Monday, April 04, 2016

Republican Religious Extremism and Self-Prostitution Intensifies

Tennessee state legislature

Just when you think Republicans cannot get any more insane and/or that efforts to self-prostitute themselves to the Christian Taliban cannot get any more outlandish, they rise to the challenge and make it clear that they hold religious freedom of anyone other than Christofascists in contempt and behave in a manner one would expect from Islamic zealots in the Middle East.  Years ago when I resigned from the Republican Party, my resignation letter cited the GOP's inability to grasp and accept the concept of separation of church an state.  In the intervening years, if anything, the Party has become even more extreme than I could ever have imagined.  Now, in Tennessee the Republicans in the state legislature want to make the Bible the state's official book.  Nashville's largest newspaper, the Tennessean is not amused.  Here are highlights from an editorial:

This is Tennessee, not Tehran. We are governed by the people, not the religious authorities.

If legislators truly care about religious liberty, they would vote against an ill-advised effort to endorse the Holy Bible as the official state book.

However, the theocrats in the Tennessee General Assembly have a good shot at getting their way.

The House passed the Bible bill last year, but the Senate wisely passed on it.This year, however, there might be enough votes in the Senate to approve it.

This, despite Attorney General Herbert Slatery's warning last year that such a bill could be ruled to be unconstitutional.

Turn only to Article I Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution and pay particular attention to the last clause:

"That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship."

Aside from the potential constitutional issues this presents, the bill, if passed by the Senate, should invalidate the false narrative that there is an attack on Christians' religious liberty.

That narrative has fueled bills, for example, that would allow counselors to reject potential clients as well as a short-lived attempt to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to allow discrimination

The Bible bill is clearly an attack on religious minorities, and secular, agnostic or atheistic people, who are also protected by the state and federal constitutions.

Lawmakers who support it are acting like the ayatollahs of the Legislature, dictating what beliefs are acceptable and  making Tennessee a laughingstock.

1 comment:

EdA said...

Although in principle I think that all citizens of legal age and plausibly sound mind should have the right to vote and to hold elected office, I can't help feeling that the authors of Tennessee's original Constitution had the right idea when they barred religious leaders from holding elected office.

It's been a LOONNGGG time since we've heard complaints from "conservatives" and reactionaries about "activist courts," and they sure weren't complaining when the Burger court ruled that Baptist ministers and other religious leaders can't be frozen out of public office.