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County Commissionar in Maryland defies judge, plays martyr at the thought of going to jail.

County Commissionar in Maryland defies judge, plays martyr at the thought of going to jail. July 11, 2014

Back in April both Hemant and I wrote pieces about Carroll County (Maryland) Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.  Frazier opened city meetings with sectarian prayers to Jesus.  Some members of the community felt it was inappropriate (including a local Catholic) and the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit on their behalf, which they won.  Frazier twice defied the court order, after which the AHA sought a $30,000 fine and an additional $10,000 fine for every repeat offense.

Now Christianity Today is giving her a platform to talk about how she, and not the non-Christian people in her community who she’s supposed to represent, are being discriminated against.  The very first sentence reads:

A local official in Maryland recently announced that she is willing to go to jail because of her Christian faith.

Wrong!  Nobody is jailing Christians for being Christian.  She’s going to go to jail for ignoring a judge’s ruling and violating the separation of church and state as a government official.  Nobody gives a single solitary shit that she’s Christian.

Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier decided that she will continue to defy a federal judge’s order against sectarian prayers in board meetings, and is willing to suffer any consequences.

That’s her call, but she’s no more a martyr than someone who stabs herself in the hand and complains that she’s bleeding.

“I think that is an infringement on my freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and I think it’s a wrong ruling,” she said before the March 27 meeting.

Government officials are an extension of the government, and the government doesn’t get full freedom of speech.  The government cannot give preference to one religion over another.  If you want to talk about Jesus off the clock til you’re blue in the face, that’s your freedom of speech.  But a government official cannot, on the government’s behalf, advocate for sectarian religion no more than they could open meetings by telling people god doesn’t exist.

And if you think it’s the wrong ruling, there are ways of appeal and challenging it here in America.  But you don’t just get to ignore the ruling if you don’t like it.  That’s not only irresponsible as a citizen, it’s doubly so as a representative of the government.

And just as I wouldn’t give up my guns or I wouldn’t allow my children to be palm scanned or I wouldn’t give up my property rights with PlanMaryland, I’m not going to give up those rights. But out of respect for my colleagues, I’m not sure how strongly they feel about it, I’m willing to go to jail over it.

It is not your right to use your government post to proselytize.  It wouldn’t be the right of an atheist or Muslim, and it’s certainly not your right as a Christian.

“I believe this is a fundamental of America. And if we cease to believe that our rights come from God, we cease to be America. We’ve been told to be careful, but we’re going to be careful all the way to communism if we don’t start standing up and saying ‘no.’ So, I say ‘no’ to this ruling.”

Wrong.  Everybody in America could stop believing our rights came from god and nothing at all would change.  Our GDP would not change, our justice system would not change.  Literally nothing else would be different.

That’s because even if god supposedly said have no other gods before me, have no graven images, don’t take the lord’s name in vain, keep the sabbath, honor thy father and thy mother, don’t commit adultery, and don’t lie, we as human beings reject the bible in our laws.  In America you can believe in whatever god you wish, make graven images until you get carpel tunnel, scream “Jesus fucking Christ” until you’re blue in the face, work on Saturday, tell your mom and dad they’re being assholes if they are, sleep with anybody you want, and even tell your neighbor you’ll pray for them when you both know damn well you won’t.  The moral reasoning of people and societies is more important in America than the bible – and it’s a damn good thing, because people are better at morality than the bible.

The commissioner then recited a prayer that mentioned Jesus Christ twice.

For which she will be considered a brave warrior of god by most Christians (all of whom would consider someone an asshole for reciting a prayer to Allah).  It should be somewhat telling of the moral influence of fundamentalist Christianity that someone can engage in a gross dereliction of duty, exclude people in the community they are supposed to represent, exhibit contempt for the law, and downright show a lack of concern for others and be hailed as a hero.  In reality she’s just a self-important asshole.

American Humanist Association attorney Monica Miller represents the plaintiffs, but Miller said the case is not about Christian discrimination.

“This isn’t about atheism being pushed down someone’s throat,” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). “This is about being inclusive to everyone, including Christians.”

Miller added that one of the plaintiffs is Catholic.

Bingo.  Monica Miller is right up there with Andrew Seidel as one of the legal experts in the movement for whom I have the most respect.  She’s fair and usually hits the nail right on the head.

The Supreme Court ruled in May that sectarian prayers in local government meetings are constitutional. Commissioner Bartlett Frazier is confident that that precedent will lead to a successful ruling in the pending case against Carroll County.

Wrong (and she had consulted an attorney instead of the warm fuzzies she gets when she prays Frazier would’ve known that).  The SCOTUS ruled that sectarian prayers are allowed by community members who apply to give invocations and only if no discrimination is shown (so if people want to give a secular invocation or an invocation to the FSM, those must also be allowed – because the government itself doesn’t get to prefer a religion).  Frazier is not a citizen asking to give an invocation, she’s an actual member of the government.  She doesn’t get to talk about how grand Jesus is on the government’s time.


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