Will Iowa’s Governor defy the Constitution again this year?
The First Amendment of the constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
About this time of year for the past several years the governor of Iowa has either ignored or acted in contradiction to the very first phrase of the Bill of Rights and taken it upon themselves to promote Christianity as the religion favored by the state of Iowa. That is Governors Branstad and now Reynolds have issued a proclamation “encouraging all Iowans to join in this historic Iowa 99 county Bible reading marathon.” Sounds like establishing a religion to me, since the Bible is basically tied to Christianity
The proclamation is usually made about now, so if it hasn’t already happened I think we can expect it shortly.
Proclaiming Christianity as the favored religion is a quite popular thing to do. During an election year it could be used as quite the little cudgel to contrast your love of the Holy with your opponent’s lack of proclaiming Bible reading to be done on government property. A little thing like not being constitutional shouldn’t stop a political party or politician that believes the constitution should be ignored on this.
Just did some back of the envelope figuring on how many Iowans will be having their rights ignored by our governor. Iowa has a population of about 3 million. Of those 75% are adults or about 2.25 million. Of those about 25% list “none” as their religion or about 562,000 Iowans.
Finding out that Christianity in Iowa was down to 77% was a bit of a surprise, but Christianity across the country has been dropping rather fast. I think there are two factors to account for that. The first would be the internet and the ability to exchange ideas that were once hard to find material and comrades on.
The second is I believe those who claim to be Christians yet commit some pretty nasty acts. One need only look at Donald Trump and many of his actions such as his sexual exploits, the way he treats women and his past record of financial chicanery just to name a few. Then to have religious hierarchy claim he is a great Christian certainly gives the religion a black eye.
Iowa’s situation is hardly unique. Christians in particular have been trying to usurp the levers of government from the first days of the republic. And it goes on today. A report on rightwingwatch.org reveals just how intertwined Church and State are in the current administration:
In a conference call with a conservative evangelical group last week, Ralph Drollinger, the pastor who leads weekly fundamentalist Bible studies for members of the House, Senate and President Trump’s Cabinet, asked participants to pray that God would inspire Cabinet members to use their platforms to fulfill the Great Commission—the biblical command given by Jesus to his followers to “make disciples of all nations”—and praised Vice President Mike Pence for helping pick Cabinet members who “really [love] the Lord.”
Drollinger’s weekly written Bible studies, which are available online, instruct public officials that the government’s job is to “quell evil” and punish sin; that “as a lawmaker it is incumbent on you to stand for the death penalty”; that entitlement programs lack “any basis of biblical authority”; that “radical environmentalism” is a “false religion”.
On Friday’s call, several leaders led prayers, followed by periods in which conference lines were unmuted and everyone could hear the unintelligible cacophony of 1,000 people (Kubal’s figure) praying at once. Kubal asked Drollinger what intercessors should pray for regarding the Cabinet.
First, said Drollinger, pray that he’d be able to move his Cabinet study into the White House compound, specifically into the vice president’s conference room in the Eisenhower Building—also known as the Old Executive Office Building. Right now, he said, security logistics make it hard for Pence and Trump to attend the Bible studies. But if they were held in that conference room, which he said is about 100 yards from the Oval Office through a tunnel, Pence and Trump could just drop in when they’re around.
Much more at the link. I think we can safely say that among this group the good of the country takes a back seat to their (I would say) distorted religious priorities.
That should scare the bejeezus out of you.