Bedrosian Doubles Down on Theocratic Desires

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.

Bedrosian would know this if he read something other than David Barton pamphlets.

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.

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  • Ben P

    Well hopefully he’s just giving ammo to his opponent here. I could make a pretty fun attack ad with that last quote.

    Al Bedrosian says that he’d rather waste YOUR money on lawsuits and paying lawyers than build a library.

  • Well, you don’t need libraries when you only have one book. Obviously. Plus, while Liberty isn’t free, it’s much cheaper when it only applies to the rights of Real Americans instead of the so-called “rights” of so-called “Americans”. That’s Small Government Constitutional Conservatism.

  • chilidog99

    Bring it on, loser

  • tynk

    He would cancel the building of a library to start a legal fight he can not win, and as far as I know, no one in his county is asking him to fight?

    Apparently, he won the nomination, partially, by luck. The primary was a tie, 389 apiece. The next day they drew his name from a bag so he got the nomination.

  • “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.”

    Where to begin with this statement?

    1) The Founding Fathers didn’t come here. They were born here.

    2) Muslims don’t worship Mohammad.

  • John Pieret

    Thomas Jefferson:

    The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it’s protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.” The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

    But he wan’t a real Founding Father.

  • iknklast

    A new library in Vinton is not necessary

    Who needs a library? You certainly don’t need all that space just for the Bible! What other books could you possibly need?


  • thisisaturingtest

    @#6, John Pieret-

    While I agree that that quote accurately reflects the intentions of the FFs in regard to religious freedom in all of America, it should be noted in the interest of complete disclosure that this quote, with the reference to a “bill for establishing religious freedom,” refers specifically to the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, passed in 1786, not the U.S. Constitution.

  • Artor

    d.c.wilson, I’m pretty sure a few of the founding fathers were born in Britain before they came to the colonies. I’m not sure which; I’d have to check.

  • dingojack

    The FoAW notes:

    “Most of the 1787 delegates were natives of the Thirteen Colonies. Only 9 were born elsewhere: four (Butler, Fitzsimons, McHenry, and Paterson) in Ireland, two (Davie and Robert Morris) in England, two (Wilson and Witherspoon) in Scotland, and one (Hamilton) in the West Indies”.

    So mostly natives, but not all.


  • dingojack

    Also ‘Al Bedrosian’?

    Sounds like one of them dang furrin mooslims to me. Anyone seen his ‘long’ or ‘vault’ birth certificate?

    😀 Dingo

  • =8)-DX

    2) Muslims don’t worship Mohammad.

    For limited meanings of the word “worship”. It’s like the RCC’s rejections of idolatry – they also don’t “worship” Mary and the saints and their beloved popes.

  • John Pieret


    Quite correct and my mistake if it wasn’t obvious.

  • arakasi

    I haven’t lived in that part of the state since the mid 90’s, but when I did, the Vinton library was the one I used. The space was a tad small then, and has probably only gotten worse over the last 20 years, since it is the closest library to most of Roanoke’s development over the last decade.

    Bedrosian has also been very vocal in his objections to expanding the library, so I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he is deliberately picking a fight that he knows will lose. If by some weird happenstance he wins, he gets the Ten Commandments and sectarian prayer. If it loses in the courts, then he pays the bills by cancelling a program he hates. In his mind, he can’t lose.