Democrats thrown out of Church

Their crime? They voted against Bush.

As I keep saying, nothing surprises me nowadays. All Spin Zone has the story, and you should follow the links to the video.

This story should be getting much bigger play. The implications are startling, a sign that Frist’s repulsive characterization of Democrats being “against people of faith” is taking hold. What would Jesus say?

Update: Media coverage is starting to come in.

The minister of a Haywood County Baptist church is telling members of his congregation that if they’re Democrats, they either need to find another place of worship or support President Bush.

Already, the Reverend Chan Chandler has ex-communicated nine members of East Waynesville Baptist Church. Another 40 members have left in protest.

During last Sunday’s sermon, he acknowledged that church members were upset because he named people, and he says he’ll do it again because he has to according to the word of God.

Chandler could not be reached for comment today, but says his actions weren’t politically motivated.

One former church member says Chandler told some of the members that if they didn’t support George Bush, they needed to resign their positions and get out of the church, or go to the altar, repent and agree to vote for Bush.

A former church treasurer says she’s at church to worship God and not the preacher.

The Discussion: 72 Comments

I’m not saying that ALL Democrats are guilty of this, and clearly that church was just being petty and stupid to expell people on that basis …

But having said that, you’d also have to admit that there has been a substantial number of attacks against Bush because of his religious beliefs. What’s the saying … just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they AREN’T out to get you.

May 6, 2005 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t say there have been any attacks (or at least not many) based on Bush’s religious beliefs. Rather, they are based on the actions being taken by groups like Focus on the Family and others who are trying to impose bizarre religious dogma on people who want none of it — they want to challenge evolution and make “intelligent design” part of the school curriculum, they want to marginalize gays to the point they don’t exist, they want to ban condom use and birth control and, of course, prohibit abortions, even for rape victims.

No, no one cares about Bush’s beliefs. It’s the actions that come out of those beliefs that matter. And when legislators attempt to translate these beliefs into laws, then they cross over into a different realm from mere belief to instruments of persecution and demagoguery.

May 6, 2005 @ 7:17 pm | Comment

I am so worried these days about the USA. While Europe and Canada seem to be socially progressing, the USA seems to be loosing momentum, looking incrasingly like it’s headed for some kind of Handmaid’s Tale theocratic future.

Is there any other industrialized western nation where evolution is seriously questioned, much less protested and litigated against?

Gay rights is another perfect example. While other western countries have been granting more legal rights to gays (and notably doing so without collapsing into chaos and immorality), in the US, gays are under legal and social attack from religious extremists at levels not seen in a long time.

In many other western nations, a fleeting glimpse of a woman’s breast may not raise an eyebrow, but Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe failure” on American television apparently led to widespread shock, outrage, and lawsuits followed by a major fine from the federal gov’t.

Evolution, abortion choice, gay rights, “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, euthanasia, adoption, capital punishment, the ability to purchase contraceptives, control over the courts and media – all are under increasing pressure from American religious extremists. To me this is very, very alarming.

Sometimes I even wonder how much of the “war on terror’ (say, where have those terrorists been since 9/11, anyway) is in fact a war of Christian religious zealots on Islamic religious zealots.

May 6, 2005 @ 10:16 pm | Comment

By the way, this is not an isolated incident. Let’s not forget that during the last US presidential election, a group of American Catholic bishops (led by an archbishop) were instructing their parishoners that voting for Kerry would be a serious SIN, one which would prevent them from receiving Holy Communion until they officially confessed.

(Cite – New York Times article:

May 6, 2005 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

I’ll gladly attack someone in the goverment for trying to impose their religion on the country. If Bush were a devout Muslim catering to the whims of a small but vocal – and increasingly powerful – Muslim fundamentalist minority, I think a lot more Republicans would see what is happening in the US right now much differently.

So does this make me “anti-religious” and “against people of faith?” No. It makes me in favor of a free and democratic system where the state isn’t involved in religion, something the founders of this country were particularly interested in (can’t imagine why — guess they were waging a war against Christians, too).

May 7, 2005 @ 12:01 am | Comment

The thing about the religious beliefs of many prominent members of the right-wing รฉlite is that they are, at least in many cases, only superficial.

I mean, does Rush Limbaugh go to church every Sunday? Does he pray every day? Does he thumb through his well-worn Bible before composing his daily homilies? I think not. And yet he feels qualified to declare who’s a real Christian, and who isn’t. Ditto Ann Coulter. Try as I might, I just can’t picture her in a Pentecostal church, surrounded by devoted parishioners, singing hymns while gently swaying, eyes closed, palms aloft. You know what I mean?

Maybe I’m just a naive moonbat, but I’ve always thought that being a “Christian” entailed living your life in a Christ-like manner. Instead we find ourselves led by people who’ve invented a new faith whose mantra seems to be “do what I say, not what I do”: Fristianity.

May 7, 2005 @ 4:03 am | Comment

Fristianity! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

That captures perfectly the faith-of-convenience these neocons adorn themselves with.

A meme is born!

May 7, 2005 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

*snort*! Love it!

As for “attacks against Bush because of his religion,” I learned a new phrase in Chinese class today:

That’s “zheng jiao fen li,” separation of church and state. I’d like more of that, please!

May 8, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Oh, PHOOEY! I guess I can’t post Hanzi in Haloscan using Safari. Does it work in Firefox?


May 8, 2005 @ 12:16 am | Comment

AH. Yes. It does. Now if I could only figure out how to make them bigger…

May 8, 2005 @ 12:17 am | Comment

Richard’s rational response to my first post is somewhat undermined by the comments that follow …

May 8, 2005 @ 10:07 am | Comment

I’m sorry…but I am so bloody sick of the injection of fundamentalist Christianity into nearly every aspect of American public discourse. I was not raised in a religious household. I am not a religious person. I don’t understand their mindset, and I find it disturbing, invasive and increasingly scary. I do not want to live in a society dominated by these people. I do not want “Justice Sunday” or a “Culture of Life” shoved down my throat while at the same time they flaunt their utter disregard for secular law and for rational thinking. This linkage of religion and politics goes against everything I believe in as an American.

Sorry, I am just sick of it.

May 8, 2005 @ 1:05 pm | Comment

FSN9, I know that if you, a person who really appreciates freedom and human rights and real democracy, if you were in the US today you would be appalled at the iron grip the far right has on many aspects of our system. And their goals are all contrary to what America is supposed to be all about. It really is a scary time, and I want to congratulate Vaara for coming up with “Fristianity” — that says it all.

Lisa, I am with you. It’s hitting too close to home to ignore.

May 8, 2005 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

The religious have no monopoly on ignorance and intolerance. For example:

A dance teacher working for a public school district was terminated from her job after a complaint that she used religious music in her instruction. The complaint came from a school district staff member who alleged that the music referenced Jesus several times. In addition to secular music on the day in question, the instructor used a rendition of Dona Nobis Pachem and O Si Funi Mungu. Dona Nobis Pachem is a classical piece by J.S. Bach and is sung in Latin. O Si Funi Mungu, which is translated as “Praise God,” is sung in Swahili.

Indeed, one merely needs to read the post by Other Lisa above.

May 8, 2005 @ 10:01 pm | Comment

That sort of story makes me sick, Conrad. Political correctness can be almost as sickening as evangelical closed-mindedness. I have no patience for either.

May 8, 2005 @ 10:05 pm | Comment

Conrad, that is extremely insulting. I in no way would ever make that kind of complaint, and this is not at all the sort of thing I was talking about.

You are reaching, buddy.

May 8, 2005 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

Other Lisa:

I did not say that you would make that kind of complaint. What I said was that the complaint that you did make in your comment was shrill, bigoted and intolerant.

May 9, 2005 @ 12:46 am | Comment

Other Lisa:

Let me illustrate my objection by changing just a few words in your comment:

I’m sorry…but I am so bloody sick of the injection of homosexuality into nearly every aspect of American public discourse. I am not gay. I don’t understand their mindset, and I find it disturbing, invasive and increasingly scary. I do not want to live in a society dominated by these people. I do not want “gay rights” or “gay marriage” shoved down my throat while at the same time they flaunt their utter disregard for morality and Biblical teaching. This linkage of homosexuality and politics goes against everything I believe in as an American. Sorry, I am just sick of it.

Now do you see my point?

May 9, 2005 @ 1:10 am | Comment


Guess that makes me an official member of the Coalition of the Shrill.

I am not talking about ordinary churchgoing people of faith. I am talking about right-wing fundamentalist fanatics who are attempting to hijack democracy and the rule of law.

You apparently have no idea what is going on in this country right now, or you do not wish to see it.

May 9, 2005 @ 1:11 am | Comment

It seems like some people think only the form of a statement matters, not the content. So, for example, if I say that I’m bloody sick of Islamic terrorists trying to overthrow democracies, it is the same as saying I’m sick of gays trying to overthrow Western civilization. That is strange “logic.” I guess being against anything these days makes you “shrill, bigoted and intolerant.”

I just have one question for all of those “oppressed” Christians in the US: If Bush were a Hindu trying to inject his religion into the schools, the courts, the laws — basically every aspect of American society — what would your reaction be? Hmm. I think you’d all be arguing for things like the separation of church and state and bringing lawsuits against judges that displayed monuments to Vishnu at their courthouses.

Well, either that or they’d start suicide bombing them.

May 9, 2005 @ 1:41 am | Comment


Last time I checked, gay people were not infringing on anyone else’s right to live their lifes as they pleased. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, are quite interested in controlling very personal aspects of other peoples’ lives. Like how they die. What they do in the bedroom. What sorts of rights they have as parents and partners.

Am I shrill? Okay, maybe I am. But here’s just one little example why. We have a general waging the Iraq war who bragged about how his God was the real God and that’s why we’d win, that we are vanquishing Satan by fighting in Iraq.

This is irrational. This is scary. This kind of thing has no place in political decision-making and the execution of military and foreign policy.

May 9, 2005 @ 1:42 am | Comment


Thank you. Much better than how I put it.

May 9, 2005 @ 1:44 am | Comment

And another thing…America was founded on such principles as separation of power and the rule of law. It was notfounded on institutionalized homophobia, regardless of how much of that exists. It’s a very different thing for me to say that the Religious Right’s violation of these principles goes against everything I believe in as an American than what your rewording of my statement implies.

May 9, 2005 @ 2:02 am | Comment

I think the point of all these posts is that extremism to the point of the imposition of one’s political, social, or religious views on others is a vice (Sorry Sen. Goldwater), and that it can come from all corners, be they right, left, or politically (in)correct.

And the sad thing, Other Lisa, is that particular general is a very fine officer, one truly respected combat leader, and otherwise a very decent human being. I believe that the French had the right idea about secularizing society. It wasn’t just the muslims. Under Jules Ferry, the Army entered schools to physically remove religious symbols, a policy which was widely condemned at the time.

May 9, 2005 @ 2:16 am | Comment

It’s Carnival of the Canards here at Peking Duck today.


There is indeed a similarity between a Hindu takeover of the American government and a fundamentalist Christian takeover. The similarity is that each is equally unlikely to happen.

Religion into the schools? Prayer, the teaching of creationism or indeed any organized religious instruction or observance remains prohibited.

Separation of church and state? It remains accepted constitutional doctrine and there has been no Supreme Court decision significantly limiting it. Indeed, in Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith conservative Justice Scalia wrote the opinion limiting protections for relgious exercise.

Lawsuits against Christian symbols in court houses? The US Court of Appeals ordered the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, to remove the 10 Commandments from the court house and the Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor forced the monument’s removal and impeached Moore for refusal to obey the Circuit Court.

As for your comparison of Islamic terrorists and Christian fundamentalists, such an absurd analogy supports my point about how shrill and hysterical some on the Left have become on this subject.

Other Lisa:

Regarding General Boykin’s remarks, he was speaking at a private (i.e., non-government) prayer meeting and, while discussing a battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia he said โ€œI knew my god was bigger than his. I knew that my god was a real god and his was an idol.โ€ He has also said that he believes the US will prevail because it is a “Christian nation.”

Now, while those statements might be theologically and historically wrong, why is it outrageous for him to believe this? In free, democratic and pluralistic America, one is free to believe all sorts of things. Some people may believe that will previal because it is favored by God. Other may think it will win becuase it is secular. Why is one of those beliefs acceptable and the other not? And how come you get to decide which is which?

As for your claim that my analogy with gays is inapt, of course the homosexual lobby is trying to change the way people live. Anti-discrimination legislation, civil unions, gay marriage, gay adoption, etc., all affect how other people live. There’s nothing wrong with them trying, within the political system and constitution, trying to do that. Same for the fundamentalists.

The hysterical reaction to the so-called “threat” posed by fundamentalist Christians is silly and unseemly. Those who would seek to impose their personal religious beliefs upon the public by force of law are an extremely tiny minority with no chance whatsoever of success. It’s great “red-meat” for the left, but it’s never going to happen.

May 9, 2005 @ 2:47 am | Comment

Under Jules Ferry, the Army entered schools to physically remove religious symbols, a policy which was widely condemned at the time.

Holy fucking shit!!!!!!! And you people complain that the fundamentalists want to impose their values on society? Send in the freakin’ army? No threat to Other Lisa’s precious separation of powers and rule of law there.

And, lest you forget, there are no religious symbols in American public schools. They were removed by rule of law (i.e., rulings by the US Supreme Court), and no jackbooted military intervention was required.

May 9, 2005 @ 2:54 am | Comment

It turns out the political theocrats can’t even impose their dictatorship on their own congregations much less the country.

Pastor Who Kicked Out Church Members Refusing to Support Bush Says It Was Misunderstanding

Indeed, it seems like the offending pastor may be tossed out on his ear.

Calling it a “great misunderstanding,” the pastor of a small church who led the charge to remove nine members for their political beliefs tried to welcome them back Sunday, but some insisted he must leave for the wounds to heal.

Not exactly the Taliban, huh?

May 9, 2005 @ 3:34 am | Comment

Anti-discrimination legislation, civil unions, gay marriage, gay adoption, etc., all affect how other people live.

Yes, they affect the way that gay people live. But these issues do not affect the way that everybody lives. Maybe my copy of the Gay Agenda™ is out of date, but the last time I checked, we weren’t trying to force everyone in America to marry someone of the sex.

May 9, 2005 @ 7:04 am | Comment

argh! “… someone of the same sex”

But let me put this another way. The radical Christian clerics have said, in so many words, that they want America to be a Christian state.

I happen to be a gay atheist, but that doesn’t mean I want America to be a gay atheist state. I don’t care if people worship Ba’al or Vishnu or Ted Nugent; I don’t care how many times Britney Spears gets married; I just want to be left alone.

But “leaving people alone” is precisely what the radical clerics aren’t doing.

And another thing… General Boykin may indeed have been “speaking at a private (i.e., non-government) prayer meeting“, but Eason Jordan (formerly of CNN) was also speaking at a private function, and he was hounded out of his job because of the remarks he made.

If you have a convincing explanation about why Boykin’s free speech was OK and Jordan’s wasn’t, I’m sure we’d all like to hear it.

May 9, 2005 @ 7:11 am | Comment

And to put it yet another way:

Civil rights is not a zero-sum game. The expansion of certain rights to a group of people does not automatically entail the loss of rights by another. It is truly repellent to suggest that the right to discriminate against others is morally equivalent to the right not to be discriminated against.

May 9, 2005 @ 7:22 am | Comment

“Love your neighbor as yourself”
“Judge not lest ye be judged”

May 9, 2005 @ 8:34 am | Comment

Seems to me to be a case in point of a comment I made in another thread. It’s only unacceptable when it’s done by the other side. I’m an atheist … which you would think should put me in the camp of the people denouncing the christians. There are undoubtedly cases where people of religious belief have succeeded in putting through screw-ball education policies and the like, and I find it pretty contemptible. There are also cases where they have made what I regard as outrageous attempts to dictate to others how they should behave. However, things are not quite as cut and dry as the arguments here would seem to imply.

Doesn’t majority public opinion have a role to play? For example, with the age of consent for sex (of whatever type). A sector of the community might start pushing for the age of consent to be lowered or raised. Now it would be perfectly true that any sexual encounter between two consenting people could be said to be their business alone, but what if one of the people was 9 years old? Yet society considers this to be a perfectly acceptable infringement on other’s rights. Acceptable marriage ages, and acceptable ages for sex have varied throughout the ages, and it has been determined by community decisions, not by individual’s rights. So it’s not a “slam-dunk” argument to simply say that “I can do whatever I like, and the community has no right to interfere”. Nor would it be a valid argument against child-sex to argue that it is ok, just because the practitioners are not trying to force everyone to do it. Clearly, there are situations where others DO have a right to interfere.

Now, some obligatory “don’t jump down my throat” comments. a) I consider someone’s sexual orientation to be none of my business, and what they do in the privacy of their own homes is in the same category. b) I am not equating being gay with child molestation. I am using it because it is an example of something that most members of society, whether gay or straight, liberal or conservative, would consider to be wrong, but where proponents of the practise could argue that it doesn’t effect anyone else etc.

I think that dialogue has to advance to the point where gay people seek to engage the christians and argue the merits of their case about why a majority of the community should allow certain practises (gay marriage for example) even if a majority of people in a given state consider it to be a “wrong” lifestyle. Simply saying “it’s my life and you don’t have any right to say anything” isn’t going to advance the gay cause at all.

On the other side, they have the right to try to persaude you to not be gay. Or whatever. Sorry, it’s 1am and I’m getting tired and I’ve lost my train of thought. Anyway, the other side has the right to do something meaningful to try to advance their cause, and to try to persaude a majority of people to accept legislation in conformity with their views.

Dammit. I’m going to bed. Well, I hope I’ve managed to be a successful devil’s advocate, and challenged people to do some thinking, and not just pissed them off. So how about it? Where exactly DO you draw the line between what it is legitimate for a community to control, and what it isn’t? And how do you decide?

May 9, 2005 @ 9:08 am | Comment

FSN9, you are equating discrimination with actions taken against discrimination. Majority public opinion doesn’t matter a bit when it comes to discrimination. If it did, some towns would lynch all the niggers, and some eastern European villages would have butchered the Jews long before Hitler came along. We have laws to protect us from discrimination. Discrimination bad. Fight against discrimination good. I will be just as vocal about gay groups that throw out Republicans simply because they are Republicans. I despise any kind of blanket discrimination based on BS criteria like race, religion, color, political affiliation, etc. That’s what America’s unequalled history of toleration, marred and scarred by ugly incidents but nevertheless the greatest success of its kind on the planet, is all about. That’s why the ACLU defended the Nazis’ right to march in Skokie. It hurts for me to say it, but even the rights of Nazis must be protected, or else we betray our own high standards.

May 9, 2005 @ 9:33 am | Comment

>>The similarity is that each is equally unlikely to happen.

Laughing. When you hear members of Congress attacking the indepence of the judiciary because it doesn’t reflect their warped viewed of Hinduism; when you see the Bush administration attack basic science because Vishnu doesn’t agree with it; when you see Congress pass laws in a Schiavo case because Vishnu wants her to live; when you see science textbooks under attack because they don’t say Vishnu created the Earth… I could go on. When you see all of those things, then tell me that they are “equally unlikely to happen.”

>>Religion into the schools? Prayer, the teaching of creationism or indeed any organized religious instruction or observance remains prohibited.

Wrong. I guess you aren’t awake. Creationism is in “science” textbooks across the country. Also, the Scopes Monkey Trial II is taking place right now in kansas.

>Separation of church and state? It remains accepted constitutional doctrine

Accepted by whom? By me, sure. By Tom Delay and Santorum and 50% of the Republican party? No.

>>Lawsuits against Christian symbols in court houses?

You are using the fact that some “crazed liberal activist judges” oppressed people of faith as proof of what again? Uh, it isn’t the fact that this particular case was adjudicated a certain way that is worrying — it was the reaction of the majority on the right to this case that is worrying, who were all claiming this is another example of the oppression of Christians in the US. I’m sure you argued the same thing at the time.

>>As for your comparison of Islamic terrorists and Christian fundamentalists, such an absurd analogy supports my point about how shrill and hysterical some on the Left have become on this subject.

I’m on the Left? That is news to me. I worked for the McCain campaign, for one.

About my analogy, I was pointing out the absurdity on your part. I assume that you are agasint Islamic terrorists? If I were using your logic, I would then claim that you are shrill and bigoted by substituting blacks or jews in your statement for terrorists. That is what you did to Other Lisa.

May 9, 2005 @ 9:51 am | Comment

“Shrill,” by the way, is a term oft-used by the Right to trivialize their opponents – “shrill” equals “hysterical” equals “female” or at least unmanly. God knows we can’t have any of that in Commander Codpiece’s regime.

Here is quite a lovely blog devoted to this semantic/political point:

May 9, 2005 @ 11:35 am | Comment

Conrad, I really wish you were here. They really are challenging schools in Kansas for not “balancing” the teaching of evolution with the teaching of Intelligent Design. (What logic! As though both are equally valid, as though evolution hasn’t been validated by little things like DNA and countless experiments.) Frist really did describe all Democrats who vote against the president’s judicial nominees as being “against people of faith.” A county in Georgia really did place stickers on science books saying evolution was only a theory (luckily they stopped, after becoming the laughingstock of the world). They are intent of banning abortion and marginalizing gays, and they make no secret of this. And these are not pipedreams on their part, they are real threats to real people, and they are generated by evangelical fears, superstitions and foolishness. Their anti-contraceptive philosophy has affected our foreign relations, and gives young people false notions (like condoms are only reliable 20 percent of the time and AIDS can be spread through casual contact). The list goes on and on, and every day seems to see a new outrage. At what point will you consider it a threat? A threat is something poised to happen, and if you watch carefully it’s pretty obvious they are carefully laying the groundwork for a Christian America, as defined by the religious right. If that’s not a threat, what is?

May 9, 2005 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

Richard, I don’t think you’ve addressed the point I raised? Clearly, it is considered to be not only acceptable, but the right thing for society to discriminate against some people under certain circumstances, such as the example I gave (and there are others). Now society draws a sharp line by a purely arbitrary means … whether a young person has had a certain birthday or not. 16 years old in most countries, I think? A couple where one partner is 20 and the other is 10 does get discriminated against, and a majority of people from all political and gender persuasions would consider this kind of discrimination to be legitimate. So as I said, there’s a problem with the argument that discrimination is bad, and you can’t discriminate against someone because society has no right to have any say in the actions of individuals, as long as it doesn’t effect anyone else. It’s not hard to find examples where society not only can, but should and does discriminate. So the gay lobby needs to start addressing the question of why it is that gays should not be targetted for such discrimination, because clearly there are some sectors of society who believe they should be. In the end, such issues are always decided by community consensus …

And once again: I’m not advocating discrimination against gays. I do not see any problem with being gay. It’s really none of my business. What I am saying is that I find the gay arguments in support of their cause to be simplistic, and miss a pretty crucial point: society always discriminates, and this is not wrong. Therefore they must argue the point about why they should not be discriminated against, rather than just saying “it’s discrimination, and therefore it’s wrong.”

May 9, 2005 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

I think we are over-parsing. Of course there are criteria, such as age, that is taken into consideration and should be, and to my mind that isn’t discrimination. I’m even on the fence as to whether prohibiting gay marriage is discrimination; it is technically, but I also don’t believe America is ready for the idea, and I’d just as soon it be taken off the table for now. But to throw people out of a church because of who they voted for, or prohibiting gay people from moving into a community — these actions cross lines that in the past have been respected, at least for the past several decades. And now we are seeing an ugly trend where anything that acknowledges even the existence of birth control or homosexuals is under attack. Where religious leaders say a political figure can be denied communion because he believes in a woman’s right to choose. These are alarming tendencies, a big step backward, and resemble nothing I’ve seen in America over the past 30 years. They are now coming at us a mile a minute, a new one every day, and all seem to have been catalyzed by the emboldened Evangelicals who saw Bush’s re-election as proof that the American people want to adopt their (Evangelicals’) morality. So let’s not get caught up in legalese or what discrimination is — you and I are in complete agreement about that. It’s about a growing trend to marginalize and exile non-Republicans and non-believers. We saw it again today when the State Department said they’d only provide information on John Bolton to Republicans. It is a bizarre time in America indeed.

May 9, 2005 @ 7:31 pm | Comment


There is a court challenge in Kansas. Big deal. Anyone capable of finding the court house can initiate legal proceedings. The case will fail. There is no constitutional principal pursuant to which a court can order a school board to teach creation science. If the local trial judge doesn’t get that, I guarantee you that an appellate judge will.

I do find it amusing, however, watching the left get their knickers in a twist over judicial activism. It’s not so nice when the shoe is on the other foot, is it? When an unelected judge tells a Christian couple that their minor daughter can get an abortion without informing them much less seeking their consent, they tend to get ticked off. When an unelected judge tells a secualr couple that their daughter’s school cirriculum must include creation science, her parents are likewise annoyed.

Maybe, after both sides have been reamed for a while, we can form a consensus for judicial restraint and originalism and try to work our desired agendas through the legislature, where they belong. Until then, bend over boys and girls.

May 9, 2005 @ 7:34 pm | Comment


You may remember, I suggested here some many months ago, after the Massachusttes court decision compelling the recognition of gay marriage, that the country wasn’t ready and that attempts to force it upon people by judicial fiat would lead to a real backlash against gays.

Well guess what. . . ?

May 9, 2005 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

Conrad, you were exactly right. If you remember, my position was that it was the right thing to do but that it was not the right time — America simply isn’t ready.

May 9, 2005 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

“Originalism” (i.e., whatever Scalia says the framers meant) is such a naive and idiotic notion that it is almost quaint. Another name for it is pretending that your own interpretation of the constitution isn’t an interpretation. Scalia is just as “activist” as any judge on the Supreme Court. The role of the judge is to interpret what the law actually means and how it should be applied. Given that role, you can find an example of “activism” in any judge of any ideological stripe. Claims of “activism” are similar to claims of “bias” in the media: whatever I don’t agree with is “biased,” and whoever interprets the law differently from my interpretation (which isn’t an interpretation at all! it’s the true intent of the framers! uh huh) is “activist.”

Funny how all of the shrill hysteria about activist judges goes out the window when something like the Schiavo case comes along. The same people always complaining about judicial activism embrace it when it suits “the Lord.”

May 9, 2005 @ 11:28 pm | Comment

the country wasn’t ready

In 1954, the country wasn’t ready for Brown v. Board of Education either. Should the Supreme Court have taken a poll before handing down its decision in that case too?

May 10, 2005 @ 12:44 am | Comment


Not the same thing at all. The country was most assuredly ready for Brown. The South was not. The situation is far different regarding gay marriage is opposed by substantial majorities in pretty much every state in the Union.

Also, the extension of marital riights to gays, which has pretty much never existed before in the history of the modern world, is a hell of a lot different than Jim Crow.

As for you Tuode, where the fuck did you study Constitutional Law?

May 10, 2005 @ 3:20 am | Comment

Richard, for the record, I am in complete agreement with your post in response to my last posting. On the other side, I also agree with many of Conrad’s points.

May 10, 2005 @ 6:58 am | Comment

I defer to your greater expertise, Conrad. I never realized that argumentum ad populum was a viable way of settling court cases — especially those involving civil rights — but apparently I was wrong.

May 10, 2005 @ 8:48 am | Comment

>As for you Tuode, where the fuck did you study Constitutional Law?

That really reflects the level of your “arguments” overall.

May 10, 2005 @ 9:54 am | Comment

>>> Not the same thing at all.

A better example would be Loving v. Virgina which, in 1967, struck down laws active in half the states that prevented inter-racial marriage.

Fortunately (I hope we would all agree), the Supreme Court did not take popular opinon into account. According to Gallup in 1958, inter-racial marriage was supported by only 1% of southern whites and 5% of non-southern whites, much less than contemporary levels of support for gay marriage.

In fact, it was only in 1991 that Gallup found for the first time the percentage of those who approved of inter-racial marriage was larger then that of those who disapproved.

Thank the heavens for the “activist” justices who refused to follow public opinion polls in 1967.

May 10, 2005 @ 10:28 am | Comment

By the same token, suppose the pendulum in the U.S. swings so far to the right that a majority of Americans come to believe that contraception, or heterosexual sodomy (i.e. blowjobs), or indeed extramarital sex of any kind, should be illegal.

According to Conrad’s newly discovered judicial principle of “mob rule,” the courts would be entirely justified in upholding any and all anti-sex laws, because that’s what the people want.

Be careful what you wish for, Conrad.

May 10, 2005 @ 10:39 am | Comment

FS#9 wrote:
What I am saying is that I find the gay arguments in support of their cause to be simplistic, and miss a pretty crucial point: society always discriminates, and this is not wrong. Therefore they must argue the point about why they should not be discriminated against, rather than just saying “it’s discrimination, and therefore it’s wrong.”

Actually, no offense but I think maybe it’s you who “missed a pretty crucial point.” *Of course* gays are not arguing against discrimination in principal. That would be silly. For example, a law that grants retirement benefits to those over age 65 technically discriminates on the basis of age against those who are younger. I don’t think anyone objects to discimination in the general sense.

When gays or others are talking about “discrimination” they are usually talking about “discrimination on the basis of irrelevant criteria” (such as asking about someone’s race or religion on a typical job application).

Because most people implicitly acknowledge this disctinction, it is seldom spelled out in discussions of problems involving “discrimination”, so in fact gays (or anyone else decrying discrimination) are not being “simplistic” in the sense you suggest.

May 10, 2005 @ 10:47 am | Comment

Vaara, excellent comeback to our friend Conrad. I’m sorry that I have to take the position that America isn’t ready for gay marriage, and I don’t equate it with not being ready for Brown vs. Bd of Ed, per your analogy. There is simply too much opposition everywhere, and while we should keep pressing for it and educating people as to what it really means, we also have to be realistic. I’m not a lawyer or an ethicist, and this raises all sorts of questions that I admit I cannot answer. I know it’s right to let gay people marry, and I also know it could be political suicide for any politician today. I believe the best approach is a compromise involving civil unions, for now, but the far-right is attempting to invalidate this as well. So all I know is we have to keep fighting, without being so strident it scares our friends away.

May 10, 2005 @ 11:22 am | Comment

Richard: you implicitly raise the troubling question of just how long we should expect to wait for full citizenship.

How long till we won’t have to worry about offending the delicate feelings of those who think their families will collapse if the guys next door are allowed to marry one another?

Ten years? Fifty? A thousand?


May 10, 2005 @ 12:25 pm | Comment

know Vaara, and I acknowledge that it puts me in an ethical dilemma precisely because of the questions you raise. But I also saw the avalanche of reactionary thinking and demagoguery that followed the Massachusetts ruling, and I saw how the GOP manipulated and fanned the outrage to its political advantage. I’d rather take a slower course than give them the ammunition to repeat that depressing scenario. I know, it’s a very imperfect decision. But what’s the answer right now? It is important but it is certainly not my top priority — dumping Bush and lowering taxes on the middle class take priority right now. I’m trying to be pragmatic, because I learned the hard way that this is a political third rail and we can’t afford to have the Democratic Party commit suicide again.

May 10, 2005 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

what’s really worrisome is the attempt to roll back domestic partnership laws as well…I think you might be able to win that PR battle with the American people because it seems so blatantly unfair…at least I hope so.

On a personal note, this thread is the first time since I started posting here that I have ever felt personally attacked. Not sure what that says about me, the subject or the participants, but…

May 10, 2005 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

Lisa, I apologize for that. Please don’t go.

May 10, 2005 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

Don’t worry, Richard, I wasn’t planning on it. I was just really taken aback. Granted I did not phrase the post that got me flamed with a lot of care, but I have never in all my life been called a bigot.

I did think long and hard about my attitudes as a consequence, and I’ll admit that I don’t have much tolerance left for religious fundamentalists of any stripe, which does not speak well of me, and that I am way too angry at this Administration for my own health, probably.

But I stand by what I said: the Religious Right scares me, and I don’t want to live in a country where their irrational belief system dominates public discourse.

May 10, 2005 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

p.s. I should mention Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical who puts out Sojourners on the web, has a lot to say about the religious right and their distortions of the Bible – which is to say, the Bible does have a few things to say about homosexuality, but it has far more things to say about loving your neighbor and about the moral imperative to care for the poor – “camels passing through eyes of the needle” and all of that.

May 10, 2005 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

I think it’s fine to feel less than loving toward a group of Bible thumpers who would impose their morality on everyone under the false belief that America is “a Christian nation.” I respect their rights to free speech and to enjoy their religion — but once they insist on putting it in my face, and taking away my rights and trying to stop stem cell research and make sex look like something bad….well, it’s hard for me to feel a lot of warmth for them, let’s leave it at that. I will tolerate them but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Fundamentalism of any kind sucks, and is the kiss of death for any society (witness so much of the Middle East, or the effects of Christianity on Europe in the Middle Ages and Spain in the Inquisition…).

May 10, 2005 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

Shanghai Slim – take your point and extend it. How do you define what is “irrelevant criteria”? As I said before, the arguments that you usually hear are simplistic, and fail to take into account any of these points. They are stated quite bluntly and simplistically. You may read those nuances into them, but most of the time they are never addressed, and seem to be considered irrelevant by the person voicing them. So, take the issue of employment: is it irrelevant what religion a person is? Many would say no, yet religious schools in Australia (USA too?) are legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of belief. Should they therefore also be allowed to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation? Is this a relevant criteria or not? Simply saying these things are “irrelevant criteria” misses the point. If I rent out a room in my place, I am legally (though not socially) allowed to post an advertisement that says “no blacks, asians, gays, cripples”. Of course, I would expect (and deserve) quite a few abusive phone calls in response to such an ad, but it would NOT be illegal, because Australian law specifically exludes from the discrimination laws rental accomodation in situations where the person advertising is going to live with the person moving in. If I wasn’t going to live there, then the act would apply. So, in the society I live in, it has been decided that I can discriminate on any criteria that seems suitable to me, in certain circumstances. So then … what about schooling? Is being gay an irrelevant or irrelevant criteria? In a very religious community, most of the parents would say its very relevant. Other communities would say no. And, getting back to the original point, I think you (Shanghai Slim) have a more sophisticated way of looking at the problem, but I do not agree that this situation holds true for the majority of debate in the public arena.

May 10, 2005 @ 7:29 pm | Comment


Of course the Supreme Court takes into account popular opinion. Why do you think that, after Brown v. Board, it ordered segregation ended with “all deliberate speed”?

The NAACP had properly requested that segregation be ended “forthwith”. If racial segregation violated the consititution, it should have been prohibited outright and immediately. However, the Court declined to do that, allowing the violation to continue over time.

Why? Because the court feared massive resistance and social turmoil in the South. It got that anyway. Whether it would have been even worse had the Court’s order had immediate effect is an open question.

Furthermore, taking into account public opinion is an inherent element when non-Originalists find new rights in the Constitution. One of the key questions they will ask is whether public opinion/sentiment has changed sufficiently that what was previously not consitituionally protected must now be seen as an essential liberty.

For example, a purported change in US public opinion was the primary reason cited by the US Supreme Court a few months back in banning the execution of minors, which it had previously voted to allow.

It cannot be seriously disputed that nothing in the US or any State Constitution was ever intended to create a right for homosexuals to marry. Therefore, if that right now exists Constitutionally, the only possible acceptable justification for it is that the relevant Constitutions have grown and evolved as societal opinion has changed.

The problem with that argument here is that, when the vast majority of the country finds the idea of gay marriage wrong, one cannot seriously claim that society has sufficiently changed to require that the Constitution be rewritten to impose it.

Many of you need to disabuse yourself of the notion that because a law is ill-considered, stupid and/or counter-productive that it is unconsititutional. If you think the law barring gay marriage is wrong, then use the electoral process to convince your fellow citizens to change it rather than trying to get unelected judges to shove your preference down their throats.

May 10, 2005 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

>It cannot be seriously disputed that nothing in the US or any State Constitution was ever intended to create a right for homosexuals to marry

Sure it can. Ever hear of the 9th amendment? Or Griswold v. Connecticut??

May 10, 2005 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

are you all talking about marriage or civil union here? because as little as I might agree with fundamentalists, the state has absolutely no right to change what a church allows.

correct me if I’m wrong, but marriage is a religious institution, regardless of the fact that it grants different tax status and is therefore marginally institutionalized. most christian religions believe homosexuality is immoral and have every right to forbid it in their churches and among their members. outside church, however, civil union provides the same tax benefits and rights, and it doesn’t step on people’s religious beliefs to do so. so while the 9th should encompass civil unions it in no way gives the government power to step into religions and dictate what they should allow. seperation works both ways (well, it should).

May 10, 2005 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

Does the US constitution protect against this kind of descrimination?

If I can’t treat a somebody differently because of their marital status, sexuality, or skin color, am I permitted to discriminate against them for their political views?

May 10, 2005 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

Well, marriage is also a civil contract, right? It gives the couple certain rights and privileges, changes your tax status, etc.. A lot of people have said that we need to separate the religious aspects from the civil/legal aspects of marriage. People who favor gay marriage are not advocating that churches be forced to marry same sex couples; rather they are demanding that gay couples be accorded the same rights as straight couples.

May 10, 2005 @ 11:08 pm | Comment


You plainly know absolutely nothing whatsoever about constitutional law. In fact, it’s worse than that. What you think you know is complete bollocks.

The framers of the 9th Amendment never intended that provision to require states to recognize gay marriage. That is clear from the following:

(1) Prior to the ratification of the 14th Amendment the Bill of Rights (including the 9th Amendment) did not, as a matter of law, even apply to the states


See also: Gitlow v. New York

(2) The 9th Amendment did not create any rights whatsoever, nor did it guarantee or proscribe against the infringement of any right. It is clear from its text and from the framers’ contemporaneous statements that the 9th Amendment was intended only to respond to Federalist objections to ratifying the Bill of Rights. It states a rule of construction, providing that the Bill of Rights does not, by implication, increase the powers of the federal government in areas not inenumerated in the rest of the Bill of Rights.

(3) The fact that every state in the Union as well as the Federal Government continued to prohibit gay marriage for more than 200 years after the ratification of the Bill of Rights indicates that no such right was intended to be created by the Framers.

As for Griswald v. Connecticut, that is not a constitutional provision, but a Supreme Court decision. In addition, no serious Constitutional scholar would read Griswald as holding that the Ninth Amendment can be a substantive source of constitutional rights. Rather, Griswald held that, pursuant the the 9th Amendment, it is a function of the courts to proscribe legislative and executive actions that abridge fundamental rights that are “basic, fundamental and deep-rooted in society.

Homosexual marriage, no matter what else it might be, cannot possibly be called deep-rooted in society.

May 11, 2005 @ 12:17 am | Comment

It cannot be seriously disputed that nothing in the US or any State Constitution was ever intended to create a right for homosexuals to marry.

Many people insist that the Constitutional justification for ending the ban on abortion is equally tenuous. Was Roe v. Wade therefore a flawed decision too? Should it be reversed?

I’ll admit that my feelings on the gay-marriage issue are clouded by my own situation. My partner and I are legally married, but if we ever move back to the U.S., we will in effect become forcibly divorced.

And I fail to see how that would benefit the Homeland.

May 11, 2005 @ 1:04 am | Comment

Your usual string of straw men and ad hominem attacks prove that you certainly use the same style of argument as your hero Scalia. They prove little else, however.

You can pretend all you want that the interpretation of the 9th amendment is non-controversial and never has been, but you are simply wrong. And, yes, there are “serious constitutional scholars” who have claimed that the 9th amend. is a source of substantive and enforceable rights.

Saying that gay marriage has “continued to be prohibited” for 200 years is like saying breathing or eating or playing soccer has “continued to be prohibited” for over 200 years. Obviously, those things must be prohibited; they aren’t specifically enumerated rights in the constitution.

>>As for Griswald v. Connecticut, that is not a constitutional provision, but a Supreme Court decision.

And I said it was a constitutional provision where?? The main point in Griswold was the penumbra doctrine, which held that certain rights, which are not enumerated, exist and are enforceable at the state and federal level. These rights can be found — as a right to privacy was in this case — in the lacunae of the amendments themselves. You can certainly disagree with the majority decision in this case, but don’t baldly misrepresent it.

Your blind misreading of Griswold alone should prompt me to ask: “where the fuck did you study constitutional law?”

May 11, 2005 @ 1:30 am | Comment

I’m sure Conrad will be thrilled to learn that the pending “Real ID” act contains an obscure provision that might very well eliminate judicial review altogether.

Hasta luego, Marbury v. Madison!

Oh, and getting back to the topic of the original post: The “minister” of that North Carolina church has quit. Possibly it’s occurred to him that he could make a fortune on the Christian rubber-chicken circuit, along with Tom DeLay and Jim Jeff Gannon Guckert and other holy martyrs to the eeeevul liberal รฉlite.

Or am I just getting too cynical in my old age?

May 11, 2005 @ 4:25 am | Comment

Echo, marriage is not necessarily a religious act. My brother was married in his living room by former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and religion played no role whatever.

I won’t comment on any of the legal talk because I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know enough about it. I do have to agree with Conrad on one point, and that is that the best way to get gay marriage accepted is through the election of sympathetic legislators, as we’ve seen the backlash the other route has created. And Vaara, that link you provided should make any true conservative or libertatrian or liberal’s hair stand on end. Can it possible be true?

May 11, 2005 @ 5:59 am | Comment

“minister” of that North Carolina church has quit.”

Serve him right, he is not only a bigot, but also a liar who got recorded what he said on ABC news. What a shame.

May 11, 2005 @ 5:41 pm | Comment


1. I studied Constitutional law under Larry Tribe and Cass Sunstein at HLS. And you?

2. In addition to being wrong about Griswald and the 9th Amendment, your efforts to shift the argument are obvious. My statement was that no provision of the US or any state constitution was INTENDED to create a right of homosexual marriage. You have not and cannot offer any argument to the contrary. Indeed, the idea that the framers, drafting the 9th Amendment in 1787, intended to include as a right that which they would have found perverse and abhorant, is specious.

3. What’s this nonsense about ‘my hero Scalia’? I defy you to find one word that I’ve written anywhere that expresses any admiration for him.

May 11, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment


1). I had to laugh at your first point, since it just confirmed that your “where the f did you study constitutional law” question was obvious bait. You got your wish: you told the world you went to Harvard (and your pathetic implication that you must be right since you went to HLS is, well, pretty pathetic). This is just another variation on your ad hominem arguments. If I say that I earned the Fay diploma or went to Yale, do I win?

2) Since I find originalism rather silly and delusional, I reject your entire premise. It isn’t necessary to prove that the framers intended specifically to create a right of gay marriage. That is only necessary if you are under the delusion that strict originalism is the only valid interpretation (and it is a value-laden, subjective interpretation) of the constitution. You can easily argue — as many “serious constitutional scholars” have — that the 9th and Griswold (among others) provide a basis for other substantive rights not specifically enumerated. (privacy, abortion, etc.).

3) Since you seem to agree with Scalia’s judicial philosophy, I infer that he is your hero. If he isn’t, he should be.

Finally, I think it is pretty funny that you are calling people “shrill” around here. Most of your arguments boil down to “you’re stupid,” “no serious person could possibly disagree with my completely controversial statements,” and the kicker “I went to HLS.” Sorry, I don’t find those kind of arguments convincing.

Ironically, I am against gay marriage, but for entirely different legal reasons that have nothing to do with orginalism or so-called “judicial activism.”

May 11, 2005 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

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