December 7, 2023 at 10:47 pm #198Jonathan BuhacoffKeymaster
The proposed right:
No person who is a member of a current or recent royal family, or the life partner or descendant of a member of a current or recent royal family, shall serve in any government office.
No person who is a life partner or descendant of a current government official shall serve in any government office.
No person who is an active military officer shall serve in any government office. No government shall impose martial law.
No person who is a cleric of any religion shall serve in any government office. No government shall adopt, establish, or impose religious symbols, beliefs, or practices.
No person who is a foreign citizen shall serve in any government office.
This right establishes a freedom from royal rule, nepotism, military rule, religious rule, and foreign rule.
This right prohibits the holding of office by a king, queen, prince, princess, or any life partners or descendants of such royal person who is currently in power or was recently in power anywhere in the world. Presumably such royal families have the resources to take care of their own family members or help them find non-government jobs. Former members, or life partners, or descendants of a member of a royal family could hold government office some time after the royal rule has ended. The definition of recent could be set by a former royal eligibility law requiring a minimum numbers of years to pass since the person or person’s life partner or ancestor was a member of a royal family. While such a prohibition may seem to contradict the right to equal opportunity, the idea of royalty itself precludes the possibility equal opportunity because royalty favors their own family over their subjects. Therefore, to protect the right to equal opportunity, royalty must be excluded from government. A person who is considered royal in a foreign country may visit or even become a citizen but the royal title means nothing to the government.
Similarly, this right prohibits the holding of office by a life partner or descendant of any current government official. This is more limited in nature than the prohibition on royalty in office, so that life partners and descendants of former officials are eligible to serve. It prevents current government officials from giving jobs to their life partners or descendants while they are in office, and from having undue influence over those offices held by their life partner or descendants. While such a prohibition may seem to contradict the right to equal opportunity, the practice of nepotism itself precludes the possibility equal opportunity when officials favor their own family over other candidates for the same positions. Furthermore, the practice of nepotism is closely related to the idea of royalty. Therefore, to protect the right to equal opportunity, nepotism must be prohibited in government. However, when the official is no longer in office their life partner or descendants are immediately eligible to be elected by the people or appointed (hopefully due to their merits) by a new and unrelated official.
This right prohibits the practice of martial law. Any use of the military during a crisis must be controlled by civilian officials. A military coup usually involves a military officer taking control of government and imposing martial law to suppress dissent and both actions (military officer holding a government office and imposing martial law) would violate this right.
This right prohibits the establishment of religion in government. This right is not a freedom of religion, it is a freedom from religion. It ensures that people have religious liberty by prohibiting the government from adopting religious symbols and practices, establishing a religion, or imposing religious beliefs on citizens. Religious leaders, or clerics, are prohibited from serving in government office. However, life partners and descendants of clerics are eligible to be elected or appointed.
This right prohibits foreign citizens from holding a government office, to prevent an obvious approach to foreign influence. This does not completely eliminate the threat of foreign influence but it’s an important barrier.
Discussion about religion:
The right to civil government is actually a right to non-interference by the government, not a right to have a religion. The practice of a religion is a liberty, not a right. It is both supported and constrained by all other rights and laws, for example not harming other people, and the right to honest and peaceful speech.
The right to civil government prohibits government and non-government organizations from imposing a specific religious belief or non-belief on people — customers, employees, students, vendors, or anyone else. Imposing here implies a lack of consent. People who attend religious services or send their child to a religious school are consenting. However, it cannot be assumed that the general public consents to such treatment. Therefore, only organizations that self-designate as religious organizations may require that their employees, customers, students, etc. must have certain religious beliefs. The right to civil government means the government is prohibited from being a religious organization, or requiring officials or citizens to hold any religious beliefs.
This right only restricts government. Companies may cater to people with a specific religious belief, for example making products related to that religion. This does not impose the religious belief on anyone else because the public is free to not purchase those products. Companies that cater to one religious belief are not obligated to cater to any other religious belief. This means companies are free to choose which products and services they create and sell. However, companies may not discriminate in who they sell those products and services to because that would violate the right of equal opportunity. Conversely, customers may not impose their beliefs on companies. A customer may choose to buy a product or service from one company or another, but cannot force (through lawsuit) a company to offer any product or service that it doesn’t currently offer — this would violate the company owner’s right to consent and this principle extends beyond religion.
In the United States there was a famous case in 2012 of a bakery (Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado) who refused to make a custom cake for a gay wedding. In this case, the baker refused to make the custom cake because of the baker’s own religious beliefs. The frustrated customers sued for discrimination, claiming that the baker refused to make a cake for them that the baker would make for anyone else, only because of their sexual orientation. This was wrong — if the gay couple had ordered a heterosexual wedding cake, the kind the baker actually did make for other couples, the baker probably would not have objected and if they did object it would have been a clear case of discrimination. If the baker did object to making a heterosexual cake for a gay couple, that would have been a clearer case of discrimination because the customer was interchangeable. Along the same lines, if a heterosexual couple had ordered a gay wedding cake, the baker probably would have refused that order as well. A non-religious business gets to choose what product to make, but does not get to choose who the customer is based on their religion because that would violate the customer’s right to equal opportunity — meaning to buy from that business they must profess to believe something they don’t, or profess not to believe something they do, or they simply don’t get to be customers.
The right to civil government does not mean that a student in school has a right to not learn about religions. A school teach may about religions but may not attempt to influence students to convert to a specific religion. The right to civil government means that public schools that provide counseling must not discriminate or attempt to convert students to a religion in counseling. If students wish to use religious counselors, they can seek them outside of school.
The right to civil government means that government cannot make religious holidays into mandatory time off. A government agency can require employees to request time off in advance and might notice that a significant number of employees requested to have time off on the same day. That employer can either deny the time off for some employees to ensure it can continue operating on that day, or grant the time off and try to have reduced operations on that day with employees who did not request time off, or if that won’t work furlough the other employees on that day so they get an unpaid day off unless they use their time off to get paid for that day.
The right to civil government does not mean that a person, claiming religious beliefs, is allowed to do things that are illegal. For example, if a person’s religious belief is that they should throw stones at other people who do certain sexual acts, they cannot legally practice that religious belief because throwing stones at people is a violent crime.
The government may enact various laws in accordance with the will of the people. However, if the government enacts any law that specifically prohibits a religious practice which does not violate any rights, a person may defend their right to civil government by suing the government to cancel that law. For example, if the government enacts a law that prohibits people from wearing a cross or a hat that would be unconstitutional because wearing a cross or a hat doesn’t hurt anyone and, if the cross or the hat are religious symbols. Conversely, and continuing the same example, the right to civil government also prohibits the government from enacting laws that require people to wear a cross or a hat.
The right to civil government does not mean that the government or any private organization must accommodate people or make exceptions to their policies due to a person’s religious beliefs. For example, if the military has a regulation that hair must be cut a certain way and that regulation is not based on a religion, a person who has a religious belief that they must let their hair grow out or cut it in some other way that does not meet the military’s regulation would not get an exception to that regulation. To be in the military, a person has to do things the way they are done in the military. The military, for its part, must not institute any religious practices. When military service is voluntary, a person whose religious beliefs prevent the person from getting a haircut or harming other people should not join the military. However, during a time of crisis when military service is mandatory, a person’s religious belief would not be a justifiable reason to avoid military service or to not comply with all military regulations.
Comparison to the United States:
In the United States of America, the right to civil government means the pledge of allegiance must revert to the prior form “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands — one nation, indivisible — with liberty and justice for all.” Notably, the words “under God” must be omitted because that is a specific religious belief, is not required for patriotism, and its inclusion in the national pledge of allegiance makes that pledge hypocritical because it both claims the nation is indivisible and includes divisive language, implying only God-believers can be patriots.
In the United States, the right to civil government means the motto “In God We Trust” must be replaced with something else. Surely wise and clever people can come up with something to replace it. To get that conversation started, here are a few suggestions: “Vigilance. Courage. Truth.” or “Give me liberty or give me death” or “Fighting for liberty since 1776”.
Everywhere that motto is currently displayed or rendered must be replaced, such as official seals and currency. The right to civil government means the currency of the country must not have references to religion. Believers have a right to believe, but putting religious phrases on official documents, including currency, is imposing that religion on others and violates their right to believe whatever they believe without someone, especially the government, imposing other religious beliefs on them.
In the United States of America, the right to civil government means Christmas cannot be on the federal holiday schedule. However, government agencies and schools can still close as they do during that day and surrounding days if a significant portion of the workforce requests time off. That’s a practical matter. Taking Christmas off the federal holiday schedule doesn’t mean Christians can’t observe it. Christians just need to ask for that time off, like anyone else, instead of imposing their religious holiday on everyone else. One might think a possible alternative would be that representatives of every religion (and atheists) are allowed to nominate one holiday of their own to be on the federal holiday schedule, in order to make it fair. However, this approach has multiple disadvantages. First, the federal holiday schedule might become crowded with that approach, and atheists would have to agree on what day would be theirs and why. Second, one can imagine a situation where one religion’s nominated day might be offensive to members of another religion. Third, imposing multiple religions on everyone is even farther away from right to civil government than imposing just one religion on everyone. The best course to uphold the right to civil government is to not impose any religion on anyone.
Comparison to the United Nations:
Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” The right to manifest one’s religion in teaching it to others ends where their right to not have a religion imposed on them begins. The right to practice one’s religion ends wherever that practice might violate the rights of another person or the laws enacted by government, so long as those laws have a reasonable purpose besides suppressing a specific religion.
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