Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pseudo-historian David Barton doesn't like the Stutzman ruling

David Barton
Tuesday, David Barton offers his unique take on Barronelle Stutzman's loss at the Washington Supreme Court. Writing at the news blog of American Family Association, a designated hate group, Barton's piece is titled: “4 arguments against Christian florist ruling.” Barton is hard to take seriously unless you are religiously predisposed to do so. The uber Christian and Republican operative is a pathological liar with little regard for historical fact.

Moreover, we have to rely on AFA writer, Michael F. Haverluck:
Unconstitutional and uncalled for …

Barton’s case appeals to the United States Constitution by posing a simple question:

“What is America’s first-protected, most-important and longest-cherished politically protected right?” the leader of the pro-family organization asked. “The answer? … The right of religious conscience.”
Not exactly although I am not sure what Barton means by “politically protected.” According the the 1878 Supreme Court ruling in Reynolds v. United States the constitution protects religious belief leaving the state free to regulate conduct. Indeed, Reynolds is on point. The Court held that a religious duty did not permit illegal conduct.
Appealing to the timeless experts …

Barton followed up by quoting one of the most celebrated Founding Fathers:

“No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience,” Barton quoted former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. “[O]ur rulers can have no authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted … It is inconsistent with the spirit of our laws and Constitution to force tender consciences.”
Barton and Haverluck are repeating themselves. The first quote is accurate. It comes from an 1809 letter (in retirement) to the Society of Methodists in Connecticut. The second quote is mangled. Only the first sentence appears to be accurate. It is from Notes on the State of Virginia (1784). Jefferson uses faith and conscience interchangeably. He is referring to the right to believe and practice one's faith as enshrined in the First Amendment. Jefferson never suggests that religion allows one to defy the law. More importantly the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the Constitution. The Court disagrees with Barton.
Modern-day examples of protected religious convictions

Barton went on to list numerous examples of legal religious exemptions afforded to different religious and philosophical groups in America, whose beliefs and consciences give them permission to not participate in various traditional practices in the U.S.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses are not required to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools,” Barton pointed out.

Special allowances are also given in the school system because of religious beliefs.

“The Amish are not required to complete the standard 12 years of education,” the Christian historian asserted.

Even standard medical procedures can currently be bypassed to accommodate religious convictions.

“Christian Scientists are not forced to have their children vaccinated or undergo medical procedures often required by state laws,” Barton continued.

Special privileges are also given in the workplace, based on one’s religious beliefs.

“Seventh-Day Adventists cannot be penalized for refusing to work on Saturday,” the pro-family advocate affirmed.
All of that is possibly true. Exceptions are written into applicable state law. Washington's nondiscrimination laws do not include an exception applicable to Stutzman. In 1990 the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not provide for religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws (Employment Division v. Smith).
Same-sex ‘marriage’ straight-arming Christians

Barton maintains that religious protections are not just a federal affair.

“It was because the rights of religious conscience were so important that they were specifically protected in the constitutions of the individual states – such as that of Washington,” the expert on the Constitution stressed.
Barton an “expert on the Constitution?” I do not think so. Citizens have a constitutional right to marry someone of the same sex. It did not, and does not, require Barton's approval.
He then provided a direct quote from the Washington state constitution:

“Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship shall be guaranteed to every individual; and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion …” Barton recited from the Evergreen State’s constitution.

The acclaimed researcher noted how the renegade judges in the Pacific Northwest unanimously pledged allegiance to the homosexual agenda, using so-called nondiscrimination policies to justify overriding the constitutional rights of religious adherents.
“Acclaimed reseacher?” Please. The Court addressed the state Constitution in its ruling. Historically, since 1990, the Court has conformed to the United States Supreme Court ruling in Employment Division v. Smith. Moreover, the guarantee of “sentiment, belief and worship” does not operate as an exemption to otherwise applicable law governing conduct.
Barton listed off four major reasons why the judges were consummately wrong in their ruling.
  • First, Barronelle has been economically fined and governmentally coerced to use her talents and skills in a way that violates her sincerely held religious beliefs.
  • Second, the explicit wording of the Washington state constitution has been completely ignored by the Washington State Supreme Court. In essence, a Washington state court has deemed the Washington state constitution to be unconstitutional, just because it doesn’t want to uphold its provisions.
  • Third, the court elevated a state law  --its “public accommodations law” – above the state constitution; but constitutions always trump statutory laws – always.
  • Fourth, John Adams described ours as “a government of laws and not of men,” but decisions like this make us just the opposite: The personal predilections of judges are now routinely placed above constitutional provisions duly enacted by the people.
  1. Religious beliefs do not provide an exemption to applicable law according to state and federal precedent.
  2. The Court did not ignore the Washington constitution. They specifically addressed its applicability.
  3. The law at issue is the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The Court did not elevate the law over the constitution. That's not how things work. The Court determined in this case that the law is constitutional insofar as the challenges in this case are concerned. That is now the precedent in Washington State. The Court will probably now refuse to hear a similar case.
  4. John Adams' quote cuts against Stutzman. In any event, Adams' sentiments do not have the force of law.
Outside of Republican conservative Christian circles, Barton is generally presumed to be a two-watt bulb. He seems intent on confirming his intellectual inadequacies.

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