I am going to start this off by saying that I love my state. Texas has some of the greatest culture anywhere in the US. You can find people of every color , religion and orientation here, and it makes this state beautiful (Plus the food is fucking amazing). Is it perfect, hell no. Texas’ spiral down into political stupidity started in 1861. It’s had it’s shinning moments when things looked like they were gettin’ better, but then good ol’ stupidity got a hold of us and dragged us down again. As I have learned while being a Liberal/Democrat (Sometimes Green) Atheist living in Texas, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst when it comes to Texas politics.
Which brings me to this post.
While going through my Twitter feed (which is where I usually get my news from, I follow a lot of local, national and global news sources) I read this little gem from my home state:
Here, let me just give you the first little bite:
Texas’ attorney general, who faces an ethics investigation for advising government officials they could deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, backed Republican lawmakers Wednesday who want new religious objection measures and new scrutiny on city equal rights ordinances.
Although a top aide to Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton told a Senate panel the state would likely be sued if new laws explicitly let public officials deny same-sex marriage licenses, the state’s top prosecutor encouraged Republican leaders to “protect” people from what he called religious punishment.
“Religious liberty is the first freedom established in the Bill of Rights, and the moral bedrock upon which our nation has been built,” Paxton said in a statement released after the meeting.
Now, I have inherited a trait from my grandmother in which I will yell profanities at inanimate objects like the target of my discontent (or the object itself) can actually hear me. So, after a long tirade of profane objections to another one of my state’s epic blunders. I decided to post about it vs. yell at my Nexus 6.
The one thing every conservative loves to quote and go to when equality, or anything LGBT related, comes up is the first amendment. Like Mr. Paxton says here: “Religious liberty is the first freedom established in the Bill of Rights…”, he is correct that it is the first in the list of freedoms listed in the bill of rights. What no conservative likes to go into is the establishment clause of the first amendment, instead what they run for is the free exercise clause of the first amendment. Even this is misused by conservatives, because it doesn’t give people the right to discriminate.
The Free Exercise Clause protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest.
“Run afoul of public morals”, I would think seclusion, discrimination and bigotry is most afoul of our public morals these days; however people want to claim this “religious liberty” as a free pass to not do things that they do not want to do because of their religion. Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. You are granted the “right to practice [your] religion as [you] please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest.” This means you can be a Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindi, or Satanist ; however you have to do things like file a tax return even if your invisible imaginary friend says not to, and you cannot be a pedophile or rob a bank every 2nd Thursday, even if your dear and fluffy lord demands that you do so. That’s what runs afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest means. Not selling a cake or a pizza to a LGBT person isn’t religious liberty, it’s weaponizing your faith, it’s discrimination, and it’s not covered under the 1st Amendment.
Plus, Religious Liberty as it is wielded by these “conservative bible-thumpers” (as I like to call them) doesn’t even measure to the legal standing that the government can allow due to the establishment clause. So, conservative religious liberty is a constitutional contradiction.
Under the “Lemon” test, government can assist religion only if (1) the primary purpose of the assistance is secular, (2) the assistance must neither promote nor inhibit religion, and (3) there is no excessive entanglement between church and state.
Religious Liberty, as stated by conservatives, fails on all 3 benchmarks. It’s not secular, it does promote one religion over another, and it does cause a pretty huge entanglement of church and state. So, the idea of “Religious Liberty” (as defined by conservatives) is nothing more that a lump of bullshit.
However, here is one thing that isn’t a myth. It’s the reason that they run to the Free Exercise Clause and all but completely ignore the Establishment Clause. There is one thing that the Establishment Clause guarantees everyone.
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
“…It prohibits the government from preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.”
That’s right, the first amendment also grants you freedom FROM religion. The Founding Fathers were of extremely different religious backgrounds and philosophical positions on religion. Thomas Jefferson actually re-wrote the bible , rarely attended church, and took an almost Deist view to Christianity. Hell, he was the driving force for having a dividing wall to separate church and state. Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason, a Deist, a follower of Voltaire & Enlightenment and allegedly a member of the Hell Fire Club. He made his own virtues, his own beliefs and, like Jefferson, they were very unorthodox. The Father of the American Revolution Thomas Paine was highly critical of religion, especially Christianity, and took a very unorthodox view of religion. James Madison, The Father of the Constitution, was damn near an atheist because he hated religion.
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.
[Letter to William Bradford Jr. April 1 1774]”
So, just these 4 examples show you that this nation was not founded on Christian values, but secular values, and that the conservative view of Religious Liberties is just a delusion. These men had left England because of the “Religious Liberties” that the Church of England and the Monarchy were taking. That is why this country is founded as a secular nation, dividing church and state, not promoting one over the other.
*Sigh* (Takes a deep calming breath)
It just pisses me off to no end when I hear someone (usually a republican, and usually a conservative) say that the United States is a “Christian Nation”. Not because I am an atheist, but because it is a false statement that people of ignorance are believing. It is almost like they believe Jesus himself fought off the British in 1776 along with Moses and Noah as his wing men in their heavenly F-16s while Skynard played in the background. The only two times religion is mentioned in the Constitution, is during the 1st Amendment when it is being discussed and that is it. There are no mentions of g-d, Jesus or anything remotely Christian anywhere in the entire document. As a matter of fact, in 1793 colonial preacher John M. Mason actually spoke out against the way the Constitution of the United States was written as too secular and didn’t give any mention to g-d.
“…very Constitution which the singular goodness of God enabled us to establish, does not so much as recognize his being! … From the Constitution of the United States, it is impossible to ascertain what God we worship; or whether we own a God at all … Should the citizens of America be as irreligious as her Constitution, we should have reason to tremble …”
(this is just a good read on this subject: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-crawford/america-is-not-a-christian-nation_b_7750002.html )
Finally, there is this: The Barbary Treaties 1786-1816 Treaty of Peace and Friendship (Aka: The Treaty of Tripoli).
This was a peace treaty signed between the newly formed United States Government and the Muslim privateers and pirates of Barbary Coast (Tripoli, Algiers, Morocco and Tunis) around North Africa. I am going to place Article 11 here for you to read:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Here it is, stated in black and white and in plain English. We are not a Christian Nation in any sense. We are not a theocracy. No Jesus in his heavenly F-16. We do not (or should not) make legislation based on Christian (or any religious) values, but on humanitarian values and common sense. So, while you have the right to openly practice your religion, you do not get to oppress and discriminate another person with it because of so called “Religious Liberties”. Your “Liberties” as you are claiming are a
myth lie that has been handed down to you by people that want you to rally to their cause, their platform, and help line their pockets. You are being used and you are using your faith (that you claim is based on love) as a weapon to hurt other people by discriminating, shaming and by helping make laws that are harmful to others. You do not have this right, this so-called “Religious Liberty”, you never did.
So, knock it the fuck off.