But he does remind me of someone who used to dabble in witchcraft. [But not anymore.]
Many of our supporters have been signing a petition on our behalf. The petition at change.org actually sends mail directly to your representatives based on the street address you type in, with a pre-formatted message explaining our struggle. To my surprise, many of our supporters are receiving shocking replies from members of our government.This is not the only instance I’ve been alerted to so far, and I’m going to share the others as well.
Rep. George Cleveland served 25 years in the United States Marine Corps, and I respect his loyal service to our nation. It’s statements like the following that makes me feel like maybe he doesn’t respect mine.
Ms. [name witheld] – This is a Federal issue not a State issue. With that said I would like to point out that the Constitution States that the federal government cannot establish a religion and cannot prevent the free exercise of a religion. There is nothing in the Constitution that addresses church and state, in fact for over a hundred years the Capitol building was used as a church. This was initiated by Thomas Jefferson. The idea of separation of church and state started in the twenties by secularists who did not want prayer in the public space. They have been quite successful in redefining the Constitution on this issue. I personally believe that the Country would be better off with prayer in the public space.
Rep. George Cleveland
Legislative Office Building, Room 417-A
300 North Salisbury Street
Raleigh NC 27603
Rep. Cleveland is a North Carolina state representative (the state where Fort Bragg is located) is also the Chairman for the Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. Regardless of the state vs federal issue, it is very offensive and insensitive to reply in such a way.
Rep. Cleveland also repeats one of the biggest political gaffes in recent history. Watch what happens when a candidate uses speech that is similarly ignorant of the First Amendment, and the centuries of Supreme Court rulings establishing the Thomas Jefferson-coined “Separation of Church and State”.
The audience of law students laughed at Christine O’Donnell in disbelief.
Then her poll numbers dropped sharply, and she lost that election in a landslide. I suppose that the ‘dabbling in witchcraft’ comment, and the bizarre ‘I am not a witch’ campaign ad didn’t help her either. She continues to enjoy notoriety as a rather goofy footnote in religion attempting to spill over into government.
Why are so many politicians using this language all of a sudden? It’s clearly not good for job stability. Every time you see these statements, you should think of David Barton, and Christine O’Donnell. You should just add “… is not a witch” after all of their names, because there is something a little ‘odd’ going on under the hood. Something with an agenda.
[***Update I just got permission to print the atheist’s reply below***]
I respectfully disagree. As an atheist and the daughter of a former Marine, it is my opinion that if the Army allows funding for one religious organization then it must also allow funding for organizations that support followers of other religions and persons who ascribe to no religion. While the Constitution does not state that there should be a separation between church and state it also does not give the government permission to use its power to hold religious ceremonies (including prayers) with the government’s endorsement. Fort Bragg may allow religious festivals on the base (so long as they would allow any religious or secular group to do so) – but funding the festival, especially in light of not funding a similar festival for those with different philosophical beliefs, is not appropriate and crosses a line from allowing the practice of religion (which is constitutional) to funding and endorsing religion (which is not). The petition does not say that the Constitution states that there is a separation between church and state – it says that the Constitution implies it. I agree with Jefferson and believe that it does imply a separation.
I respect the rights of all to pray and worship as they see fit; however, as every level of government has a responsibility to serve the people regardless of their religious affiliation or lack there of, I do not believe that prayer at government sponsored events is appropriate. The law currently protects employees and students who wish to pray in spaces owned by the government and citizens who wish to assemble in public to pray; when you say that prayer is not allowed in public I believe that you are referring to the idea that workers and students should not be subjected to group prayer at their place of employment or in school when their place of employment or school is ran by the government. It is a myth that prayer is not allowed in public, and one that should be dispelled.
I ask you to take interest in what happens to atheist, agnostic, and humanist service members residing in your state even if this is a Federal issue and not a State one. You have the ability to stand up for their rights even if you do not have jurisdiction to make decisions about them, and I am disappointed that you appear to not support the rights of non-believers who reside in your district. This decision also impacts atheist, agnostic, and humanist Marines in your district who had planned on attending the event.