Mississippi Officials Need a Civics Lesson on Constitution Day

In my recent blog post about the ACLU’s lawsuit against the State of Mississippi for promoting religion in a state-sponsored and state-funded event, I pondered whether Mississippi thinks the Constitution doesn’t apply to them. Apparently, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant doesn’t think it does.

Early this week, the lieutenant governor commented on the ACLU’s case, saying:

I was so disappointed that the ACLU has decided that we don’t need to tell young women in the state of Mississippi about our faith; we don’t need to explain to them that abstinence, we believe, is related to our faithful Christianity beliefs.

If you are like me and cannot believe that a state official would basically admit to violating the Constitution, you can see for yourself by watching the lieutenant governor utter those words in an interview.

 

There are so many things wrong with his sentence, I don’t even know where to start. First, the lieutenant governor’s remarks show no respect for the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from supporting one religion or another. Mississippi clearly crossed the line when it featured Christian prayers, sermons, and performances in its 2009 abstinence-only summit.

Second, it is revealing that the lieutenant governor believes that we need to tell “young women” that they should remain abstinent until marriage. This is the age-old — and sexist — double standard that dictates that women and girls must be the gatekeepers of sex, and are solely responsible for the consequences. Instead of reinforcing these outdated gender stereotypes, we should be providing all teens with the tools they need to make healthy and responsible decisions.

Tomorrow, September 17, is Constitution Day — perhaps the lieutenant governor and other state officials should take a moment and study the First Amendment, so in the future they can ensure that they don’t promote government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded religious activities, and reinforce outmoded gender stereotypes in the process.

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anon

Great job Mississippi! It's great to finally see someone standing up to an organization that is bent on the destruction of the "free exercise" clause of the 1st amendment. The ACLU is all for religious freedom, providing we keep our beliefs within the four-wall confines of our church buildings. I support the Alliance Defense Fund, whose client truelly is the Bill Of Rights.

Liberal Hater

I used to think to myself< How can a loving God create a HELL? Well that was until I found out how much the ACLU hates God. Well it really only hates the Christian God. They never criticize muslims or Allah. Basically they are cowards and are afraid they would be beheaded if they did.

The ACLU lies and distorts American history. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs no matter how many times the Jesus hating, atheistic jews at the ACLU say otherwise.

j seaborn

Why is telling people about such things unconstitutional. You are advocating doing away with the first amendment. You want to allow gay and straight clubs to have the right to form. If people feel that way, be it. You are even worse by saying a person has Christian beliefs they should be censored. What do you really believe? Why do seem to detest Chrisitians and Christianity? Please don't tell me you don't because it is very evident.

Maggie

That is the Lt. Governor's opinion. Opinion's are neither right or wrong. Just as your opinion is neither right or wrong. It is an opinion. However your sentence about the girl being solely responsible for the consequences. It is still true today. The girl/her family/State is left holding the baby. And that is after years of having sex education in school. Doesn't seem like they are listening to anyone.

J. Spencer

The ACLU needs to study the Constitution on Constitution day. A tyranical minority may not censor the freedom of belief, and the expression of that belief, by any American.

Fight back Mississippi.

ElGordo

Technically, the First Amendment prohibits supporting religion per se. If the Founders meant to prohibit "supporting one religion over another", the Amendment would say "...a religion." It instead says "...religion." It's a thoroughly secular Constitution, even down to that missing 'a'! Good job, ACLU

Laura

I just read a horrific story about the two guys who said a prayer at a luncheon. Let me say to the ACLU, God help your soul!
There are far worse things for people to worry about in case you haven't looked around you lately. Instead of wasting the Americans, who believe in God, money on courtroom cost, find something that might actually change the world.
I am sure if you took a poll, you will find that ther are more people who believe than you who don't care.
How are my rights being protected?
I will be praying for you!

Johnny

I grew up in Mississippi, but am eternally thankful to have moved on. But, my high school civics teacher, Frances Savage, was extraordinary. Yes, she was Caucasian, but 40% of my school wasn't, and I was 1 of 7 white kids on my large bus. She drilled into all of our heads that the majority had a responsibility to protect the rights of minorities, among many other great lessons. I suppose indirectly, she's a reason I couldn't stay in that theocracy. Mrs. Savage, you definitely made a constructive impact on us, and the world is better for it. If only the Lt. Gov had been in your class....

tribbles

The first amendment to the Federal Constitution applies to the Federal government in particular.
The State of Mississippi has a State's right to inform young women that abstinence from sex before marriage is a christian value; especially when they are using state funds to do so.
Whether the young women will heed the advice is another matter.

Chris P

I think you just barely fell short of the point, Maggie. Yes, the Lt. Governer's opinion is his, but he is a public servant. So if his opinons violate the constitution and are going to sway actions in such a way as to deny basics rights to those he's serving, then perhaps its time he thought about a change of career.
Really, though, its about more than just him denying rights, its about the state of Mississippi using tax dollars to promote religious organizations and being quite up-front about it, thinking they're doing nothing wrong. Might not seem like a big deal at first, but what about the non-Christian tax-payers in the state that are p.o.ed about their money sponsoring this.

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