The state of Church & State

By Miles Keenlyside | Opinions Editor

Recently Georgia Representative Rick Crawford representing the 16th district announced that if he is re-elected this upcoming November, he would switch his party affiliations from Democrat to Republican. This is a phenomenon that is entirely normal, especially given the history of the Democratic Party here in Georgia. 

The Democratic Party has a rich history in Georgia, and has controlled a large amount of state and local political offices in the past. Since 2002, however, there has been a shift to the right in Georgia and the Republican Party has been in the Governor’s Mansion ever since. After all, even Sonny Perdue, our first Republican Governor since 1872, was a Democrat before he was inaugurated.

Representatives, senators and other public officials changing their party affiliations is certainly not unheard of, and often the transitions are rooted in political disagreements with the official party platforms.

Oftentimes politicians make the switch from Democrat to Republican as their radical idealism of youth fades, and they identify more with the jaded more fiscally responsible platforms offered by the right wing.

And that seems perfectly sensible. Disagreements with economic policy are a legitimate reason to split with a political organization of which you are a part. There are other reasons that seem less sensible.

Rick Crawford cited many reasons for his schism with the Democratic Party, perhaps a mounting number of reasons, but he cited one issue that pushed him over the edge: the Democratic Party of Georgia’s official endorsement of same-sex marriage.

I guess we can go ahead and give up on separation of church and state in Georgia. Mr. Crawford is a Sunday School teacher as well as a Representative, and I fully endorse his right to have the religious belief that same-sex marriage is wrong. I do not endorse his religious beliefs entering into his political persona.

If you are unable to reconcile your political beliefs and your religious ones, you have no place in politics. Not to say that politicians shouldn’t be allowed to be religious, but the office they hold is not a platform to broadcast their personal beliefs.

This is not Iran—we are not a religious state, and we do not need priests, clerics, druids, zoroastrians or any other individuals using our political system to support their faith.

The legal benefit of marriage for same-sex couples is a civil right. Denying civil rights is not a political platform. It’s just bigotry.