The blood from the gaping wound inflicted by the Supreme Court on the First Amendment with its Town of Greece v. Galloway ruling, was not even dry yet, when Roanoke County Supervisor Al Bedrosian proposed excluding non-Christian prayer from pre-meeting invocations.
The Roanoke Times reports Bedrosian’s reasoning, if it can be called that:
I think America, pretty much from Founding Fathers on, I think we have to say more or less that we’re a Christian nation with Christian ideology, If we’re a Christian nation, then I would say that we need to move toward our Christian heritage.
Satanists are already lining up to offer prayers to Beelzebub, but according to Bedrosian, “The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard.”
Um, yes, it really does. That’s what “freedom” means. Everyone has it. Equally. Period. The First Amendment guarantees it.
Contrary to Bedrosian, contrary to Tony Perkins, religious freedom is owned in equal quantity by every American.
He says, “If we allow everything … where do you draw the line?”
Well, that’s the point. You don’t. There is no line. All religions are equal before the law, the only place where such distinctions matter.
If Bedrosian is free to think that his religious is more equal than others, atheists are equally free to say no religion at all matters, and Satanists that their religion is equal to, or better than, Bedrosian’s.
And of course, Bedrosian is wrong about the whole “Christian nation” thing as well. The Founding Fathers never said, or even implied, such a thing, and Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli is explicit in its denial of the United States as a Christian nation:
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.
It was such a small step from allowing government-sponsored prayer to excluding non-Christians, and it is an equally small step from excluding non-Christians to excluding the wrong type of Christians. We have already seen Rick Santorum say that mainline Protestants are not really Christian:
[W]e look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.
It won’t be long, with that sort of thinking in place, before your average ELCA-type Lutheran finds he is not allowed to pray before a town council meeting. If, as Santorum says, mainline Protestants are under the influence of Satan, their prayers will be no more welcome than those of Satanists.
Mainstream Christians need to take notice. Much is made of a supposed “Judeo-Christian” tradition (by Religious Right figures like Rick Santorum), but in suggestions like this, one sees how little the “Judeo” means to conservative Christianity, because not only are Satanic prayers excluded, and Muslim, and Hindu and Pagan – but Jewish.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has sent a letter to the board, advising it that their proposal violates the Supreme Court’s May 5 ruling:
In vowing to discriminate against non-Christians, Supervisor Bedrosian ignores what the Supreme Court actually said in Galloway,” the letter says. “Although upholding the challenged prayer policy, the Court also made clear that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits legislative bodies from excluding non-Christian prayer givers or otherwise discriminating in selection.
But then they were told, along with everyone else. that allowing sectarian prayer at all violated the First Amendment.
Their attitude then was “so what?” The Supreme Court agreed: so what, indeed?
The First Amendment has already been violated by the Cinco de Mayo Massacre, and the Religious Right would violate it again – and again, to get its way, and there is no guarantee the Supreme Court would not simply wink at them as they do.
It is no secret at all that the Religious Right from its inception has desired to impose a pseudo-Christian theocracy on the American people based on a heretical atrocity they insist is orthodox Christianity, but one which imposes a weaponized Jesus in place of his actual teachings.
This is precisely what the Founding Fathers sought to forbid.
As AU executive director Barry Lynn said, “This is why the decision is so troubling, and I can imagine we will be seeing a lot of ‘Christians only’ talk from local boards.”
They will be spreading like hell-fire.
Photo from columbiafavs.com
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.