2015 in Quotes: The Real War on Religious Freedom

by Dan Quinn

Religious-right activists have been chipping away at the wall separating church and state for decades. Now we hear elected officials who are just as shameful in their attacks on this fundamental protection for religious freedom in America. Indeed, their own words reveal a depth of support for religious freedom that’s almost paper thin. Here’s what we heard from the right on this issue in 2015. (Click here for previous posts on what we heard from the right in 2015.)

“We declare this state to be the sovereign territory of Jesus Christ.”

– A pastor at speaking at the religious right’s Texas Faith and Family Day during the legislative session in Austin.

“[R]esolve to withstand the onslaught of moral evil and the overreach of federal judges who ignore the will of the people of our great state.”

– John Greene, pastor of Lufkin Harmony Hill Baptist Church, offering a prayer to open a daily session of the Texas House of Representatives in February. Politicized prayers like this one led some House members to insist that those asked to pray at the beginning of each day’s session respect the diverse religious and political beliefs of the members (and of Texans generally).

“They worship cows.”

– Idaho state Sen. Steve Vick, showing that ignorance isn’t unique to Texas politicians. Vick was explaining that he and six other Republican lawmakers planned to skip a Hindu invocation in the state Senate because the event undermined America’s Judeo-Christian values.

“All I know is that I hear Satan snickering. He loves this kind of mischief. You just dumb the good book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you’re on your way to where he wants you.”

– Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, on the unsuccessful effort to make the Bible his state’s official book.

“I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core, Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.”

– Ohio governor John Kasich, proposing a new federal agency if he is successful in his presidential bid.

“When atheists tried to purge God from the public square, we defended the Ten Commandments monument, we defended `under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, we defended the Kountze cheerleaders who chose to put Bible verses on banners, and we defended marriage as between one man and one woman because God’s law cannot be undone by man’s law.”

– Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, warning Americans that their liberty and freedom are under siege from their own federal government, and only Texas can save them.

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