Bryan Fischer continues to be either completely oblivious to his own contradictions or he’s just plain lying and knows his audience won’t catch him at it when it comes to how to interpret the First Amendment. Ranting about last week’s ruling that a huge cross on public property in Maryland is unconstitutional, he says:
The First Amendment was written only to restrain the actions of Congress, as its first words clearly state: “CONGRESS shall make no law…” Only Congress can violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause, and the only way Congress can do that is by passing a LAW that designates one Christian denomination as the official church of the nation and ordering people to give money to it.
If Congress doesn’t do that, it can do anything else it wants when it comes to religious expression.
Not only is Congress the only entity that can possibly violate the Establishment clause, it is also the only entity that can even possibly violate the Free Exercise clause. That clause flatly forbids CONGRESS (and by extension, the entire federal government) from “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. This restriction applies to every branch of the federal government. The executive branch is not allowed to prohibit the free exercise of religion in any way and neither is the judicial branch.
Only Congress can violate the First Amendment! It says so right in the amendment! State and local governments cannot violate the First Amendment in any way! He’s absolutely clear about that. Until a state or local government does something he doesn’t like and “censors” some Christian for something. Then they’ve suddenly violated the First Amendment that only Congress can even hypothetically violate. When a fire chief in Atlanta was fired for distributing an anti-gay book on the job, that fire chief had, according to Fischer, been “stripped of every right that is cherished and protected under the First Amendment.”
When the state of Oregon said a bakery can’t discriminate against gay people, Fischer said “their right to the free exercise of religion, gone.” Same thing in the nearly identical Colorado case. When a football coach in Washington was told he could not lead his players in prayer after a game, Fischer said that the school had “prohibited his free exercise of religion.” But Bryan, I thought Congress was “the only entity that can even possibly violate the Free Exercise clause”?
Bryan Fischer is the Humpty Dumpty of the Christian right: The Constitution means whatever he says it means at any given moment, neither more nor less. Until it means the exact opposite. And then he’s still right, both times.