In this episode Doug talks to Nick Little, Legal Director of the Center for Inquiry, about several recent federal court decisions that ignore science and logic to allow churches to ignore public health orders during this pandemic. Where is the irreparable harm from a limit to the number of people allowed to particpate in an in-person church service. Nick explains how this all started with the Hobby Lobby contraceptive case and we will be living with it for some time to come.
Typically when elected people want to tell you bad news but don’t want to have to deal with it publicly, they will say the bad news on a Friday when the news media won’t spend much time on it since the weekend is the next day. The politician then hopes the whole thing blows over by Monday. Ohio Attorney General David Yost waited until Friday to announce that Ohio will sign-on to a brief for three US Supreme Court cases that will decide if the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQA people. The brief and Yost don’t support protection of course.
Olympic athlete Aly Raisman may not have predicted being able to face down her abusive team physician and actually winning. Her moving speech, delivered at the trial of former team doctor Larry Nassar, has captured the world’s attention.
But even as Raisman was preparing to compete for gold, the story of another member of Team USA Gymnastics, Rachel Denhollander, was falling on deaf ears. Not in the Indianapolis Star, where Denhollander’s story would eventually be published, but inside the halls of an institution she thought would help her feel safe — her church.
No Sanctuary Here
A stone marker has sat on the grounds of the Lucas County Courthouse in Toledo, Ohio for the past 60 years. It’s engraved with the 10 Commandments – a set of Christian religious rules. Supporters of the monument claim the commandments are part of our collective legal history so it should remain on the courthouse lawn. In 2006, a federal court agreed. A reasonable person, looking at the full background of how the monument came to be would come to a different conclusion.
The Lucas County Courthouse is located on Adams Street in downtown Toledo. There aren’t many monuments or markers on the grounds but one that caught my eye is a 10 Commandments monument that was donated by a local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957. The Eagles placed hundreds of markers across the country starting in the late 1940s through the early 1960s. The markers were placed on courthouses, public schools, and public parks.
It doesn’t take much research or ‘soul searching’ to know that any Supreme Court nominee by President Trump would NOT be friendly to issues of concern to secular people. You don’t even need to do any Internet searching because the major freethought groups already have the goods on Neil Gorsuch. Obviously, any ‘little Scalia’ is no friend of ours.
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.
Back in mid 90s, the Ohio Governor at the time, George Voinovich, had seen religious messages engraved onto government buildings while on a trade trip to India. He thought since the Ohio state house was getting a massive restoration at the time that it would be a good idea to engrave our religous state motto, ‘With God All Things Are Possible’, on the building.