More Legislative Perversions at the Expense of Taxpayers
image attribution: Brandon Mruk
My last blog post reported on anti-science legislation undermining the teaching of evolution and climate change in public school science classes, so I figured a good segue would be to highlight other bills inspired by radical Christians because, say what you want about right wingers – which most outspoken Republicans seem to be these days – one thing they’ve got going for them is that their determination knows no bounds when it comes to attempting to inflict the rest of us with their personal religious beliefs.
Notwithstanding the fact that such incantations have been ruled against by the highest court in the land, Indiana’s SB 23 would provide for the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. That particular version died in committee, but SB 2633, a similar bill, was recently signed into law by (big surprise) Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi. Critics say this law reinstates school prayers at public events before a captive audience, so look for the repercussions of this law in the courts – again.
A bill that seeks to institutionalize unlawful behavior in the same genre is North Carolina’s SB 138, which would allow elective credits for Bible classes. Besides violating our First Amendment rights to church/state separation, critics say this would divert funds from the state’s public high schools. But I’m not so sure this bill is such a bad thing since the Bible is often credited with creating more atheists than anything else – so maybe it truly is a “good book.” It is likely for this reason Republican Stan Bingham limited study of the Old and New Testaments to certain topics. Why? Christians would probably skip over such gems as (one of my personal favorites) Exodus 21:17: “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” (KJV Bible).
Speaking of cherry-picking, Christian sects rallied behind now-dead House Joint Resolution 494 in the hopes of establishing a state religion. HJR 494 declared the Constitution’s separation of church and state provision applies only to the federal government. Apparently North Carolina Republicans’ state of denial is officially over and they are starting to realize the Founding Fathers meant it when they said no government-sponsored religion. Therefore, instead of trying to sell us on the false notion that our country is based on the Christian religion, they have decided to defy the wishes of our Founding Fathers like any true patriot would.
Other red states have similar legislation, but don’t expect these bills to go anywhere. Supporters link such rights to the Tenth Amendment, which gives powers to the states not specifically delegated by the Constitution to the federal government. But since the ban against government-sponsored religion is expressly granted to federal law, which trumps state law per the Fourteenth Amendment, their premise is ludicrous, to put it mildly.
The religion bills come as some Republican-led states seek to separate themselves from the federal government, primarily on the issues of guns and Obamacare, say analysts. Never mind that few dispute our basic Second Amendment right to bear arms and that the United States has finally joined the rest of the civilized world in providing its citizens universal health care. Never underestimate the power of Republicans to vote against their own best interests…
Unfortunately, this is just a sampling of in-your-face-legislation trampling on the rights of those not subscribing to fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Legislation concerning women and gays warrants a whole other series of blog posts. What can be done besides voting and speaking out at hearings and on editorial pages, etc.? Bills should finally be introduced that make politicians accountable. This should include not only the costs incurred in preparing and processing legislation that violates the “Supreme Law of the Land,” but also from the litigation resulting from such bills that have made it to the books, in addition to the costs of turning our children into misinformed citizens. It should not be left to taxpayers to foot the bill for the legislative perversions of politicians. And with sociological studies showing the most religious nation in the industrialized world to be the most dysfunctional of its cohorts, surely it is time to put an end to U.S. lawmakers proposing legislation based on their (so far always) Christian religions.