Acknowledging Bigotry, er, God.

[This is from the ACLU Web site.]

Wiccan’s Right to Pray. Simpson v. Chesterfield County (U.S. District Court, Richmond) Counsel: Victor M. Glasberg, cooperating attorney, Ayesha Kahn, Americans United For Separation of Church and State, Rebecca K. Glenberg for the affiliate. Filed December 6, 2002.

The Board of Supervisors of Chesterfield County has a prayer at each of its meetings. The prayer is delivered by a local clergy person drawn from a list maintained by the County.

Cyndi Simpson, a Wiccan, asked to be included on the list. She received a letter from the Chesterfield County Attorney, which stated “ Chesterfield’s non-sectarian invocations are traditionally made to a divinity that is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Based upon our review of Wicca, it is neo-pagan and invokes polytheistic, pre-Christian deities. Accordingly, we cannot honor your request to be included on the list of religious leaders that are invited to provide invocations at the meetings of the Board of Supervisors.”

The Board has refused even to sit down and talk to Cyndi about the issue. We have filed a suit in federal court in Richmond, claiming that the Board’s position violates Cyndi’s religious and free speech rights under the First Amendment, and her right to equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment. We have asked the court to require the board to allow Cyndi to pray, or, even better, to stop having the prayers altogether.

Both parties filed motions for summary judgment, and oral arguments were heard on July 22, 2003. On November 14, 2003 the judge ruled in our favor, holding that Cyndi’s exclusion violated the Establishment Clause.

The county appealed. Oral arguments were heard on February 3, 2005. On April 7, 2005, the Fourth Circuit reversed the District Court, holding that Chesterfield’s policy is constitutional. We subsequently filed a petition for rehearing en banc, which was denied. 

On August 9, 2005, the ACLU filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the ACLU’s petition for certiorari on Ocobter 11, 2005.

I believe the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case was based on two things: 1. The Board of Supervisors changed the rules so that all prayers had to be Jesus-free and 2. This 1983 Marsh v. Chambers:

In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. To invoke Divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, an “establishment” of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country. As Justice Douglas observed, “[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”

This ruling is utterly blasphemous to the 1st and 14th Amendments and Artical VI. Our institutions must be secular in order to maintain our equality as citizens of the United States of America. This ruling and the Supreme Court’s refusal to over turn it makes it very clear that ala Orwell’s 1984 some of the animals are more equal than others.

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