Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Happening (Sooner Than Never Mix)

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

When word emerged last year that an Oklahoma Republican legislator was considering the idea of getting rid of marriage entirely in the Sooner state rather than entertain gay marriage, it was easy enough to sort of chuckle and joke about how well they were taking it. After all, they were just venting steam. It’s not like they would actually go there, right?

Well, technically, no. But they managed to come up with something that might actually be worse.

In an effort to block the state’s involvement with gay marriage, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (March 10) to abolish marriage licenses in the state.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.

(Horton)

So far, so … er … ah … well, right. So it would seem they went there. Except they didn’t.

Russ said the federal government is attempting to change the traditional definition of marriage, so his legislation would place the responsibility for officiating marriages in the hands of clergy.

“Marriage was historically a religious covenant first and a government-recognized contract second,” Russ told The Oklahoman.

The legislation has sparked controversy, both in the Legislature and with groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Oklahoma Democrats are concerned that the legislation will lead to a “Pandora’s box” of issues, including polygamy, once the government’s authority to regulate marriage is removed.

Americans United released a statement opposing the bill, saying it is biased against same-sex couples and nontheists, including atheists. Russ has been unapologetic in defending his exclusion of nontheists from the right to marry.

This is where they went.

Oklahoma!

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“Oklahoma Lawmakers Consider Preventing All Marriage: Report”. The Huffington Post. 25 January 2015.

Horton, Greg. “Oklahoma Bill Would Give Clergy Power Over Marriage Licenses”. The Huffington Post. 12 March 2015.

Kansas, Failing to Cope

Great Seal of Kansas (detail)

It is a Kansas thing:

A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that science standards for Kansas public schools promote atheism and violate the religious freedoms of students and parents.

(Associated Press)

There are a number of questions one might wonder about, but perhaps it is time we pause to consider what, exactly, these religious fanatics are doing to their children.

That is to say, we are accustomed to the fundamental argument, and it really does seem a matter of one being unable to tell the difference between unlike things. Thirty years ago groups representing parents, churches, and politicians unleashed a daily spiel about how children were not smart enough to listen to music.

Here’s one: Have you heard Trans Siberian Orchestra? Okay, you know that song they play toward the end of the set, called, “Believe”? It was first recorded in 1990 by Savatage, and describes the epiphany of an unfortunate soul stumbling into the light. But think about that for a minute, one of our best new Christmas songs comes from a band once denounced on a regular basis as being satanic.

Sometimes it seemed a matter of simple jealousy; the “Christian” version of pop music does not seem to carry very far outside its dedicated audience. Those who remember the South Park episode “Faith Plus One”, and the crack about how Christian pop sounded like lust songs about Jesus, need only look back to this time in order to understand where that joke comes from. Brief moments of exposure over the years suggest it hasn’t gotten any better, but if one had to guess without knowing who Stryper was, would “Calling On You” sound like an appeal to salvation or begging for some fumbling teenage intimacy?Stryper

It was a futile effort to keep children away from popular music, but it also made one point clear: These people do not believe their kids are smart enough to listen to pop music.

Over the years, religious advocates have humiliated themselves. Christian censorship advocate Bob Larson demonstrated himself unable to comprehend liner notes, and, furthermore, could be caught rewriting the lyrics to some of the songs he complained about in order to make musicians sound scary.

The psychopathology of the underlying parental fear is open to certain argument, but functionally speaking the argument was clear: I do not trust my child to be smart enough to resist what I find objectionable and scary about the music. It is what it is.

But here is a new proposition: I do not trust my chiled to be smart enough to resist what I find objectionable and scary about science.

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