Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Church and state in Georgia again

This isn’t all I wrote, but it’s all the Atlanta paper published. Anyone who wants to see the original--much more brilliant, of course--can shoot me an email. Or, as the editors at the Atlanta paper might have it, anyone who wants to see can shoot me.

Update: Although I didn’t know it when I was writing it, I was providing the counterpoint to this editorial. Just a few more jabs at my hometown paper, whose editorial page is led by Cynthia Tucker (a media personality you might have encountered on The Jim Lehrer Newshour). The AJC blithely asserts that the state is currently funding all sorts of programs based in churches, just so long as they don’t proselytize or hire only co-religionists. There are no legal challenges, the state attorney general’s office assures us. Not at present, though the United Methodist Children’s Home settled out of court a couple of years ago, having been sued for attempting to uphold a faith-based mission by terminating a lesbian counselor and refusing to hire a Jewish psychologist. And then there’s the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s suit against a faith-based program run out of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, which, I am happy to say, the FFRF lost (at least in the first round). So the concerns about lawsuits are not quite as far-fetched as the AJC suggests.

But my favorite paragraph is this:

Even with an explicit ban on school vouchers, this amendment represents a dangerous erosion of the separation of church and state that Georgia’s founders crafted into the constitution as early as 1789. As nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia show, when state and church intertwine, freedom for all is diminished.

The measure before the state legislature would bring Georgia’s constitutional doctrine into line with current Supreme Court doctrine. I guess Cynthia Tucker and her colleagues can’t tell the difference between Islamist theocrats and Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy. Well, they all do wear robes.

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