A little over an hour up Interstate 49 from here in Lafayette lies the town of Pineville, LA on the north bank of the Red River. As the flat rice fields of Acadiana give way to the rolling prairies, extensive pine forests and small hills of central Louisiana, Pineville sits across the river from Alexandria which is the seat of Rapides Parish.
For the sake of clarification, Alexandria and Pineville are not in Acadiana, which is a collection of parishes (known as counties elsewhere) that are predominantly Catholic and encompass much of the coastal area to the west of the Atchafalaya Swamp. The lines dividing regions aren’t exact and are up for interpretation depending on who is trying to sell you a tray of spicy, hot boiled crawfish or bag of trinkets in a tourist trap.
From Alexandria and Pineville on north, you find yourself in the Bible Belt of Louisiana where the population tends to be more Baptist and even more staunchly conservative than their Catholic cousins to the south.
Just as an example, you can drive up to a number of daiquiri shops within a few minutes of my house here in Acadiana and pull away with a cold alcoholic beverage in your hand. It is perfectly legal – so long as you don’t pull off the piece of Scotch tape that is supposed to keep you from sipping on a margarita while you drive. Trust me, that won’t fly anywhere else in the United States that I am aware of.
In comparison, until last year, Pineville was a dry city where you couldn’t legally buy alcohol. Want a plate of ribs, boiled crawfish or some good old southern soul food? No problem. Want a cold beer to wash it down? Wasn’t gonna happen until January 2014.
So it is really not a surprise that here in the Bible Belt of Louisiana, you would have candidates running for judge on the city court talking about putting the Ten Commandments up on display on public property. Here’s the video from Lauren Saucier, a candidate for Pineville city judge.
I get that the Ten Commandments aren’t a bad set of rules to incorporate your personal life around, but as a set of religious rules, they do not belong as part of a public display unless you want to include all religious rules. This idea of inclusion is something I am sure Lauren Saucier has no intention of doing if elected a judge in Pineville, especially if it means including religious ideas from Islam, Buddhism or others.
A lot of people will point and say “well, that’s Louisiana. What else do you expect from a state full of illiterate rednecks?”, but this is a part of the last gasp strategy of the conservative bloc. Look at Ohio, where a bill has been introduced to curtail the teaching of the scientific process. Or how about down to Terrebonne Parish where Lenar Whitney, the Cajun Sarah Palin, is running for Congress?
The religious right isn’t going down without a fight. In small towns and cities across the South, politicians aren’t accepting progress. Instead, they’re doubling down on God, guns and religion. They’re pandering to the ever-shrinking demographic who actually believe America was founded on Christianity, and that somehow, the South will rise again.
Lauren Saucier’s campaign isn’t unique; there are many candidates, especially in the Tea Party who believe that conservative Christianity should still dictate our justice system.
I’ve repeatedly said that local politics are just as important as national politics, and Lauren Saucier is a prime example of why we need to vote in every single election. If we want to turn back the religious right and the Tea Party on the national level, it has to be done at the local level as well.
Watch her campaign ad below:
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