Thursday, April 15, 2010

This is our 1000th post

...and originally I thought it would be cute to waste it in postmodern fashion simply informing you of that fact. But then I realized that would basically be an exercise in irony so banal and obvious it would tip over into mere douchebaggery. So I'm much happier to spend this post in the valuable act of informing you of an exciting legal development in the ongoing fight against the theocratizing (that's probably not a word, but screw it) of America.

A federal judge, Barbara Crabb, in Wisconsin has ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. I simply cannot wait for the 700 Club and Whirled Nut Daily to sound off on this, let alone the raging paranoiacs over at Christian Worldview Network, who will no doubt rush to blame the ruling on the baby-eating communopinkosocialistical policies of Barack 666Satan666 Obama, despite a flack for the administration assuring the pearl-clutchers that "President Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer." Naturally, we get a sound bite from fundie legal beagle Jay Sekulow, who distorts on cue:

"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

Well, you see, Jay, the thing is the court did recognize that. It's just that unlike you, the court also recognized it is the prerogative of private citizens to determine for themselves when and where and how they set aside days of prayer. It is not the privilege of the government to do that for them. See the difference? Citizens deciding their own religious observations: within 1st Amendment. Government promoting religious practice on specified day: violation of same. Come on, Jay, IANAL, and you are, and even I know that rudimentary difference.

But that is, of course, what Sekulow and the fundagelicals want: to be able to use the power and authority of the government to impose their brand of Christianity™ upon the nation. Yes, these are the same people who lose their shit and wail about "Soshullisum" when "BIG Government" tries to pass health care reform that makes it harder for your insurance company to sodomize you while rifling your wallet at will. But when it comes to pushing Jesus like he came in dime bags at the playground, oh, does the right ever love Big Government then.

Gotta heat up some popcorn for this cagematch, kids. It'll be a good one.

Addendum: The fun begins. Nothing too mouth-foamy there yet, but there is, of course, already one falsehood present.

[Alliance Defense Fund] Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster...argued the day gives opportunity "for all Americans to pray voluntarily according to their own faith – and does not promote any particular religion or form of religious observance."

That might have been the intent and the spirit of the NDOP on general principles. In practice, reality is much different. The Texas Freedom Network has cataloged incidents of Christians excluding non-Christians from formal NDOP events. Mother Jones also has an account of James Dobson's (surprise surprise) bullying of those worshiping the wrong invisible man, and has a detailed account of Christians using legal muscle to keep a Hindu from participating in an NDOP event in Troy, MI. The idea that the NDOP has ever really been ecumenical is as transparently full of shit as Fox News's "fair and balanced" slogan.


  1. Loving all the fun new words in this post... theocratizing, communopinkosocialistical, fundagelicals... makes for fun reading ;)

    Also, congrats on 1000 posts guys! Love the blog and the show, keep it up!!


  2. Good notes on the decision, in that the NDOP fails to serve any secular purpose. I'm sure the SCOTUS right wing will find some way to ignore it, if they can get the swing vote.

    Look for Obama to appoint a religious justice, though.

  3. Happy 1000 guys!!!!! I love watching your pod casts on youtube! This is the first time I've been to your blog. I started a blog of my own for atheists in Idaho and I needed some ideas!

    Thanx for taking on Matt Slick for us!!!You guys ROCK!!!!

  4. I wounder how the theists would react if the government tried to enforce a day of "No Prayers"

    "My Fellow Americans, We have decided to punish the Gods today for their continued failure to smite our enemies by withholding all prayers on this special day...."

  5. The Kraken will be released over this. The question is, how in the hell will he get to Wisconsin? I bet he takes the St. Lawrence. That way he can stretch his legs (and tentacles) once he gets to Lake Ontario.

    If he takes the Mississippi, he'll end up at one of the riverboat casinos and lose track of time; keeping deadlines is important in the wrathful vengeance business.

  6. Yay :D my love for the legal system has been restored! Now I can go on to become a lawyer without feeling ashamed, and without dying a little inside every time I think of America's abuse of their constitution. ^_^ I isa happy.

    Also, your 1000th post? Congratulations! Hope to be seeing you continue until at least another zero has been added to that number :3

  7. Alas, this isn't over. The legacy of ceremonial monotheism in American government insures that "Days of Prayer" will continue to haunt us...

  8. They could always rename the "national day of talking to yourself (prayer)" the national day of contemplation to make it sound ecumenical.

    I object to the underly assumption that Prayer is a good thing. If the government needs a day for people to feel humble they already have April 15th.

  9. The day of prayer is probably still going to go on...but it won't have government backing.

  10. "does not promote any particular religion or form of religious observance."

    Prayer is a form of religious observance that is not present in all religions.

    *waits for efforts to change day of prayer to day of silence*

  11. Maybe a National Day of Thinking would do them some good.

  12. It's not the SCOTUS "right wing," SR; the problem is that historical theistic baggage prevents us from simply slamming the door outright on NDOP, as well we should.

    As long as we have legislatures and courts opening sessions with prayers, official tax-funded chaplaincies, theistic name-checking on the currency and Pledge of Allegiance and all that other junk... people can (and will) plausibly claim that NDOP does pass constitutional muster so long as its sufficiently ecumenical and vague.

    This is maddening, sure, but that doesn't invalidate it as a jurisprudential argument.

  13. George is right, and I fear so is Ed Brayton. I am certain this ruling will be overturned on appeal because the appellate courts will do what they usually do in these situations: wave their wands and invent exceptions out of thin air. ("The NDOP is not a specific endorsement of a specific religion on a specific odd-numbered day of the week when it's raining, so it is therefore constitutional. For realz!")

  14. And taking it back to Martin's recent TAE episode... THIS is the problem with so-called religious "moderates."

    Moderates keep ceremonial monotheism going, preventing various fissures in the church/state wall from ever being addressed and sealed.

    They are exquisitely polite, ecumenical and well-intentioned - Oh come on, what's wrong with a day of prayer? Humble spirituality elevates and unites us all! We need to counter the greed and atomization of modern life. And anyway, it's so traditional and Jimmy Stewart-esque, makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, etc.

    Standing right behind them, waiting to exploit the openings made by moderates, are those with far more doctrinally specific and aggressive plans.

    They dare not show their hand yet - no, not so soon after getting their collective bells rung in Kitzmiller and with that "Family" thing in DC getting so much bad press.

    Nah, the times call for something non-confrontational. Something friendly.

    A National Day of Prayer? Yes. That will do nicely.

  15. The other thing about religious moderates? They can be fucking NASTY the second you step on their faith's toes. On this one forum, it's all 'open opinion' on everything blah blah, but actually share opinions and people turn nasty. And these are liberal to moderate ones. Apparently it's not to be taken all that seriously or literally, it's all allegorical. Great, I agree it's allegorical, does that make ME a christian? /rant

  16. Now that is funny. Do these people know what 'allegory' actually is?

  17. My favorite quote from that exchange, which I was the jackass again (actually that's probably objectivly true)

    "Just because we know how something works doesn't mean it's not a miracle"

    No, that's EXACTLY what it means. When you redefine miracle to that criteria the word is as useless as "irregardless". The difference between atheist and theist in this theology is razor thin, but apparently important enough that atheists are arrogant for thinking they're reasonable and right. I didn't SAY others who disagreed with me were stupid but had that opinion projected on me because "I obviously think those who believe different are wrong" WELL DUH!!

    Apparently clipping toe nails is a miracle now. -_-

  18. I don't disagree, George, I was just thinking about how when this specific case arrives at the Supreme Court, that Alito, Scalia et al. are likely to pull out some get-out-of-Lemon-Test-Free card, probably by appealing to the community standards you're talking about.

    Maybe it will go in through the "patriotism" door, since apparently that's why it's okay to say "under God" in the Pledge.

  19. Am I the only one who thinks Scalia seem too much like lame villain names? I mean Scalia sounds like a Slythrin.

  20. Congrats on the 1000th.

    Keep up the good work. Maybe your 2000th will constitute you guys covering a new day: The National Day of Rationality and Reason.

    Once can dream....


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