“Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof…”

constitutionYou may recognize this headline; it’s the first part of the first amendment to the U.S. constitution – you know, the first of the bill of rights. The rest of the first amendment says “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.”

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but even though it was adopted in 1791 – that’s 224 years ago – it apparently hasn’t reached Arizona yet. That’s where state senator Sylvia Allen has her own ideas about freedom of religion.

Specifically, that we shouldn’t have it.

Her idea: make church attendance mandatory.

In a video clip you can find here, she said that

Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth.

When given a chance to reconsider her remarks, Allen wasn’t exactly backing down. As reported by U.S. News & World Report,

foot in mouthThe Arizona Capitol Times caught up with Allen after the fact. She classified the remarks as “flippant,” but stood by their intention. “People prayed, people went to church,” she said, recalling her 1950s upbringing. “I remember on Sundays the stores were closed. The biggest thing is religion was kicked out of our public places, out of our schools.”

The Curmudgeon won’t even bite on Allen’s suggestion that this mandatory church-going be on Sundays even though his particular church is a Saturday church. In Allen’s world, The Curmudgeon’s people probably don’t count – or need to be converted.

He is, though, interested in her harking back, as so many do, to the 1950s as some kind of “good old days.”

Yes, the good old days of the 1950s.

The good old days when in many states, black people couldn’t vote – or drink at public water fountains, ride some buses, eat in many restaurants, stay in many hotels, get jobs, find housing, and much more.

The good old days when just thinking certain ways in the era of McCarthyism could cost you your family, your job, your livelihood, and your freedom.

The good old days when women who entered the workforce were subject to a degree of discrimination that dwarfs even the considerable discrimination they still face today.

The good old days when in many states it was illegal to prosecute men for domestic violence and considered a ridiculous thing to do in many others.

The good old days when businesses could refuse service to anyone – and often did.

No, The Curmudgeon isn’t going to bite on that, either.

What really bothers him is that an elected official serving in a state senate can be so colossally ignorant of the law of the land and one of the basic principles underlying the country in which she lives.

Ordinarily The Curmudgeon might suggest that if she had a brain she’d be dangerous but it’s clear that she’s plenty dangerous even without one.

 

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