate with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another 18% of Americans do not have an explicit religious identity and 5% identify with a non-Christian religion."
The petition then is off to a good start with the opening paragraph by offending the 77% of religious Americans, assuming the goal was to offend as many people in the country as possible. Yes, the U.S. is increasingly becoming more secular in comparison to the past but there was never a grand design to establish a secular nation. It should also be mentioned that every married couple, traditional and same sex, are also likely to take offense at the petition, along with any serious students of American history who don't appreciate revisionists.
"Marriage is not a gay rights issue, it is a human rights issue. The government should be protecting the rights of the people - all the people."
In the second paragraph, the LGBT community gets a nice slap in the face when they are put on notice that "marriage is not a gay rights issue." I suppose the LGBT community should just get over the fact that they have been unfairly discriminated against all these years and shouldn't have wasted the considerable time and effort doing all that hard work to win the right for same sex couples to marry if they wish. It has taken an incredible amount of effort for them to gain legalization of same sex marriage in 17 states and the District of Columbia and they are gaining momentum in the 33 states where it is still prohibited. Evidently they weren't quite sharp enough to think of just lobbying to abolish marriage in favor of civil unions instead. According to ABC News "nearly 4%" of the total U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender so that pushes the potential number of Americans offended by the petition up to around 81%.
"By abolishing the term marriage, states and federal agencies will only be allowed to offer civil union certificates. Thus removing any religious implications and paving the way for a more accepting society.
Those wanting a certificate with the term "Marriage" would be able to obtain such documentation from a religious institution only after they have obtained their official Civil Union Certificate."
YNA might have also taken a minute or two to review the "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" Article 16(1), adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 that states;
"Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution." (Emphasis mine)
Evidently beyond YNA members, most of the world prefers the option of marriage over being civilly unified, so this piece likely offends even people abroad who value universal human rights.
Once again the "naturist" flag is being proudly waved to infer that naturists are associated with yet another cause that has absolutely nothing to do with naturism. What's next, a foray into gun control activism? And which side of that issue will YNA put us naturists on? These young naturist super heroes seem intent on donning their capes and crusading to stamp out every manner of societal injustice wherever it may be found. If only they could bring their passionate activism to bear on something resembling naturist issues.
Seriously, the problem here is that while naturists may understand that abolishing marriage is not a naturist issue and simply enjoyed a moment of mirth when reading this petition, members of the general public do not so it really wasn't the wisest thing to present this petition with the Young Naturists America moniker attached to it. It is doubtful many naturists want to be associated with it, hence the underwhelming number of signatures the petition has attracted. Isn't there any fear at YNA that this petition which seems doomed to abject failure, will hurt the credibility of us naturists when it gets only a feeble number of signatures?
If YNA really believes in this cause that's great and it is no one's business but theirs but why drag the rest of the naturist community into it? Can't non-naturist activism be separated from naturist activism? Regardless of what was intended, putting "Young Naturists America" in the petition's opening paragraph will result in outsiders associating the petition with naturists. It provides just another reason for the majority in society to regard naturists as a bunch of kooky, eccentric cranks that like to get nekkid. Maybe a companion "Young Activists America" organization is in order?
After reading the petition, if I left any doubt, I won't be signing it. I think I'll follow Felicity's lead by advocating for things that will actually create change. The bottom line, this petition like so many others; deport Justin Bieber, allow states to secede from the union, build Death Stars, intervene in Venezuelan internal domestic affairs etc., asks the president to do something he has no power to do even if he does have a pen and a phone. Even Congress lacks any constitutional authority to do what the petition asks. The issuance of marriage licenses falls under the Tenth Amendment's "powers reserved to the states." This petition is just another nail in coffin for the credibility of the "We the People" site and another illustration for why the site is now worthless and no longer of any relevance.
Admittedly, I had a little fun with this column at Young Naturist America's expense. Seriously they are perfectly within their rights to post any petition they wish even though frankly I think this one damages the organization's standing in the community. This is also an example of how easy it is to find fault with and to criticize the ideas of others, a lesson I think many of us need to be reminded of from time to time.
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