Back in the early 1990s when officials in the state of Wisconsin passed a voucher plan, people were assured that the idea was to help poor students trapped in underperforming public schools.
Colonial-era Baptist minister John Leland was a devout Christian, but he was no bigot.
In an essay titled “The Virginia Chronicle” (1790), Leland attacked antiquated laws in the Old Dominion that limited public office to certain types of Christians.
“If a man merits the confidence of his neighbors in Virginia,” observed Leland, “let him worship one God, twenty Gods or no God. Be he Jew, Turk, Pagan, or Infidel, he is eligible to any office in the state.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on marriage equality. But in anticipation of the verdict, state legislators have rammed a number of anti-LGBT bills through legislatures and onto the books.
The North Carolina House of Representatives today voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto and approve a bill that gives state magistrates the right to refuse service to same-sex couples and others. It’s a move the state will end up paying for in court, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“By enshrining discrimination into law, North Carolina’s lawmakers just signed a full-employment act for civil liberties lawyers,” said the Rev. Barry W, Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Unfortunately, the state’s taxpayers will be stuck with the tab.”
The Tea Party and other far-right groups speak often of their love for the Constitution. But for all their talk about America’s foundational document, many of these zealots understand our laws about as well as an average kindergartner. That is why it’s always a pleasure when a political leader rejects these stilted views.
When it comes to religion in America, the majority is most certainly not permitted to rule. Apparently an official in a North Carolina county is unaware of this fact, as evidenced by his recent claim that non-Christians should be banned from giving prayers before local government meetings.
A North Carolina county has resumed its policy of inviting clergy from mostly Christian denominations to deliver sectarian prayers before its board meetings.
In yet another instance of fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Greece v. Galloway, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr. recently lifted an injunction that had barred Forsyth County from opening its meetings with Christian prayers.
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things about God and religion before they can be elected.
These provisions can’t be enforced. They were declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1961 ruling in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins. Yet they linger on, a testament to the bigotry of bygone days.
North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban is probably history. But the Supreme Court’s decision to let a lower court ruling striking the ban doesn’t sit so well with the Religious Right, and thanks to the efforts of local extremists, a new front in the civil rights battle has emerged: religious refusals.