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Oct 21 2012

Weirdest Church/State Case Ever

One of the more bizarre church/state cases I’ve ever seen has been dismissed. The case was filed in a Texas court by a man named Charles Scott against the Wood County Commission, seeking to remove a sign that says “In God We Trust” in the commission’s chambers and prevent them from opening their meetings with prayer. But his argument is not at all what you might think:

Scott said he is a devout Christian. He said an elected official cannot honor both the United States Constitution and the Word of God. Scott said that is because the constitution allows for freedom of religion while God frowns upon worshipping anyone other than Him. Scott said the court’s oath to uphold the constitution contradicts scripture.

Well that’s different. But the plaintiff didn’t bother to show up for court earlier this week, prompting the judge to dismiss the case. But he has a perfectly good explanation for it:

KLTV asked Scott today why he did not show up for court. Scott said he was ready to go; however, “the Lord did not provide him with a means to get to court.” Scott said he does not have a means of transportation.

Must be a message from God.

18 comments

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  1. 1
    Modusoperandi

    Book of Transitotomy, 44:7-9, “And the LORD said, ‘Take the Downtown. Be sureth to get a transfer. Get off on Fifth. Wait there not less than fifteen minutes, and get on the Crosstown, for surely it arriveth by then. And bring an umbrella, for the LORD predicts rain’.”

  2. 2
    cadrpear

    Well, it’s a nice change from wingnuts pretending that the Constitution is the 67th book of the Bible.

  3. 3
    Yoritomo

    What’s so weird about the case itself? I’d say Scott has a point although the “in God we trust” would probably be upheld as “ceremonial deism”.

    After all, he didn’t ask for the removal of the oath of office or of the constitution.

  4. 4
    reverendrodney

    Hmm.. that’s an interesting aspect I hadn’t considered. That ‘freedom of religion’ (freedom to worship any deity) does conflict with ‘In God We Trust’. For the ‘god we trust’, which is of the bible, says we cannot worship other gods.
    You can’t have it both ways. Either the bible or the Constitution has to go. Or get rid of “In God We Trust.”

  5. 5
    jhendrix

    When arguing with conservatives in the past, I loved to point this contradiction out to them. The first amendment is a violation of two of the10 commandments (blasphemy and having other gods).

    America, Fuck Yeah!

  6. 6
    Michael Heath

    The written aspect of the linked article doesn’t do justice to the plaintiff, it comes off as incoherent when in fact the plaintiff’s objection to the Commission’s behavior is a good argument. The video is also worth watching for the hilarious reason regarding the plaintiff’s failure to appear in court.

    I also think the more compelling and outright chilling aspect of this story is how the motto is displayed in the room the commission meets. When facing the bench two disctint items stand-out:
    1) The Texas seal
    3) “In God we Trust” right above the seal.

    The motto is not tiny and it’s not unobtrusive, it’s prominently displayed and right in your face. Whether intentional or not, the motto clearly establishes an extremely chilling framework that secularists will not receive justice in that courthouse or by that commission. I think it’s a clear pronouncement the governing powers in that room will not defend your religious freedom rights unless one is a Christian, and then probably only the “right kind”; ya know, hateful bigots. I find this motto display far worse than Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments statue in the rotunda of the courthouse building where he presided.

  7. 7
    John Pieret

    He said an elected official cannot honor both the United States Constitution and the Word of God.

    Damn! Poor guy is going to have to move out of the US!

  8. 8
    Alverant

    He does have a point. I’ve often felt that being christian and being a USAian contradicted each other for that same reason. A “real” christian would have to put their religion above secular law, something we’ve seen in anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-muslim, and pro-special-privilege legislation. It’s not really so different than countries like Iran except to a far lesser degree.

    Fortunately there are many people out there who acknowledge that to live in a society with freedom you do have to compromise somewhat.

    #5 don’t forget about how first amendment allows people to violate the commandants about not taking the lord’s name in vain and keeping the sabbath holy and honoring parents. The constitution is pretty anti-christian once you think about it because it gives people freedom.

  9. 9
    Michael Heath

    KLTV reports:

    [Charles Scott] said an elected official cannot honor both the United States Constitution and the Word of God.

    John Pieret responds:

    Damn! Poor guy is going to have to move out of the US!

    Mr. Scott is not an elected official. Also, there is no legal requirement he swear an oath of fealty to the U.S. Constitution. In addition Mr. Scott can find no finer place to reside if his conscience argues the U.S. needs a Constitution which adheres to his understanding of biblical edicts.

  10. 10
    Michael Heath

    Alverant writes:

    [Charles Scott] does have a point. I’ve often felt that being christian and being a USAian contradicted each other for that same reason. A “real” christian would have to put their religion above secular law, something we’ve seen in anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-muslim, and pro-special-privilege legislation. It’s not really so different than countries like Iran except to a far lesser degree.

    One of the primary bothersome attributes of conservative Christians is the incredible level of dishonest bigoted hypocrisy they demonstrate when it comes to their promotion of certain social policies. They advocate using government power to deny equal rights against those they discriminate against in their churches: women, LGBTs and their families, and to varying degrees – non-whites, all while simultaneously claiming they are the sole principled protectors of the equal rights and liberty standards argued in the DofI and the liberty and equal rights protections noted in the U.S. Constitution.

  11. 11
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Yoritomo #3 – I have always found it amusing why so many True Bible-Believing Christians (TM) support the notion of ceremonial deism, given how many Christian martyrs became martyrs for refusing to participate on the ceremonial deism of their day.

  12. 12
    Robin Lionheart

    Like Jesus said,

    Therefore take no thought, saying, “What shall we eat?” or, “What shall we drink?” or, “How shall I get to court?”, for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek you first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself.

  13. 13
    Trebuchet

    Is he perchance a Jehovah’s Witness? They’re big on this idea, refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, among other things.

  14. 14
    Forbidden Snowflake

    Hmmm… Isn’t separating Church and State because so commands the LORD mixing Church and State?

  15. 15
    iknklast

    “‘freedom of religion’ (freedom to worship any deity) does conflict with ‘In God We Trust”

    Actually, it’s worse than that. I’ve long argued that the establishment clause is in conflict with the free exercise clause in a very crucial way: it prohibits the free exercise of those who worship a god who demands that they institute a government of god on earth. The courts can’t possibly uphold both in such a situtation, and most of the time, they wisely uphold the establishment clause. However, this conflict is likely to get stronger as the fundies gain steam.

  16. 16
    Moggie

    God still hasn’t got the hang of iron chariots, it seems.

  17. 17
    Michael Heath

    iknklast writes:

    “‘freedom of religion’ (freedom to worship any deity) does conflict with ‘In God We Trust”

    Actually, it’s worse than that. I’ve long argued that the establishment clause is in conflict with the free exercise clause in a very crucial way: it prohibits the free exercise of those who worship a god who demands that they institute a government of god on earth. The courts can’t possibly uphold both in such a situtation, and most of the time, they wisely uphold the establishment clause.

    The clauses are not in conflict. You are conflating [government] powers with rights; where rights are held individually, not collectively.

    So I have the right to practice my religion, or not practice any religion. But if we properly defend the Constitution, a theocrat getting elected along with a majority of like-minded people doesn’t justly* convey the power to force others to follow their religious edicts.

    *”Justly” in terms of principle per the just governance model of the Declaration of Independence. So the theocratic argument isn’t just unconstitutional, but fails the standard of goverence where government properly defends the equal rights of all.

  18. 18
    Alverant

    #17
    It does if the majority decides that “ceremonial deism” covers everything they want to do and putting a different spin on religious edicts. For example passing creationism off as intelligent design or allowing “spontaneous” student led prayers. There’s also selective enforcement and creative interpretations of the law. Like saying a person’s freedom of speech and religion allows them to harass a member of the minority faith while enforcing “community standards” if the reverse were to happen. Democracy can also allow for “blue laws” where the majority agrees that say no alcohol can be sold on Sundays and the minority just have to live with it.

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