Christian Right Leader: The Secular Coalition for America Wants to Take Away Christians’ First Amendment Rights

After the Secular Coalition for America announced it would be expanding into Washington, D.C., Tom McClusky of the D.C.-based Family Research Council had some choice words for them:

Tom McClusky during a 2011 C-SPAN appearance

The national group already seems to want to make sure that those with religious beliefs don’t get the first amendment rights that are granted to them,” Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm, told Whispers.

McClusky said he doesn’t think SCA can succeed locally.

We’re a Christian nation. And the closer you get to the voting public, the more willing people are to fight for their rights,” he said. “If these guys really want to challenge Christians, bring it on.”

Wow. Two lies and challenging his opponent to a duel. McClusky’s following the FRC playbook perfectly.

Obviously, the SCA has no desire to take away any rights from the non-religious. They just want to advocate for church/state separation and the inclusion of atheists at the political roundtable.

As to the challenge, I asked the SCA’s Communications Manager Lauren Anderson Youngblood what she thought of it. She told me this:

The message Mr. McClusky is pushing on behalf of the FRC is hypocritical.

Freedom of religion is not meant only for Mr. McClusky’s particular brand of Christianity, but extends to all religions and no religion. The reality is that FRC is upset that Americans are standing up and challenging the privileged position that they and other religious groups have had for decades.

We aren’t taking away Mr. McClusky’s First Amendment rights. All Americans have the right to believe what they want. What we’re doing is proudly exercising our right to speak the truth about religious privilege and the harm that comes from giving out billions of our tax dollars to groups that discriminate and want to impose their own narrow dogma on the rest of our nation.

But Mr. McClusky is right about one thing: people are willing to fight for their rights. They’re willing to fight for marriage equality. They’re willing to fight to protect access to birth control. They’re willing to fight to ensure that our government does not give special treatment to any religion. That’s why we’re organizing in every state across the nation. And that’s why the American people — religious and non-religious — will be on board with the work we’re doing.

Secularism is one of America’s core founding principles — that’s why our founders took great pains to ensure it was a part of our Constitution. Ignoring that doesn’t make it untrue.

Challenge accepted.

Booya! BRING IT, McCLUSKEY!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    But Hemant, you don’t get it. See when Chrisian groups say “first amendment rights,” they mean  the right to push my beliefs on everyone through force of law.”

    • Stev84

      They generally confuse the right to have an opinion or to believe what they want with the right to do whatever they want. The latter is not covered by the First Amendment. Despite some courts’ determination to change that.

    • Theoryofi

       The proper understanding of the separation clause is as clear and simple as it can be.

      The founders and, through the ratification process, the citizens of the US declared and decreed that secular law, viz the US Constitution was and will always be, in all of the civic and legal matters to which it pertains, the supreme authority.  The statement that Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion eliminates, indeed prohibits, any legal status in, or for religion.  In short, the 1st Amendment simply but definitively states that religion can not and will not have any role in American government.  No other interpretation is valid.

  • MargueriteF

    “The national group already seems to want to make sure that those with religious beliefs don’t get the first amendment rights that are granted to them.” 
    “We’re a Christian nation.”
    Do these people ever see the immense irony in their own words? In just a few sentences, he clearly and vividly illustrates why secular organizations are necessary.

  • Mike G

    Since hypocrisy, narcissistic arrogance, self delusion and cognitive dissonance are all core values in any religious belief, any sort of attempt at rational discussion with this ass is useless.

    However, I just finished reading an article that nails this issue. The highlight is the following quiz:

    1. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
    B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

    2. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
    B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on
    marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

    3. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) I am being forced to use birth control.
    B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

    4. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
    B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

    5. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
    B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

    6. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
    B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

    7. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
    B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and
    resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

    8. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
    B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

    9. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
    B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

    10. My religious liberty is at risk because:
    A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
    B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

    Scoring key:

    If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps
    your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have
    every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But
    just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you
    can fight for your equality — not your superiority.

    If you answered “B” to any question, then not only
    is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance
    that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the
    point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your
    faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

    found at: http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/how-tell-if-your-religious-liberty-be

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger GodVlogger (on YouTube)

       Dang! That. Is. Awesome!

  • guest

    Minor typo:

    “Obviously, the SCA has no desire to take away any rights from the non-religious.”  I think you mean to say the religious, not non-religious.

  • DreadPirateRogers

    When I see FRC, my brain autotranslates it into Religious Fundie Crap.

  • Philo Vaihinger

    All the same, there are real conflicts between what the religious insist must count as guaranteed to them by the free exercise  clause and what we can concede.

    We cannot allow them to kill their children though they claim a parental, free exercise right to refuse real medical care to them and to hand them over to faith-healers, for example.

    And we need to reconsider the American tradition of allowing the churches to run their own schools dominated by their religious ideas in competition with secular, public schools.

    Religious education is child abuse and a menace to secularism in America.

    And there is a serious threat today that, through vouchers, a taxpayer-funded system of church dominated education may replace our secular, public schools.

    We cannot allow that to happen, though churches will resist any attack on their right to run their own school systems and parents will resist any attack on their right to send their kids to them by insisting traditional and even originalist construal of the First Amendment protects those rights.

    And that protest will be true, just as before Brown anyone could have protested traditional and even originalist interpretation of the 14th Amendment supported Plessy and the constitutionality of segregation.

    Too bad.

    Time for a change.