Posts Tagged “Separation of church and state”

'This is America ... founded by White Christians seeking religious liberty. ... Where people know their place. This is YOUR America! Keep it White and Christian!' / Christian Right Propaganda Posters: America as a Christian Nation, America as a White Nation / Photo Credit: Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesOne thing you learn about the Religious Right is that they’re consistent … stubbornly, ferociously, and even foolishly so. They remain locked in on ideas, no matter how absurd or idiotic they are, even long after they’ve been debunked or shown to be stupid or wrong. Former US Senator and GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is no exception to this rule. Nearly three years after he railed against separation of church and state, he’s still blustering and fuming moronically against it. As Right Wing Watch explains, he told a Religious Right conference that SOCAS is un-American, and even communist in nature (locally-cached article):

In a conference call with members of right-wing pastor E.W. Jackson’s STAND America that was posted online today, former senator Rick Santorum disputed the existence of the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, dismissing it as a Communist idea that has no place in America.

A listener on the call told Santorum that “a number of the things that the far left, a.k.a. the Democrat [sic] Party, and the president is pushing for and accomplishing actually accomplishes a number of the tenets of ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ including the amnesty, the elevation of pornography, homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, open borders, mass self-importation of illegal immigrants and things of that nature.” The likely presidential candidate replied that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution, but it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”

Rick’s Christofascist whine that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ [are] not in the U.S. Constitution” is a very old one, and while it’s literally true — a search of the Constitution and its amendments will in fact never turn up that phrase — it’s not true there’s no Constitutional basis for separation of church and state. The Constitution certainly does support it … e.g. Article VI paragraph 3, and the First Amendment. Moreover, the man who wrote the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment and its establishment clausesaid so, very clearly.

Rickie punctuated his comments later by bitching and whining about Barack Obama and race, mentioning that the president “cavorted with Al Sharpton.” I have no idea what that has to do with anything, but Rickie thought it was relevant. To something. Somehow. I guess. To be clear, I’m no fan of Sharpton myself; he’s a huckster, no doubt. But he is influential, without regard to whether or not he has any right to be, and he’s someone who needs to be dealt with, like it or not. So the president met with him — big fucking deal! The president meets with a lot of people. It doesn’t mean he does their bidding, nor does it mean he “cavorts” with them.

Now, one might ask why Rickie would insist that the U.S. doesn’t have separation of church and state, even after having been pounded for saying so years ago and having been revealed thereby as a moronic, childish buffoon? The answer lies in the psychopathological compulsion the Religious Right has toward “consistency.” The R.R. doesn’t take kindly to any kind of change in expression. They condemn it as “flip-flopping” and frequently turn on people who do it. It’s possible his chance to become the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 could be torpedoed instantly, should he ever say anything that contradicts his now-at-least-3-year-old stance against separation of church and state. So he’s forced to double down on it, rather than admit he was wrong.

P.S. I note the caller whose question triggered Santorum’s stupidity, is even more of an idiot than Rickie is. The Communist Manifesto, however, says nothing about “amnesty,” homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, or any of the other childish hang-ups cited. Like most people who reference that particular book in a negative way, the caller obviously has never actually read it.

Photo credit: Austin Cline, About.Com; Original Poster: National Archives.

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PsiCop graphic / “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men  to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward  with your Father who is in heaven.” ~Mt 6:1, NASBThe mayor of the Dallas-Ft Worth suburb of Flower Mound, TX has declared 2014 to be “the Year of the Bible.” As KXAS-TV in Ft Worth reports, this is problematic (WebCite cached article):

The mayor of Flower Mound is receiving a lot of attention after declaring 2014 the “Year of the Bible.”

Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden made the proclamation during a regularly scheduled city council meeting in the Dallas-area suburb last month.

“I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, Mayor of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, in Proclaiming 2014 to be the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Flower Mound, Texas, and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible,” Hayden said during the Dec. 16 meeting.

Here’s the station’s video report:

It appears Flower Mound isn’t exactly some backwater town in the wilds of Texas where everyone is a card-carrying, Bible-thumping member of some Protestant evangelical church. As the story explains, it’s much more cosmopolitan (in terms of religion) than that:

There are dozens of churches in Flower Mound, which has a population of more than 66,000 people. The majority of the churches are Christian-based, but at least five of the organized religions with places of worship in Flower Mound are not. There is an Islamic mosque, a Hindu temple, a Baha’i temple, a Zoroastrian church and a Jewish synagogue.

Well done, Yeronner, you’ve successfully alienated a bunch of your constitutents. Well done! You must be so proud!

Like any shifty Christofascist who’s been caught saying or doing something for Jesus that he shouldn’t have done, Hayden is veering all over the place trying to avoid responsibility for what he did and downplaying its SOCAS implications:

Hayden added that he is disappointed that the focus for some concerning the “Year of the Bible” proclamation has been on him and not, as he intended, on the teachings in the Bible.…

Hayden reiterated to NBC 5 Monday this proclamation was not an order on behalf of the municipal government, but was instead an action taken specifically and solely by him.

That last part is a lie, of course. I will repeat what he said when he made his proclamation (emphasis added):

“I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, Mayor of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, in Proclaiming 2014 to be the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Flower Mound, Texas, and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible,” Hayden said during the Dec. 16 meeting.

That’s right: He explicitly and overtly made this proclamation as Mayor of his town! Also — if you look at the video above, you’ll see Hayden made his proclamation with the Flower Mount, TX emblem as a backdrop. So when he told the reporter he did this as a private citizen and not as Mayor, he was lying. This little bit of disingenuity places Mayor Hayden squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Of course, Hizzonner also is disobeying his own Jesus. You see, merely by standing up and trumpeting his own reverence for the Bible, he’s engaging in the practice of “public piety,” which the founder of his own religion clearly and unambiguously forbid him ever to do:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:1-6)

It’s quite obvious to me that a lot of Christians like Hizzonner have a great deal of trouble with this particular passage. They ignore it because, let’s face it, what good is it to be an upright, dutiful Christian, if one doesn’t go around impressing others with how uprightly and dutifully Christian one is? So what if Jesus forbid that?

Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Mt 6:1, NASB.

Hat tip: Hypervocal.

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White House press secretary Dana PerinoFor a very long time, the Religious Right has contended (incorrectly, of course) that there’s no such thing as “separation of church and state” in the U.S. While they are correct when they say that phrase is not found in the Constitution or any of its amendments, they’re wrong when they claim it’s not even implied. No less an authority on the matter than the author of the First Amendment, James Madison, himself once explained this in writing:

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.

So this contention is factually incorrect.

Put more bluntly, they are lying about the Constitution.

Even so, despite being as obviously wrong as they are, they aren’t holding back. In fact, they’re going even a bit further. Texas governor Rick Perry, for example, recently stated openly that there is no such thing as “freedom from religion.” In other words, it is perfectly legal, as far as he’s concerned, for government to force a non-believer to adopt a religion.

In that same vein, a Rightist pundit — who’d been G.W. Bush’s last press secretary — used her virtual podium on Fox News to declare that atheists ought to leave the country, as the Raw Story reports, and her colleague Bob Beckel agreed (WebCite cached article):

Fox News host Dana Perino this week suggested that atheists should leave the country instead of trying to maintain the separation of church and state.

In a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Court, atheist lawyer David Niose argued that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the state’s constitution.

“I’m tired of them,” Perino complained on Wedneday [sic].…

“If these people really don’t like it, they don’t have to live here,” she added.

“Yeah, that’s a good point,” co-host Bob Beckel agreed.

Here’s video of this pleasant little exchange, courtesy of the Raw Story:

I’m old enough to recall all the “love it or leave it” talk that was common back in the 1970s. It was hurled most often at Vietnam war protesters. The implication is that Americans are required either to support whatever the US does — whether right or wrong — or shut up and leave the country. It’s been 40 years or so since then, and I’d thought people had gotten over that sort of thinking. I guess they haven’t?

The bottom line is, we have two Rightist pundits averring that non-believers should be forced either to swear the Pledge of Allegiance, including the “under God” phrase, or else be thrown out of the country. I can’t think of many better examples of religiofascism than this. Can you?

Hat tip: mepper, via Reddit.

Photo credit: fredthompson, via Flickr.

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In this file photo taken on Dec. 17, 2011, pedestrians walk past a Christmas display in Santa Monica, California. Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images file.We have yet another entry in the annual Christian whining session that is the putative “war on Christmas.” This one is taking place in Santa Monica, CA, and involves a court case being brought by churches there to get their sacred nativity onto city property. The AP via NBC News reports on their effort to use the courts to commandeer public property so they can proselytize (WebCite cached article):

Damon Vix didn’t have to go to court to push Christmas out of the city of Santa Monica. He just joined the festivities.

The atheist’s anti-God message alongside a life-sized nativity display in a park overlooking the beach ignited a debate that burned brighter than any Christmas candle.

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

The article relates the backstory here over Vix’s sign and the reason the city decided not to allow any holiday messages on city property. The churches claim their freedom of speech and worship has been wiped out in Santa Monica:

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee argues in its lawsuit that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn’t trump the Christians’ right to free speech.

But there’s no reason they need public land for this:

The city doesn’t prohibit churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or even staging a play about the birth of Jesus and churches can always set up a nativity on private land, Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in an email.

The churches’ problem, of course, is that they truly are free to put up all the nativities they want … on private land. In all the caterwauling over city-hall nativities that takes place every year around the country, not one Christian has ever been able to identify the exact reason why nativities must be on government land and cannot be on private land. The best they can say is something along the lines of, “We’ve always done it, so we should always be able to do it forevermore.” That, however, is fallacious reasoning; specifically it’s an appeal to tradition. That something has always been done — or that it has always been believed — cannot and will never make it right or grant it veracity. Just a few centuries ago, for example, slavery was a “tradition” that most societies permitted; but obviously we no longer think that way. Likewise, it was once thought that the sun revolved around the earth, and not the other way around. That they were “traditional” did not make slavery right, nor did it mean the geocentric model of the solar system was correct.

Fortunately the judge who heard the churches’ case was not taken in by their claims. She ruled that Santa Monica is within its rights not to allow seasonal displays on city property (cached). The churches will, no doubt, appeal this decision. But they will still be wrong when they claim that their religion requires nativities to be on only on city property and that their faith prohibits them anywhere else. All the sanctimonious whining, crying and bellyaching in the world can’t change that.

As I usually do in cases like this, I’m also going to point out that making a public spectacle of their desire to celebrate Christmas, is an unabashed — and unmistakable — violation of Jesus’ own injunction against any and all forms of public piety. I suggest they stick a crowbar into their precious Bibles, crack them open a bit, and read their own Jesus’ words on the subject:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6)

There, Christians … you’ve read it, now grow the hell up and just fucking do it already. OK?

Photo credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP – Getty Images, via NBC News.

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KLTV-TV / Freedom From Religious Foundation banner, in Henderson county TexasIt looks like the annual “war on Christmas” is starting up. That’s the periodic bout of sanctimonious Christofascist weeping and wailing about a supposed effort underway to abolish the celebration of Christmas in the US. Their problem is, no such effort exists. No one in the country is seriously trying to prevent Christians from celebrating Christmas, or any other holiday. What has been happening — and what Christianists object to — is an effort to prevent them from using government to promote Christmas as though it’s a requirement that everyone, Christian or not, celebrate it along with them.

The good Christian folk of the good Christian county of Henderson in the good Christian state of Texas have decided to take a stand in this annual (non-existent) “war on Christmas.” KLTV-TV reports they’ve decided not to allow an atheist banner on the county courthouse lawn (locally-cached article):

An East Texas county is denying an atheist organization’s request to display an anti-religious banner on the courthouse lawn this Christmas.

There’s a backstory here, which is as follows:

In fall 2011, the Henderson County Courthouse Nativity scene gained national attention when the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded the county take the display down or let them put their own display up.

Last December, a banner paid for by the Freedom From Religion Foundation was placed on the courthouse lawn. It read “there are no Gods” and that “religion is but myth.”

Just minutes later, Henderson County deputies took the banner down. Soon after, the Freedom From Religion Foundation started fighting to put it back up. A formal request to display the banner was submitted to the county earlier this year. This week, that request was officially denied.

“We did not feel that the banner was consistent with the theme of Christmas and our decorations that we have enjoyed for many years,” says Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.

What the good Christian folk of the good Christian county of the good Christian state of Texas have decided to place on their courthouse lawn, this year, is the very same good Christian nativity scene from last year:

In a matter of weeks, the Nativity scene display will sit on the courthouse lawn where pumpkins and hay bales are now. The other three corners of the courthouse lawn will adorn secular decor, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation says Henderson County is still violating the constitution.

They justify it with the following laughable idiocy:

The county remains firm that their variety of decorations keep them in compliance with federal law.

“Overall it is a secular display. We have everything from lights to Christmas wreaths to garland… a Santa house to Santa Clause, deer, elves and gnomes,” says [Henderson County Attorney Clint] Davis.

A display that contains a nativity scene — including the baby Jesus, the supposed founder of the Christian religion — cannot and will never be “overall secular.” No fucking way! To make such a claim is ridiculous on its face. Whoever says such a thing can’t fail to be aware that s/he is lying. This places attorney Davis, and the other good Christian folk of the good Christian county of Henderson in the good Christian state of Texas, squarely in my lying liars for Jesus club.

That an attorney would lie about this display, in order to rationalize breaking the law of the land, is unacceptable under any circumstance. That a judge would orchestrate the breaking of the law of the land, is even worse. Will these Christofascists stop at nothing in order to push their dour, fierce religionism on everyone else?

I close with a reminder to all the good Christians out there who love to make a big fucking deal of how they celebrate Christmas, that your own Jesus himself clearly and specifically ordered you never to engage in public displays of piety like this. It’s unbiblical of you to do it (see Mt 6:1-6 among other passages inside your own Bible). So just fucking cut the shit already, OK?

Photo credit: KLTV-TV.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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First Cathedral (Baptist), Bloomfield, CTIt took over two years, but the town of Enfield here in Connecticut finally resolved a lawsuit it brought on itself by holding its high school graduation in churches. The Hartford Courant reports on the settlement (WebCite cached article):

In a 6-3 vote, the school board decided Wednesday night to accept a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the school system’s practice of holding high school graduation ceremonies in a church.

The American Civil Liberties Union and another group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed the suit two years ago after the school board decided to hold graduation ceremonies for both Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School at First Cathedral in Bloomfield.

I’d blogged about this conflict, back when it erupted in spring of 2010. At the time litigation over this began, various Christianist legal outfits had promised the town and its Board of Education that they’d pay the legal fees, thus encouraging them to defend the lawsuit despite having no chance of prevailing. But I note, in the end, these promises proved bogus, because none of those groups are paying a dime:

The school board’s insurance provider, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, will cover the cost of the settlement up to $470,000, Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann said. The exact dollar amount of the settlement was not revealed.

I wonder if their Jesus taught these guys not to keep their word?

The Courant article includes the expected childish whining and bellyaching on the part of Christianists, both on the Board and in the town, who don’t like the vote and call the ACLU and AU “bullies.” Well … boo fucking hoo, you crybabies! What you were doing was unconstitutional, and you know it. If you had any integrity in the first place, you’d realize that, and would now show the courage to admit having been wrong. But you won’t, because you have no courage; you’re just juvenile religionists who can’t help but stamp and fume when someone dares thwart you.

Photo credit: Hartford Courant.

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Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Like a number of GOP candidates before him that I’ve blogged about, Rick Santorum, current darling of the Religious Right and a contender for the Republican nomination for president, has come out against the principle of separation of church and state. He made these comments on ABC This Week to George Stephanopoulos, who reports on the interview (WebCite cached article):

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said today that watching John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston in 1960 made him want to “throw up.”

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum said.

Actually, Rickie, we don’t live in a country like that! Like most Religious Rightists, he interprets “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom for religious people to use government as a weapon, to force everyone else to live according to their beliefs.” To the R.R., any effort by anyone to prevent them from pounding their religiosity into other people, is an impermissible impediment to their own religious freedom. He — and they — are also arguing a straw man. No one, to my knowledge, has ever said a religious person cannot run for or hold a political office because s/he is religious. Separation of church and state does not require that at all. There has never been any effort to remove religious people from office or prevent them from running.

It did not happen. It isn’t happening now. And it will never happen. Period. All the whining and bellyaching and railing about it, can never make it happen. To argue against it is foolish, since it’s non-existent. One may as well argue against pixies and unicorns too.

Santorum’s lie places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. I’m sure the former Senator will find himself in good company there.

It’s particularly troubling to see Santorum colorfully disparaging a speech that, arguably, opened the door for him — as the Catholic he is — to run for president. But his ignorance of history and his purposeful misstatement of what “separation of church and state” and “religious freedom” mean are not surprising.

I can’t think of any clearer indication than this, that Santorum is a dominionist, out to refashion the country into a Christocracy. What’s even scarier than a dominionist running for president, is that this particular dominionist is damned close to becoming the Republican nominee; only Mitt Romney stands in his way and the two of them are no longer very far apart.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com; original: National Archives.

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