Tag Archives: Virginia

Giving God a Bad Name, Episode Ten Zillion

Oh Virginia! You are just so not for lovers.

An official of the state that just handed Eric Cantor his walking papers–a result partially attributed to the Jewish Cantor’s inability to “connect” with his Evangelical Christian base–has refused to marry two people who don’t believe in God.

Bud Roth is a court appointed officiant in Franklin County, Virginia. He performs wedding ceremonies for couples who go to the courthouse to get married. Atheists, however, have no right to get married as far as he’s concerned….

The couple contacted the county clerk, who was floored by their story. She suggested they contact the judge who appointed Roth in the first place. So they wrote a letter to Judge William Alexander who didn’t see any problem at all with a court officiant refusing to marry a couple simply because they don’t share his religious beliefs. The judge referred the couple to the other court appointed officiant who agreed to perform the civil ceremony this coming Monday.

Apparently, the officiant and judge are among the growing number of theocrats who believe that “religious liberty” is just for Christians. (You have the “liberty” to endorse the CORRECT beliefs, which are, of course, mine…)

I guess Virginia is just for CHRISTIAN lovers…..

Stop the Presses! ACLU Supports Christian Athletes

One of the great myths promulgated by the Christian Right is that the ACLU is “anti-religion” and “anti-Christian.” Those bent on demonizing the organization conveniently overlook the many cases in which the ACLU represents the rights of religious folks. When I was Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU, it used to irritate me that we got no credit for being principled.

That is mostly because so few people understand what the principles are.

A friend just alerted me to a Virginia news item about that state’s ACLU, which has defended the right of student athletes to tape copies of the Ten Commandments to their lockers.

For people who are constitutionally literate, this position hardly comes as a surprise. If a school allows students to post items on their lockers, it cannot dictate the content of those items (other than forbidding obscenity). The school could constitutionally forbid the posting of anything at all, but if it does allow students to express themselves in that fashion, the  First Amendment’s Free Speech doctrine prohibits the school from picking and choosing among the messages.

If, on the other hand, a public school posts the Ten Commandments, the school is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because the school is an agency of government, and government cannot endorse or sponsor religion.

There’s nothing inconsistent here. The point in both cases is to limit the authority of government.

In our legal system, individuals get to decide what they say and believe, free of government interference. That’s the principle the ACLU is protecting, and it isn’t anti-religious. It’s pro-individual liberty.