Category Archives: History

Twenty Years Later The Ohio State Motto Is Still Religious

Posted on by
image of Former Ohio Governor George Voinovich poses in 1998 with the state seal and motto he had installed at the Statehouse
Former Ohio Governor George Voinovich poses in 1998 with the state seal and motto he had installed at the Statehouse

While cleaning out some old files, I came across a 1998 newspaper clipping that opposed the use of the Ohio state motto, ‘With God All Things Are Possible‘, as a lawn decoration at the statehouse. ACLU of Ohio v. Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board was the first separation of church and state case I followed closely. I published handcrafted web pages that included some thoughts about the case and the text of newspaper clippings from the time. Even 20 years later, the Ohio state motto is still religious.
Continue reading

Selective Amnesia Around Religious Freedom

Posted on by
official image of Ted Cruz
‘Reverend’ Senator Ted Cruz

The next act of religious conservatives against same-sex marriage, after the US Supreme Court decision, included claiming ‘religious freedom’ to justify continued opposition to it and trying to enact laws allowing them to ignore the court decision. Yet when people like me bring up the use of ‘religious freedom’ also being used to oppose the civil rights struggle for blacks back in the 60s, these same ‘Doctors of Theology’ claim amnesia and say the Bible doesn’t support racism. Their amnesia is at least disingenuous if not dishonest.

David Simms, writing at Godless in Dixie, notes:

That’s why it’s so funny (and also disheartening) to see people like Ted Cruz try to weasel their way out of explaining how their ongoing crusade against homosexuality is “totally different” than the fight against desegregation which their political forbearers waged in the not-so-distant past.

Even if Cruz believes that Falwell and Jones were relying on a “misinterpretation” of scripture to support racism, it is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is that these people had at the time a sincerely held belief that their position was scripturally sound, in the very same way that those who want to discriminate today on the basis of “religious freedom” have a sincerely held belief that their position is scripturally sound.

The arguments are the same.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, in November of 2015, Ted Cruz held a “religious liberty” conference at…wait for it…Bob Jones University. Ted Cruz claims that there is no religious backing for the notion that interracial marriage is wrong. Yet, he hosts a religious liberty conference at the very same university which took their case all the way to the Supreme Court to insist that they have the religious liberty to ban interracial marriage.

The irony is palpable.

Religious Freedom Is Under Attack!…Again?

Back in 1983, Bob Jones University lost a court case where it claimed “religious freedom” to base racist school policy that prohibited interracial dating. The IRS decided to revoke their tax exemption because of the racism.

The US Supreme Court wrote:

“Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education . . . which substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on [the University’s] exercise of their religious beliefs.”

As long as a government law or policy isn’t forcing a religious group to change its beliefs then the use of “religious freedom” to ignore the law or policy is ethically wrong.

Same-sex people getting married isn’t forcing those who dislike same-sex marriage to like that kind of marriage. You are still free to hate same-sex marriage or hate homosexuality but the tradition of rights in this country is based on a neutral or secular view point.

If you try to get laws passed to legally discriminate against gay couples or other LGBTQ people then you are trying to use the force of the state to force your religious beliefs on others. That is also ethically wrong and anti-American.

Justice Antonin Scalia Is Consistent, He Still Doesn’t Know What Separation Of Church And State Means

Posted on by
image of Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Antonin Scalia

About once a year or so, Justice Antonin Scalia gets in front of a Catholic school assembly and tells the students that there is no constitutional tradition that says the state must be neutral on religion or free of religion. At least he is consistent. He is consistently wrong about separation of church and state.
Continue reading

Is This The Last Chapter Of The Mt. Soledad Cross Saga?

Posted on by

image of theMount Soledad CrossIt was reported last week that the Federal government passed a law that allowed the land underneath the Mount Soledad Cross in San Diego to be sold to a private Christian front group. The sale seems to bring an end to a 26 year court battle to have the cross removed from a public park. The case and end result shows how hard some religious conservatives will fight for their privilege and for their symbols. It is a sad day for the 1st Amendment.
Continue reading

The Difference Between Religious Freedom And Religious Freedom

Posted on by
painting of The Puritans landing in America
The Puritans

In the national debate over religious freedom and Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed in some states, it’s important to define our terms. Religious freedom means one thing to religious conservatives and another thing for progressives who support church and state separation. I don’t know if it’s good to know the debate has been going on since the founding of this country.
Continue reading

Marriage Has Been Redefined Before

Posted on by

crowd shot of Same-sex marriage protests in 2013One of the conservative talking points in opposition to same-sex marriage is that the courts shouldn’t redefine marriage. They claim it has always been between a man and a woman. The problem is marriage has been redefined before, several times. A recent redefinition even contradicts some religious conservative beliefs.
Continue reading