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Gohmert Flips Out Over Military Cross Removal

Rep. Louis Gohmert, who truly may be the dumbest man in Congress (I know, he has stiff competition), went on Tony Perkins’ radio show and threw a serious fit over the Pentagon ordering the removal of a cross from a building on a remote base in Afghanistan (because it violated longstanding military rules, by the way). Gohmert’s predictably idiotic response:

Gohmert: It is amazing how many people think that the First Amendment means that government must discriminate against Christianity when actually it says we’re supposed to avoid prohibiting the free exercise thereof. We shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion, we get that, but we’re not supposed to prohibit the free exercise thereof. It’s like, ‘oh you’re in the military you can’t have freedom of religion,’ ‘what do you mean I can’t have freedom of religion, I’m fighting for people to have freedom of religion, you’re not going to allow me to worship at the very time I need it most when my life could come to an end? You’re going to deprive me of that? You’re going to take away the symbols of the things I believe in, seriously?’ So we’ve got a witch hunt going on by those who for some reason, and you and I know the reason, but they just hate anything to do with Christianity. They certainly don’t go after Islam or Hindu [sic] or anything like that; heck we’ll let them build a Muslim worship center on Ground Zero but a Christian chapel? ‘No I don’t think so we’re not going to do that.’ There is active discrimination against Christianity.

Uh, the soldiers do have freedom of religion and Christian soldiers get special benefits that no one else gets (like being able to go to church rather than perform duties like cleaning up the barracks). And does he really not understand the difference between a Muslim group privately buying a building and turning it into an Islamic center and the government putting religious symbols on a building owned by the taxpayers? And by the way, it’s not a Christian chapel, it’s used by anyone on the base of any religion as a place of worship. As always, not allowing Christians exclusive domination of everything is discrimination against Christians.

Comments

  1. Chris A says

    And by the way, it’s not a Christian chapel, it’s used by anyone on the base of any religion as a place of worship.

    And here you have the crux of the problem (not that you did not understand it already). The privileged little twirps just can’t understand that “white, protestant, christian” is not the default position for all people. Thirty something years ago I thought that this increasing connectivity would force people to understand and accept our differences as part of the human spectrum. So very wrong I was…

  2. Olav says

    As this is happening in Afghanistan, I don’t think the US constitution can be applied there. Also, what message does Mr. Gohmert think it sends to the population there when Western powers raise a cross like this over a military base? Does he think it is more or less likely that the people will interpret the occupation of their country as a religious war?

    USA and NATO should have been out there, about 2002.

  3. says

    As this is happening in Afghanistan, I don’t think the US constitution can be applied there.

    As this is a matter of U.S. government property and authority and U.S. citizens, I believe you are mistaken.

  4. DaveL says

    As this is happening in Afghanistan, I don’t think the US constitution can be applied there

    The constitution limits what may be done by the government of the United States, not what may be done within the geographical United States.

  5. gshelley says

    Which in my mind raises the question, does he believe what he is saying? In other words, is he intentionally lying because he thinks claiming discrimination against Christians will help him in some way, or does he actually believe there are some double standards here?

  6. embraceyourinnercrone says

    I do not get these people, I really don’t (and I find it extra frightening when they’re in politics)

    I remember when I was in the Navy in Hawaii and the Marine Base was asked to removed the 65 foot cross at Camp Smith. The cross was supposedly put up in the ’60s as a memorial to the the veterans of WWII. Some of my coworkers were outraged that the federal court found for the plaintiffs ( the Jewish War Veterans) and told the base to remove the cross.

    Apparently the people who put up the memorial figured all veterans are Christians, or the sacrifices of non-Christians didn’t matter to them. Never mind the bigger problem that giant religious symbols don’t belong on pubic/government property.

    Rep Gohmert apparently doesn’t get the fact that a base chapel is just that, a chapel for EVERYONE on the base, not just the Christians.

    And can I just say that even back when I was a Catholic I found the idea that my religion’s chosen “symbol” was an instrument of execution, really, really disturbing. The fish symbol made much more sense. (for a particular value of “sense” as we are talking about a religious symbol after all)

  7. says

    gshelley:

    Yes, Louis Ghomert believes what he is saying. He is that stupid. Moreover, he probably thinks crosses are the only thing that repels terror babies.

  8. jameshanley says

    @ChrisA,

    The privileged little twirps just can’t understand that “white, protestant, christian” is not the default position for all people.

    I understand your position, but respectfully, I’m not so sure about it. This was brought home forcefully to me very recently by an immediate family member, in the context of required school prayer, when he said something along the lines of “I don’t care that non-Christian kids have to participate, it’s the right thing to do.”

    I think these folks do understand that there are many people who aren’t Christian, but their response to that is, “then we need to keep forcing religion at them until they accept it.” And that’s an even worse position, because if they just didn’t understand, there’d be hope for educating them.

  9. says

    Olav:

    In the case discussed in the OP, it is better that the US constitution is in force, because it is that constitution which allows Christian-hegemonic behaviours, such as those expressed by Gohmert or by the installers of the cross in question, to be challenged and overcome through peaceful, legal mechanisms.

    At any rate, US military bases are typically on the sovereign territory of the host nation (unless it is occupied; personally I am not certain which still applies to Afghanistan) but under US extraterritorial jurisdiction. At least so says the Fount Of All Knowledge. In some cases military bases might be considered sovereign US territory (whether by negotiation, or in, say, polities undergoing direct military occupation by US military forces).

    Whatever the status of who has sovereignty over the land that US military bases in Afghanistan take up, it’s a safe assumption the US has extraterritorial jurisdiction.

  10. Sastra says

    I think there’s a discernible line of reasoning behind their failure to draw lines and make any distinctions between government and private, Christian and non-christian, situation where there is discrimination and situation where it’s simply being even-handed and fair. It has to do with the nature of God.

    See, He made everything. He made the City Hall and he made the private business. He made the Born Again believer and He made the infidel. He made all situations and all countries and all people and absolutely everything in the universe.

    So He owns it. It’s all his property. It belongs to him.

    God has rights.

    Why can’t people respect His rights? That’s discrimination.

    And the Christians? Just followers.

  11. thisisaturingtest says

    Gohmert: It is amazing how many people think that the First Amendment means that government must discriminate against Christianity when actually it says we’re supposed to avoid prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    The usual misunderstanding (or deliberately bad framing) of the “free exercise of religion” clause of the 1st Amendment. This applies to free exercise of individuals; it doesn’t translate to an institutional privilege.

  12. says

    Removing this so-called “divisive symbol” is wrong.
    Look, everybody knows that on the many bases owned by Our Christian Nation and staffed by Our Good Christian Soldiers, the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ is simply a generic symbol, used to draw together all religious followers, both Protestant and Catholic.

  13. elpayaso says

    never mind the crosses all over the buildings, it’s NOT a crusade and if you heethens keep saying it is, we’ll send you some Hellfire [missiles] til you shut up…….

  14. schweinhundt says

    It’s like, ‘oh you’re in the military you can’t have freedom of religion[.]’

    Um, well, actually it is exactly like that. The military is sort of a parallel society w/its own separate rules—the Uniform Code of Military Justice and service regulations. The military limits its members’ 1st, 2nd, and 4th amendment rights on an almost daily basis. (And, the Supreme Court has generally supported this latitude in its rulings.)

    A bit of wisdom a soldier shared w/me: “In the military, we defend democracy; we don’t practice it.”

  15. dingojack says

    thisisaturingtest (#13) – “The usual misunderstanding (or deliberately bad framing) of the “free exercise of religion” clause of the 1st Amendment. This applies to free exercise of individuals; it doesn’t translate to an institutional privilege” [Emphasis mine].

    Citizens United?

    Dingo

  16. TxSkeptic says

    I’ve watched the Colbert Report so much that I often drop the ‘t’ in my head on many names and words.

    Thus the picture of Gomer Pyle always pops in my head when this particular representative is mentioned.

  17. eric says

    It’s like, ‘oh you’re in the military you can’t have freedom of religion,’ ‘what do you mean I can’t have freedom of religion, I’m fighting for people to have freedom of religion, you’re not going to allow me to worship at the very time I need it most when my life could come to an end? You’re going to deprive me of that?

    In point of fact, yes. I agree with @16 – the military is somewhat like schools or government workplaces, the USG can limit your speech and practice in ways it can’t in private locations. If I’m walking down the sidewalk and I suddenly feel the urge to stop what i’m doing and commit my full attention to prayer, no big deal. Try disobeying a military order because you want to commit your full attention to prayer instead, and see how well that goes.

    Your time is not your own, and you happened to pick a job which is “on” 24/7 or close to it. So the amount of truly private space and time you have to exercise your rights is seriously curtailed.

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