It’s that time of year again, when trees are blooming and legislators give a sop to their constituents, trying to make believe that their version of Christianity is the state religion of Pennsylvania and the US. Last year it was the nonsense about the “Year of the Bible”, which I posted about here, and here, . Now we have more stealing of money from taxpayers in order to bother people about religion.
As Judge Christopher Conner said in his rebuke to the “Year of the Bible” nonsense:
“However, the court’s determination that the defendants engaged in a “legislative act” for purposes of immunity should not be viewed as judicial endorsement of this resolution. It most certainly is not.
At best, H.R. 535 is a benign attempt to reaffirm the underlying principles of the Reagan proclamation of 1983. At worst, it is premeditated pandering designed to provide a reelection sound bite for use by members of the General Assembly. But regardless of the motivation behind H.R. 535, its express language is proselytizing and exclusionary (e.g., “ Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people”).
The court is compelled to shine a clear, bright light on this resolution because it pushes the Establishment Clause envelope behind the safety glass of legislative immunity. That it passed unanimously is even more alarming.
This judicial rebuke of the resolution is not intended to impugn the religious beliefs of any citizen. To the contrary, the court’s disapprobation is directed to the blatant use of legislative resources in contravention of the spirit – if not the letter – of the Establishment Clause. At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit all of the citizens of the Commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs.” – Case No. 1:12-cv-536 decision
I wonder if the good judge knows that these idiots have basically said “Fuck you.” in the new resolutions.
Now, House resolutions don’t really mean anything. They range from recognizing a museum for a good exhibit, claiming that Maggie Thatcher was a “great” American friend and British patriot, to naming a bridge after some fallen serviceperson. It’s my opinion they are all just a waste of time and money. Yes, it’s nice to memorialize someone by naming a bridge after them but that can be done on the local level. They require time and resources that could be better used in other ways.
The two resolutions that have been adopted are HR 17, authored by a Republican and HR 51, authored by a Democrat. So, the blame for this nonsense isn’t limited to just one party.
HR 17 is a resolution to recognize “National Fast Day”. This is a bit of US Civil War nonsense which is now in the spotlight thanks to it being 150 years since American merrily killed each other by the hundreds of thousands over the right to own another human being as property. Pennsylvania is home to ostensibly the most famous battle of the war, Gettysburg, so we get to hear lots about it.
Abraham Lincoln declared a day of fasting and prayer for April 30, 1863. Now, we all know just how useless prayer is. And fasting? Well, unless you are going in for a medical test that needs it, it’s pretty useless too. This was all to beg the Christian god to “forgive” the US and it seems to end the stupid war that was started by people who wanted the right to own others. Here’s a choice bit from the declaration:
“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?”
Per this quote, we have a god that either punishes everyone with no thought to actual responsibility of what was done, or is too stupid to not harm people with collateral damage. My, what a nasty god to appeal to.
The declaration goes on to claim that “we have forgotten God”. Hmmm, really? Seems that God was front and center in this war, with both sides claiming that this god was all for them. Indeed we have preachers on both sides shouting that their bible shows how much God favored the North or South (scroll down a bit for relevant parts). But here Lincoln insists that we have to prostrate ourselves to such a being and ask forgiveness. Well, which version of that being are we to pay attention to? The pro-slavery one, the anti-slavery one or one that doesn’t like either side but does nothing to stop the bloodshed?
To commemorate such a pathetic and useless declaration from 150 years ago is not just a waste of time and money, it also underlines just how useless the original declaration was. The war went on for two more years with increasing horrors.
HR 51 is the usual bleating about a “National Day of Prayer”. Last here, I blogged about the same nonsense and it’s the exact same bill. It’s always so cute when they introduce such things as “non-controversial resolutions”. It’s shows just how much they need to lie and how much they need to repeat the same lies. The lies go on when they have to claim that “WHEREAS, This annual event was not created for political reasons or to promote any other agenda except prayer” Alas for the author of the bill, he’s not telling the truth at all. From the first, it was very political as one can see from George Washington’s words:
“The Honorable the Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence; to deprecate [to pray or intreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitiude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.” —George Washington, First President of the United States
If it were not for political reasons, then there would be no mention of the nation being “sinful” nor would there be a mention of success of warfare or protection of a political body. We then have Reagan saying:
“From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.”
Again, it’s completely political, being “for leaders” as well as others. And saying it isn’t doesn’t make it so magically. The context and words make it exactly what the legislators claim it is not.
Repeatedly, it is made clear that this is prayer only to a Christian god, not any other. It is only in the very recent past that any effort has been made to include others and that only by a few. Many Christian leaders declare that it is indeed only the Christian god to be invoked with their claims of how the US is a “Christian” nation.
The FFRF did challenge this and a District judge, Barbara Crabb, upheld their right to bring a lawsuit. However, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it. And not surprisingly, the most radical Christian groups approved of this overturning. That certainly underlines the entirely Christian and political nature of the National Day of Prayer.
The resolution again makes the usual false claims. It claims that since millions of people find prayer important, there should be a National Day of Prayer (appeal to common practice fallacy). It claims this:
“WHEREAS, The “National Day of Prayer” is a day to ask for healing, to heal this nation and to bring people together in true unity;”
Ah, so transparent when they do their best not to mention any particular religion, but assume that “true unity” will be achieved if everyone could just agree on who to pray to and how.
And other attempt at misinformation:
“WHEREAS, This nation was founded by single-minded men and women who sought wisdom through prayer;”
Nope, not remotely “single-minded”. We had believers of all stripes who did not agree at all what god was to be worshipped or how. That’s why we don’t have a Constitution that says “See Bible.” as a source of laws.
And finally, the best for last:
“WHEREAS, Prayer has aided many people throughout the history of this nation and this Commonwealth when support and guidance were needed”
And thanks to Mr. Lincoln’s day of fasting proclamation, we can see that is untrue again. Prayer did nothing in 1776, 1863 and now. We have prayers being said by all sides and nothing but parlor tricks and coincidence to point to as “evidence” such efforts work. Considering the 100% failure rate of prayer, it’s not something to entrust with the fate of a person, much less the fate of a nation.