Candidate for Roanoke County Board of Supervisors: Religious Freedom Only Applies to Christians

In Virginia, Al Bedrosian is the Republican candidate in the race to win one of the five seats on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. There’s no Democrat in the race; he’s running against independent Gary Jarrell.

None of this would be particularly newsworthy outside of Roanoke if it weren’t for this opinion piece Bedrosian wrote for the Roanoke Times nears six years ago, in which he talks about how this country is not only a Christian nation, but one where non-Christians should not be allowed to worship at all:

Al Bedrosian

Freedom of religion has become the biggest hoax placed upon the Christian people and on our Christian nation.

When reading the writings of our Founding Founders, there was never any reference to freedom of religion referring to a choice between Islam, Hindu, Satanism, Wicca and whatever other religions or cults you would like to dream up. It was very clear that freedom to worship meant the freedom to worship the God of the Bible in the way you wanted, and not to have a government church denomination dictate how you would worship.

Once we remove ourselves from worshiping the one true God, all the wonderful qualities of America will vanish.

In fact, the global warming crowd worships the environment as god, the abortionist has the death of unborn babies as their god, and the homosexuals have sexual freedom as their god.

The real battle is keeping the name of Jesus as Lord. The name Jesus is what makes us a Christian people and a Christian nation. This is why we must continue our heritage as a Christian nation and remove all other gods.

This about as far right as a person could get. He’s a theocrat who’s upset that America supports “freedom of religion.” He’s about a step away from suggesting that all non-Christians be deported. (No word yet on how Bedrosian actually plans to “remove all other gods” from our country.)

Roanoke Times reporter Dan Casey caught up with Bedrosian to ask him about his religious views and whether they’ve changed from 2007. Turns out Bedrosian is still sticking to his Christ-or-bust mentality:

“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.”

The problem today, Bedrosian added is “as a Christian nation we’re bending over backwards to allow in every other nation’s religion… and Christians are being pushed out.”

But aren’t Christians still by far a majority in America? I asked. That’s the conundrum, Bedrosian replied.

“We’re being so generous to every other religion that it’s removing our Christianity. And that’s dangerous. Christianity is being pushed to the back of the bus, and every other religion is at the front.

Riiiiight… to paraphrase Jon Stewart, maybe one day, our country will even rise up to elect our first Christian president!

Bedrosian went on to talk about how he plans to commit all sorts of church/state violations, including reciting Christian prayers at City Council meetings, if he gets elected:

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.

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.

What the hell…? He’s willing to let the county get sued for putting up the Ten Commandments up in public schools… only to pay for the lawsuit with money that could have been used to build a new library.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Bedrosian doesn’t care about libraries. In his mind, there’s only one book that matters.

Any citizen of Hollins District who votes for this man is just asking for the county’s tax money to be thrown away on the illegal whims of Bedrosian, who says he loves this country but apparently can’t even bring himself to read and understand the First Amendment of the Constitution.

(Thanks to Scott for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • flyb

    Unfortunately, in that part of Virginia, he will likely win in a landslide victory.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      yup.

  • ORAXX

    Religious fanatics, regardless of religion, never see a problem with forcing their religion on others. That’s why they’re called fanatics.

  • MsC

    “Some animals are more equal than others.”

  • TCC

    He’s also dead wrong about the Founding Fathers talking about religious freedom for non-Christians. Thomas Jefferson, talking about the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, one of his proudest accomplishments, said this:

    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 past; and a singular proposition proved that it’s [sic] 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 “” 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 [sic] protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Muslim], the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

    And *gasp!* even non-believers are included! Somebody pull out the fainting couch!

  • Steve

    This guy is obviously not clued up on his own Constitution, which clearly separates church from state and confirms freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

    • Steve

      Just to add that it’s terrible that Christians aren’t allowed to become President, maybe he should look into that? I’m English, by the way.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Um, the Jon Stewart quote was sarcastic. Christians are in the majority here, and very much allowed to hold office (including that of the Prez) — often to the exclusion of others (*cough*atheists*cough*)

        • Steve

          Yes, I know he was being sarcastic, I thought my saying I’m English would have been a clue, after all, we invented sarcasm and irony. Luckily, I live in a country that doesn’t care about a person’s religion or lack of it, our deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg is nominally atheist. American politicians seem to be an even weirder breed than British ones and that’s saying something!

      • Michael W Busch

        Notice the “forty-four in a row” bit? Stewart was making the point that every US president to date has been at least nominally Christian (although people do argue about Jefferson).

        Wikipedia provides a list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_affiliations_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States

        So far there have been: 4 Baptists, 1 Catholic, 1 Congregationalist, 2 Disciples of Christ, 2 Dutch Reformed, 11 Episcopalians, 4 Methodists, 9 Presbyterians, 2 Quakers, 4 Unitarians, and 4 non-denominational (those last four were/are Jefferson, Lincoln, Johnson, and Obama).

    • Jasper

      Coming from those people who think the Bible doesn’t mean what it says… it doesn’t surprise me that they think the Constitution doesn’t mean what it says.

  • C Peterson

    That such a person exists doesn’t really bother me. It is well understood that a certain background level of sociopathy and mental illness is present in any population.

    What is disturbing is that somebody like this isn’t called out by his entire community. What is disturbing is that this crackpot, with his anti-American views, will probably receive a good percentage of the vote, even if he doesn’t win.

    • Regina Carol Moore

      People like this scare me. The fact that anyone would agree with him scares me.

    • Michael W Busch

      What is disturbing is that somebody like this isn’t called out by his entire community.

      That is indeed the most disturbing thing about the entire situation.

      But do not equate Bedrosian’s utter failure of understanding of or deliberate ignoring of the United States’ Constitution and laws and his complete obliviousness to social privilege with “sociopathy and mental illness”. Neither of those things is equivalent to being an authoritarian social dominator.

      • C Peterson

        I disagree. He seems pretty clearly sociopathic.

        • Michael W Busch

          Unless you have access to a formal psychological evaluation of Bedrosian, you have no grounds to make that statement – “antisocial personality disorder” is a specific diagnosis. You can say that Bedrosian is a social dominator who apparently doesn’t care about the rights of anyone outside of a strictly-defined in-group.

          More importantly, you are continuing to equate having a mental illness with being an authoritarian social dominator. That is wrong.

          • C Peterson

            No, it is not. The sort of behavior he exhibits is completely consistent with types of mental illness. I don’t know that he is mentally ill, but neither do you know he is not. The suggestion remains a valid one.

            The meanings of “sociopathy” extend beyond the clinical. I can say, with absolute certainty, that he is sociopathic in a common usage of the term.

            • Michael W Busch

              I don’t know that he is mentally ill, but neither do you know he is not.

              True, I don’t. And we should not speculate on the matter.

              The suggestion remains a valid one.

              No, it doesn’t. Approximately, you are saying “He’s a bad person. He must be mentally ill.” That contributes to the social stigma against mental illness, by falsely equating someone having mental illness with their being a bad person.

              That is wrong.

              • C Peterson

                Approximately, you are saying “He’s a bad person. He must be mentally ill.”

                I’m saying nothing of the sort. I said he is a sociopath. I said he may be mentally ill, which might explain why he is acting badly.

                I get it that mental illness is an issue with you. Fine. But the reality is, mental illness often does make people act badly. My initial statement is entirely reasonable: we see a certain level of antisocial behavior in society because of the background level of sociopathy and mental illness.

                • Michael W Busch

                  I said he may be mentally ill, which might explain why he is acting badly.

                  I apologize for missing your caveats, but it does not change my point. If he is mentally ill or not is irrelevant here, and by connecting his bad actions to mental illness in any way you are contributing to the social stigma against mental illness. Don’t do that.

                  My initial statement is entirely reasonable: we see a certain level of antisocial behavior in society because of the background level of sociopathy and mental illness.

                  No, it is not “entirely reasonable” – it is wrong. Mental illness is not the cause of most behavior we could count as antisocial. Nor is sociopathy (yes, the word is frequently misused – but that is a different problem). Most people who do antisocial things do not have any diagnosable mental illness. They are simply wrong.

                  And I am starting to repeat myself. So I am done.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Mental illness makes people act oddly, or against norms. It doesn’t make them act “badly” in this sense. Authoritarian bigots are not mentally ill- they are authoritarian bigots. You both further stigmatize mental illness and remove agency from people when you claim that they are not fully culpable for their bad ideas.

                  EDIT: Yes, it’s scary that sane people can be that wrong. That doesn’t make it untrue.

                • Michael W Busch

                  it’s scary that sane people can be that wrong. That doesn’t make it untrue.

                  Exactly.

                • C Peterson

                  “Against norms” is often synonymous with “bad”.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  I shouldn’t even have to explain why that’s wrong….

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  No. Against norms is often synonymous with “things you shouldn’t do in polite company”. Bad things are usually things that are unethical and/or immoral. Perfectly sane people can be unethical, immoral, and wrong; Bedrosian is actually a perfect example of that.

                  You have no call to be making even tentative diagnoses of mental illnesses just because someone believes horrible things. I know many mentally ill people- people with depression, bipolar, and/or schizophrenia. They act badly sometimes, in the sense that they act irrationally or in ways that hurt themselves or other people, but they do not act like this guy. This guy is wrong, but he is not sick. We don’t call slave owners in the American South mentally ill, we call them wrong. We don’t call people who stone people in Iran mentally ill, we call them wrong. Why do ignorant, authoritarian Christians get a pass; why do we call them sick, instead of wrong?

                • C Peterson

                  I’m not making any diagnosis, tentative or otherwise. I simply said that mental illness exists and can produce the sort of antisocial behavior this sociopath exhibits. And that’s a fact.

                  In my view, all theists are mentally damaged. I would call them mentally ill, even if their particular disability isn’t currently recognized by the DSM. That’s a matter of semantics.

                  Gay people used to be clinically defined as mentally ill. In the future, I think religious people will be. Standards change.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  You are conflating “being factually wrong” and “being mentally ill”. Stop it. There is nothing in the wiring of people’s brains nor their brain chemistry that leads to authoritarian, theocratic, bigoted ideas. There’s privilege, bad ideas, and a distinct lack of empathy for anyone not in the in-group, but those are not mental illnesses.

                  Mental illness is a physical illness in the brain, we just didn’t know that for a long time and we’re still very hazy on exactly what’s going wrong most of the time. Any time you can lose your “mental illness” through education, you weren’t mentally ill. You were just wrong. You can’t argue someone out of depression; you just can’t. They won’t always need anti-depressants if it’s mild enough, but CBT or other therapies aren’t logical argumentation so much as personal introspection and deliberate pursuit and cutting off of bad ideas that set off cascades of problematic chemicals in the brain that lead to harm to the self and/or self-image.

                  Calling gay people mentally ill was clearly incorrect. Calling religious people mentally ill is equally incorrect.

                • TCC

                  I wish that I could like this multiple times. I am so fucking sick and tired of this ignorant lie.

                • C Peterson

                  I am conflating nothing. I’m saying several things. First, as a theist, I consider him mentally ill. Second, he is a sociopath by definition. Third, his bad behavior is possibly explainable by a clinically recognized form of mental illness. In general, socially bad behavior is often explained by some sort of mental illness.

                  Yes, he is making factual errors. There are many possible bases for his confusion, and I’m not suggesting any of them definitively. But I think the mental illness of theism contributes to his sociopathy, even if he doesn’t have a clinically recognized form of mental illness.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Then we are done. You refuse to understand why calling people who are factually wrong mentally ill is both inaccurate and stigmatizing. You refuse to understand why when someone says something awful, saying “well that person is just mentally ill” both removes agency from the wrong person and stigmatizes those with actual mental illnesses. Being wrong is not a mental illness. Bedrosian’s behavior doesn’t meet any clinical definition of sociopathy I’ve ever read, so stop trying to make your ableism look “scientific”. It’s not. It’s just ableist bigotry. Socially bad behavior is explained by all sorts of things that aren’t mental illness- talk about increasing the stigma surrounding it though! If all bad behavior is because of mental illness, then all mentally ill people behave badly, right? We could never be the ones in Milgram’s experiment; we could never sit by and condone torture. George W. Bush was mentally ill. Goebbels was mentally ill. Stalin was mentally ill. Richard III was mentally ill. Bedrosian is mentally ill. All the Inquisitors were mentally ill. Fuck that nonsense. They were wrong, but they weren’t mentally ill.

                  Associations go both ways; people who are actually mentally ill don’t want to be associated with Bedrosian or his twisted viewpoints, and your immediate assumption that sane people can’t just be bad people is incredibly hurtful to those who are actually struggling with mental illnesses.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Theism is not a mental illness. It is a wrong belief.

                  Stop trying to equate the two.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  …really?

                  Who the fuck downvoted this?! Feminerd is right!

                • C Peterson

                  Who the fuck downvoted this?! Feminerd is right!

                  It wasn’t me. I don’t have an account. But I wouldn’t say that Feminerd is right. I’d say that she has a reasonable opinion that other people can both reasonably agree with, or reasonably disagree with.

                  These are largely matters of viewpoint and opinion, not fact.

                • Michael W Busch

                  These are largely matters of viewpoint and opinion, not fact

                  No, this is not “largely a matter of viewpoint and opinion”. It is a matter of the meanings assigned to words. “Mental illness” refers to specific conditions based eventually in the neurochemistry of the brain. It does not refer to learned behavior and ideas.

                  And religious beliefs are learned, not innate. Do not confuse the two. To do so is both wrong and incredibly offensive.

                • Puzzled

                  Mental illness refers to specific clusters of behaviors listed in a book which is written by committee in a political fashion. Some correlations with neurotransmitter levels have been observed, and some believe that causation can be derived from that.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Depends on the specific disorder considered, but yes, the definitions and causality of different mental disorders can be very nonspecific and unclear.

                  But, again and as you and Feminerd both say, religious belief is not a mental illness by any metric.

                • Puzzled

                  Certainly – and bigots such as this fellow are responsible and wrong.

                  I think some much weaker statements could be looked at, though. If a person were raised in isolation and unfamiliar with religion, and that person were mentally ill, I don’t think they’d independently invent religion. However, if that person were very familiar with the symbols, etc. of some religion, and were mentally ill, it isn’t impossible for them to find solace in that religion.

                  I used to be a religious Jew. Later, I took antidepressants. I don’t think I was mentally ill – but weaning off of antidepressants certainly changed my neurotransmitters temporarily – I took them for a month, and going off took 4 months due to crippling migraines from a low level of norepi. During that time, I was taking one pill every third day for a time. I had very predictable mood changes – the day after the pill, I was euphoric and giddy, the next day I was sad, and on the third day – before it kicked in – I always felt drawn to religion and wistful for my lost faith.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Seems like someone with three accounts- it’s all in bursts of 3s. We’ll never know who ze/they is/are, probably, but whoever(s) you are, that’s really passive aggressive and not terribly productive. If you’ve got something to say, say it (anonymously) to my face.

                • C Peterson

                  Didn’t there used to be a way to see who had voted things up (before the addition of the down option)? Seems like I remember being able to click on something- my own posts anyway- and see that.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I haven’t been able to find anything like that. If you find it, please let me know!

                • Puzzled

                  Calling gay people mentally ill was clearly incorrect – except that now cross-dressers will still be characterized as mentally ill. I’m not arguing that it isn’t incorrect, just that the ‘clearly’ doesn’t seem to work. (Actually, why is it incorrect exactly – most of us believe that homosexuality isn’t a choice, which can only mean that it involves the brain in some way, and it can’t be changed by education – so whether or not to characterize it as mental illness rests only on the illness part. But the closest we are in psychiatry to defining illness is functional impairment, which is social and only makes sense in reference to the population around. So, if we have a bunch of authoritarian bigots – who are not mentally ill – to the extent that being homosexual restricts your ability to function in society – sadly true – why isn’t it a mental illness?)

                  Which is my point – brains are different, but whether or not the difference counts as an illness is not a scientific question at all. That is in addition to the fact that no such brain difference has actually been shown to exist – and if it had, we wouldn’t call it mental illness any more. For example, epilepsy was once seen as being crazy – once we identified it with a brain problem, it was no longer seen as mental illness at all, but as neurological. Why wouldn’t schizophrenia be seen the same way, if someday it is shown to involve a brain problem?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  The whole category of “mental illness” probably should disappear. In fact, if the whole idea of “mental illness” disappeared into “neurological disorder” or “neurochemical disorder”, I’d be thrilled. We’d know what caused them and hopefully be well on the way to treating them!

                  Either way, religious belief is just wrong belief. It isn’t mental illness by any measure I’ve been able to find.

                • Puzzled

                  Well, then, we agree. Cool.

                • Puzzled

                  If you define ‘often’ as ‘once in a great while’ then sure. This statement is also trivially true for historicists. For those who believe that ‘bad’ has a real meaning, not so much.

  • Willy Occam

    WTF… worshiping “the death of unborn babies as their god”? Because EVERYBODY has to worship some kind of god.

    • RobMcCune

      They’re unfamiliar with beliefs that don’t dominate and control your mind.

    • allein

      He has a very strange definition of “god.”

    • Miss_Beara

      Many people cannot comprehend people not worshiping something. Someone on here a few days ago said that instead of god we worship AND enslaved by ourselves, or the environment, or our family, or education. Obviously it makes zero sense and trying to explain it to them is useless.

      • Michael W Busch

        Not useless. It is important to point out when people are speaking nonsense. Those asserting the nonsense may not be likely to admit to their mistakes immediately, but the audience is more likely to understand that the nonsense is indeed wrong when it is challenged.

  • Jasper

    Even if that was the position of the founding fathers, so what? They weren’t Jesus. Their words aren’t immutable doctrine. They’d be wrong, in terms of how we should go about constructing a society… and the constitution allows us to correct that mistake.

    The most healthy societies are the ones that focus on secularism, and freedom for all. THAT’s what we should aim for.

    • Jasper

      For instance, they were wrong about slavery. We corrected that.

    • trj

      It is quite tedious to have every right-wing fundie or politician constantly refer to what the Founding Fathers wanted, especially since it usually comes with a solid dose of revisionism.

      I suppose it’s the defining trait of the True Conservative: guidance can only come from the past – and an inaccurate, rosy-tinted past at that.

    • Agrajag

      Yeah. It’s strange hearing them dragged out on stage so regularly in american debate. What does it matter ? Surely we should do what’s right, regardless of whether or not some men now long dead would agree with us or not.

      I’ve never -once- heard the opinion of the men on Eidsvoll, those who designed our constitution, dragged into current debate here in Norway, but I’ve seen references to the “founding fathers” hundreds, if not thousands of times in american debates.

    • JET

      The founding fathers would probably agree with you that their words were not “immutable doctrine” in that they made, and actually used, a silly little provision called the ammendment. The bottom line is that the U.S. has defined itself to be a secular nation.

  • Malcolm McLean

    What the framers of the constitution meant was that Christians should be allowed to choose their denomination, or be atheists/Deists (the boundary between atheism, Deism, and very “low” Christianity was a bit fuzzy in the 18th century). A weakness of the US Constitution is that the Supreme Court can declare that whatever law it likes is to be found within the penumbra of meaning of the Constitution, which is rather a silly document anyway. But Americans have to live with it, and the Supreme Court has decided to go the secularist route.

    There are real problems when people make up religions, or seize on some religion that’s very alien to American culture, and demand to be treated as equals to the Church. America can’t really treat the Church in the same way as a Wiccan coven with thirteen members, or the South Tennessee little Baptist Church (integrated, reformed), because the Pope is probably more influential than the US president. It depends on exactly what you mean by the term, the Pope’s got a billion followers as opposed to 300 million subjects for Obama, but he’s got less day to day control over them, he can’t tax them at 40% like Obama does. The US President has to treat the Pope as someone who’s roughly equal to him in stature, because that’s just the reality.

    • jdm8

      Read Washington’s letter to the Jews. Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists.

      Or this line of the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified 1797, passed unanimously by the Senate (many of them were Framers), signed by John Adams:

      “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,…”

      It’s a bit rich to say the Founders wanted a Christian nation, or Christian privilege over non-Christians. I think it can only be said in ignorance of the three documents above.

      • Malcolm McLean

        The boundary between low Christianity, Deism, and atheism was rather fuzzy at the time.

        • TCC

          You keep saying that, but 1) you have provided no evidence and 2) you have not established its relevance.

          • phantomreader42

            In previous discussions, Malcolm has made it clear that he does not believe a person making a claim has any obligation to even pretend to be interested in providing evidence to support it. Also, Malcolm McLean is an escaped mental patient who rapes farm animals, and I am not in any way obligated to substantiate this claim, everyone should just believe me without question.

            • RobMcCune

              That reasoning is kinda shaky. Now if you can derive pig fucking mental patient from the etymology of his name, that constitutes a rock solid argument.

          • Malcolm McLean

            Shelley wrote a pamphlet entitled “The necessity of atheism”. So it should argue that there is no God, right? That’s what atheism means, a person who doesn’t beleive in God. But Shelley wrote:

            “There Is No God. This negation must be understood solely to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading Spirit co-eternal with the universe remains unshaken.”

            So my claim that the distinctions were fuzzy at this period stands up.

            • TCC

              Shelley was sympathetic to claims of pantheism, yes, but that does not establish your claim that “[t]he boundary between low Christianity, Deism, and atheism was rather fuzzy at the time.” For that matter, Shelley wrote a dialogue called “A Refutation of Deism,” which argued against both theism and deism.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              No one could possibly imagine how a highly passionate nineteen year-old student and poet could have misused a word. NO ONE, I TELL YOU.

              Funny how every relevant piece of writing from philosophers and statesmen of the day contradicts your claim, eh?

              It’s quite odd that you would choose a single line from a single early piece from a single writer and claim it as evidence spanning the Post-Enlightenment period. And by “odd”, I mean, “exhaustingly stupid.”

              Fascinating that you would try to revise history with, of all things, a pamphlet that effectively refutes God-claims despite the author’s issues, and whose publication led to the author being expelled from university by good God-fearing Christians whose laudable educations should have left them already quite aware of the arguments, but whose religious terrors did not allow them to act rationally when presented with those arguments.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              And because this part deserves its own space: Shelley’s work was published in the nineteenth century, not the eighteenth. The founders of the United States developed their beliefs at least four decades ahead of him, often more. Jefferson, for instance, was almost SEVENTY when said pamphlet appeared. They were not products of Shelley’s time; they were barely products of his nation by that point.

              Feel free to fail again.

        • Mike Smar

          Don’t think T. Paine would agree with you.

        • RobMcCune

          And that has nothing to do with anything, people bickered just as vigorously over those issues as they do today. Are you arguing that the founders had the intention of banning ideas that weren’t relevant or influential? Or do you believe they expected no new issues or controversies to arise?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Repeating something doesn’t make it true.

          • Malcolm McLean

            You can’t provide an evidence for absolutely every claim. At some point you’ve got to come to common knowledge. Atheists are largely ignorant about basic facts about atheism, I accept that. Evidence that the boundary between atheism, Deism and low Christianity was fuzzy in the 18th century was demanded, and it was provided. The response, as is typical, was to simply assert that the challenge had not been met. Wilful stupidity and blindness is the order of the day.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              No, it wasn’t provided. It wasn’t even hinted at. In fact, you were refuted while typing that post.

              Yes, your willful stupidity and blindness are quite dominant this Sunday… hey wait, are you even supposed to be doing this sort of thing on Sunday?

              • Malcolm McLean

                Another thing atheists do is demand evidence, then when it’s provided, fund something wrong with that evidence, then claim that no evidence has been provided. Yes, it is possible that Shelley didn’t know what the word “atheist” meant, He was just misusing it. But is that likely? If the suspect’s fingerprints are on the gun, maybe he picked it up where it was discarded at the crime scene, paniced, hid it, and then lied about what he’d done to police because it was so incriminating. Does the evidence disappear because the defence lawyer suggests that that is a possibility?

                In fact the distinctions between extremely rationalistic Christianity, Deism, and atheism were fuzzy in the 18th century. If you deny that, you’re just showing that, even about atheism, atheists are largely ignorant. But we can go into the matter further if you so desire.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Shelley wrote in the 19th century. He lived from 4 August 1792 to 8 July 1822; unless he was exceptionally precocious, all his published works were written in the 1800s (thus, nineteenth century).

                  In other words, he did not influence the founding fathers one bit. They did their work generally before he was even born, let alone writing anything that might be considered influential. He is also just one, little known (at the time) post-Enlightenment poet. To establish a historical trend, you should really point to at least three and maybe more authors. Otherwise, you point to one person’s opinions/mistakes instead of the canon of an era.

                  The distinctions between rationalistic Christianity and Deism were pretty fuzzy and still are, I’ll give you that. Generally, the former says “Jesus” and the latter says “some creator deity”, so it’s not that fuzzy. Atheist, on the other hand, has always been distinct from those, as seen by Thomas Paine’s rejection of any sort of God-figure altogether.

                • RobMcCune

                  Still has nothing to do with anything.

                • Hat Stealer

                  Yes, if you provide evidence, we will review it and decide it to either be sufficient or lacking. That’s how these things work.

                  So far, in lieu of evidence, you have provided a single paragraph written by a 19-year old poet a full century after the period you are discussing, in which a word is misused. That’s it. And you wonder why we find fault with your “evidence” (quote marks included.)

        • David S.

          To continue quoting from the Treaty of Tripoli:

          As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen

          That does not read to me as if they were saying we’re a Christian/Deist/Atheist nation that opposes Islam on our shores. It says we have no enmity against Islam.

    • Goape

      The constitution is not a silly document. Maybe you don’t understand it, or maybe you don’t want to? Maybe it has too many long sentences or commas for you to ingest? (Don’t read the bible, it’ll blow your mind.)

      You said: “There are real problems when people make up religions”. I agree, look at what christianity, or any other organised religion, has done.

      Also, Obama doesn’t have “subjects”; he is our (US citizens) employee. He should treat everyone as “roughly equal to him” in most aspects—after all, he is just a guy with about 300 million employers. The pope, on the other hand, uses global naïvety and fear of a (supposedly) uncomfortable afterlife to act as a dictator. Furthermore, saying that the pope can’t tax his subjects almost funny, in a dark kind of way. Just look at the guy! He’s filthy rich. The coercion of donations through threats of spiritual prosecution is more expensive and immoral than any government tax.

      Your second paragraph (although quite incoherent) seems to make the delusional assumption that the most important thing in American politics is the most popular supernatural belief system. This is ridiculous. The American citizens—their collective earthly wellbeing and opinion as expressed by their votes—are the only thing that can or should matter to the government of the USA.

      • Malcolm McLean

        Obama taxes at about 40%, which is the proportion of US government spending to GDP. The Pope can’t do that, he maybe gets one or two percent. But two percent on a billion people is still quite a big chunk of money, in absolute terms.
        The Church makes concordats with evil governments, which are designed to protect Catholics as those governments pursue their evil and ultimately self-destructive policies. We probably need one with the US, soon. It’s unlikely there will be a similar agreement with any other religious group, they’re either not big enough, or have no central authority.

        • Goape

          The US House of Representatives controls taxing and spending, not Obama. And I really don’t want the “protection” of a bunch of corrupt, pedophiliac overlords; neither did the founding fathers.

        • Sven2547

          Obama taxes at about 40%, which is the proportion of US government spending to GDP.

          Federal tax revenue is currently around 14% of the GDP.

        • RobMcCune

          Didn’t the church already make a concordat with the government to protect catholics from other people’s freedom?

          • Malcolm McLean

            As far as I know no concordat has been signed with the United States. That might change.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Actually, the maximum tax bracket in the US is 39.6%, which only applies to those earning $200,000+ for single or $250,000+ for married filing jointly. That means only money earned above that is taxed so highly. I would love to be taxed at almost 40%, because it would mean I’d reached a very high income level. Most people in that bracket pay significantly less, because they earn money from dividends or other investment income; that is taxed at a max rate of 15%. Through judicious deductions, the ultra-rich pay very low rates. In fact, Mitt Romney paid ~13% on his income in 2011 and probably less on previous tax returns, though we don’t know for sure because we can’t see them. Warren Buffett famously (and accurately) announced that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, due to the fucked up nature of the US tax code and its loopholes.

          In return for our historically low tax rates (post-WWII, marginal tax rates reached as high as 93%), we get government services like a military, Medicaid, research that turns into things like radar and the Internet and antibiotics, Pell Grants, food stamps, the EPA, and roads, among other things. Running a country is expensive- paying taxes is the price we pay to live in a society that has the things we need for the quality of life we like. If you hate taxes and government, move to Somalia.

    • Space Cadet

      There are real problems when people make up religions…

      Ain’t that the fucking truth.

      • VCP

        Like Christianity, for one example.

    • RobMcCune

      There are real problems when people make up religions, or seize on some religion that’s very alien to American culture, and demand to be treated as equals to the Church.

      The problem with that is it shows how absurd it is to give Christianity the privileges it has, and exposes Christians as hypocrites on the subject of religious freedom.

    • Sven2547

      A weakness of the US Constitution is that the Supreme Court can declare that whatever law it likes is to be found within the penumbra of meaning of the Constitution, which is rather a silly document anyway.

      I think this captures the essence of his post. You can only accept this Christian-supremacist philosophy if you think the Constitution is a silly document.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Hey Handsome, I’ve got news for you…

      1. CHRISTIANITY is a made up religion just like all other supernatural enthusiasms: Scientology, Mormonism, Heaven’s Gate Cult, Raelians, Santeria, etc.
      2. You should really worship your TRUE god…Constantine.
      3. Catholicism has always been viewed as alien to the PROTESTANT American culture and you were given the entire state of Maryland to keep yourselves corralled away from TRUE Christians. Hell, your own Catholic bishops complained that Irish Catholic children were forced to read the heretical King James Bible in the nineteenth century public schools.
      4. The popes, Frank and Bendmydick XVI, are ridiculous. The vast majority of Catholics disregard their teachings and even in the Third World, people are more interested in religious syncretism which has NOTHING to do with Vatican teachings. Instead of battling Albigensians or enforcing crazy-ass doctrinal statements with a papal army, your 21st century emasculated popes swing their pathetic wrists at the amusing figure of a skeletondressed up in blue velvet or electric pink chiffon robes who has a preference for American dollars…Santa Muerte. ROFLMAO!
      5. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get muddy and the pig just likes it.

    • TheBlackCat13

      I find it ironic that you mention the Catholicism as though that is “the Church” that the founding fathers were referring to. Heck, even during the Kennedy election there was a lot of resistance to having a Catholic in office, and up until not that long before that Catholics were still systematically discriminated against in much of the country.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Here in Connecticut a few years ago, a school district (in the town of Enfield) attempted to fight a court case over having its high school graduations in a church (i.e. First Cathedral in Bloomfield, which is not that close to Enfield). They made this choice initially because of promises of free legal representation by outfits like Liberty Counsel.

    Well, guess what? That “free” representation turned out not to have been “free” at all! They eventually had to settle the case after the board’s chairmanship changed hands*; the district paid its own legal costs, and the settlement was paid for by its liability insurer. (Even so, there were still some militant Christianists left in Enfield aching for an extended court battle. They were simply outvoted by a school board that knew they could never prevail.)

    In any case, it’s quite obvious that any dutiful Christianist hoping to set some kind of new Supreme Court precedent allowing religionism in public schools, had best treat these offers of free legal help with more than a little skepticism. The case of Enfield CT is just one example of this phenomenon.

    * Note: Greg Stokes, the Enfield school-board chairman who orchestrated the church graduations and who’d initially pressed to fight the case in court & lined up Christianist aid for his “cause,” is an evangelical minister. The settlement came after he was out of office. First Cathedral and Greg Stokes’s Cornerstone Church in East Windsor both also happen to be “non-denominational.” Is that a coincidence? I honestly don’t know.

    • Bill Santagata

      Not to mention that if you lose, it doesn’t make a difference if your own legal representation is free, you still have to pay the legal costs of the winning party.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Christian groups that provide “free” legal defenses have a tendency to not mention that part until they have the offending party hooked and well into proceedings, because their own profits depend on fundraising by telling their membership about all the “good” they’re doing, and to do “good”, they’ve got to have clients.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    But don’t forget, atheists are the REAL fascists because some guy on the Internet made a joke about nuking stupid people.

  • Phyl

    Oh, you know perfectly well that this individual would have no plan to “deport all non-Christians.” Having been one of these people for 30 years until, you know, I acquired a human soul, I can tell you right now that this individual would LEAP to get rid of non-Christians simply by killing them all. You convert, or they burn you at the stake or whatever method they are drooling over at the moment. And they’d make it a public event too. It would definitely be televised. The more people they can kill, the happier they will be. “We’re winning! That’ll show YOU!”

  • cryofly

    How about this… separation of the state and the church also applies only to christians. No where does it say temple, mosque… and church by definition is a christian place of delusion.

  • Space Cadet

    In fact, the global warming crowd worships the environment as god, the
    abortionist has the death of unborn babies as their god, and the
    homosexuals have sexual freedom as their god.

    Baseball fans worship the long ball; comic geeks offer sacrifices to Stan Lee; dog owners sing the praises of Anubis, cat owners Bast; and, of course, Atheists worship Athea.

    Since everything is a religion now, I’d like my tax exempt status, please. Retroactive, of course. I’ll be expecting a refund check in the mail.

    • K. Johnston

      The part with Stan Lee may be true…

      • Artor

        ‘Nuff said.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          ‘Nuff said, True Believers. ;-)

    • JET

      I was willing to write this guy off as just another fundamentalist nut-bag until he mentioned libraries. Libraries are as close as I come to worshiping anything.

    • Raising_Rlyeh

      Hey, don’t mock us. Those sacrifices to our lord Stan Lee are starting to get really expensive. On top of that I have to offer my daily sacrifice to Steve Moffat in order to keep the new series of Doctor Who going. I am practically broke from our my worship.

      • Space Cadet

        I had to leave that religion (comics, not Dr. Who) many years ago ’cause my weekly pull list got so out of hand I was tithing upwards of 25% of my income. Doing pre-orders and whatnot through Previews was a huge, huge mistake, as my 2-foot tall statue of Dr. Doom can attest.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Heh, my reasoning for becoming a comics apostate was similar: “I’m not paying this much for second-rate digital coloring and medicore artists who think they can write.”

          After being out of the cult for a while, I also realized that I had been getting really sick of the ever-worsening representations of women. Not to say that it was great in the Good Old Days, but it was most definitely less bad.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Ehhh, it was not less-bad. I present to you Psylocke (sp?) as example number one. And what’s-his-face who never draws feet and seems to think women have neither spines nor internal organs; he was extremely popular in the “Good Old Days”.

    • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

      I drive a BMW, so I guess that makes me a Yuppietologist. All hail the great and powerful Money Weasel!

  • rhodent

    Bedrosian’s attitude underscores the main reason why we keep seeing shit like this over and over and over and over and over: He will not suffer any penalty. The taxpayers will have to suffer the consequences of his actions. To an extent this is reasonable — he’s not hiding his beliefs, so if the majority elects him then the majority is complicit in his violation of the Constitution and should suffer as well. But it’s not enough. He has no reason not to demagogue on this issue, because he stands a good chance of gaining from it (the bubble-brains who send half their money to televangelists will send the other half to his campaign) and almost no chance of losing on a personal level.

    What needs to happen is that we need to start making the individuals who violate the constitution suffer as individuals. He should be named as an individual defendant in the lawsuit. If any statute can be found that could lead to him serving jail time for violating the constitution, he should be charged with it. (I realize it’s highly unlikely any such statute exists, but it’s worth checking.) If the theocrats come to realize that they will actually have to pay a price themselves when they blatantly violate the Constitution on points that were settled by the SCOTUS decades ago, then they might think twice about it.

    • Brian Westley

      Hopefully, more insurance companies will start telling these idiots that their insurance will not cover the cost of litigation, like one insurer did with the recent Jesus portrait — the picture was taken down instead of wasting a lot of money:

      http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jesus-portrait-ohio-school-avoid-pricey-lawsuit-article-1.1307062

    • Bill Santagata

      The Constitution specifically states that violations of the Constitution are treated as a civil matter, not a criminal one. Furthermore, only the government can violate the Establishment Clause. Private citizens can never violate this clause. He cannot be sued as an individual, only in his capacity as a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

      • rhodent

        That’s a new one on me. Where is that?

        • Bill Santagata

          Article III §2: “The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution…”

          “Law and equity” are the two types of civil proceedings.

          • baal

            Please try again. Could you point to a law review that supports your view?

            The usual reason government officials skate is sovereign immunity. There are exceptions and those are usually seen as the State rescinding it’s immunity. State attorney general empowerment acts are such an example as are certain enforcement actions that they (and no other litigant) can bring.

            • Bill Santagata

              Sovereign immunity means that neither the states nor the United States can be sued in court without their consent. The legal fiction that gets around this is the Ex Parte Young doctrine: instead of suing the state (or United States) you sue the government official *in his official capacity.* The reasoning is that if a government official is doing something unconstitutional, he is operating outside the bounds of his official capacity (as the Constitution cannot grant any official a capacity to do something unconstitutional!). The restriction is that under the Ex Parte Young doctrine you can only sue for prospective relief (i.e. the court can order the government official to stop doing what he’s doing in the future) and not retrospective relief (such as monetary damages).

              Therefore, government officials cannot “skate” on sovereign immunity.

              As for the “law review” I can’t imagine that there is a law review article dedicated to explaining how constitutional issues are civil matters as this is a rather black-and-white issue. It’s spelled out in the Constitution: cases arising under the Constitution are matters of law and equity.

              • baal

                ” It’s spelled out in the Constitution: cases arising under the Constitution are matters of law and equity.” Guess I’ll have to google for the commentary myself. I don’t think you can read the doc that way.

                • Bill Santagata

                  There is no other way to read it. Violating the Constitution is not a crime, nor should it be. Imagine if the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 the other way on Obamacare. Should Obama have been sent to jail for “violating the Constitution”? No one would ever want to do anything or pass any laws lest a court hold them criminally in violation of the Constitution down the road.

                  Equitable relief is the appropriate measure for correcting a constitutional injury.

                • baal

                  I still think your reading is non-standard. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_or_Controversy_Clause.

                  The basis for keeping criminal penalties tied to specific legislative enactments (i.e. criminal laws) is tradition.

                  Please note that there are federal statutes that make it a crime for even office holders to violate civil rights.

                  http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/federal-statutes

                • Bill Santagata

                  In 18 USC 242 uses the phrase “color of law,” which means it is a crime for a government officer to willfully act outside the boundaries of any active law or statute. This is mostly enforced regarding police brutality. For example, there is no law that prohibits “driving while black.” If a police officer stops someone purely because they are black, he has committed a crime.

                  On the other hand, if the state passed a law prohibiting black people from driving, a police officer would not be committing a crime by enforcing that law. A black driver would be stopped then would have to sue in a civil proceeding to get the law to be declared unconstitutional.

                  Similarly, if the County Board of Supervisors passes a resolution authorizing the construction of a 10 Commandments monument, the person who goes and puts it up is not committing a crime.

                  You also cite the Cases and Controversies Clause. This clause represents a ceiling of cases that the federal judiciary can hear: Congress cannot add to it. Therefore, since it says that cases arising under the Constitution are settled in law and equity, Congress can’t add to it by allowing constitutional controversies to also be heard as a criminal matter (even if they could, this would be a disastrous policy!).

  • BobR

    As a Mayflower descendant, I can tell Mr. Bedrosian that there weren’t any Armenians in the group. So if he’s looking back to the makeup of the Founders, he’s in the wrong country.

    • Bdole

      I see that there’s a whole org of Mayflower descendants. No offense, but my first thought was what an utterly pointless thing to keep track of. What of all their non-mayflower ancestors? Don’t they count? Just seems silly.

      • Michael W Busch

        Particularly silly since most of them aren’t actually descended from the people they claim to be descended from at this point (20 generations will do that).

  • Richard P. Weiss

    Time to put Bedrosian’s ideas to bed. He’s an idiot, let’s deport him to Italy. Maybe he can become the Pope. Oh wait, even the Pope thinks Atheists will make it to heaven. Never mind.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Doesn’t matter. The Vatican overruled him the very next day: we are still going to hell. Didn’t take long for the dissension in the ranks to start showing.

  • newavocation

    I say give the people of Roanoke what they want with all the Xian rules and requirements. Start by requiring mandatory attendance of “Xian” church services on Sunday morning and Wednesday nite. Have the churches take attendance and tract tidings then have the local police follow up on the late sleepers and deadbeats and see how long the people will want their religious leaders calling the shots.

  • Bdole

    Imbecile.
    Likewise for anyone who votes for him.

  • Sue Blue

    Delusional paranoia – if you ain’t got it, you don’t get it…and you cain’t run for no kind of office in the south. It’s one of them “prerequisites”.

  • SeekerLancer

    “When reading the writings of our Founding Founders, there was never any reference to freedom of religion referring to a choice between Islam, Hindu, Satanism, Wicca and whatever other religions or cults you would like to dream up.”

    Because they didn’t think they had to spell it out for you. If they meant it your way they would’ve said “Freedom of Christianity.”

    • Bill Santagata

      I wonder if his logic extends to the 2nd Amendment? You only have the right to own a hand-loaded musket! Freedom of speech? So long as it’s written with quill on parchment!

  • VCP

    Is it any surprise that he appears to be wearing a prison jumpsuit?

  • Bill Santagata

    When you lose a civil rights case (which Establishment Clause cases fall under) it doesn’t matter if the lawyer representing *you* is working pro bono. The losing party has to pay the prevailing party’s legal fees.

    • midnight rambler

      Moreover, most of the groups that would do so – namely the Alliance Defense Fund and Thomas More Law Center – are simply catastrophically bad lawyers, besides being simply on the wrong side. The ACLJ is at least good at making devious arguments, but since it’s mostly a money-making racket for Jay Sekulow they’re not likely to take these kind of pro bono cases.

  • LesterBallard

    An honest Christian.

  • Frank Mitchell

    When reading the writings of our Founding Founders, there was never any reference to freedom of religion referring to a choice between Islam, Hindu, Satanism, Wicca and whatever other religions or cults you would like to dream up.

    “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    “… they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”
    -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia
    Act for Religious Freedom

    “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10,
    1814

    (More at http://www.nobeliefs.com/jefferson.htm )

  • Dad

    As an Armenian myself, I’d like to paraphrase Treebeard:
    “Bedrosian. . . An Armenian should know better!”

    What a chucklehead . . . Al Bedrosian needs to meet Peter Boghossian.

  • Hat Stealer

    So it’s a theocracy you want, eh? Well let’s just waltz over to the Middle East and see how they’re doing, shall we?

  • EllieMay

    Anybody know much about his opponent Gary Jarrell? I noticed that his home page lacks any mention of a god, church, etc. I’d be tempted to send him a few bux to help defeat Bedrosian.

  • Zaydin

    This is rich: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aZIcEblsFo

    Mr. Bedrosian has a campaign ad proclaiming the First Amendment and every right it grants is precious. Except, in his own admission, as this article pointed out, he feels it doesn’t apply to non-Christians. Gotta love it.

  • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

    Sadly, I’m guessing that area NEEDS a bigger library. Clearly the current one doesn’t have enough space for basic things like history books.

  • OkieMel621

    There is this document called the Treaty of Tripoli. This idiot needs to read it. It was unanimously approved by both the house and the senate during the time our forefathers were in charge of the country. A Quote: “The United States was in no way founded on Christian Principals.” IT was a treaty with a MUSLIM country. The forefathers admired the Muslims, per words out of Thomas Jefferson’s own mouth.

  • danallison

    This thoughtful Christian is profoundly weary of being thrown in with jackasses like Bedrosian, okay?

  • Danny Adams

    “When reading the writings of our Founding Founders, there was never any reference to freedom of religion referring to a choice between Islam…” Spoken like someone who’s never actually read their writings, or only read fake Founding Father quotes on the Internet. Offhand I can remember reading quotes about other religions from both Thomas Jefferson (including what TCC pointed out below) and Benjamin Rush.


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