I’m always interested in the way the Christian right frames the controversies over church and state matters. They’ve long employed several loaded phrases that could mean very different things, knowing that their audience will read them in a way that maximizes their fear (and thus keeps them sending in money). Mat Staver uses one of those phrases and adds in a new and utterly ridiculous term. But first, like Gordon Klingenschmitt, he pretends Liberty Counsel is the group that won the case:
Liberty Counsel has been actively engaged in protecting the rights of Americans to pray in public forums. Monday, the fruits of our labor paid off in a big way.
But Liberty Counsel did not represent the town of Greece in the case. In fact, one of their competitors did, the Alliance Defending Freedom. They did file an amicus brief in the case, as did dozens of other groups, but it wasn’t cited in the ruling. So no, the fruits of their labor did not pay. The fruits of the ADF’s labor paid off. But hey, when you’re competing for the dollars of the faithful, you have to obfuscate a little.
Today, to the consternation of anti-Christian segregationists, historical revisionists and Church-state separatists, prayer in the public square remains protected in the United States of America thanks to patriots like you and five Supreme Court Justices.
There’s that slippery phrase they’ve been using for decades: “in the public square.” It’s a very deliberate and disingenuous choice of words. Religious expression “in the public square” has never been challenged and remains entirely protected. Religious groups hold prayer rallies and marches in town squares, courthouse grounds, state capital grounds, the National Mall in Washington and and on Capitol Hill every single day and no one attempts to deny them that right.
But I’m really fascinated by the phrase Staver uses that I’m sure has been focus-group tested and will become a new talking point: “anti-Christian segregationists.” What does this or any other church/state case have to do with segregation? Absolutely nothing, of course. But segregation is a bad thing (never mind that Staver’s former boss, Jerry Falwell, was an ardent segregationist) and segregationists are viewed as bad, so they throw it in there to poison the well.
This is another well-worn tactic of the Christian right, to take the language of the left and flip it around. If you want to stop the bullying of gay kids in schools, then you’re trying to bully Christians. If you want to stop Christians from discriminating against gay people, you’re discriminating against Christians. Like the above examples, this is highly dishonest, but these people have never had any problem being dishonest in the service of their theocratic agenda.