State legislators are a strange and varied lot. They have risen out of the local government in which their chief role was to determine where new traffic lights should be placed around their district and listening to people complain about their high property taxes. At their position as a state level leader, they must make decisions regarding policy and issues. One would think that with the seriousness of this position, state legislators must be incredibly well educated and well informed, that they study the potential outcomes of every bill they consider before making a decision on how to cast their vote.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a great respect for state legislators. Some of my favorite people are state legislators. I appreciate the insight they have, their willingness to participate in the sausage-making process that is law making, and their persistence in doing what they believe is best. I’m thankful that they are willing to make great personal sacrifices in order to serve the public good.
Sometimes, though, they really need to reconsider legislation they present.
Take, for example, Kansas House Bill 2234 that would prevent professors and other university employees from using their official titles in letters to the editor in which they comment on lawmakers, the governor, or other elected officials. This bill prohibits these professionals from using a title they have earned that will lend credibility to their statement. Granted, every word that flows from the pen of a college professor is not necessarily honest or even wise, but knowing why this person’s letter would be worth reading and what mindset they might have on an issue can often be found in their job title. If, for example, I know that the person writing the letter is a liberal professor at a local liberal university and he is criticizing a conservative lawmaker, then I might better be able to resist his liberal dogma. Of course, every job title does not equate to a specific political philosophy. This should not be used to overgeneralize, but can be used as a starting point to assess the writer and why he or she may have the opinion they do.
Then there is Montana House Bill 365 which would make yoga pants, and any other clothing that outlines your body, illegal. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this bill. I also do not like revealing or tight clothing worn in public. If funds permitted it, I would purchase billboard space and advertise that “leggings are NOT pants” all over my home state. It is little surprise that we have oversexed elementary school students when clothing designers gear their advertising toward them by using under dressed superstars.
However, it is simply not the place of our government to regulate what clothing we wear or purchase for our children. This should be the role of parents and churches, not elected leaders. This is a matter of self-governance. Because my children saw my husband and me dress appropriately, they learned that some clothing was appropriate and some was not, and they didn’t waste their time walking downstairs in the morning with anything they knew I wouldn’t like. I governed my family without the help of elected officials. Consequently, my children are well respected in the community by adults and peers. If parents, families, and churches will step up and do the job, we won’t have a need to consider laws of this nature.
Then there is the Tennessee legislator who presented a bill that would make the Bible the TN State Book. I love the Bible. However, making the Bible the state book is pushing things a bit. I enjoy reading my Bible because it is my choice. At every opportunity, I am willing to share my faith with others. But even Jesus Christ did not push himself on people. He offered eternal life, healing, peace, and more all free for the taking, but He never required that anyone follow Him. Freedom of choice – people can choose to follow Christ and receive His gifts and blessings, or they can choose not to follow.
I feel fairly confident in saying that nearly everyone in Tennessee (and probably most other states) has heard of the Bible. Some love it, some hate it, and some don’t care one way or the other. But to make this wonderful book the “state book of TN” is an area better left untouched. The Bible is a writing of the beliefs and stories that establish the Christian doctrines. Similarly, the Qur’an is a writing of the beliefs and stories that establish the Islamic doctrines. So Christian, how would you feel if the Qur’an became the state book? How can we look at our beloved First Amendment to the US Constitution that supports the idea of religious freedom (a concept granted to us not by man, but by God) and say that people of faiths other than Christianity just have to accept that we got our law passed before they did?
The shoe hurts on the other foot, doesn’t it?
These three examples are not the only legislation that needs reexamination. Concerned citizen, please look at the legislation being considered in your state this year. Encourage friends to help you (some states present 1500 bills for consideration each year, you cannot do this alone!) and see what it taking place in your capitol. You can’t fix it if you don’t know it is happening and you won’t know what is happening unless you do some homework. It is not easy, citizenship is never easy. But if we are to turn our nation around, it will start in our state and local governments. It will start with people just like you.