The Minstrel

Any Religious Text can be used to Swear-In Witness!!!
May 24, 2007, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Church & State

What a victory for religious liberty!

This means–finally, at long last!–if you’re a Muslim in North Carolina, you can swear your courtroom oath on your own book of faith, the Qur’an, rather than the Judeo-Christian Bible. How obvious this ruling should have been, oh, so very long ago. Nonetheless, it took an ACLU lawyer to vehemently argue, through a labyrinth of procedure, that “limiting the text to the Bible was unconstitutional because it favored Christianity over other religions.” Yes–giving Muslims the choice between swearing an oath on the Bible and affirming on no text at all favors Christianity over Islam. Not rocket science.

Here’s the story!  And another story!


Arguments Today! Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation
February 28, 2007, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Church & State

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, to prepare to answer a taxpayer standing question with hefty implications . . . for all Americans.

Nice teaser, no?

The Court will ultimately determine whether atheist taxpayers and the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Bush administration’s faith-based initiatives, which is basically an inside track on federal grants for faith-based programs.

Generally, taxpayers don’t have standing to challenge governmental spending of tax revenue. But, in 1968, the United States Supreme Court carved out an exception to the general rule, allowing taxpayers to challenge congressional spending for private religious schools. I agree with the camp that says, any other rule would make it much, much harder to stop the government from giving unconstitutional aid to religious groups, and this would be bad. The Bush Administration could violate the First Amendment virtually unchecked, because the class of people with the ability to challenge their conduct could be significantly diminished after Hein–if the Court buys the administration’s nonsense.

The NY Times reports that the administration argues the following:

Taxpayers can challenge the financing of religious activity, the administration claims, only when a Congressional statute expressly authorizes the spending. There is no statute behind the faith-based initiative.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals already said this argument is poo-ey, and concluded that the taxpayers and Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., have standing to bring suit.

Read more about it here, and here.

Supreme Court

January 23, 2007, 9:01 am
Filed under: Church & State

I’m taking a trip to this place, in the heart of Washington, D.C., which is not a church–not even close:


Qur’an Suit Justiciable, says N.C. Court of Appeals
January 17, 2007, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Church & State

Currently, in North Carolina, court witnesses and jurors have two choices: they may be sworn in on the Christian Bible, or they may affirm, using no religious text. When a Greensboro woman, Syidah Mateen, decided that she would like to swear her oath on the Qur’an, trouble brewed. More after the break.

Continue reading

Sectarian Prayer Alert in Thomasville
January 10, 2007, 11:45 am
Filed under: Church & State

Rev. Donnie Lunsford, pastor of New Grace Baptist Church, and Thomasville City Councilman, Dwight Cornelison, want more Christian prayer at public meetings, and they’re all fired up, writes The Dispatch. They’re planning a February 3, 2007, breakfast called the “Christian involvement conference.”

Cornelison said the following, I feel certain, in a Bible-thumping manner:

We’re going to dispel the rumors that Christians can’t be involved[.] . . . God ordained government, church and the family. It’s a Christian duty and obligation to participate in civil government.

Um? What rumors? I like Christians. We’re, in fact, overwhelmingly involved. Otherwise, actually, I don’t disagree with any of that. I think that’s just fine. Yet, it doesn’t justify Christian prayers in governmental meetings, during which elected representatives make decisions affecting the lives of all people of every unique faith.

Here’s their plan to make it constitutional:

Among the ways, he says, are to offer invocations before meetings are officially called to order, for council members to seek inspiration for themselves only rather than to pray on behalf of the entire city or to invite clergy on a rotating basis from a representative cross-section of the city’s faiths.

But then, one has the problem of “defining” religion–a First Amendment no-no. Not to mention that, inevitably, some faiths will be tossed to the curb because of some of someone’s subjective judgment that the particular faith is not public-meeting-prayer-worthy.

Cornelison surprised me by saying this:

If someone who is Muslim is elected to council, and they want to pray to Allah, I don’t have a problem with it[.]

Well, that’s a good starting point. Especially considering the Muslims (and people of other, various and sundry, non-Christian faiths) in the country have dealt with Christian references and prayers by governmental officials for, oh, several hundred years. But why should it matter that the elected councilperson is Muslim. What if a concerned citizen is Muslim?

I wonder what Keith Ellison would say in response to this.

The 110th Congress meets World
January 8, 2007, 9:17 am
Filed under: Church & State

Watch out, World!

After the historic convening of the 110th Congress last week, and all of the hullabaloo that preceded and followed, Keith Ellison, with Qur’an in tote, wrote this guest column for the Washington Post’s, “On Faith” section.

This story has been a good one. Kudos, again, to Congressman Ellison.

Although I haven’t covered this topic on my blog, kudos to Nancy Pelosi, as well!

Oh, my.
January 4, 2007, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Church & State

Keith Ellison meets Virgil Goode