Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The ACLJ vs. the ACLU

And the debate continues. In response to my email about the ACLU and the ACLJ, my online buddy wrote this:

The ACLJ isn't something I am overly familiar with, so I can't rightly judge what they would do in any given situation. However, I will take a stab at it, and say that, if they are indeed a Christian-based group, they would not support something that goes against their religious beliefs, in this instance that being homosexual marriage.

I went to the websites for the ACLU and the ACLJ, and this is what I found:

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is committed to insuring the ongoing viability of constitutional freedoms.

  • By specializing in constitutional law, the ACLJ is dedicated to the concept that freedom and democracy are God-given inalienable rights that must be protected.
  • The ACLJ engages in litigation, provides legal services, renders advice, counsels clients, provides education, and supports attorneys who are involved in defending the religious and civil liberties of Americans.

The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees:

  • Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
  • Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
  • Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
  • Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.

So both organizations claim to protect constitutional rights. But how does that work in the real world?

A student group wants to meet after school on campus. If the group is a Bible Study group, the ACLJ will defend their right to meet. But if the group is a Gay/Straight Alliance, the ACLJ will not defend their right to meet.

The ACLU will defend both groups with the same argument – if any student groups are allowed to meet on campus then the Bible Study and Gay/Straight Alliance groups should have the same rights.

And that is the difference between these two groups, and on a larger scale, between Conservatives and Liberals. Conservatives are fighting to maintain their rights, while Liberals are fighting to maintain the rights of all Americans. Liberals may abhor the positions of the KKK, or the bigoted "church" of Fred Phelps, but they support their right to hold such positions and to speak of them publicly.

Like the ACLU, I believe it is more important to live principles than to preach them. And that is why I am a Liberal.