The Common Good

Pat Robertson: What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been

Pat Robertson at Jerry Falwell's funeral, 2007. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images
Pat Robertson at Jerry Falwell's funeral, 2007. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. A million monkeys typing for a million years would eventually produce Shakespeare.

And once in a blue moon, Televangelist and 700 Club head Pat Robertson and I agree on something.

When asked about his position on the decriminalization of marijuana, Robertson said the following:

“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.”

Umm, can I get an “Amen?”

Where Robertson and I diverge is when he starts placing blame for this stricture. Not surprisingly, he finds a way to blame the liberals in Washington DC for the overreaching controlled substance law. He claims we, as a society, are “turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws,” and that there’s a “punitive spirit” with the democratic agenda.

He must not be hanging out with the same democrats I do, because most of them agree with the idea of decriminalizing marijuana.

It seems to me that, based on professed political agendas from both sides of the aisle, this one should be a slam dunk. There’s a groundswell among states to take this matter into their own hands, which should appeal to the “states rights” advocates on the rights. And the idea of keeping government from legislating morality should hold sway with most on the left.

So mark it on the calendar, kids. Pat Robertson and I fall on the same side of this issue.

I suppose it’s not surprising that government and politics make this more complicated than it really seems like it needs to be. The whole marriage debate serves as precedent for this tendency to muck up the waters.

The argument rages every election season about gay marriage rights. States seems content to take this on at their own level of government, yet those on the right who claim to advocate for smaller federal reach seem to suffer from legislative amnesia when it comes to this one.

But why not take it a step further and end the debate for good? Why is the government in the business of recognizing marriages anyway? The power to grant civil unions makes sense for government to maintain, but marriage, it seems, is a religious ritual. And there’s a fairly significant consensus among voters to grant civil unions to same-sex couples. So limit governmental reach to civil unions, and afford everyone who has them (same sex partnerships included) the same rights the rest of us enjoy.

Again, this should appeal to small government, states rights advocates on the right, while supporting the more affirming agenda of social equality on the left.

Then if churches choose to recognize marriage for same-sex couples, they can. If not, so be it. And those who feel marginalized by their decision to exclude based on sexual orientation should not feel compelled to support their institutions. And those who do determine that it’s within their calling to ordain same-sex marriages do so as a ceremonial gesture, which is on the same level as all other marriages, absent any government authority.

Is it just me, or are these hot-button issues made more complicated for the sake of political theater, rather than for the betterment of the society the government supposedly serves?

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