The Year in Quotes: Religious Freedom

by TFN

So what do religious-righters think about religious tolerance and keeping government separate from religion? More memorable quotes from 2009:

“There is no dialogue, no common ground, no reaching across the aisle in this battle. We are not called to build bridges to Islam. We are called to storm the gates of hell — to defeat the false god of Islam with the unsheathed Word of God and to set people free from the monstrous tyranny and bondage of this religion birthed in the deepest pits of hell.”

— The Rev. Flip Benham, director of the extremist group Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, writing about a planned gathering of American Muslims in the nation’s capital on Friday, TFN Insider, September 24, 2009

“We’ve lost so many rights as a Christian over the last few years, the right to prayer in public and call the name of Jesus, the prayer in schools, and this, that and the other.”

— South Carolina pastor Arnold Hiette, Greenville News, S.C., January 7, 2009

“Whoever was the judge in this, I feel sorry for him on Judgment Day. We’re not going to take it down.”

— Haskell County (Okla.) Commissioner Mitch Worsham, responding to the decision by a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a Ten Commandments monument outside the county courthouse “has the primary effect of endorsing religion,” The Wichita Eagle (story distributed on AP), June 16, 2009

“This is a seed sowing ministry. God does the harvesting Himself.”

— Bill Spencer, a public school teacher and football coach in Tennessee’s Hamilton County public school district, discussing his school district’s privately funded Bible education program, The Layman, December 3, 2009

Of course, these issues are at the core of the religious right’s “culture war” in America today. And the rhetoric in that war remained as extreme as ever this year:

“The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they’re too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids.”

— Bill Donohue, president of the far-right Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, saying “cultural nihilists” and “secular saboteurs” are trying to destroy America, Washington Post, October 19, 2010

“It is, in many respects, a war. Not a war that’s fought with guns. But it’s a war of ideas. It’s a war for the heart and soul of America. Who are we? And what are we to become? And that war is on many, many fronts. That war is on popular culture, on our movies and television programs and music and entertainment videos. The war is in academia, in colleges and universities and now — increasingly — in primary and secondary schools. And the war is against people who have an ideology — a secular ideology, a relativistic, materialistic ideology — which denies the existence of truth, which denies the existence of a creator and a foundation upon which to build and to seek those truths.”

— Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., telling recent graduates of a South Carolina Christian school that they are about to enter an ideological war, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, December 10, 2009