The First Amendment, as Distorted by the Religious Right

This week I wanted to bring you a few pieces of video from last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the big ultra-conservative hoe-down when all the leader Religious Right groups get together with Religious Right followers and dignitaries to lay out the Religious Right philosophy in a room of cheering supporters.

The first is from a speech by Bryan Fischer, Executive Director of American Family Association (AFA) Affiliate Idaho Values Alliance. Even I was surprised by Mr. Fischer’s misinterpretation of the US First Amendment.

I found this video at the fantastic Right Wing Watch, and Peter quite correctly pointed out the obvious problem with Mr. Fischer’s self-serving, oh-so-convenient interpretation.

Today Fischer went a good bit further than televangelist Pat Robertson, who notably called church-state separation a “lie of the left.” According to Fischer’s interpretation of the First Amendment, here’s what religious liberty means: Congress has the liberty to promote religion in any way, as long as it does not single out one Christian sect or denomination and make it the nation’s official religion. That’s it.

So by his definition, a state legislature could declare itself an officially Christian state. Or an officially Baptist or Mormon state. Presumably any public school, city council or state government could require students to attend Christian worship or profess certain religious belief. […] So to these prominent Religious Right leaders, preventing a state from demanding that its employees swear to certain religious beliefs is an attack on Christianity. And any court that tries to stop a state from imposing religious beliefs on its citizens is judicial activism.

Before you wave this off as just another extremist with a microphone, remember that the audience cheering for Mr. Fischer’s views included not just self-appointed Religious Right leaders and their salivating followers, but important high-ranking elected leaders in Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), former House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO), and former Governor/future Presidential nominee Mike Huckabee (R-AR) all gave their own speeches last weekend, and they all clapped along with the rest of the crowd.

Next time they’re up for election, remember that these congressmen view the Constitution differently than the rest of the nation; indeed, differently than the founders. To them, it is distinctly Conservative-Christian with a decided theocratic streak. Are you comfortable with that?

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4 thoughts on “The First Amendment, as Distorted by the Religious Right

  1. He is just looking for gold in the sand and we all know it. There's no way you can promote a religion like this, or defend it. It's obvious what the first amendment wants to say. He just reminds me of one of those extremist believers who hold the Bible up in the air and by quoting the new testament he's trying to finds arguments to convince us he's theories are correct.

  2. He is just looking for gold in the sand and we all know it. There's no way you can promote a religion like this, or defend it. It's obvious what the first amendment wants to say. He just reminds me of one of those extremist believers who hold the Bible up in the air and by quoting the new testament he's trying to finds arguments to convince us he's theories are correct.

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