From Burning Bushes to Crying Babies

by TFN

For everyone who thought the culture warriors on the religious right would take a back seat at the Texas Legislature during this once-a-generation budget crisis, ladies and gentlemen, we give you exhibit A:

During last week’s debate in the Texas Senate over the “sonogram bill” — legislation that would require a doctor show a sonogram and play the heartbeat of the fetus to women seeking an abortion — Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, offered a little nugget that makes it clear that his bill has less to do with “empowering women” with information (as he has claimed) than imposing his personal religious beliefs on women in the state.

While responding to a question from another senator, Patrick was briefly interrupted by a crying baby in the audience. Here’s what he said:

You know, so often in life we try to do things on our timing — there’s the hand of God right there, with the cry of a baby who says, ‘vote for this bill, let’s get it moving. Let’s get the 24 suspended, 21 votes suspended. But life is about God’s timing not our timing. This bill wasn’t right in 2007 and it obviously wasn’t right in 2009. This is God’s time to pass this bill.

You can also watch the video below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvvx8isaU7I]

TFN takes no position on this bill; we do not advocate on issues of reproductive rights. But we do have a position on politicians who see faith primarily as a weapon to attack those who disagree with them. We believe the cynical use of faith to advance a political agenda is both corrosive to democracy and shows profound disrespect toward the diversity of religious opinions in this state.

As with many self-righteous Texas politicians before him, Sen. Patrick has decided that appropriating God to score political points and smear his opponents is good politics. And maybe it will work in the short term. But we should all be nervous when the power of government is used to privilege the personal religious opinions of one person or group. That’s precisely why the Founders separated religion and government in this country in the first place.