Once again, our state legislature will need to do what could turn into a lot of damage control in hopes of correcting something that should've never happened in the first place.
Last week, Gov. Butch Otter ordered lawmakers back to Boise for a special legislative session to address just one issue -- a child support enforcement bill that failed by just one vote. They're due back to the state capitol May 18.
Without the bill's passage, the state's child support enforcement system could simply fall apart unless the state comes into compliance with the federal law by June 12. The loss of $46 million in federal payouts would directly affect an estimated 155,000 people in this state.
Idaho and other states were required to pass the act by the end of their legislative sessions this year or would lose federal funds used to track and collect payments from parents who live in one jurisdiction but owe child support in another. It sought to bring the United States into compliance with the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support -- an international treaty designed to enforce child support rulings across borders in 80 countries.
Although the bill passed through the state Senate, the problem surfaced after Sheryl Nuxoll, a Cottonwood Republican, testified that federal regulations incorporated an international agreement regarding the child support payments that would subject the state to Sharia law.
What utter nonsense!
Had Nuxoll bothered to do any homework, she would've discovered that those fears were completely false. None of the nearly 80 countries involved in the treaty fall under Sharia law.
Instead, what happened is that she and eight other representatives decided to "shoot from the hip" and voted against the bill.
Apparently, this must be a new way of doing business at the state capitol -- a "shoot, ready, aim" mentality.
It seems like some state lawmakers are growing more paranoid or just intolerant when it comes to certain religious followings.
In recent weeks, a former Muslim turned Christian pastor warned a crowd at a northern Idaho Republican Party event about the threat of Muslims coming into Idaho. From my perspective, the timing of the speech doesn't appear to be mere coincidence but a deliberate attempt to ramp up the anti-Muslim bandwagon.
Then there was a story in a Republican central committee newsletter from Bonneville County that warned Idahoans that Muslims were "infiltrating" the state and would "be ready to rise up and kill" non-Muslims. The story later prompted an apology from the author of the article.
And we can't forget an attempt by a northern Idaho Republican organization that actually considered a measure aimed at designating Idaho a Christian state. That idea was later voted down.
Meanwhile, three state senators showed their intolerance for other religious followings after they refused to attend the chamber's daily invocation presented by a Hindu cleric. They didn't come onto the Senate floor until the prayer ended.
Nuxoll went on the record saying she believed the United States was a Christian nation and that Hinduism was based on false gods. Apparently, she's perfectly content with having the legislature's chaplain -- a Christian -- presenting the opening prayer.
During my Air Force career, I had the distinct privilege of serving in a number of communities across the United States as well as installations in Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. I had a number of friends that followed many religious followings. Many were Christians. Some were Muslims. Others were Jewish or Buddhists. A handful were atheists, agnostics and pagans.
For the record (in case anyone really cares), I'm Catholic.
Despite our respective followings, my friends and I all agreed in the best of terms that the most important rule in life was to follow the Peter Principle -- to treat one another with dignity and respect. On the occasions that we talked about religion, we often discovered that there were a number of parallels among them, meaning that we are all bound by a common thread.
So if I can see this, why can't our state lawmakers? After all, they took an oath to represent the interests of all who live, work and play in this state.
Instead, what I'm seeing is a growing list of incidents in which some lawmakers are growing intolerant of anything that contradicts their religious following. It seems that they are totally against anything dealing with religions like Islam but don't have any objections of imposing something that appears to be the Christian version of Sharia Law.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd really hate to be right in this case.
Let's just hope that cooler heads prevail when the legislature returns this month to iron out this child support law. Failing to reach a reasonable and educated agreement would simply be another embarrassment.
-- Brian S. Orban