Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bob Barr - First Amendment Only Applies to Religions He Likes
(or is that past tense?)

pentacleHit & Run > Barrwatch: Season of the Witch - Reason Magazine That is, he seems to want to reserve First Amendment protections to good solid Christian religions (with a grudging acceptance of Jewish and Muslim service personnel no doubt.) Or so it seemed in 1999.

Well he has back pedaled some.
[Bob Barr] said that he had reports from several military leaders that Wiccans doing rituals on military bases were causing problems and that's why he did what he did, but that since that time it's become clear that there are no problems with allowing Wiccans to serve and to practice their religion on military bases like any other religion.
There is just one small problem with this. It doesn't mesh with what he said at the time.
Barr said in an interview Friday [1999 - May 29th] that his concern is not about "what people do in the civilian sector but solely with practice on military bases by active-duty personnel." "The fact of the matter is--and witches won't like this--our country was founded on a basic belief in God, " Barr said.

The US Military attempts to train "moral soldiers," he said, "and we have always been a country that recognizes that moral foundation as coming from God--not from a tree, not from a blade of grass, not from the sun, but from God. If people want to go out on their own and worship trees or grass or the sun, they can do that. But I don't think it's appropriate for our military to say we won't draw any lines or set any standards about what people can do with military sanction."
This is a direct attack on the idea of freedom of religion for anyone who practices a religion he doesn't like.

So, if we are to believe his recent statements, he heard of unspecified problems from anonymous sources, and he attacked the idea of freedom of religion. It has to be free for anyone - not just the people you like, or the "government approved" religions - or it is not free. But Barr wanted to limit the practice of religion to those he liked.

He also seems clueless of the fact that Wiccans have won more than one law suit to gain recognition as a religion. I can't find a link to a DoD suit, but I thought there was a separate suit just for service members. (The IRS has been sued, as have other government agencies that don't understand the meaning for the First Amendment.)

Or maybe he didn't care about court cases. He certainly didn't seem interested in the First Amendment.

[Disclaimer: I am not Wiccan, but I follow their plight in the news because it is a good view of the freedom of religion. Wiccans and pagans are perhaps the most persecuted religions in America today. A lot of people (perhaps including Bob Barr) believe that it should only be freedom of religion for those religions they approve of. Bob Barr would put the imprint of government approval on it - or at least that seems to have been his position in 1999.]

Update: More on the 1999 stuff here.

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