Monday, April 03, 2006

Help, I'm Being Oppressed!

"... but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." -- the Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI Clause 3

Godlessgeeks offers a brief collection of examples of states which violate the above-quoted clause and openly practice religiously-motivated discrimination. Neither Pat Robertson nor Jesse Jackson appears eager to redress any of these errors, oddly enough...

"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court." -- Arkansas State Constitution, Article 19 Section 1 ("Miscellaneous Provisions")

"...nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come." -- Maryland's Declaration of Rights, Article 36(.PDF)

"No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state." --Mississippi State Constitution. Article 14 ("General Provisions"), Section 265

"The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God." -- North Carolina's State Constitution, Article 6 Section 8

"No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth." -- Pennsylvania's State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4

"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state." -- Tennessee's State Constitution, Article 9 Section 2(.PDF)

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being." -- Texas' State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4

This is all especially ironic given last December's 2-day conference regarding America's "War on Christians", where Tristan Emmanuel offered his opinion:

"It doesn't rise to the level of persecution that we would see in China or North Korea..." - where Christians are put to death - "... But let's not pretend that it's okay."

The Rev. Robert M. Franklin offers a more reasonable view:

"This is a skirmish over religious pluralism, and the inclination to see it as a war against Christianity strikes me as a spoiled-brat response by Christians who have always enjoyed the privileges of a majority position...


Blogger Management said...

'War' on Christians Is Alleged
Conference Depicts a Culture Hostile to Evangelical Beliefs

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; A12

The "War on Christmas" has morphed into a "War on Christians."

Last December, some evangelical Christian groups declared that the religious celebration of Christmas -- and even the phrase "Merry Christmas" -- was under attack by the forces of secularism.

This week, radio commentator Rick Scarborough convened a two-day conference in Washington on the "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006." The opening session was devoted to "reports from the frontlines" on "persecution" of Christians in the United States and Canada, including an artist whose paintings were barred from a municipal art show in Deltona, Fla., because they contained religious themes.

"It doesn't rise to the level of persecution that we would see in China or North Korea," said Tristan Emmanuel, a Canadian activist. "But let's not pretend that it's okay."

Among the conference's speakers were former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) as well as conservative Christian leaders Phyllis Schlafly, Rod Parsley, Gary Bauer, Janet Parshall and Alan Keyes.

To many of the 400 evangelicals packed into a small ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, it was a hard but necessary look at moral relativism, hedonism and Christophobia, or fear of Christ, to pick just a few terms offered by various speakers referring to the enemy.

To some outsiders, it illuminated the paranoia of the Christian right.

"Certainly religious persecution existed in our history, but to claim that these examples amount to religious persecution disrespects the experiences of people who have been jailed and died because of their faith," said K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

"This is a skirmish over religious pluralism, and the inclination to see it as a war against Christianity strikes me as a spoiled-brat response by Christians who have always enjoyed the privileges of a majority position," said the Rev. Robert M. Franklin, a minister in the Church of God in Christ and professor of social ethics at Emory University.

White evangelicals make up about one-quarter of the U.S. population, and 85 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. But three-quarters of evangelicals believe they are a minority under siege and nearly half believe they are looked down upon by most of their fellow citizens, according to a 2004 poll.

In a luncheon speech yesterday, DeLay took issue with the "chattering classes" who think there is no war on Christians.

"We are after all a society that abides abortion on demand, that has killed millions of innocent children, that degrades the institution of marriage and often treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition. Seen from this perspective, of course there is a war on Christianity," he said.

Much of the conference revolved around the difficulty of Christian parenting in a culture of sexual permissiveness. Don Feder, founder of a group called Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, urged the crowd not to blame "the liberal, self-hating Jews in Hollywood."

"Remember, the people in this audience are more Jewish than people like Barbra Streisand, because you embrace Jewish values, she doesn't," he said.

Another Jewish speaker, Michael Horowitz, told the conference that the "Christian decency of this country" saved him from becoming "a bar of soap" in Nazi Germany.

"You guys have become the Jews of the 21st century," said Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, just before a false alarm interrupted his speech. Several attendees called the fire alarm suspicious, though a hotel spokesman said it resulted from a mechanical problem in a distant location.

In the session on recent cases of persecution, Navy Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt brought the crowd to its feet by introducing himself as a military chaplain "who prays in the name of Jesus."

Klingenschmitt said he was punished by a commander for offering sectarian prayers at a memorial service for a fallen sailor, and he compared himself to Abdur Rahman, an Afghan man who until this week faced possible execution for converting from Islam to Christianity.

"What do these two Christians have in common?" Klingenschmitt asked, showing slides first of himself, then of Rahman. "Perhaps we are persecuted. Perhaps we are no different than most Christians throughout history."

Lloyd Marcus, a painter, said he entered three paintings in a Black History Month art show at the City Hall of Deltona last month. But because the canvases showed a man wearing an "I love Jesus" cap and a minister holding a Bible, city officials deemed them inappropriate until the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, threatened a lawsuit, he said.

The Rev. Tom Crouse, pastor of a Congregational Church in Holland, Mass., said that after hearing about a gay beauty pageant in California, he decided to hold a "Mr. Heterosexual Contest" in Worcester, Mass., on Feb. 18.

"It was just an event to proclaim the truth that God created us all heterosexual," he said. But to his surprise, he said, he received anonymous death threats, local officials condemned the contest, and "even Bible-believing churches were not on board. They said it wasn't loving."

10:49 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Top speakers at the "War on Christians" event included Tom DeLay (under indictment for corruption in Texas), John Cornyn (a top recipient of funds from convicted felon Jack Abramoff), Sam Brownback (another top recipient of funds from Abramoff), and Gary Bauer (accused of adultery). And let's not forget Alan Keyes, who threw his daughter out of the house because she's gay.

The event also featured Michael Horowitz, who told the attendees, "You guys have become the Jews of the 21st century." Presumably he was referring to the 6 million American Christians who were gassed to death in Massachusetts concentration camps last year.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Management said...

North Korea crushing churches
U.S. report: Commission tells of Christians executed in front of schoolchildren

Peter Goodspeed
National Post

Friday, November 18, 2005

A U.S government report says North Korea is raising religious persecution to the same heights as ancient Rome.

While the Romans threw Christians to the lions for sport, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says North Korea's leaders settle for snap trials followed by firing squads or simply crushing the heads of underground church leaders under a steamroller.

In the same week U.S. President George W. Bush is touring Asia to call for increased political freedom, the independent U.S. government commission issued a report claiming North Korea is waging all-out war on religion and free thought.

The reports says there are only three formal churches in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, but they are primarily for show and are visited only by foreigners and the elderly. Everywhere else, the North Korean government is engaged in the forceful suppression of religious and intellectual life.

Relying on eyewitness accounts from 40 recent refugees who fled to South Korea via China, the commission says North Korea has created a reign of terror to crush any religious belief that might challenge the god-like authority of leader Kim Jong Il.

The mere possession of a Bible can bring a death sentence, while attending a secret underground church service can result in gruesome public executions.

One eyewitness told commission investigators he witnessed five Christian church leaders being executed by being run over by a steamroller in front of a crowd of spectators.

The underground church leaders were told, "If you abandon religion and serve only Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, you will not be killed," said the witness, a soldier in a local construction battalion.

"None of the five said a word. Some of the fellow parishioners [who were] assembled to watch the execution cried, screamed out or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound as they were crushed beneath the steamroller."

In another case, a woman told of being forced to witness the 1997 firing squad execution of a young woman and her father near where the Seong Cheon River runs into the Tumin River.

The young woman had been washing clothes by the river when she accidentally dropped a Bible she had hidden in her laundry.

After three months of interrogation, she and her father were put on trial in a marketplace, condemned as traitors and executed on the spot in front of an assembled crowd of schoolchildren and their teachers.

A former policeman described how he was involved in the arrests of 11 church members. Two of them were tortured to death during interrogation, while the others were executed, he said.

In the early 20th century, religious life flourished in North Korea, the report says. Religious groups played an essential role in uniting Koreans opposed to Japanese colonial rule, but the churches were viewed as political competitors by Kim Il Sung's Korean Workers Party.

When North Korea's founder came to power after the Second World War, he labelled the churches "counterrevolutionary" and crushed them.

Ever since, North Korea has promoted a personality cult that has virtually deified Kim Il Sung and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il.

North Korean newspapers have carried stories claiming North Korean sailors have been saved at sea during terrible storms by simply gathering on storm-tossed decks to sing the praises of Kim Il Sung.

And the country's official histories claim that when Kim Jong Il was born on Mount Paektu, a sacred mountain on the border with China, a double rainbow appeared in the sky, along with a single bright star, to herald his birth.

"Having faith in God is an act of espionage," one North Korean refugee told the U.S. commission's investigators. "Kim Il Sung is a god in North Korea."

"The Kim dynasty is much more than an authoritarian government," the commission report says. "It also holds itself out as the ultimate source of power, virtue, spiritual wisdom and truth for the North Korean people. Heterodoxy and dissent are repressed, quickly and efficiently, with punishments meted out to successive generations of the dissident's family.

"This study provides compelling evidence of the systematic denigration of religious life in North Korea and of ongoing abuses of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief," the report adds.

The commission is a bipartisan government body that monitors religious practices overseas in relation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The release of the U.S. report coincides with a UN General Assembly vote yesterday in which member states expressed "serious concern" over human rights violations in North Korea.

The General Assembly's social and humanitarian committee approved a resolution put forward by the European Union raising concerns over the use of torture, public executions and restrictions on freedom of thought and religion. The final vote was 84 to 22, with 62 countries abstaining. South Korea abstained and China voted against.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Management said...

"...I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." -- George HW Bush

10:54 PM  
Blogger Lance McCord said...

It's not at all uncommon for state statutes and constitutions to contain provisions that have been superceded by the federal constitution. Removing them might take a constitutional amendment, which is a big pain in the collective ass. And for the most part, they aren't hurting anyone by just sitting there. Those laws are no more in violation of the US constitution than a law that forbids your swearing in the presence of Grover Cleveland abridges your 1st Amendment rights.

11:28 PM  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Lance McCord said...

"It's not at all uncommon for state statutes and constitutions to contain provisions that have been superceded by the federal constitution. Removing them might take a constitutional amendment, which is a big pain in the collective ass"

Damn. And here I was hoping I could get out of jury duty ...

12:53 PM  
Blogger Deep Thought said...

More critically, the provision in the US constitution is about *federal* positions, not state, county, etc. Originally some states even had 'official state religions', although that ended fairly quickly. While most of these laws are unenforced and would probably fall to a legal challenge, it would not be because of that particular constitutional challenge (probably the 14th amendment, but I'm just guessing at 2 am)

10:43 PM  

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