Thursday, December 12, 2013


Truth Detector

Bryan Fischer may be the most addled (or the most cynically deceptive) of the Religious Right wingnuts.

He was recently discussing, with all his usual historical and logical abilities ... none at all ... the 2010 Oklahoma law that permitted the erection of a 10 Commandments monument on the state capital grounds with the ... um ... fig leaf declaration that it doesn't amount to an endorsement of any religion but, rather, honors America's Judeo-Christian heritage and mandates that other such monuments be erected to stand beside it.

A group of (putative) Satanists have now requested permission to erect a monument as an "homage to the historic/literary Satan." Whether the ploys of the Oklahoma legislature or the Satanists will prevail is an open question (though at least one Supreme Court Justice believes that Satan is a real supernatural entity and, therefore, could conceivably be worshipped) but Fischer has the definitive answer in the video from Right Wing Watch above:
On his radio broadcast yesterday, Bryan Fischer spent two segments laying out his argument that, when the founders of this nation used the word "religion," what they really meant was "Christianity." As such, authorities in Oklahoma have every right to reject an effort by Satanists to erect a monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol building next to a monument of the Ten Commandments, Fischer said, because the Constitution's guarantee of the free exercise of religion was never intended to protect anything other than Christianity.

"If by 'religion,'" Fischer said, "the founders, and the founders of the state of Oklahoma, meant Christianity, then you can ban a monument to Satan because that's not Christianity ... You can say 'no, we're not going to let you do it. Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we're not going to have that monument.' If we don't understand the word 'religion' to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains."
Now for some real history!

Thomas Jefferson drafted "The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom" in 1779, three years after he wrote the Declaration of Independence. However, the act was not passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia until 1786. The occasion for it's passage was that Patrick Henry introduced "A Bill Establishing A Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion." Essentially, Henry's bill would have taxed citizens of Virginia to support the Christian denomination of their choice. Jefferson was, at the time, away serving in France as the American ambassador but Henry's bill so alarmed James Madison (later the chief architect of the Bill of Rights) that, after some political machinations, caused him to write "A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments." The upshot was Henry's bill was tabled, and in its place the legislature enacted Jefferson's Bill for Religious Liberty.

So, with that as background, what did Jefferson and Madison, certainly among the most important "Founders," and, in Madison's case, the most important of the Founders of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, think about any claim that "religion" in the First Amendment only referred to Christianity?

From Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance":
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? ...

[E]xperience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
And Jefferson, reflecting back in his Autobiography, said this about the passage of his bill:
Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.
Thus, the Founders of the United States had already thrashed out this issue and had no intention to designate Christianity as the one and only religion that the First Amendment covered. Fischer is a moron or is playing one on the radio to advance a deeply un-American agenda of Christian theocracy.

An amusing postscript to this is that Fischer has declared that his God-given role in life is as "the truth detector." In a way, he may be right. Take anything Fischer says and the opposite is likely to be the truth.

When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:5-6
Bah, humbug! What good is being religious if you can't let other people know all about it?

Philistine? do you spell it?
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