Alabama’s top jurist is an idiot with blinders on. Not that this is likely to be a surprise to those of us familiar with life south of the nation’s waistline, but in this case we go from general assumption to documented proof.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has insisted publicly that freedom of religion applies only the God of Christianity, and therefore the establishment clause does not extend to other religions, such as Islam and Buddhism. This same fact-deficient and legally inaccurate statement has been known to drop from the lips of the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer; being in that kind of company makes the justice look pretty bad. Sadly, these are not the only people out there running around without their brains properly installed. It’s a popular lie on the right that America is a Christian nation and was founded as such, despite copious and public proof to the contrary. The truth is that we are a secular country with secular laws that apply to all citizens. Our religious freedom allows individuals to practice and promote any religion or no religion without government interference. Full stop. But back to the chief justice.
Most Americans, be they religious or not, agree on the importance of religious freedom being protected by the First Amendment, though they disagree about specifics. Should the government promote religion? Give special tax breaks to religion? Favor one religion over another? Favor religion over non-religion? My answers are no, no, no, and no, just like anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to constitutional law or the quagmire that would arise if any of those scenarios came about legally.
Justice Moore thinks differently. According to Moore, the government and the Supreme Court should define religion as his version of George Mason did: “The duties we owe to the Creator and the manner of discharging it,” meaning that we must act in the interest of God and Scripture, and that any unbelievers do not qualify as real citizens. Unfortunately, he, like many conservatives on the subject of religion in general and its intersection with government in specific, has cherry-picked his quote and failed to bring the full meaning that Mr. Mason was expressing. Here’s the full text of the quote from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, section 16 (full text here): “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.” The bolded part is especially important, and especially damning to his argument. Not only this, but Mr. Mason was assisted in writing the Declaration by James Madison, who ushered through the legislature the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a document that states “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” When a Founder sponsored a bill that makes your claim utter bullcrap, it’s a bad choice to be caught claiming that they intended for Christian supremacy. (By the way, the Declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson, and he listed it as one of his top three accomplishments for his tombstone. You know, just in case the coffin on this crap needed another nail.)
I would encourage Justice Moore, and all those who continue in this mistaken and frankly un-American attitude, to wake up, look around, and actually learn what the Founders said and wrote. Not what they’ve been TOLD these men said, what ACTUALLY happened. I guarantee they would find it an eye opening experience. They also might learn something by discovering who said this quote, and considering that person’s values: “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.” This path has been trod before, and will continue to be trod by the blind and intolerant, and it will ever lead its golden way to its inevitable destination.
Latest posts by Jason Francis (see all)
- Republicans vs Democrats: What A Difference One Letter Can Make - December 31, 2014
- Debunking 8 Conservative Talking Points About Abortion - November 22, 2014
- American Conservatives Are More Interested In Controversy Than Sane Policy - October 8, 2014