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Supreme Court: Jackson County and other places can continue discriminating against atheists

by: Eric B.

Mon May 05, 2014 at 14:33:28 PM EDT

As some of you know, I grew up in Jackson County and after leaving to attend CMU decided early on to never return on the grounds that my kind is simply unwelcome there. It's not my sexual orientation (I'm straight), it's my sense of religion. I'm an atheist. Probably pointed it out before, matter of fact. Jackson is the northern edge of the Christian End Times cult belt that runs along several of the state's most southern counties and edges up roughly towards Charlotte. It was made abundantly clear to me growing up that there isn't a lot of tolerance in Jackson County for my kind or really any kind that don't hold to the Christian faith: the more fundamentalist, the better. Today brings us news.

JACKSON, MI – In a divided decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that prayers said before municipal government meetings do not violate the Constitution.

Jackson County government officials had been waiting for the ruling since the county was sued in November by county resident Peter Bormuth, who said the prayer, led by board members is in direct violation of the Constitution.

County officials said they would not back down from this lawsuit.

Of course they weren't going to back down. This is a place where it was once fashionable to adorn your vehicle with bumper stickers that read: "Jesus is Lord over Jackson, Michigan." You can have their bumper stickers when you pry them from their cold, dead hands.

Jackson County Board of Commissioner Carl Rice Jr., was an outspoken proponent of prayer at meetings, and said the lawsuit was an “attack” on the county as well as the Christian religion.

“The court is saying to me and other elected officials, just because you’re elected doesn’t mean you can’t express your faith in public,” Rice said minutes after the ruling. “All of us have a right.”

Is anyone else sick to death about hearing these people complain that their rights to express themselves in public is being abrogated, ignoring the difference between the right of a private citizen versus their obligation as someone who has sworn an oath to represent everyone? This comment, and this insistence to pray, sends a message that everyone who doesn't subscribe to this guy's religion is simply a second-class citizen to him.

This is a fairly fundamental thing missed by the very religious when it comes to this stuff ... there's a difference between being a private citizen or exercising the rights of a private citizen when not in official capacity (i.e. when the meeting is not convened) and doing it when the gavel opens a meeting and you're expected to make decisions based on everyone's best interests.

I'm sure Jackson County isn't alone in this regard. In fact, I suspect that it's a widespread attitude. But, I'm not from those places. I'm from Jackson, and if you were to ask me why I never go back to visit (and spend money in its local businesses) it's because I ran into it so often while growing up.

Eric B. :: Supreme Court: Jackson County and other places can continue discriminating against atheists
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