Dispatches from the Intersection of Law and Religion

Sadly, it looks like the religious folks with power to create laws are opening new fronts just about every day. While I was going crazy with work, there’s a bunch of news items worth highlighting that I simply missed.

Like, this state-level bill proposed by Republican Jerry Bergevin of New Hampshire that would mandate the teaching of the Bible in public schools:

“The Holy Bible is the bedrock of Western civilization. Love it or hate it, it’s in every aspect of humanity,” said sponsor Rep. Jerry Bergevin of Manchester.

Bergevin’s bill would require all schools to offer an elective social studies course in Bible studies, where students would examine the Old Testament, the New Testament or both, and learn “biblical content, characters, poetry and narratives that are the prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, morals, oratory and public poetry.”

Currently, the only state prescription for social studies electives is that students must take a half-credit of world history, geography or global studies to graduate.

Because forcing schools to teach the Bible would give them the opportunity to steep the children in the Western civilization that is so foreign to them or something. Never mind that they are immersed in said civilization every day, have a very high likelihood of being raised to believe in the Bible in their home lives, and it is beyond cruel to force non-Christians to study the Bible in the same way as it is cruel to teach reality like evolution to these kids. While they fight for “academic freedom” on one front, they fight to take it away on another. The unmitigated gall.

An Alabama Republican senator thinks that raising teacher salaries is against the Bible, despite hefty raises he voted for senators:

“It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach,” said McGill.


“To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK? And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity. If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance,” said McGill.

Curiously enough, McGill found absolutely no biblical grounds on which to not authorize a 67 percent pay increase for legislators in 2007, which increased annual salaries for the part-time legislators from $30,710 to $49,500.

So… it’s important not to raise teacher salaries or you won’t get people called by God to teach, but you need to raise senator salaries because… um… why? God didn’t call you to the position, so you’re just in it for the daily grind? Good, then you won’t miss your job.

Facebook and Google have apparently caved to India’s demands to filter their services to remove “blasphemous materials”:

The civil case being heard in Delhi on Monday was filed by Muslim petitioner Mufti Aizaz Arshad Kazmi, who alleged the companies were hosting material intolerant to religious sentiment.

Google and Facebook told the court they had complied with an earlier order by a Delhi district court judge to take down certain material.
Indian Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Communications Minister Kapil Sibal has taken a strong line on the issue

Google said: “This step is in accordance with Google’s longstanding policy of responding to court orders.”

Facebook India said it had also filed its compliance report.
A second, criminal case – brought by Hindu journalist Vinay Rai – is scheduled to be heard next month, with leading company executives summoned to appear.

If you think censorship is being banned from posting on a specific forum, what would you call this?

And finally, FINALLY, there’s a new civil rights group for white hetero Christian males, so they no longer have to deal with the oppression they face daily:

Called, “Sit-ins for Stacey,” it was created in honor of Tennessee state senator Stacey Campfield, that lawmaker who most-recently was kicked out of a local Knoxville restaurant in response to Campfield’s comments about how HIV/AIDS originated from a gay guy “screwing a monkey.”

Of course, like the man it is named for, “Sit-ins for Stacey” is a total joke, albeit one far more funny and productive. And it’s the brainchild of Scottie Thomaston, a writer and activist for the rights of the queer community, the disability community and other minorities.

It might be a joke, but these people have persecution complexes as big as their privilege, so frankly, mockery is the only way to go.

What other big important injustices have I missed? Any injustices righted?

Dispatches from the Intersection of Law and Religion

15 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Intersection of Law and Religion

  1. 1

    Putting aside the First Amendment for the moment (as I’m sure these fuckers would love to do), I’ll compromise with Mr. Bergevin: We’ll offer an optional Bible studies course in public schools, but it has to focus on the most recent scholarship regarding Biblical authorship, and it has to examine all Biblical claims from a scientific perspective. Sound like a plan?

  2. 2

    jamessweet, #1:

    I think that legal experts are of the opinion that such a course would pass Constitutional muster, so no need to set aside any Amendments.

    Teaching the Bible from a scholarly standpoint would no more be an infringement of religious liberty than teaching the theory of evolution.

    Only with double the amount of squawks!

  3. 3

    Hell, I’m all for that plan, James and Chiroptera. On one condition: the Bible is the first semester. The second semester gets the Koran, the second year first semester the Upanishad, and the second second the Bhagavad Gita.

    Or you could do it all as one big comparitive religion course. I understand that at my university, something like 80% of the divinity college students who took the comparitive religion course came out atheist.

  4. 4

    Rather than a comparitive religion course, could we set up a competitive religion course? I’m thinking like those shows on Discovery or TLC or whatever where they set up fake CG battles between cheetahs and lions and tried to say which would win in a fight. Jesus vs Vishnu! Kali vs Ra! For the class final, they could do a full on battle royale, last god standing / king of the hill style fight.

  5. 6

    Holy hell, Sinned, I’ve been wanting to blog about Vic Twenty since the #tellviceverything hashtag on Twitter but I was so slammed at work it completely slipped my mind.

    I mean, I’m sure he’s seen all the disapproval I have for him, but I want to make sure he reads it again. I’m going to have to blog the living hell outta him very soon.

  6. 7

    Facebook and Google have apparently caved to India’s demands to filter their services to remove “blasphemous materials”

    And what do you think they should do? In India, a democracy, Indian law applies, and it is borderline racist to demand that the U.S. Constitution should out-rank their domestic law. Many countries do not rate the right to be obnoxious above the right to a hate-free life, whether you like it or not. Are they not allowed to make those decisions themselves? Or you could exercise the U.S.’s other fundamental right, the right to bully, subvert and ultimately invade any country it has a grudge against! (Nicaragua, Grenada, Cuba, Iraq, Libya,…) Stop the bullying please.

    “freethought” is not exactly accurate as a description of this site; it’s a uniform groupthink site; I haven’t seen anything other than the same old, same old free speech route to heaven, all Christianity uniformly bad, worship the constitution yada yada for weeks from any of the posters.

  7. 8


    are you having trouble with reading comprehension?

    Where did Jason write that the US constitution should outrank the Indian constitution?

    and if you really have hung out here on Ftb as much as you claim, you surely have noticed that many posters here come from outside the US. Heck, even our host here, considering he name of his blog, I have the strongest suspicion he’s not American.

    people have discussed many times that are differences to the freedom of speech in different countries. And there have been many other topics geneating lively discussions.

    but if you’re an atheist, why would you support the criminalisation of blasphemy in any jurisdiction in the world? That appears outright stupid to me.

    Over all your post made you come off like a very ignorant person.

  8. 9

    “freethought” is not exactly accurate as a description of this site; it’s a uniform groupthink site; I haven’t seen anything other than the same old, same old free speech route to heaven, all Christianity uniformly bad, worship the constitution yada yada for weeks from any of the posters.

    Here you go, Sammus. Don’t like the conversations held on FtB? Start your own blog and talk about whatever the fuck you want. You can fill it with all the strawmen arguments your little troll heart desires.


  9. 10

    Sammus, #7:

    Oh, dear. When the Indian want Facebook to obey Indian law it’s: …In India, a democracy, Indian law applies….

    When US citizens demand that the US government entities obey the law it’s: …worship the constitution….

    Do you have any idea about what the issues we discuss on these blogs are? It’s kind of hard to tell from you incoherent screed.

  10. 11

    Oh, and since you prefer pithy sound bites over reasoned argument, let me add that actually it’s “borderline racist” to think that human rights is only for the “civilized races.”

    Wait, actually it’s not borderline at all. It’s flat out racist.

  11. 13

    ambassadorfromverdammt, #13:

    Well, in fairness to Sammus, I don’t really think he feels that there are “civilized” and “uncivilized races.” Just thought it would be interesting to see his reaction to receiving the same sort of hyperbolic, over the top, completely twisting the other person’s viewpoint type of rhetoric in response to his.

  12. 14

    @Sammus – I realize that other replies have addressed most of your fractal wrongness, but the key point that sprang to mind when I read your little hissy fit:

    Prop. 8 was the “will of a democracy”. Slavery existed in democratic societies. Just because something is agreed upon by a democracy doesn’t make it right. It is extremely difficult to justify censorship and oppression, and “the will of the people” doesn’t cut it.

  13. 15

    Sammus, #7: Many countries do not rate the right to be obnoxious above the right to a hate-free life….

    I also have to point out that this isn’t even the point of the law.

    It’s not as if the democratically elected government of India is telling Facebook and Google to filter their services to remove offensive depictions of racial groups because of a “we-must-treat-racial-minorities-with-dignity-and-respect” law.

    Nor are the Indian people’s representatives telling Facebook and Google to filter out any offensive depictions of women because of a “women-deserve-a-hate-free-life-too” law.

    Nor are they being asked to comply with a “all-political-discourse-must-be-civil-because-everybody-has-a-right-to-their-opinion” law.

    Google and Facebook are being asked to comply with an anti-blasphemy law. Unless blasphemy means something different under Indian law, that means that religion is getting a special pass here. The most superstitious and least reasonable beliefs are getting special protection against “offensive” speech, which is ironic seeing how lately religious believers themselves have been the most offensive (and, at times, the most dangerous) in the expression of their beliefs.

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