Indiana Loves Its Jesus

« December 2005 »

Memo to Indiana: OTHERS EXIST.

Tradition is just getting away with something for a long time. We all know how "tradition" is used to excuse behavior society likes to think it no longer approves of, from "traditional" gender roles to the rich "tradition" of racism celebrated by the Confederate flag.

Well, Indiana just stopped getting away with something, and of course, they're running around like Gideons with their bible-chuckers cut off, trying to get it back.

That practice? Opening their legislative sessions with prayers that specifically mention Jesus Christ.

You may recall, back in August, the case in Great Falls South Carolina, where a small town that was pulling the same shit lost after several appeals. Turns out the behavior isn't just local. Indiana's been doing it at the state level, and just lost in federal court. But since changing would be a horrible burden on Midwestern Republicans, they're going to take it to the Supremes, in the hopes that Bush's two new white religious judges can have a whack at it.

I, of course, don't understand why the business of government has to begin with a prayer in the first place. It obviously doesn't make for better government. If Indiana's been doing it for 188 years and their legislators are still a bunch of thick fuckoes, Jesus ain't listening.

But in 1983, the Supreme Court said you could have opening prayer, as long as it was non-sectarian and didn't promote one religion over others. Mentioning God is OK, because you only exclude the atheists, the agnostics, and the occasional picky polytheist. It's not a situation I'm thrilled with, but in the list of ways my belief system doesn't mean jack shit on the national scale, it's not something I worry about overmuch.

But the instant you pray to Jesus, you split off every major religion on the list from Judaism on down. That's why it's a pretty clear marker in church-state battles. Jesus as divine being is a very specific, sectarian, religious concept, and no matter how many people in the government believe it, the government cannot be seen to believe it. And putting it before the start of any legislative business makes it pretty fucking clear whose God is in, and whose God is out.

It seems, begrudgingly, like a fair compromise to me. They can pretend to be inclusive, and I can pretend they should be allowed to do it at all. Everyone's equally unhappy, and isn't that what a democracy is all about? But, of course, they're complaining. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"The forces that want to take religious faith out of our government and our society are nibbling away at our liberty. They got a big bite with this one. We have done nothing different here than what's happened for 188 years." - Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, who, incidentally, tried to get everyone to call him "The Boz" in 1988, to little success.

We're not nibbling away at your liberty, fuckhole. We're nibbling away at your PRIVILEGE. Which, as always, is a distinction the privileged have to be forced at judgepoint to make EVERY SINGLE TIME. Over and over again, throughout history. You would think they would learn.

And you may have been doing it for 188 years, but you've been doing it in direct and flagrant violation of legal precedent for 22 years. I guess being obstinately wrong is an Indiana tradition, too.

"The order is so overreaching that it was not difficult to decide we couldn't let it go. We couldn't just let it stand." - Leslie Hiner, Bosma's chief of staff, who, incidentally, did call him "The Boz" longer than anyone else did, but still gave up after ten days.

But you know what? They could have let it go. They really could have. The South Carolina fucks didn't let it go, and they lost, and had to shell out tens of thousands of dollars in court costs. I'm sure Indiana is full of things that really shouldn't be let stand, but if they can't manage to not say "Jesus" 53 times a year, they're not qualified to run the state in the first place.