ohwilleke has a good catch over at that other place:
Estes Park, Colorado voters recalled Town Trustee David Habecker, because he was not willing to recite a Pledge of Allegiance containing the words “under God”, by a vote of 903-605. Richard Homeier who received 466 votes in the replacement vote, defeated John Ericson who received 337 votes, Dorathea Sloan who received 249 votes, and Garry Bloom who received 190 votes.
More below the fold.
Can’t say that I disagree with ohwilleke’s assessment of the situation:
Something is deeply wrong with our country when our political system removes people from public office based upon their religious beliefs.
The Founders thought it was wrong in 1789 when they adopted Article VI of the United States Constitution which states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But, right wing hate has so permeated our system that we have lost our ideals.
This story from the Rocky Mountain News adds some backstory: turns out that Habecker is himself a “former church elder.” I mention this not to say that he is somehow more deserving of protection than an atheist, but to point out the extent some of the fundagelicals are willing to go to enforce their brand of Christian orthodoxy.
Two parts of this report are particularly disturbing from a Christian perspective. First, this:
“The flag is sacred,” said Richard Colin, a veteran and retired policeman. “Anyone who turns their back on the flag shouldn’t represent anyone else.”
This is wrongheaded politically, of course, and to be fair to Estes Park, the RMN finds at least one person there who disagrees. But it’s bad theology as well: the flag is not sacred for Christians. In fact, in strict interpretations, it’s idolatrous. (This is not an extreme position, either. Mennonites, among others, typically do not allow flags in their sanctuaries, nor do they swear oaths in court.) What’s going on here, of course, is American “civil religion,” which conflates faith and patriotism. It’s probably not an accident that it was a veteran who recently introduced the Pledge during council meetings.
And then there’s this:
The Estes Park recall has echoed across the country on Web sites, television talk shows and radio call-in sessions.
Habecker, a town trustee for 12 years and owner of several local businesses, is viewed either as a champion of free speech willing to resist government imposed religion or, according to e-mail comments, a godless, anti-American and “unpatriotic bastard.”
“Thank you for your loving Christian remarks,” he responded in a return e-mail.
Habecker said America’s Founding Fathers – many of whom were ministers – wanted to keep religion out of government. The “under God” in the pledge was added during the McCarthy era to identify communists, he said.
“I don’t believe religious beliefs should be put to a vote,” said Habecker, who is a former church elder. “This is about free speech, not about religion.”
What’s more disturbing here? That Christians would attack one another for a difference of opinion, or that this would be spread around the country via the rightwing’s Mighty Wurlitzer? It
fits a pattern.
You tell me.
Update [2005-3-23 7:13:3 by pastordan]: galiel notices in the comments that the Lancaster Online link no longer works. It’s actually a non-religion related story: a Lancaster City Councilman asked a vendor at the local farmer’s market to remove a picture of W. from his stand. Not a huge story, but it got picked up by Rush Limbaugh, among others, and turned ugly from there. For more details, look here, though I no longer stand by my assertion that the councilman was within his rights.