Becket Fund: Equality an ‘Affront’ to Religious Liberty


The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has actually done some good work on behalf of genuine religious freedom, but much of the time they are as ridiculous as Liberty Counsel or the ACLJ. Especially when they hand out awards like the one they just sent out this press release about:

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is pleased (well, sort of) to announce the recipient of our lowest honor, the 2013 Ebenezer Award, which is given annually to the most ridiculous affront to Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations.

This year the award goes to Wisconsin’s Department of Administration, which apparently doesn’t know that it is constitutionally permissible for the government to have a tasteful holiday display celebrating various aspects of the Christmas season. So instead, the Department of Administration invited anyone and everyone to display anything they want.

The result? Wisconsin citizens are now being greeted by a display of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” in their State Capitol. The sign depicts a dripping wet clump of boiled spaghetti with two strategically placed meatballs, and this message: “He boiled for your sins. Be touched by his noodly appendage before it is too late.”

So for the Becket Fund, the “most ridiculous affront to Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations” is when the government does not give exclusive access to public property to celebrate only those two events. Pluralism and diversity — such an “affront” to an organization that calls itself an advocate of “religious liberty.” And by “religious liberty” they of course means Christians and Jews only.

Comments

  1. says

    And by “religious liberty” they of course means Christians and Jews only.

    Well, sure. [lengthy pause] Those Jews sure do worship them some Jesus, don’t they? And they get that candle thing.

  2. says

    Ridiculousness is kind of the point: if a government is going to permit religious displays on its grounds (there is no obligation to do so) then it must allow ALL religious displays. It is not allowed to pick and chose, a fact you would think the Becket Fund could understand. So next year, how about we get the Church of Satan and the Temple of Aphrodite involved?

  3. Michael Heath says

    The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is pleased (well, sort of) to announce the recipient of our lowest honor, the 2013 Ebenezer Award, which is given annually to the most ridiculous affront to Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations.

    The candidates the Becket Fund considers infers they can’t find groups whose behavior reflects the award’s namesake, the Ebenezer [Scrooge] Award. That’d be those that actually restrict people’s ability to celebrate Christmas rather than those who merely criticize Christmas displays. Heh.

  4. abb3w says

    @2, Gregory in Seattle

    Ridiculousness is kind of the point: if a government is going to permit religious displays on its grounds (there is no obligation to do so) then it must allow ALL religious displays.

    Well…

    I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand that’s not quite comprehensively accurate. Just to pick at nits….

    It is permissible for the state to decide to have no display at all — at the cost of complaints by religious folk who think a display in government space would be a great think.

    Much as the Becket Fund suggests it is permissible for the state itself to decide to put up a holiday display, which display may have religious elements — provided that not all elements are from a single religion, and at the cost of complaints (and potentially legal action) from atheists/Wiccans/Satanists/Discordians/Pastafarians who feel that the display is insufficiently inclusive of the entire community.

    And finally, it is permissible for the state to decide to have a limited public forum where outside groups may put up displays — at the cost of having to put up with silly-seeming displays from even parody religions like the Discordians, and the resultant griping from folk like the Becket Fund. Not all displays need be allowed, but the reasons for refusing a particular display must be one of the exceptional conditions where the Government is allowed to limit free speech — lewd obscenity (not merely offensiveness), profanely vulgar vocabulary, defamatory content, and fighting words that “tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace”.

    The option the Beckett Fund appears to favor seems the one most likely to risk a protracted (ergo, expensive) lawsuit.

  5. says

    And by “religious liberty” they of course means Christians and Jews only.

    And the Jews are only included begrudgingly with a Menorah tucked away somewhere in the back of the display in order to maintain the illusion that they are being inclusive. Let’s find a Muslim group who wants to put up a Ramadan display and see how fast the Beckett Fund changes its tune.

  6. rukymoss says

    I have lived in and out of Madison for years, and was in town for the holidays. I was thrilled to find that there was an image of His Noodly Goodness at the Capitol and went to see it immediately. It is NOT an actual Pastafarian display–it is a poster from the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at UW-Madison, and reads

    “He boiled for your sins! Be touched by his noodly appendage before it’s too late!” followed lower down by

    “Think this is ridiculous? We agree! Religious ideas should not be promoted within the halls of government. Protect the separation of Church and State, it protects us all.”

    There was also a Festivus pole, including paper and pencil to write down one’s grievances, with the promise that they would be aired in accordance with Festivus tradition. Aside from the Christmas tree, which as usual has pride of place in the Rotunda, and reaches well above the second floor, there were at least 2 nativity scenes. The ones I saw were placed nest to the FSM poster and the Festivus pole (to decontaminate them, maybe?)

    Everything except the tree is on the second floor, so you have to climb stairs and walk around a bit to find any “minority” displays. it looks as if nobody from the Becket Foundation actually visited the Capitol display or checked it out thoroughly before giving the award. Oh well, time to go eat breakfast. Think I’ll have ramen.

  7. cjcolucci says

    We now have Justice Scalia’s “Abrahamic monotheism” theory of the Establishment Clause — in theory only, of course. If and when he actually upholds a Muslim display, and tries to tether this to originalism, I’ll pay for the popcorn.

  8. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Have the people running the Becket fund forgotten the first law of freedom? “Your right to wave your arms ends at my nose!” Their freedom stops at the point of doing harm to others.

  9. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    D. C. Wilson: It could work! Ramadan is Lent on steroids, reminding us to remember the poor and hungry.

  10. raven says

    Wisconsin citizens are now being greeted by a display of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” in their State Capitol. The sign depicts a dripping wet clump of boiled spaghetti with two strategically placed meatballs, and this message: “He boiled for your sins. Be touched by his noodly appendage before it is too late.”

    So what? I’m not seeing the problem here at all. BTW, the Flying Spaghetti Monster was “dripping wet”. This is a lie and a slur on all her followers. Clearly the spaghetti had been drained in a colander.

    And speaking of gruesome and offensive symbols: Go into any xian church and you see an ancient Roman torture-murder device called a cross.

    Go into any Catholic church and you see the same Roman torture-murder device with a dead or dying guy nailed onto to it.

    And don’t get me started on the xian symbolic (thank Cthulhu they aren’t eating real people these days) cannibalism ritual.

  11. Abby Normal says

    The government has an interest in supporting a strong economy. Christmas gift giving provides a reliable boost to the economy by stimulating consumer spending. No other holiday boasts a comparable track record of spending. Therefore the government has a secular purpose for promoting Christmas exclusively, the primary effect of which is to enhance the economy. And since Christmas is already a federally recognized holiday, putting up displays in recognition of that fact does not further entangle government with religion. Lemon test passed.

    /red meat

  12. Wylann says

    I’m announcing my award for “Most clueless lack of self awareness award of 2013.”

    Guess who wins?

  13. dan4 says

    “…which doesn’t know that it’s constitutionally permissible for the government to have a tasteful holiday display celebrating various aspects of the Christmas seasons.”

    I don’t get it, was the Christmas display not allowed…or it was, but the argument they’re making is that the FSM display somehow “vanishes” the Christmas one?

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