Remember Al Bedrosian, the Republican candidate for a county board of supervisors in Virginia who wrote an op-ed piece a few years ago claiming that only Christians are covered by the free exercise clause and that all other religions should be outlawed? Dan Casey gave him a chance to walk that back and he did so only very slightly.
When I asked him if he believes non-Christian faiths should be outlawed in America, Bedrosian replied no. But it’s clear he believes that at the least they should be suppressed in public life, in comparison with Christianity.
Bedrosian adamantly insists that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. He told me that’s clear and indisputable. The Founding Fathers never intended absolute religious freedom, he said, but rather, freedom to worship whatever Christian denomination they chose.
“We are a Christian nation. We’re not a Muslim nation,” Bedrosian said. “The Founding Fathers, they knew about Islam. When they came to America, they wanted the freedom to worship, but not the freedom to worship the devil, or Muhammad.”
That’s “clear” only to authoritarian theocrats like him. Thomas Jefferson said quite the opposite.
“There is a mountain of evidence — several cases that went to the Supreme Court in the late 1700s, 1800s, that the United States was a Christian nation,” he said. One he cited was Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S., an 1892 challenge to a federal immigration law.
Such ignorance. First of all, being a “Christian nation” can mean two entirely different things. It can mean that it is a nation made up mostly of Christians or it can mean a nation that is officially Christian. The Holy Trinity ruling meant the former, not the latter. How do I know that? Because Justice David Josiah Brewer, who authored that decision, wrote an entire book on the subject in 1905 in which he plainly contradicted Bedrosian’s ignorant interpretation of it:
But in what sense can [the United States] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or the people are compelled in any manner to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that ‘congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or in name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within its borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all.
If he’s elected supervisor, would he work to put the Ten Commandments in Roanoke County schools? I asked.
Although it’s not an issue he’s specifically campaigning on, Bedrosian replied he would work toward that. “Absolutely, I think it’s a good idea,” he said.
The problem is, overturning the nonsectarian prayer policy and putting the Ten Commandments in Roanoke County schools would almost surely put Roanoke County taxpayers on the losing end of two potentially expensive federal court lawsuits.
That doesn’t seem to square with Bedrosian’s belief that county spending should be cut 2 percent across the board, I noted.
Bedrosian said the county could probably get free or inexpensive representation from Christian legal groups. And if it couldn’t, it could cancel the Vinton Library project. That would free up plenty of money to defend itself in a drawn-out legal battle.
Defending religious liberty, “that’s what government is for. It’s not to build $14 million libraries. It’s to defend the rights of its citizens,” he said. “A new library in Vinton is not necessary.”
Defend the rights of its citizens? What right is that? There is no right to put the Ten Commandments into public school classrooms, for crying out loud. This is the kind of moron that should never hold office at any level.