First Freedom First

Unless you’re one of those god-crazed fundagelical thugs, you ought to be willing to support your first amendment rights and agree that religion does not belong in government. Sign the petition! It’s the very least you can do.

Now if only they hadn’t used the phrase “Sound Science” to describe scientific policy free of religious bias…


  1. Maggie Rosethorn says

    This is something I firmly believe in, and I signed right away. Thanks for the link, PZ!

  2. says

    Now if only they hadn’t used the phrase “Sound Science” to describe scientific policy free of religious bias…

    The peitition, at least, does not use the words “sound science”. It just says

    Decisions about scientific and health policies should be based on the best available scientific data, not on religious doctrine.

    … but this link mentions it:

    Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it’s hard sometimes to know when a perfectly reasonable combination of English words has been redefined into its opposite.

  3. jeffk says

    99 bottles,

    I think you’re making the incorrect implication that the statement you quote is in regards to some sort of legal policy. PZ refers to what he thinks responsible citizens should do: educate our peers (ie regulate it by teaching good science and philosophy and letting it simply die that way). He’s not suggesting anything unconsitutional.

    And in regards to the petition, it appears to be an organized group of people, not some random petition on one of those web sites where you can “make your own petition”. They intend to collect money and lobby for their cause.

  4. says

    Political candidates should not be endorsed or opposed by houses of worship.

    Why not? I’m all for churches endorsing or campaigning against politicians if that’s what they want to do. They just need to give up their tax-exempt status, as required by law.

  5. Heather Kuhn says

    Actually, I’m with 99bottles on the petition itself. Snopes has a page on the uselessness of e-petitions.
    The basic problem is a lack of ability to actually verify signatures. At any rate, if you actually want to take a stand on the issue, write your senators and congresscritter. A letter in your own words with a handwritten signature will get far more attention than an electronic petition.

  6. says

    I have to take issue with the second paragraph of the OP. It implies that when quacks begin using words to mean the opposite of their normal meaning, we should give in and stop using the words to mean what they really mean. Do I need to explain why this is a bad idea?

  7. Kagehi says

    Actually, about the whole “constitution” stuff. Its hard to tell if it “really” does what it was intended to do. Churches can, as long as they don’t do it blatently, tell their memebers to vote for the candidate that stands for X, Y and Z, with an expectation that they are the only ones babbling profusely about X, Y, and Z, and get by with it. They can whine and complain to their congregations about the evil influences of everyone else, thus pushing their members to vote against common sense, in favor of religious doctrine. And so on. But… The exact opposite situation exists when you are a “member” of one and you want the basic and fundamental rights that the state grants employees or customers in *any* corporation. You can’t sue the church for:

    1. Gender discrimination.
    2. Age discrimination.
    3. Sexual orientation discrimination.
    4. Religious discrimination.
    5. Failing to pay you money they contracted for.
    6. Other Breaches of contract.
    7. Loss of pention.
    8. Loss of Social Security due to the church demanding that you not pay into it as a requirement of joining.

    or on the customer end:

    1. Failure to follow state daycare requirements.
    2. Failure to follow state food preparation requirements.
    3. Failure to follow basic safety guidelines.
    4. Probably not even for having the entire church collaspse on you during the services.

    This is what the seperation clause does for the more twisted and shitty sects, it 100% guarantees that they can interfere in state policy all they want, as long as they don’t cross the line by “directly” supporting specific candidates, while the state can’t do a damn thing to the church, unless they start sacrificing babies on the front lawn, and *then* the state would probably be forced to sue the individual parents for child endangerment, because the doctrine of, “The state cannot even *question* what *is* religion or what should be considered valid practices.”, would prevent 99% of the judges from even trying to make any ruling other than, “I can’t deal with this, so I am throwing it out.”

    Latest case of this sort of BS is here:

    And of course, there is the run the Times has been doing on chruch priviledges that exclude them from everything from daycare safety laws to common human decency in dealing with elderly priests that get sick, and might require some church to pension them while they are “unable” to work. Love that one. “We have this great retirement plan. You should be quite comfortable when you retire.” … “Oh sorry, getting sick before **we** think you should have retired means we won’t pay you. Didn’t you read the invisible ink bit at the bottom of the contract that said that? God himself wrote it!”

    And of course the excuse that the “defenders” are giving is, “The Times articles are filled with lots of extremist organizations!”. Damn hard to tell if they mean the “churches” or the groups like the ACLU, or why it matters, since this BS could easilly happen in “any” church, devoud of a means to prevent it.

  8. jbark says

    re: uselessness of e-petitions

    That’s my understanding as well. But then, you often hear stories about TV stations self-censoring based on “complaints” from viewers, even when 99% of the complaints come from a pre-generated form being submitted by yahoos from ‘Focus on the Family’ or something.

    So I don’t know exactly what to think about their potential effectiveness. Maybe it just depends on the spinelessness of the object of the petition.

    p.s. and I agree with Chris Hallquist’s post.

  9. Mrs Tilton says

    By Pharyngula standards, I am a god-crazed fundagelical thug. (By god-crazed fundagelical thug standards, eh, maybe not so much.) But I still happily signed the petition. I am delighted that so many of the people in the country where I live are thoroughly secular; I wish the country itself had US-level church/state separation.

  10. Garrett says

    When someone mentions ‘sound science’ I usually wonder what acoustics has to do with anything.

  11. suirauqa says

    Sorry to sound paranoid here, but any idea whether web-petitions of this sort fall on the wrong hands, ever? After you have put your name and address in the petition, would it by any chance get into the hands of the powers-that-be, and you would be marked?

    I apologize for my paranoia, but last night I read this and this news reports in Yahoo news, concerning immigrants, and it appeared to be a very, very important issue concerning thousands of foreign students, post-docs and workers in this country. The said population holds valid visas and are legally eligible to work in this country, but all that it takes to change that is the stroke of a pen, a signature.

    It may be showing the last-ditch effort of the Republican administration and their toadies to maintain some semblance of control, it also reveals some disturbing implications. If a US town, for example, has voted in favor of draconian laws, it must believe that what it is standing for is justifiable and perhaps even moral, and that is truly warped. If this is an indication of how the future is going to be in the United States… I am not Christian and unfortunately, my circumstances are not propitious; else – in the true Hollywood style – I would have crossed myself and got the hell out of this country.

  12. says

    I have always wondered about whether or not e-petitions do more than make people feel good about doing something without doing much. The fact that it is sponsored by the InterFaith Alliance and Ammericans United for Separation of Church and State makes me comfortable that the names will not be sold to conservative Creationist groups, but I do wonder if the names are ever presented to Congress or not.

    I still say the best thing is a typed letter sent in the mail is the best way to get a reps. attention. Volunteering on their political campaign also is a way to get their ear, as well.

    But – don’t bother wiht Norm Coleman. He is confused between the Establishment and Free Excercise clauses.

  13. Chris King says

    This is a joint effort of the Interfaith Alliance and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. AU has been around since 1947 as a religious liberty watchdog organization. It worked with the ACLU on the Dover case and does litigation for and education about the first sixteen words of the first amendment. They are one of the (if not the) most effective groups in this arena. The Executive Director of AU – Barry Lynn is very much hated by the Religious Right. This petition is a little different then you might think it is also being worked as a written petition as well and is both a statement to politicians and an educational tool. Go look around the web site of AU when you sign up it’s a good organization.

  14. says

    I just wanted to jump into the discussion to say the First Freedom First project is a serious effort to show policy makers there is support for our First Amendment separation of church and state. First Freedom First is a joint project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation. The two organizations combined have been working to safeguard separation of church and state for more than 70 years.

    We will be sharing this information with policy makers at a state and federal level.

    We welcome your support and your comments. Please feel free to contact me at