Seems unthinkable, doesn’t it? Typical of the AFA’s staunch protests against that most cherished value of separation of church and state is this rant from current AFA spokesmodel Bryan Fischer (you know, the one who thinks children being raised by gay parents should be kidnapped in order to “save” them):
You could have found [the phrase “separation of church and state”] in the constitution of the old Soviet Union, which ought to tell you something, but it’s just not in our founding document at all.
Now there is a wall there, but it is not between church and state. It is a high and impenetrable wall between the state and the church. The state is forbidden by the First Amendment from meddling in the affairs of the church. It can’t tell it what to believe, how to worship, what to pray, or what to preach from its pulpits.
But there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the church from impacting the state, whether it does so by speaking truth to political power, or by advancing its cherished moral ideals in the public square.
— Bryan Fischer
“Freedom From Religion Foundation needs grammar lesson”
AFA.net, July 14, 2011
(Of course, Fischer means only the Christian church should be able to “impact the state”; when it comes to Islam, Fischer wrote just a mere four days later: “I at last am no longer alone. When asked on Sunday by Chris Wallace of ‘Fox News Sunday’ if any community can ban a mosque if it chooses to do so, Herman Cain replied, ‘They have a right to do that.’ He pointed out that the reason for this is that there is no ‘separation of church and state’ in Islam. ‘Islam combines church and state,’ said he. — “No longer alone: Herman Cain agrees on banning mosques,” AFA.net, July 18, 2011. Even funnier in light of this is David Limbaugh’s assertion that “most liberals aren’t really concerned about the intermixture of church and state unless it involves the Christian church, and only then if it involves the promotion of biblically based ideas and values.” — “Behind Enemy Lines,” AFA.net, undated)
Here’s another typical rant:
It’s a shame that in their modern misguided zeal to read the first clause as mandating a complete separation of church and state, liberals do great damage to the second clause and defeat the overarching purpose of both: ensuring religious liberty. …
Not only are the words “separation of church and state” not contained in the Constitution but this phrase from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists does not mean what many people say it does.
— David Limbaugh
“Christian Conservatives Guard Religious Liberty”
AFA.net, February 28, 2012
And so on and so on (and on) they go, railing against the wall of separation of church and state.
Back in 1992…
The Institute for First Amendment Studies joined in filing an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in California concerning the Woodland Joint Unified School District textbook case. The plaintiffs — Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association and several parents — claim the Impressions reading series violates the separation of church and state by promoting the religion of Wicca. …
— “Institute joins Impressions case”
Freedom Writer, Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc., September/October, 1992
This makes us wonder: Did the AFA bury its “principles” along with Don Wildmon? (Oops, wait — Wildmon’s not quite dead yet. Oh, well, he will be, and then that question will sound much pithier.) Or is the separation of church and state an evil, misinterpreted concept only when it doesn’t suit the AFA’s agenda?
We know what we think.
By the way, the Browns (and the AFA) lost their case (which is good).
The American Library Association offers a concise rundown of Brown v. Woodland Joint Unified; in part:
Parents of school children in Woodland, California, had challenged the use of the series. The parents alleged that among the more than 800 literary selections in the series, 32 passages about witchcraft violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against establishment of religion. The parents were claiming that the texts and accompanying classroom activities, where children sit in circles and create poetic chants or pretend to be witches, promoted witchcraft as a religion and, thus, interfered with the family’s practice of their own religion.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument, holding that the passages and lessons were secular in nature, involving fantasy activities and folklore used for a secular purpose, and were not overt religious exercises.
In a similar case brought in Wheaton, Illinois, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit came to the same conclusion.
The Impressions series is in use in more than 1500 school districts, and has been highly controversial since it was first issued. Religious activists and parents’ groups in several states have attacked the series, claiming that it is a primer on witchcraft, satanism and the occult, and have fought to have the books banned from classrooms.
The Califomia parents challenging the series asserted that using it had the primary effect of advancing the religion of witchcraft. …
More: Freedom to Read News, Vol. 19. Nos. 2-3, 1994
See also: Brown v. Woodland Joint Unified School District, June 15, 1994 (via Justia)
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