Governor Branstad’s latest little in-your-face move of signing a proclamation calling on Iowans to participate in a bible reading marathon from June 30 to July 3rd in front of all 99 courthouses simultaneously is simply way out of bounds. Whatever his motivation may be – probably very cynical to pander to right wing Christian voters – it should not be allowed.
It is bad enough that he publicly declares support for an action that favors one religion over any others. Then to offer up secular public buildings, county courthouses in this instance, goes way beyond the pale. This action appears to be the very epitome of the state using its power to establish a religion.
Defenders point out that Branstad has signed proclamations stating one day or another as a day of prayer for earlier Christian observances and also one for Muslims. Just because something similar has been done before doesn’t make the current practice any more legal. One observer also noted that Branstad had signed a proclamation fro a day of reason. Since when is reason a religion? If the argument is that atheism is a religion, how does not believing in something constitute a religion.
Perhaps Branstad was told that all the churches in the state had been shuttered and thus he felt some obligation to offer those wishing to make a grand outward show of their religiosity (against Christ’s prescriptions) the use of government buildings? But thousands upon thousands of churches remain open in Iowa even though they are mostly empty even on Sunday. Even if they churches were shuttered wouldn’t businesses that push their Christianity be a better place for the religious to congregate. Businesses such as Chik-Fil-a or Hobby Lobby or Pizza Ranch.
If none of those are available then perhaps they could move to the private homes of the believers and “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
No, Governor, your move is very cynical and should be ruled very unconstitutional. While we would like to think that Branstad could be reasoned with on issues like this we only need to look at some of his actions in office to know that he could really care less what we think. So in lieu of reasonable argument may we suggest a contribution to the ACLU or the Freedom From Religion Foundation
If they are praying in the courthouses we hope they are at least pray for something that will benefit the country – keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.
Really makes you wish Tom Paine was alive to take Branstad to task.