Dan Casey, a columnist for the Roanoke Times, invents an entirely fake conversation in order to slander atheists, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation in particular, as only caring about church/state separation in order to make money. Here’s a taste of the irrational diatribe.
Let’s imagine some of the discussions they’ve been having in the past few years about religion and public life in Southwest Virginia.
“Next we’ll hear from the atheist in charge of the Blue Ridge Mountains area. Lucifer — er, I meant Luke — can you give us a status report?”
“Happy to, madam chairwoman,” says Luke.
“As you know, we’ve been in a fierce court battle with the Giles County School Board over the hanging of the Ten Commandments in their high school. That’s been going on for about 18 months now…
A board member raises his hand. “Can the treasurer tell us how much money we raked in from this effort?”
“Sure,” the treasurer replies. “Let see. Here it is: $1,486,369. Most of it came from California.”
Yes, let’s just imagine a conversation that never took place so you can impugn the motives of your opponents without presenting any actual facts to back up the accusation. He doesn’t bother to explain why he thinks the FFRF has made money on the Giles County and there is no evidence of this at all. He likely only intends the old slander against the ACLU that they just file suits to make money when they get their legal fees reimbursed if they win.
The case was recently settled, in fact, and as part of that settlement the ACLU is receiving a whopping $6,511.16. The FFRF isn’t getting a dime. In fact, the case has cost them a significant amount of money in work by their attorneys that will not be reimbursed. And even when they do get some reimbursement after they win a case, it’s only a portion of the costs they incurred. In one recent case, their legal fees were more than $35,000 and they agreed to settle for only about $20,000, leaving them having to cover the rest themselves.
Such reimbursements are allowed by federal law and it applies to anyone. If you file a lawsuit against a government agency for violating the constitution and win, you can make a motion to have the government pay your legal fees, for the obvious reason that a citizen should not have to pay to keep the government from violating the law. Religious right legal groups that file lawsuits get exactly the same thing. Do you suppose we’ll be hearing Casey fantasize about such conversations in the offices of Liberty Counsel, the Thomas More Law Center or the American Center for Law and Justice anytime soon? Yeah, not likely.
Update: I sent Casey an email asking him if he had any evidence that the FFRF was filing such suits to make money and he actually claims that the whole thing was just a satire on the Giles County School Board and that he’s on the FFRF’s side:
I don’t understand why you are taking umbrage with the column. The column was a satire on ridiculous elected officials, taking unconstitutional stands purely for political reasons, AND, in doing so, furthering the agenda of the people they are promising to wage losing battles against.
It was not against the FFRF, or atheists in general. It was pointing out that the governments are making FFRF more powerful and better known by waging fruitless fights against the FFRF’s reasonable requests. In other words, the governments are shooting themselves in their own feet.
Go read that column and see if you can detect even the slightest bit of satire aimed at the school board. I certainly don’t see it.
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