Wednesday, March 09, 2005

In God's Courtroom

Let there be no mistake: The Bush Administration is taking literally that whole bit about America being God's country.

A recent article in The Los Angeles Times details one of the more curious additions to the U.S. Justice Department, the religious rights unit (thanks to Direland for spreading the word on this story). Launched three years ago, this arm of DOJ has taken a decidedly odd position in the agency's ostensible mission of ensuring civil rights.

Exhibit A: The religious rights unit interceded on behalf of the New York chapter of the Salvation Army after that organization was sued by members alleging they were forced to "embrace" Jesus Christ as a condition for keeping their jobs. As Schmidt tersely puts it: "Defending the right of an employer using public funds to discriminate is one of the more provocative steps taken by a little-known arm of the civil rights division and its special counsel for religious discrimination."

In fairness, a few actions of the religious rights unit have won praise from secular civil rights groups. In Muskogee, Oklahoma, for instance, the DOJ came to the aid of a teenaged Islamic girl whose school had prohibited her from wearing a head scarf that violated the dress code.

But, as Schmidt writes:

"Critics say there is a fine line between promoting religious rights and promoting religion, especially in light of the constitutional requirement that the government maintain strict neutrality when it comes to religious activities. Judging from the cases and investigations the religious unit has launched, the new mission of the Justice Department is overwhelmingly focused on protecting the rights of religious organizations."

Although the DOJ has likened its religious rights (read: Religious Right's) work to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, some of its legal actions seem a bit, well, whimsical. It bore down on a Texas elementary school, for example, that stopped a child from handing out candy canes with a religious message affixed to them. That's not exactly forcing Christian folks to use separate restrooms and water fountains, but whatever.

In the final analysis, the religious rights unit is just another indication that the United States of Dubyamerica tilts ever closer to the very theocracy that sets our teeth a-gnashin' when it comes to the Middle East.

2 Comments:

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous THE ALMIGHTY said...

Yes, it's Me. Now stop groveling. I hate that. And quit averting your eyes! It's like those miserable Psalms - they're soooo depressing. Right.
Now politicans have used My name for ages. I'm used to it. You know what REALLY pisses Me off? I sent my son down there and you mortals killed him. Nice. So I waited 2000 yrs and sent him again, and what did you ingrates do? You let that pansy from 'SC embarass him. Humans suck.

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Only G-d knows said...

Haven't you ever noticed how a courtroom looks just like church? It has the pews, the big podium, and depending on the courtroom, a place for a baptism.

 

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