Tulsa, not quite OK

By Phil Plait | August 13, 2009 1:24 pm

Anna Falling

I sometimes feel that I have to apologize on behalf of America to the rest of the planet. What must they think of someone like Anna Falling, who is running for Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma on the platform that there’s not enough religion in government?

“Some may ask why this issue during a Mayoral campaign? And I say why not?” said candidate Anna Falling.

Pssst! Someone tell her the answer to "Why not?" is: "The Constitution".

I think that if you run for any publicly elected office, the only prereq is that you have to read the Constitution and answer a quiz with ten True or False questions on it. Sample questions:

1) Is it OK for the government to endorse only Christianity?

2) Would it be legal to, say, put up a stone monument to The Ten Commandments as the only religious icon in a courthouse?

3) Where exactly in the Constitution does it say this country was founded on Christian principles?

etc.

I love this part of her website on, "Why Anna?":

By now you have likely seen that I have stepped out to run to become Tulsa’s next Mayor. We believe that we are the candidate to beat for campaign experience and issue strength.

Psssst (again): referring to yourself in the royal first person plural may not instill confidence in the voters. Unless you’re running for 19th century Queen of England. Then you’ve got a shot.

Tip o’ the crown to Mandy Qualls for alerting me to this.

Comments (135)

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  1. Stephen P

    Is she the younger and dumber sister of Intelligent Falling?

  2. Oklahoma is the new Texas. If Tulsa actually elects her they will be DOOOOMMEDDDD!

  3. I wonder if she’s from the same school of cranks who say that atheism is a religion and the First Amendment grants freedom of religion rather than freedom from religion and therefore, atheists and secularist have to pipe down and let them do whatever they want with impunity…

  4. Icepick

    Almost as bad as Sotomayor asking for “Divine Guidance” in her new job as a Supreme Court justice.

    Shouldn’t the Constitution be all the guidance she needs?

  5. She needs both an education in Constitutional law and a proofreader for her website.

  6. John P.

    Which religion does she want to add to government?? There’s plenty out there to chose from. Oh, only HERS?

  7. Viewer 3

    I live in Louisiana (no comment). And for most down here, someone being a vocal Christian to the point of admitting that it influences their every political decision is a REQUIREMENT to earn their vote. I’ve heard that in other countries even mentioning religion is a political third-rail, but here it seems to be the opposite; if you don’t come out and say how hardcore of a Christian you are and how much you love Jesus, many here in the south will automatically feel that it’s their religious duty to be against you. Religion’s false sense of empowerment allows people to get a pat on the back from their fellow believers for standing up against anything that goes against their own beliefs. So the more people turn a blind eye to fairness and reason, the stronger it makes them feel within their delusional little world.

  8. TheBluesader

    If the only issue worth addressing in the run-up to the mayoral election in Tulsa is whether government is Christian enough, I for one would love to live there.

    Hear me out: they obviously have ZERO OTHER PROBLEMS TO DEAL WITH. No crime. No drugs. No bad economy. Tulsa must be an ivory tower of magic and love, where the only serious question is whether the elected officials pray enough.

    (Coherent readers will note the SARCASM.)

  9. Is it just me, or does she totally have the Crazy Eyes? I think her usage of “we” might be more psychiatric than royal.

  10. She cites a statue of Ganesh (Hindu god that looks like an elephant) as proof that Christianity is being discriminated against. However, the statue is just that: a single statue. It’s not a whole exhibit detailing the Hindu creation story. (Here’s a photo of the statue: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/12360908 )

    Of course, when did facts ever deter these people from a good Creationism Must Be Taught Here cry?

  11. Jonathan

    One may also refer to oneself as “we” if one is GOLLUM!

  12. David D.

    I totally agree with you–this woman is not fit for office.

    But this . . .

    I sometimes feel that I have to apologize on behalf of America to the rest of the planet.

    Been to Sudan recently? Or an orphanage in, say, Romania?

    Even with nutjobs like Ms. Falling, there are a lot of places in the world far, far worse than America, with all of its faults.

  13. Mr. Pedantic

    Umm…question 3 isn’t a true/false question.

  14. If she wins, let’s hope the FSM drops a meatball on her.

  15. Mandy Q

    The thing that caught my eye about the story in the first place was a story in the Tulsa World about how Anna Falling, mayoral candidate, wanted to add some creationist buffoonery to the Tulsa Zoo. I am not from Tulsa and do not live in Tulsa (I live in OKC), so I had no idea who this person was. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is sliding further and further into right wing nuttery, so I don’t expect this to be an isolated incident.

  16. RL

    “I sometimes feel that I have to apologize on behalf of America to the rest of the planet. ”

    Yeah, I’m certain, too, that no one, in any other country, runs for office using their religion as a reason.

    I don’t get that apology sentiment, which is good. I think that bandwagon is too crowded to jump on anyway.

  17. jest

    I love her grammar. She reminds me of some of the 13 year olds who post comments on one of the NHL forums I frequent…

  18. Jeremy Henderson

    Wow, if my last name was Falling, I would not pursue a career in politics. That makes for WAY too easy a negative campaign. I wonder if her middle name is Credibility.

    One of the mantras of Fundies when they argue for more religion in government is that Christianity, specifically the 10 Commandments, is the basis of our system of laws. Which I find really odd, given that only 2.5 of behaviors forbbidden by the Commandments are actually against the law (killing, stealing, and bearing false witness, but only in specific circumstances).

  19. Amazing, as always… but not different than many other cases like that.
    There is a case in Florida (Pensacola), described here: http://www.pnj.com/article/20090809/NEWS01/908090314/1006/NEWS
    that deals with the same issues. I have to deal with this kind of people all the time. The Bible Belt is just what it’s called, and education is not valued highly down here, unless it’s a religious kind.
    I come from Poland and it’s not much better there. Just yesterday, a well known performing artists (let’s not discuss her abilities here :-)) was kicked out of public TV just for expressing her beliefs that the Bible is just a bunch of myths… Not only was she banned from performing there, but it generated huge controversy, and some investigations (apparently, some one’s feelings got hurt).
    Fun, fun, fun…

  20. Jack Armstrong

    Oklahoma is the reddest of the red states. It is the only state that got MORE RED in the last election. Unfortunately, she probably has a good shot at getting elected.

  21. Keith

    Apology accepted Phil.

    Interesting that you bring up Queen Victoria. She (obviously) wasn’t elected but she was head of the Church of England. I wonder if Ms. Failing, sorry, Falling is thinking of that.

  22. Brownian

    I agree with this woman. There just isn’t enough religion in government.

    I look forward to next March when she puts her money where her mouth is and offers herself up to Xipe Totec for the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli, thus ensuring a glorious growing season and a bountiful harvest!

  23. Debbie

    “…referring to yourself in the royal first person plural may not instill confidence in the voters. Unless you’re running for 19th century Queen of England.”

    We are not amused.

    Why can’t politicians be more like lawyers in their knowledge of the Constitution? If lawyers can know it through and through to find ways around it, then politicians should also know it (and understand it!) to protect it.

  24. Tjohn

    Though I don’t agree with her. A lot of the “commentors” do need to read the Constitution and think like a lawyer. If it is legal within her state, it should be legal. Note that several states had State Religions existed at creation time and would not have signed the on to the Constitution if otherwise. Unfortunately we have had too many Supreme Court Justices who could neither read nor think.

  25. BD

    I have to say, I’m from Tulsa, a Christian, and a Biologist. I, also, don’t see how science and religion conflict… NO, I won’t be voting for Falling, she’s a bit too … um… churchy? But I, have to say this: I appreciate that here in America someone can (sometimes obnoxiously) vocalize their beliefs and doesn’t have to worry about being killed. AND, it’s our choice not to vote for him/her.

  26. Jardmonkey

    #23 @Brownian-

    you win teh internets on that one. Bravo sir.

  27. Marcus

    Whoa now..lets not get carried away and judge the city by this nutcase. I have lived here for over 2 years now and can say she is not representative of the population. That would be like thinking every California resident likes to smash watermelons with a mallot because Gallagher ran in the election that Arnold won.

  28. saltywar

    I’m no real fan of religion in government in my own country, much less someone else’s. That said, I thought the US constitution said something like “congress shall make no law respecting…”. My understanding is that jurisprudence covers the ten commandments in courthouses and such.

    So how exactly does the constitution ban mayors from including religion in their campaigns? What am I missing?

  29. BD (#26): Think so? Try being a vocal atheist, especially if you’re a kid in high school. Threats are de rigeur for saying something like that.

  30. Stonegiant

    I am absolutely ashamed to be from Oklahoma. That lady is a complete quack! If she gets that junk put up in the Tulsa Zoo, I’m going to go there and vandalize it! Grr.

  31. girlgenius

    She uses “we” because, obviously, God is her running mate.

    Doesn’t make her any less mad, but there it is. Entirely logical.

  32. Mandy Q

    @ Marcus

    I completely agree. I certainly hate when people judge Oklahoma as a whole. I grew up here, and while I certainly disagree with the majority of my state and national representation (and, apparently, mayoral candidates), there are scientists, health care workers, teachers, and many, many others who are fighting for the truth.

  33. Brian

    I don’t know why you have to apologize for America. People all over the world do this sort of thing. I thought you would know that some countries are run by religion. Starting off your post with that was really ignorant. Also, why are you so important as to be burdened with such a responsibility? Did America ask you to do this for it?

  34. cpt Jameson Lave de Reorte

    Poe’s law. Either she is a very good politician (including the ‘we’ part), either she is the sister of Sarah palin.

    Please do spam public property with religious nonsense. The more people are confronted with stupid superspicious assertions squeezed in a certain tiny way, the more people will become skeptical. We have witnessed something like that in the Netherlands. As long as people are vague and their propositions are blocked no bullsht detector is hit. But as soon people start to speak solid bullsht in public and are serious about it they get ridiculed. For a major part from the inside.

    Many people may be religious but almost everybody has a world view where other ‘similar’ views don’t fit in, for any reason. The reason why fundamentalist religions clash all over the world is the same reason why churches split up and split up and split up. As long as there is no common enemy religious cults fall apart and people seperate. Leaving only space for common values. Which is all that counts in societies. Please do put up a statue of christian faith or whatever. Meet the law when you try to forbid i.e. a muslim statue or an atheist slang on a billboard. You can’t. Quite some people in the US may be deluded but there is enough common sense and common interest not turning the US in a one-flavour theocratic state.

    Don’t fight them. Give them what they want and demand the same. Out of fairness, equality, freedom of speech, love, confidence, whatever. Fight views with reason. The reason why people take a certain version of a certain religion serious does not differ that much from reasons that count for the majority of other people. Some grew up believing something is good, some came to the conclusion later in life. Only nutcakes believe what they believe to inflict rubbish. Most people just want a good life for themselves and everybody else. probably/maybe including this candidate.

    I wouldn’t vote for her and I think propositions/claims made by religious people are nuts or even profound, but I do endorse their freedom to express themselves. Freedom of expression brings discussion and diversity. That is the two things that lack in oppressive societies. Oppressive societies don’t start with people allowing statues, books or people. They start with prohibition and (self)censorship. The fact that a book about the Muhamed cartoons by Yale is reprinted without the cartoons is much more serious than somebody who wants a statue or whatever.

  35. “I sometimes feel that I have to apologize on behalf of America to the rest of the planet” when ever i see or hear Glenn Beck i feel the same way ;-(

  36. Jeff Keogh

    David D #13:

    “Been to Sudan recently? Or an orphanage in, say, Romania?

    Even with nutjobs like Ms. Falling, there are a lot of places in the world far, far worse than America, with all of its faults.”

    Does the Sudan have a massive political influence on the rest of the world? Does Romania hold itself up as the gold standard of societies?

    No country is perfect, no society utopian, that is clear. However, US influence on the rest of the world – particularly the western world – is disporportionate to its population size. And that is why Phil has the urge to apologise.

    When Sudan or Romania have that influence, your comment may cease to be pointless and irrelevant.

  37. BD

    Phil Plait #30) Well high school doesn’t count. You get your ass kicked for looking the wrong. just about… Even had guys dumb enough to think black people just didn’t drive jeeps… In high school, most kids are just a little egocentric and think they are smarter than everyone else. Hell, talking about evolution in class (college) every semester is a VERY touchy subject… which is a subject I love!!
    What I was really talking about, I’ve been to countries where we had to be extremely careful where we went because we were Caucasian and American (more than likely Christian). Because death would have been eminent, without ever opening our mouths.

  38. Tedd

    While Oklahoma certainly does not lack in cringe-worthy politicians, they do seem to be playing a game of one-upmanship lately.

    What may not be apparent to those outside of Tulsa is that Anna Falling is as much a “candidate” for Tulsa Mayor as Dennis Kucinich was a “candidate” for US President. No one takes this attention-seeking crackpot seriously! All it takes to become a candidate is to publicly declare such intention. Please don’t mistake her for someone who actually has any chance of becoming mayor.

  39. Stephen

    I hate to be that guy but:

    “…have to read the Constitution and answer a quiz with ten True or False questions on it. Sample questions:
    “1) Is it OK for the government to endorse only Christianity?
    2) Would it be legal to, say, put up a stone monument to The Ten Commandments as the only religious icon in a courthouse?
    3) Where exactly in the Constitution does it say this country was founded on Christian principles?”

    aren’t true or false questions, 3 is particularly hard to answer with only the word “true” or “false”

  40. Jeff Keogh

    RL #17:

    “Yeah, I’m certain, too, that no one, in any other country, runs for office using their religion as a reason. ”

    I know that you’re trying to be facetious here, but in fact, in the case of all other western democracies, you are correct. Well, correct in that no-one who wants to be *successful* when running for office will use their religion. Sure there are some whackos who garmer half a poofteenth of the vote by touting religion, but by and large it’s a non-issue. Or even assiduously avoided.

    So, in fact, the US is unique in that regard. Only in the US do religious slackjaws have political currency.

  41. Boomer

    I live very near Tulsa. We’re not all like that. Some of us are rational.

  42. #35 I think he was referring to the teachers, not just other kids. That’s the sad part.

  43. Nomen Publicus

    Tony Blairs spin doctor famously said “We don’t do religion” when asked about Tonys beliefs while he was Prime Minister. Of course, as soon as Tony left office, he converted to the Catholic faith.

    I guess in the US the exact opposite would take place.

  44. Leslie

    Tulsa resident here. I spent a lovely day at the zoo and spoke to quite a few staff members. No one supports this. Her “rally” at the site yesterday barely got any attention. Not enough to win mayor anyway.

    We’re not all crazy here! The majority of the zoo donors (Of which I am one) will withdraw their donations if anything goes through. It won’t happen.

  45. girlgenius

    @saltywar (#29) — I’m no scholar of the Constitution, but here’s my take —

    The Constitution doesn’t ban outright public officials from being religious or including religion in their campaigns. But when you read the Constitution you have to pay as much attention to what it says implicitly as to what it says explicitly. For example, the right to privacy isn’t an explicit guarantee of the Bill of Rights, but it’s implied when it says US citizens aren’t subject to search and seizure without cause.

    Likewise, the Constitution doesn’t explicitly say you can’t trumpet your religion when you’re running for office, but through the First Amendment it implies that doing so is not a good idea because, for a start, you’re potentially violating the rights of others to keep their beliefs private. So, for example, if I don’t vote for the Christian candidate, I’ve basically outed myself as a non-Christian which, depending on the community I live in, could be merely unfortunate or outright dangerous. If you’re afraid to vote, you lose your voice as a citizen. If you vote Christian because that’s what all your Christian neighbors are doing, your vote becomes meaningless. Therefore, running on a religious platform works to negate the intent of the Constitution — ensuring people have a safe environment where they can consciously give their consent to be governed.

    Not to mention that it’s pretty weak to say that voting based on religion is superior to voting based on the issues. Obviously, Ms Falling has no intention of serving her community at-large — just the Christians she personally identifies with.

  46. Rob Glover

    “Not enough religion in Government” indeed – so I presume this woman would support a vocal Muslim standing alongside her for office? Oh… perhaps she is only thinking of one particular religion.
    I’m in the UK, and in some ways it is only our cultural secularity that prevents more of this happening over here. As is well known, we have no separation of church and state, in fact we have a state church, but culturally we still get a bit – well, plain embarrassed at any politician wearing their religion on their sleeve.

  47. Logan

    “We believe that we are the candidate to beat for campaign experience and issue strength.”

    She sounds like a Spiderman villain.

  48. Keith

    That’s true Rob. Weird isn’t it.

    I’m just thinking. To those who say Phil shouldn’t have to apologise because there’s worse stuff going on outside America. I’ll remember that next time I do something wrong. I won’t have to apologise because there are muderers and rapists out there that have done worse.

  49. Keith:

    I’ll remember that next time I do something wrong. I won’t have to apologise because there are muderers and rapists out there that have done worse.

    I’ve actually heard people use that argument. Usually right after getting caught doing something “minor”, like speeding or running a red light. They say things like “I guess all the other crimes have been solved if you’re spending time giving out traffic tickets”.

  50. Brian

    Jeff Keogh – false assertions do not enhance the argument. What you stated in your response is not true. It’s bad enough there are candidates out there who use religion to further personal gain, and perpetuate superstition without people like you mucking it up even more by making contrary, ignorant statements. If you don’t want religion in government and politics, speak to that, don’t involve the other nonsense.

  51. Zubenelgenubi

    Not everyone in Tulsa, or Oklahoma, is like Anna Falling. Take a look at today’s Editorial in the Tulsa World, “Falling off – Science, religion and politics” . Also don’t miss the political cartoon “Falling priority” .

  52. Fallsroad

    Unlike most of you I actually live in Tulsa. No, our city is not perfect. There is, like everywhere, a major budget shortfall, crime, blah blah blah. Tulsa, is home to Senator Inhofe (cringe) and Oral Roberts, so Teh Stoopid is strong with us.

    However, there are rational minded folk here as well, outnumbered though we be, and we’ll be voting.

    Falling will not win the mayoralty from the looks of things (she is not a leading candidate), but she sure does add a new wrinkle to our Teh Krazy problem. A problem, as another poster noted, that is endemic in our state and which got significantly worse after the 2008 elections..

  53. Chris

    On her website she states that, “As George Washington stated on Feb. 22, 1732, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible””

    As we all know, Washington was a wise and powerful man, so wise in fact, that he was praising our lord’s name 4 hours after coming out of the womb. If that isn’t a sign of divine inspiration and a true miracle, then I’d like to know what is! Suck on that, Scientists!

  54. Anne V

    @Leslie #45 Bravo! I’m sure anyone with enough of a zoological education to be working in a zoo will be right there with you.

  55. t-storm

    I like that her name goes well with Failing. Anna Failing, meet Failin’ Palin.

    Anyway, I have a serious question here (I do agree that she is a crank).
    And this may be a completely stupid question. But why is the Ganesh statue acceptable and not called for removal? I understand it is different than an entire exhibit (I live 20 miles from the creation museum in Cincinnati, so I know about nutty exhibits) but what religious icons are acceptable and why?

  56. Yes, it’s true that even a political candidate has the right to express their religious views. They even have the right to believe, and express that belief, that “there’s not enough religion in government”.

    But, suppose a candidate were to come out and say that the government could save billions of dollars by shutting down army bases and simply quartering the soldiers in the surrounding towns? How far do you think that person would get?

    Or, even better, state that “there’s not enough religion in government”, and that we should therefore adopt more laws from the Qur’an. (Nothing against Muslims, of course. It’s just that the people pushing for “more religion in government” seem to be the kind who think “Muslim” is the same as “terrorist”.)

  57. Jeff Keogh

    Brian #51:

    I’m at a loss. What did I say that was untrue?

  58. Fallsroad

    As we all know, Washington was a wise and powerful man, so wise in fact, that he was praising our lord’s name 4 hours after coming out of the womb.

    That’s one of a gaggle of false quotes the Christianists have been promulgating for years.

    The date is rather hilarious.

  59. jim

    a politician will say or do anything to get your vote. in tulsa that includes religion. if you told bill clinton that in order for him to win the catholic vote he would have to dress up like the pope he would do it.[afterall he had no problem recieving communion in the catholic church]. obama threw his pastor under the bus when it became the politically correct thing to do, and his grandma too. al gore spoke more ‘southern’ when he was down south. NEVER trust a politician, they all lie and all go to hell when they die, republicans and democrats alike.

  60. Greg in Austin

    saltywar said,

    So how exactly does the constitution ban mayors from including religion in their campaigns? What am I missing?

    The Constitution does not ban the Mayor (or Mayoral Candidates) from having a religion, or from using religion in their campaigns.

    However, the Constitution DOES ban the government from forcing a religion upon you or me. It clearly says, “shall not establish a state religion.”

    If you read the article, it says that she wants to have Christian Creationist information placed in the public zoo. That means public tax dollars will be spent to support one particular religion, thereby forcing you and me to accept that religion, whether we like it or not. A public zoo is a primary source of biological education for so many children and adults, and it should have nothing to do with religion, much less the anti-scientific nonsense of Creationism.

    Would you think its OK if the Mayor were Muslim (or Buddist or Jewish) and wanted to use your tax money to support those religions?

    8)

  61. …referring to yourself in the royal first person plural may not instill confidence in the voters. Unless you’re running for 19th century Queen of England. Then you’ve got a shot.

    Actually Phil, if you’re running for the position, you’re probably doing it wrong. ;-)

  62. Jason Smith

    [BD (#26): Think so? Try being a vocal atheist, especially if you’re a kid in high school. Threats are de rigeur for saying something like that.]

    Phil: That is not a burden carried only by vocal atheists. Back in the day when I was in high school I was a vocal Christian and suffered through that too. Worse was when they picked on me then called me a hypocrite when I tried to defend myself (fighting is not very Christian, you see).

    While I may have moved past my fundamentalist Christian days, any teenager who takes an unpopular stance (and telling your peers that drinking and premarital sex is wrong was highly unpopular in my day — as I imagine it still is) is ripe to be abused.

  63. Leslie

    #56 – The Ganesha statue is outside the Elephant Encounter museum at the Tulsa Zoo. It’s meant to be a cultural and historical display to show that the animal has special significance in India. The fact that the elephant is the symbol of the Republican party is also displayed indoors, along with other trivia, stats, and displays. They aren’t promoting Hinduism. They’re promoting elephants.

    It’s the best exhibit at the Tulsa Zoo, hands down. I know someone on the elephant staff and he and the others are extremely passionate about the animals and educating the visitors on their importance.

  64. John

    As someone who’s actually READ the Constitution, I understand that the only thing it forbids is Congress passing a law recognizing a national religion. Putting a monument of the 10 Commandments up at the courthouse, while not politically correct, is entirely Constitutional.

    I support a secular government with a separation of church and state, but even the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in our Constitution.

    Of course her use of the term “we” couldn’t possibly refer to her party.

  65. David D

    @Jeff #37
    Does the Sudan have a massive political influence on the rest of the world? Does Romania hold itself up as the gold standard of societies?

    We should be very grateful that societies like Sudan or Romainia do not have massive political influence. But some wacko running for office in a mid-size city in the midwest doesn’t degrade our standing in the world. Nor does her candidacy spell some kind of doom for our country. It doesn’t look like the good people of Oklahoma are giving her much of their attention (see some of the comments above). I can understand expressing embarrassment over her goofiness, but I don’t see where an apology to anyone is warranted.

    When Sudan or Romania have that influence, your comment may cease to be pointless and irrelevant.
    Maybe you missed your nap today–you seem kinda grumpy.

  66. @ #63

    Fun fact about elephants that’s totally OT, but it’s science so it’s okay:

    Elephants get very hot because of their large size and comparatively small surface area. They actually dump heat through the network of blood vessels in their ears by flapping them. They actually lose a great deal of heat this way. African elephants are better at dumping heat because they have larger ears, Asian elephants less so. What I find fascinating about that is that Asian elephants are much smaller, and have a more favorable size to surface area ratio. Asian elephants evolved in cooler latitudes than the African ones.

    It’s trivial facts, but I still get enthusiastic talking about it, and I’m not even a biologist. Elephants are awesome.

  67. Jeff Keogh

    David D @66

    I can understand expressing embarrassment over her goofiness, but I don’t see where an apology to anyone is warranted.

    No-one is requesting an apology; Phil said he felt he sometimes had to apologise to the rest of the world, ie. expressing embarrassment. My impression from your initial post was that you felt it misplaced, but I clearly had it wrong.

    For all that, having religious nutters throughout your political system does, for the most part, degrade the US’ standing; at least throughout other western democracies. And had that silly Palin bint made it in to office, an apology would definitely have been warranted!

    My apologies for grumpiness. This entire topic makes me grumpy, and has done ever since George Dumbya got elected. I wish you guys could sort your religious twits out.

  68. Roen

    “I sometimes feel that I have to apologize on behalf of America to the rest of the planet. ”

    I’m not entirely certain that this would be forgivable, if it could actually happen. Some greedy capitalist will get the office instead.

  69. @BD
    What I was really talking about, I’ve been to countries where we had to be extremely careful where we went because we were Caucasian and American (more than likely Christian). Because death would have been eminent, without ever opening our mouths.
    Aside from war zones like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, where, pray tell, did you feel that death was imminent* from the brown hordes?

    *I suppose death could have been eminent too.

  70. gopher65

    #21: Jack Armstrong Says:

    Oklahoma is the reddest of the red states. It is the only state that got MORE RED in the last election. Unfortunately, she probably has a good shot at getting elected.

    My parents live in Tulsa (my dad got transferred there recently… again:P). He says that during the last election most of his co-workers were of the opinion, and I quote, “I won’t vote for no black man”. Hence the rise in Republican support. These are people with engineering degrees and the like. Imagine what opinions are held by the uneducated shrubs on the street (like me;)).

    It is a sickeningly racist place. I don’t like visiting them there.

  71. David D

    @Jeff Keogh #68–
    From Ray Suarez, author of “The Holy Vote:”
    I think, in general, there is an impression that religion plays a much bigger role in American politics, not only than it does in Europe, but that it does in actual fact. They tend — there’s sometimes an exaggeration of just how much religion influences American politics.

    Not to say we don’t have our nutters and twits, especially of the religious variety. It will be interesting to see how the EU (particularly France and Great Britain) will deal with their growing discomfort in regards to their Muslim populations.

  72. Well on the off chance that there is ever a movie made about her campaign rest assured that Laura Dern would be able to take the role. Talk about resemblance!

  73. jim

    hey gopher #70, never been to tulsa so i don’t know about racism there. i been to newark nj, new york, east orange nj, irvington nj, and lots of mostly ‘black’ cities. there is alot of racism there. against whites.

  74. Jeff Keogh

    David D #71

    Is the extent of religious influence in US politics a contentious issue? I think that the evidence suggests that religion is orders of magnitude greater in US politics than elsewhere in the West. Where else has the equivalent of Dover trials, and state Governers stacking education boards with creationists, and open vilification of atheism? Where else does the candidate for top office need to identify with a church in order to get elected?

    What leads Ray Suarez to suggest it’s otherwise?

    The response to growing Muslim populations is an interesting, if different, proposition. My feeling is that they recognise that the solution must be secular, not religious.

  75. Eric RoM

    Damn, someone beat me (#72) to the Laura Dern reference. I was certain it WAS Laura Dern.

  76. Chip

    What a dummy. Well it certainly won’t long before she question’s the President’s birth certificate, agrees with Sarah Palin’s hair-brained statements, gets invited on Hannity and says we never went to the moon.

  77. AthiestCon

    Phil,
    You really are a flaming liberal aren’t you? I work in Tulsa, don’t live there so won’t be voting. However, like many, many “right wingers”, I am staunchly conservative, but also an “Athiest”. Conservatives are not all “Uber Religious”, matter of fact most aren’t. We have actual brains, and just can’t reconcile a “God” with the available facts at hand. It’s just as incorrect to assume all liberals are “Athiests”. Now, Mrs Falling, contrary to reports is NOT currently “in the lead” in that race, and most of us think she is a kook (local conservative talk shows even give her a big thumbs down for her remarks). In all likelihood Dewey Bartlett Jr will wind up winning the race, he has the family clout and name recognition. Unfortunately he is not the best candidate. But that’s another story.

    My point is that you, and apparently a great number of the posters here, really need to get out a copy of that old constitution and read it. Don’t try and remember it from when you had a class on “Civic Government” back in 8th grade, actually READ IT. You’ll find that no where in that document is there any phrase, implied meaning, or other reference to “Separation of Church and State”. Nope, it’s not there. That idea came about in the charter which preceded the constitution. Which simply required that the eventual constitution could not include any reference to a State run church, nor any requirement that the populace follow any one particular religion. What they came up with for the constitution is actually the only references to “Religion” in the document and it is simply that the people should have “Freedom of Religion” explained as the freedom to adhere to the religion of your choice, or not.

    I can respect your viewpoint, but before making commentary on politics, please read up on the subject so you can make intelligent comments.

    Oh, and I didn’t leave my name, or real e-mail address, but I know you personally, have known you for many years. We were friends. Haven’t spoken to you for a long time. If you think hard enough, you’ll know who I am. And you’ll know how to contact me. If you want, or not.

  78. David D

    @Jeff Keogh #74–

    We seem to be talking past each other. Suarez’ book is on the rather large role that politics plays in American politics; his comments come from an interview on Newshour (pbs dot org) entitled “Religion and Politics Interact Throughout Europe,” in which he notes how little mention there is of religion in the political arena in Europe. He’s not suggesting otherwise at all; he is suggesting that Europeans may have an exaggerated sense of the role that religion actually plays in American politics.

  79. Jeff Keogh

    David D #77

    We may well be talking past one another. I don’t have a sense of the role of religion in European politics, although if there is one it doesn’t feature in the news here (Australia). Perhaps certain countries, such as Ireland for example, still feel the presence of the RC Church, although it’s probably fading.

    My own sense of American religiosity (in politics and society at large) comes not only from news sources but also from blogs such as this, so I may well have a heightened sense of what’s going on. I think, though, that political shenanigans from evangelical Christians stand out so much more than would be expected anywhere else.

  80. Fallsroad

    He says that during the last election most of his co-workers were of the opinion, and I quote, “I won’t vote for no black man”. Hence the rise in Republican support.

    Whilst his observations about the presidential race parallel things I also heard said by people here (and likely had an impact on McCain’s amazing showing here), I don’t think it had anything to do with the fact that the Republicans also gained control of the state Senate, giving that party control over both houses here for the first time in the state’s history.

    The tide here is running counter to the national electoral shifts, and I don’t think Obama being half African American entirely accounts for the trend.

  81. Jeff Keogh

    Sorry, that didn’t come out quite right.

    What I should have said that I don’t understand how Europeans view what’s going on in the US, other than the occasion blog comment along the lines of “Geez, there go those crazy Americans again” in response to American politics.

    It certainly seems to me from those that Europeans view American politics as overtly religious, but it’s only a small sampling, and I don’t have any way of judging how accurate that perception is.

  82. Roen

    Religion and politics have always been a poor mix. But then, so has religion and anything else. You may think she’s a bad idea, but you don’t have the greatest selection to begin with. Seriously, there’s a reason why many jokes start with a politician, a religious dude and the butt of the joke. We all know who that ends up being. They like staying within their little clouds of stupid and feed off of the blood of the public.

    Politicians and the psycho-religious. Ever see them in the wild? They’re scary stuff. Just back away slowly don’t make sudden moves, and hope that they don’t notice you. If they do, man book-it, it’s for your own good.

  83. David D

    @Jeff Keogh–

    There are a lot of people in the US (including some who are religious themselves) who believe that the role of religion in the political arena is too large. However, it is simply a cliche to think that the US is a place where every second inhabitant believes the Bible to be literally true and where 99 percent of the citizens would never vote someone into a political office if he or she didn’t believe in God.

    It is similarly a fallacy to think that European politics is free of any religious influences (though certainly much less than in the US). Sarkozy is on record emphasizing the Christian roots of France. Spain’s recent parliamentary elections were noted for a showdown between church and state over a law recognizing gay marriage; Madrid’s Archbishop openly called for voting the Socialists out of office. Cardinals raged against “radical secularism” to the a crowd of some 200,000 who were protesting in favor of the “traditional family.”

    I’m not sure that you will get a balanced sense of “American religiosity” from blogs such as this, as interesting and informative as they may be.

  84. Gary Chew

    My only response to this item about the Tulsa mayoral race is that when I lived in Tulsa, which is really a very nice medium-sized city, one of the mayors was James Inhofe, who is now the senior US Senator from Oklahoma. He lives in the same parallel universe as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove do.

    Jim Inhofe has alway struck me as a guy who’d scuttle the Constitution in a heartbeat by tearing down the wall that separates church and state as just as easily as he professes to believe that global warming is a hoax perpetuated by Al Gore.

  85. I live in downtown Tulsa. I’m an atheist, I’m out, I do a one person show about being in recovery from being raised fundamentalist. I’ve done it before here in Tulsa and I’m doing it again in November. No death threats just yet. In fact, I’m very well loved in the downtown community.

    My point is that there is a large community of sane folks, or at least mostly sane, here in Tulsa. Come down to my day job at Elote and I’ll tell you all about it over a taco and a beer.

    Tulsa BA readers: we oughta get together and say hi, yeah?

  86. Fallsroad

    @David D #81.

    While it is true religion still plays a role in elections in some European countries, what is clear is that, for the most part, European countries have a better grip on keeping religion out of public policy than does the United States, especially when you get to the state level and below.

    They aren’t having raging battles about subverting science teaching in public schools with trojan horses like I.D., nor, for the most part, do they even try to apply some sort of religious litmus test on candidates, which is pretty well built in to our political process. Watch any election, local or national, and see if it isn’t obvious through campaign materials and candidate speeches and appearances whether a candidate is religious or not.

    This plays out at the national level in a pretty grotesque way, where each candidate attempts to basically paint themselves as more devout than the next. It’s become a given that candidates display their faith bona fides.

    It’s weird and disturbing to watch.

  87. Leslie

    Yeah, I’d love to get the Tulsa BA readers together!

  88. Guh, I wanna barf! ‘Scuse me!
    [rrrraaaaawwwwwrrraaggggghhhhhhfffppptttt]

  89. Wow, where have I been lately!? Seems there is a lot of need for y Facts, not Fantasy page!

    http://factsnotfantasy.com/evolution.html

  90. I suppose, in the words of the legendary Burt Bacharach, we’re all 24 Hours From Tulsa.

  91. mattie

    aw. Tulsa,my hometown, doomed.

  92. Steve D

    Endorsing Christianity or posting the Ten Commandments are free expression, which even the Government has a right to under the First Amendment. Neither of those forces anyone to do anything except tolerate an expression they disapprove of. You can’t stand someone expressing an idea you reject? Awww. Poo’ baby.

  93. @Steve D
    So you wouldn’t have a problem with your government endorsing the Church of Satan or displaying the a crucifix soaking in a bucket of urine (Piss Christ by Serrano) as free expression then?

  94. gray lensman

    Mark Twain said that the only people who can use the editorial “we” are kings, Presidents, editors and people with tapeworms.

  95. AtheistCon(#78): Yes, in fact in many things I am a liberal. In other things I’m conservative, and in yet other things I am libertarian. Unlike the kind of person you might see on talk shows, I try to decide everything on the merits of the evidence, and not on ideology.

    In this case, there is a lot of precedent on the government endorsement of a specific religion based on the First Amendment. In fact not only have I read it, but I read it every year to refresh myself on it.

    And I’m afraid I don’t know who you are; I have a lot of friends, including conservative ones, and ones who live or lived in OK. But if y0u want to remain anonymous that’s fine.

  96. Steve D (93): Really? The government has a right to free speech? I must’ve missed that in the Constitution.

    Also, try yelling “fire” in a crowded theater and then claim it’s your right.

    Nice try at trolling, but really? 2 out of 10.

  97. @gray lensman

    That Mark Twain fella is pretty funny… does he have a blog?

    Seriously though, Sam Clemens would’ve made a great blogger. I’m reading The Innocents Abroad at the moment and even 140 years on it is as funny as.

  98. Cory

    To be fair, that same Constitution also allows for free political expression and, more importantly, the ability to change the document as desired. A Christian party could very well run under the “make Christianity the state religion” platform. We can ridicule people for believing lies over two millenia old, but the law of the land actually provides for a theocratic takeover, should a “supermajority” of people support such a change.

    Seri0usly, though, lol@the editorial “we”.

  99. Dunc

    Yes, in fact in many things I am a liberal. In other things I’m conservative, and in yet other things I am libertarian. Unlike the kind of person you might see on talk shows, I try to decide everything on the merits of the evidence, and not on ideology.

    As one of my favourite bloggers once put it: “People who can summarise their entire political philosophy by using only one word correctly identify themselves only if that word is ignoramus.”

  100. Nigel Depledge

    John (65) said:

    As someone who’s actually READ the Constitution, I understand that the only thing it forbids is Congress passing a law recognizing a national religion. Putting a monument of the 10 Commandments up at the courthouse, while not politically correct, is entirely Constitutional.

    Well, I’ve only ever read bits and pieces of it, and even I know you’re wrong here.

    The first amendment prohibits congress from passing any law “respecting the establishment” of a religion. To understand the authors’ intent fully, you must read some of the other stuff they wrote. And among that much larger body of text is the expression of the intent to keep churches and state separate. Thus, federal government cannot express a preference for one religion above any other. The modern judicial interpretation of this is that tax dollars may not be used to promote any religion.

  101. Nigel Depledge

    AthiestCon (78) said:

    My point is that you, and apparently a great number of the posters here, really need to get out a copy of that old constitution and read it. Don’t try and remember it from when you had a class on “Civic Government” back in 8th grade, actually READ IT. You’ll find that no where in that document is there any phrase, implied meaning, or other reference to “Separation of Church and State”. Nope, it’s not there. That idea came about in the charter which preceded the constitution. Which simply required that the eventual constitution could not include any reference to a State run church, nor any requirement that the populace follow any one particular religion. What they came up with for the constitution is actually the only references to “Religion” in the document and it is simply that the people should have “Freedom of Religion” explained as the freedom to adhere to the religion of your choice, or not.

    Well, as well as needing to look up “atheist” in a dictionary, you need to re-read the first amendment. See my preceding comment (100).

  102. seabear70

    Interestingly enough, of the three true or false questions you posted at the beginning of your article, none could possibly be answered with either true or false, and one requires an essay. This brings your stance of superior intellect into question.

    I won’t even get into your premise requiring a violation of the constitution that you probably honestly believe you are hiding behind if not defending.

  103. Roen

    Many of you seem to believe that political documentation is the be-all-end-all and no other factors play in this sandbox of politics. Understand that humans will always bring in factors not documented; in this case religion as a requirement. It may not be in your constitution, but the people’s opinion can be, and does get swayed by public declaration of religion. Obama is a very smart man and he even felt the need to make it very well known that he was religious. I suspect that if you look back in history you will see that every one of your presidents had made it known they were religious in some form or another really early in the electoral process.

    Actually, there is one document. If you think for a moment that your governmental system doesn’t play the religion game, take a look at the 4 words on your dollar. No, sillipants, not the side that says “United States of America” but the side that says “In God We Trust”. Granted, it has been a number of years since I had noticed that (I am Canadian so I do not use American dollars), but I suspect that if the government tried to remove those words at any time we all would have noticed… you know, because the riots would have torn your country apart.

  104. @Roen

    If you think for a moment that your governmental system doesn’t play the religion game, take a look at the 4 words on your dollar. No, sillipants, not the side that says “United States of America” but the side that says “In God We Trust”.

    Ah, the phrase that was added to the currency, in violation of the Constitution, back in, IIRC, the 1950s? I believe a suit was brought to remove it, but the courts ruled that it was just an expression with no religious meaning. Uh, yeah.

  105. Gary Ansorge

    Arguments about Santa, er, I mean god, will likely be forever with us. Humans seem to have an intrinsic need to believe in something greater than themselves however, they usually forget that the greatest attributes we assign to god(Love, compassion, tolerance) are human attributes. I’ve known many humans who had such in greater abundance than myself. Does that make THEM god?

    What we are seeing in this country is an attempt at reversion. AS John Stewart pointed out this week, many WASPs are very upset that “them brownies is taking over
    and I wants me land of the free(white) back,,,”

    Future shock is here and many folk are harking back to the good old, simple days. Be assured, this too shall pass but likely not without some pain, most of which will be nutters proclaiming their adherence to the old time values, some of which are admirable, some of which are just plain stupid, like abstinence only in sex education.

    There’s an old saying about Tulsa: “Yeah, I remember Tulsa. I spent a month there,,,one night,,,”.

    I lived in Tulsa once. It was one of the most boring cities I’ve ever been in but most of the people were nice,,,

    GAry 7

  106. Daffy

    For the record:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

    Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, signed by President John Adams, read aloud in its entirety and ratified UNANIMOUSLY by Congress.

    Next topic.

  107. Elwood Herring

    Chris @54: “Govern the world”? Did he really say that?

    And if he did, since when has America been “The world”? Last time I looked at my history books, there was no mention of Washington conquering Europe, or Russia, or Australia, or China…

  108. jim

    to gary chew #85, you mention ‘global warming’. the new terminology is ‘climate change’. too much proof that the globe ain’t warming, so they had to change the wording. plus, ‘climate change’ is true, as the climate is always changing. i don’t know how old you are but i have already lived through ‘global cooling’ in 70’s and 80s’, global warming in the ’90s to the present, i suppose i can live through the climate change period. i don’t know what the climate was doing in the ’50s and ’60s, no one talked about it then. since there is little chance we humans can do anything to stop ‘climate change’ i suggest you get a new cause as anyone who says ‘global warming’ is so yesterday. how about saving a whale or a spotted owl?

  109. Sham

    I ran for 19th century Queen of England once. Went pretty well until Victoria intruded on my campaign.

  110. adam

    sigh. this again. you guys do realize that the express intention of the notion of “separation of church and state” was to prevent matters of faith from RULING on matters of legislation, right? it was NEVER intended to provide impetus to eliminate all traces of deity, religion or faith from all public institutions and systems. it ESPECIALLY wasn’t meant to set up proudly religious people for being openly mocked by a bunch of self-righteous, smug “progressives” like phil plait.

    if you don’t believe me, try reading about it from individuals outside of the liberal echo chamber.

    or, you know, just think what you want and block out the rest.

  111. Roen

    *Snap* you did NOT just diss my homeboy Phil!

  112. Darth Robo

    Adam

    >>>”it ESPECIALLY wasn’t meant to set up proudly religious people for being openly mocked by a bunch of self-righteous, smug “progressives” like phil plait.”

    You sound like these people are to be admired. These aren’t “repressed” Christians fighting the “establishment” for the right to express themselves. They already have that. But these particular Christians are attempting to introduce “POOF! GODDIDIT!” as a biological explanation of the existence of wild animals, which are currently represented at the zoo. If that’s allowed, then my alternative explanation should be placed right next to the creationist display – that the Flying Spaghetti Monster when eating a bowl of Spaghetti alla Bolognese was playing with His food and made lots of funny shapes, and He decided to magically poof them to life with His Noodly Appendage. These became elephants, giraffes, ducks, kittens and platypus etc, and that is how the Earth became populated with all the animals we know and love today.

    If you think the creationist display at the zoo is acceptable, but the Pastafarian display would not be, then you’re a hypocrite.

    No-one is attempting to “eliminate all traces of religion” from public view. Public displays are allowed, as long as ALL religions are allowed. But the fact that the creationist display is specifically being endorsed by someone running for mayor as an example of how she will “serve” (for lack of a better term) then that already places the display on legally dodgy ground.

    However, one can still put up a public display, as long as it isn’t seen to be publicly endorsed by any governmental/legislative affiliation, you can pray in public, hire a hall, go to church, build more churches, even stand on a street corner and sing: “PRAISE THE LORD! HALLELUJAH!!!” Unfortunately, there’s always some people (like one or two posters here) who like to completely miss the point, put their hands over their eyes, bring out the good old Christian fundie martyr complex, pretend they’re in the lion pit and start whining about being “mocked” by them evil, mean, nasty Liberal God-haters!!!

  113. Darth Robo

    As an aside, how is the zoo funded? If it’s privately owned, then the owners could quite happily put in a silly creationist display perfectly legally. (If they wanted to, that is). And it would then join the likes of Hamm’s Creation “Museum”, lose all credibility to any claims to anything regarding it as an educational facility, and would be mocked by the scientific community, other zoos and the general public.

    And rightfully so.

    However, I sincerely doubt that this is the case, hence all the fuss, and hence the fundies tried the very same thing a few years ago – and lost.

  114. 113+ comments as I write this and though some people have mentioned the First Amendment and the the Treaty of Tripoli, not a single reference to perhaps the most salient part of the Constitution of The United States was made! Article 6, § III, states…”all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This article was made binding upon the states by the 14th Amendment. Politicians and the electorate, by wearing their religion on their sleeves, are attempting to make a slimy, dishonest, and un-American end run around the Constitution and deserve to be loudly and publicly denounced and shamed for it.

    As for the whole “freedom of religion” versus “freedom from religion” ballyhoo, for any of us, as citizens of the United States, to have “freedom of religion,” we must have freedom from the religion of others. For atheists, that includes freedom from all religions. If this is not the case, then both statements, “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion,” are meaningless.

  115. Jack Harrison

    Uh hello there. Do any of you people actually understand the Constitution? It prohibits the CENTRAL GOVERNMENT from endorsing an official religion. Mayors of towns and states are not covered by this!

  116. Gary Ansorge

    111. adam
    So, First One, what’s the difference between an arrogant plick and a supremely self confident human being?

    Give up?

    The later has reality on his side,,,

    mocked by a bunch of self-righteous, smug “progressives”,,,

    Love the verbal assault. Keep it up and maybe someday, you too can be elected to high office in Wonderland,,,

    GAry 7

  117. Mr. Harrison (@ # 116), in answer to your question please read comment #115. I am not a lawyer, but I have taken several pre-law courses at university, including a 400-level Constitutional Law class. Essential liberties and protections from government coercion enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are made binding upon the states (and local governments) by the 14th Amendment in the absence of an overriding public safety concern (so do not start going off about the 2nd Amendment). Oaths that required state officials to declare a belief in God (of course, religious types mean only Yahweh, because to believe in Zeus or Baal would just be stupid) was declared unconstitutional in the SCOTUS case TORCASO v. WATKINS, 367 U.S. 488 (1961) (link: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=367&invol=488) on the basis of the 1st and 14th Amendments. In the context of Article Six, § III, even asking a candidate for public office or federal/state employee (military or civilian) if they are religious is a religious test!

    I suggest you get your knowledge of the Constitution and its history from somewhere else besides your pastor, Rush, or Hannity (especially Hannity–he was a college drop-out). A good source is at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/browse2002.html#2002.

    Credibility FAIL!

  118. Harvey

    Let’s be clear about the monarch of England being the head of the Church of England. This is true, but in a limited sense. Any local congregation has a pastor and someone who functions as a chairman of the board (The position doesn’t always have that name.) The pastor is the spiritual leader, but if you want to talk about fixing the windows or renting space for a Montessori school, you have to talk to the board. In the case of the Church of England, it works much that way. The monarch roughly corresponds to a chairman of the board and the Archbishop of Canterbury roughly corresponds to the pastor.

    The monarch of England is not a sort of Anglican pope. Neither is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  119. IVAN3MAN

    Todd W.:

    Ah, the phrase that was added to the currency, in violation of the Constitution, back in, IIRC, the 1950s?

    Extract from Wikipedia:

    In God We Trust is the official motto of the United States and the U.S. state of Florida. The motto first appeared on a United States coin in 1864 during strong Christian sentiment emerging during the Civil War, but In God We Trust did not become the official U.S. national motto until after the passage of an Act of Congress in 1956. It is codified as federal law in the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, which provides: “In God We Trust is the national motto”.

    History
    The motto E Pluribus Unum (“out of many, one”) was approved for use on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782. It still appears on coins and currency, and was widely considered the national motto de facto. However, by 1956 it had not been established so by legislation as the official “national motto”. The Congressional Record of 1956 reads: “At the present time the United States has no national motto. The committee deems it most appropriate that ‘In God We Trust’ be so designated as U.S. national motto.”

    […]

    Adoption as national motto
    A law was passed by the 84th United States Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a joint resolution declaring In God We Trust the national motto of the United States. The same Congress had required, in the previous year, that the words appear on all currency, as a Cold War measure: “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic Communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, it is proper” to “remind all of us of this self-evident truth” that “as long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail.” [ :P ]

    Legal status
    Use of the motto on circulating coinage is required by law. While several laws come into play, the act of May 18, 1908, is most often cited as requiring the motto (even though the cent and nickel were excluded from that law, and the nickel did not have the motto added until 1938). Since 1938, all coins have borne the motto. The use of the motto was permitted, but not required, by an 1873 law. The motto was added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.

    […]


    Todd W.:

    I believe a suit was brought to remove it, but the courts ruled that it was just an expression with no religious meaning. Uh, yeah.

    The first case regarding the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on US Coinage was Aronow v. United States, 432 F.2d 242 (9th cir. 1970). In that case, Aronow challenged the constitutionality of the motto and its placement on U.S. currency and coinage.

    In 1970, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled:

    It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency “In God We Trust” has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.


    :P

  120. I did a video about this on my YouTube channel. Anna Falling emailed me a link to her press release that she has posted to YouTube as well. It was odd having her contact me directly.

  121. David D

    @Mark N #115

    As for the whole “freedom of religion” versus “freedom from religion” ballyhoo, for any of us, as citizens of the United States, to have “freedom of religion,” we must have freedom from the religion of others. For atheists, that includes freedom from all religions. If this is not the case, then both statements, “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion,” are meaningless.

    The phrase to have “freedom of religion,” we must have freedom from the religion of others is a non-sequitur and simply not true. It is quite possible to have “freedom of religion” (i.e., being able to believe and practice what you want) without it being restricted by someone displaying a Christian symbol in their shop window. Your statement For atheists, that includes freedom from all religions essentially equates atheism with religious belief, which will probably not sit well with them.

    What you have described sounds like a religiously intolerant society. For a recent example, see the Soviet Union.

  122. Roen

    God is a religious figure, the biggest in fact. So by your nation claiming that it trusts God, cannot possibly be anything else but religious. The heck with the text of denial, it’s there and it’s real. But really if you still don’t believe your politics plays with religion, how about the following quote…

    “… one nation under God…”

    So…

    “In God We Trust”
    “one nation under God”
    Politicians declaring their religious leanings to get elected…

    … are religious references and a pattern now emerges. It’s time for some to be more intellectually honest and realize that there are factors sewn into the inner linings of any government. Religious just happens to be a big one. Denying it even in text is not really honest in my opini0n. At least Iran is open about it.

    BTW, I am a non-theist… no, not an atheist, a non-theist. Atheists are far too aggressive for my taste and I believe in both freedom of and from religion. Really it’s a personal choice and should never need to be made public, let alone directly referenced on official documentation.

  123. I just applied to return to college and get a degree in Science Education. It may be too late for adults that refuse to face reality, but there is always the next generation.

  124. David D. @ #122…My point, which perhaps I failed to make clearly the first time is this: if someone, in the name of their “freedom of religion” is attempting to shove their particular pious dogma in another citizen’s face or down their throat, forcing the individual on the receiving end to take extraordinary measures to avoid those religious expressions that are not in accord with their conscience, or to pretend they agree, then the second person’s “freedom of religion” is most definitely being abridged.

    The following is from a paper on just this issue that I did for a constitutional law class:

    “One should not have to take extraordinary measures to avoid religious expressions or activities which one finds unconscionable, just as all citizens are free to seek out those religious expressions which are most congenial to their conscience. Entering into a house of worship, one knows what they are getting into and all are free to enter or not as they choose and the form of worship therein will be free from unreasonable (and in the opinion of some, even reasonable) governmental restrictions. In a situation like the one that precipitated Lee v. Weisman, the inclusion of religious elements in a civil, secular occasion in the name of, in Justice Scalia’s words “fostering respect for religion,” transformed a civil ceremony into an act of, at least partially, compulsory religious piety. In the absence of compelling arguments or evidence to the contrary, it is safe to assume that none of the devoutly religious attendees were in danger of being prevented of attending the house of worship of their choosing at their customary times, whatever they might be. If perhaps a substantial percentage of the community were Seventh Day Adventists and the commencement were scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, a case could be made for the school district being “unaccommodating,” but that is not this case, and that bridge will be crossed when society comes to it.
    Under the interpretation presented here, the essence of the “free exercise” clause is to permit “free exercise” of religious belief by allowing citizens to seek out those forms of religious worship most congenial to their conscience and to avoid those forms that are not congenial to their conscience. By logical extension, that also means that if no form of religious worship is congenial to ones conscience, one is free to avoid them all or modify existing forms so that they are congenial to ones conscience, as numerous sects have in fact done throughout American history.” (Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992), see: http://supreme.justia.com/us/505/577/index.html)

    If I think all religions are stupid and wish to avoid them (which I do), then the most I should ever have do is never go into a place of worship, and nothing else. If you are religious, then you are free to go to whatever place of worship you wish and no one will stop you from doing so. However, that that is not what many of the religious in the U.S. want. They expect everyone else, even those that do not share their beliefs to pretend they agree, just so they can feel as though their cherished beliefs are not so preposterous and nonsensical after all.

  125. @IVAN3MAN

    Thanks for the added details! I knew someone would come along with the appropriate info.

    @Roen

    Te “under God” phrase was also added to the pledge at a later date (1954 officially, though in use unofficially before that, according to Wikipedia). Like the “In God We Trust” motto, Eisenhower was president and set the wheels in motion in Congress. In 2002, a suit was brought by Michael Newdow on behalf of his daughter, claiming that the phrase “under God” was unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit Court ruled in his favor, but the school district appealed to the Supreme Court. The SCOTUS rejected Newdow’s claim because he was not the custodial parent of his daughter, and they refused to rule on the phrase itself.

    More info on that can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance#Addition_of_the_words_.22under_God.22

  126. Roen

    Todd,

    I understand what you are saying, I just remain unconvinced that religion does NOT play a role in politics. I do mean politics in general and not specifically the US, either.

    Man, I refuse to trust Wikipedia for any information; so I looked on the interwebthingy and found a number of other references to the date and event so the info is verified as correct. Sorry, dude… hate Wiki, just they way it is.

  127. 77. AthiestCon Says:
    You’ll find that no where in that document is there any phrase, implied meaning, or other reference to “Separation of Church and State”. Nope, it’s not there. That idea came about in the charter which preceded the constitution.

    The actual phrase comes from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists (see www(dot)loc(dot)gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html), also the source of ‘wall of separation’

    What they came up with for the constitution is actually the only references to “Religion” in the document and it is simply that the people should have “Freedom of Religion” explained as the freedom to adhere to the religion of your choice, or not.

    But (in The Constitution, as distinct from The Amendments): Article VI:
    […] The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    J/P=?

  128. DenverAstro

    I am posting this late and so this will probably not be read by anyone but I’m going to save the text for pasting into other blog entries on this site as I KNOW this subject will come up again. :)

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    That is the exact text from the First Amendment, just in case anyone here has forgotten it. Let’s break that language down, shall we?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion:
    Basically, this is saying that our federal and local governments are restricted from declaring any given religion to be the religion of the state that all citizens are required by law to practice. Basically, this provision guarantees each citizen freedom FROM a state established religion. It can also effectively be argued that this provision implies that placement or display of religious artifacts, texts, and/or imagery from any one religion is restricted in that it could then be inferred that the government was endorsing that one religion. Let’s say that you put the Ten Commandments up in a state capitol building. This would be acceptable Only if you Also put up scriptures from many of the world’s other religions. The Ten Commandments by themselves would be an endorsement of only Christianity or Judaism.

    prohibiting the free exercise thereof:
    This part is saying that neither federal nor local governments can keep people from practicing their faith. If a person’s religion truly says that they are required to evangelize in order to be true to their faith, they cannot be stopped from it. However, I think it could be agreed that these people are limited in where this evangelizing can take place. For instance, I think all would agree that they don’t have the right to break into my home in order to try and convert me.

    As far as separation of church and state, people are correct when they say that the Constitution does not state that. However, Thomas Jefferson, the chief architect of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, stated in 1802;
    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

    So reading this, I submit that even though the specific wording in our founding documents did not say it, it was always implied that there be a separation of church and state.

  129. micah

    can we add a question to your constitutional quiz like this:

    #7) where in the US Constitution is the federal government authorized to own car manufacturers or the health care industry.

    haha, trick question, the answer is NOWHERE!

  130. I think this law from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, circa 1650, explains why there is a Constitutional ban on the establishment of any religion:

    “Capital Lawes

    If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other God, but the LORD GOD, he shall be put to death. Exod. 22:20, Deut. 13:6 & 10. Deut. 17:2, 6.”

    I found this in the Maine Legislative Law Library a few years ago and keep it around for chuckles.

  131. Kevin

    Reply to post 128,
    Thomas Jefferson was not even at the constitutional convention (look it up) in addition the fourteenth amendment not withstanding the original constitution stated “Congress shall pass no law…” that is the federal government several states had established religions at the time of ratification. Facts are fun.

  132. Tedd

    Okay, primaries are over. For all of you who thought this wingnut has any kind of support, she got less than 10% of the Republican primary vote… and that’s less than 10% of the party that thinks like her, not 10% of the general public!

  133. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really know what you’re talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my web site =). We could have a link exchange arrangement between us!

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