It’s been a rather tough week for our friends over at the ACLU. On the same day they were slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning public displays of religious symbols, Governor Bob McDonnell reversed a discriminatory policy that censored prayers of volunteer state police chaplains. One of the funniest and most outrageous statements in response to the governor's action came from Virginia ACLU director Kent Willis, who’s not exactly known for legal precision:
There is no reason for the governor to bow to pressure from groups that are encouraging the police to break the law by delivering sectarian prayers at government events. (Emphasis added.)
Seriously. Is it any wonder that no reasonable, thoughtful person anywhere pays a bit of attention to what the ACLU says? Getting legal advice from the ACLU is like getting medical advice from Dr. Kevorkian. It can't end well.
I'd try to explain what the law is to Mr. Willis, but it won’t do any good. But for those of you not blinded by ideology, needless to say, there is no law anywhere that says sectarian prayers at government events are illegal. Even in the ACLU's vision of our government where the Supreme Court makes law as opposed to the legislature, it's still not the case. But don’t take my word for it, here is what the Eleventh Circuit Court in Pelphrey v. Cobb (2008) said in its analysis of this issue:
The taxpayers (ACLU) argue that Marsh (U.S. Supreme Court precedent in this area) permits only "nonsectarian" prayers for commission (government) meetings, but their reading is contrary to the command of Marsh that the courts are not to evaluate the content of the prayers absent evidence of exploitation. …The court never held that the prayers in Marsh were constitutional because they were "nonsectarian."
Oh, and about that Fourth Circuit case (Turner v. Fredericksburg) that the ACLU alleges requires non-sectarian prayers. Here is what the decision actually says:
We need not decide whether the Establishment Clause compelled the Council to adopt their legislative prayer policy because the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer.
In Turner, while the Court upheld Fredericksburg's discriminatory censorship policy, it clearly stated that the constitution does not compel the policy. Again, in Pelphrey, the Eleventh Circuit says:
Although it upheld the policy of the (Fredericksburg City) Council, the Fourth Circuit expressly declined to hold that Marsh required a policy of nondenominational prayers. (For interested parties I encourage you to read Pelphrey for yourself. In it the court rejects every typical ACLU argument.)
So what can we learn from all this? Well, one thing we already know, the ACLU is wrong almost all the time. They live under the creed of "If you say something enough, loud enough, people will start believing it." Luckily, the only people who seem to believe them are in the MSM and some confused elected officials.
More importantly, we can learn that it really is ok to still "exercise" our faith in the public square, even if you are a government agent (ACLU words). This week’s actions by the Supreme Court and Governor McDonnell verify that.
And finally, to those who are offended by the name "Jesus," I say to you what you say to me when you shove your smut in my face in the public square. Change the channel.