Fischer’s Inconsistent View of the First Amendment

Bryan Fischer’s views on the First Amendment are, to put it mildly, quite bizarre. He claims that it only applies to Christians, not to anyone of any other religion. He also has claimed repeatedly that it applies only to Congress, ignoring completely the 14th Amendment:

Here then is a brief and concise summary of what the Founders meant by the First Amendment. And by the way, since it has never been amended, not even by the 14th Amendment (a subject for another day), it means the same thing today as it meant on September 17, 1787.

First, the amendment applies only to Congress. “Congress shall make no law…” No other entity is restrained by the First Amendment. Since the amendment applies only to Congress, it is legally, historically and constitutionally impossible for a state, a county commission, a city council, a school board, a school principal, a school teacher or a student to violate the First Amendment. This is for one simple reason: none of them is Congress. Violating the First Amendment is something only Congress can do.

Pretty clear, right? That was published last month. And here he is ranting about those long-withdrawn overly broad subpoenas by the city of Houston a mere five weeks later:

The openly lesbian mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, has issued subpoenas for 17 different forms of communication, both public and private, from pastors who oppose her “bathroom bill,” the ordinance that guarantees the right of men to walk in on your daughter while she’s in the shower at the local Y.

In the process, she has violated every single right enshrined in the First Amendment.

She has violated the right of these pastors to the free exercise of religion, because they are motivated by their sincerely held beliefs about gender differences that come from the Creator God who made us male and female.

She has violated their rights to free speech, since she wants to shut them up. She wants to penalize them for speech they have already uttered. In fact, she wants to throw them in jail, because that’s what happens to people who defy subpoenas…

She has violated their right to freedom of the press, since their sermons, columns, letters to the editor and other forms of communications are published in newspapers and in church organs. Freedom of the press does not just belong to newspapers. It is a fundamental right that belongs to every single solitary American, including pastors.

She has violated their right to freedom of assembly and especially and specifically their right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. By disallowing a petition with three times the necessary signatures, she has contemptuously swept this right off the table onto the floor where she has ground it to powder with her heel.

But Bryan, to quote you only five weeks ago: “Violating the First Amendment is something only Congress can do.” Seriously, pick an argument and stick to it.

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  • John Pieret

    It’s perfectly clear! Christians get to interpret the Constitution any way they like because Jesus wrote it just the way he wrote the Bible, which they have had 2,000 years experience interpreting any way they like!

  • Modusoperandi

    He’s perfectly consistent. The First Amendment protects Us all the time; Them, never.

  • Mobius

    I have heard that ridiculous idea that the 1st Amendment only applies to Congress elsewhere. I have pointed out that if that is the case then “freedom of religion” is a myth. If any agency other than Congress can discriminate based on religion, then there is no freedom for any religion. “You aren’t part of the Southern Baptist Convention? Sorry Mr. Methodist, you’re fired.”

  • eric

    First, the amendment applies only to Congress

    Since the amendment is a bunch of “or” clauses stuck together, I guess this means the local mayor and state governor also has free reign to abridge or eliminate our freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble, and right to petition the government for grievances.

  • joyfulatheist

    Some people are so stupid, even they don’t bother listening to what they say! Seriously, if he’s going to try and violate First Amendment rights, he should start with himself and shut the fuck up.

  • Modusoperandi

    joyfulatheist “Seriously, if he’s going to try and violate First Amendment rights, he should start with himself and shut the fuck up.”


  • cptdoom

    And those pastors responded to the subpoenas by going in front of as many cameras as possible and denouncing the mayor and all liberals over the public airwaves. The ironies just hurt.

  • vmanis1

    Shorter Bryan Fischer: “I’m right and you’re not’.

    Looking for logic in Mr Fischer’s effusions is like looking for a Michelin listing for a restaurant tha serves sliced Spam on Wonder Bread.

  • theguy

    People like Adolf Fischsticks don’t believe in freedom, equality, rights or any of that stuff. To them, the Constitution is mere words to be stretched, meanings to be tortured (along with a lot of flesh-and-blood people) in order to get what fundamentalist Christians want.

    As far as these subpoenas, I doubt they’ll go anywhere. But ol’ Adolf would do much worse if he had political power.

  • busterggi

    Any consistency is a hobgoblin in Christian conservative minds.

  • Sastra

    vmanis1 #8 wrote:

    Looking for logic in Mr Fischer’s effusions is like looking for a Michelin listing for a restaurant tha serves sliced Spam on Wonder Bread.

    OT, but I think you just came up with the next ‘Quickfire Challenge’ for Top Chef.

  • weatherwax

    The courts did actually rule that the protections afforded by The Constitution only applied to the federal government, early on. After The Civil War, states right were not as popular.