Monday, October 02, 2006

The end of American secularism

So the US Senate has officially done away with the bill of rights. We all know that and we have taken all the necessary precautions. Such as publicly petitioning Schick for adding a 5th, 6th and even a 7th blade to the Quattro razor that will eliminate not only the barest wisp of terroristy facial hair but also the skin that provided an environment conducive to its growth in the first place.

But now, the US House of Representatives, not to be left behind, has achieved a huge victory in dismantling the First Amendment in the form of The Public Expression of Religion Act - H.R. 2679. This act (via Cosmic Variance) rules that attorneys who challenge and are successful in overturning government actions that are perceived to be violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment cannot recover attorneys fees from the defendant. The Establishment Clause is that section of the First Amendment which prohibits the federal government from declaring and financially supporting a national religion.

Usually, if you sue someone successfully for having encroached upon your constitutional or civil rights, there exists a federal statute which entitles the attorney who represented you to collect his fees not from you, but from the person or entity who was found to be guilty. This new bill will make an exception for cases that allege a violation of the Establishment Clause and require the plaintiff to sue the government out of his own pocket.

Simply put, the US House of Representatives just made it more difficult for an average resident of the US to challenge any governmental actions which, in the view of the resident, are advancing a religious agenda.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that there existed a hypothetical religion which included among its most fundamental precepts, a belief that molesting a child is the path to the Lord (any resemblance to an actual religion is merely coincidental). And if the Republican-led US Congress, in order to snag the voter-base consisting of the followers of this religion, decided to sign into law a bill making it mandatory for all Americans to molest a child every sunday. If it so happens that you are not a follower of that religion, you would probably say to yourself, you know what, the First Amendment gives me the religious freedom to choose not to molest a child every sunday. And then, you would contact an attorney and ask him to challenge this mandatory child molestation law in court on your behalf.

In happier times, your attorney would have listened to your side of the story, stamped his legal approval on your contention that the government should quit forcing religion and child molestation down your throat, and agreed to represent you in court, safe in the knowledge that he would be collecting his legal fees from the government if he were to win the suit, regardless of whether you were in a position to pay him or not.

Now, the passage of this new bill would make the decision to sue much more difficult for you. Since the bill absolves the government of any financial responsibilities, instead putting them on your shoulders, essentially, the bill would force you to choose between resigning yourself to a lifestyle of child molestation or spending a boatload of money in battling for your right not to follow that lifestyle. And if you are an average person with an average income and cannot afford an attorney, you would probably choose to molest regardless of the fact that it is against the tenets of your religion.

This bill signifies the continued descent of America into a religious theocracy. It gives the government a free pass to inject religion into any sphere of society it chooses to and places the financial burden of justifying its illegality on the citizen who would disagree with it. And finally, it makes it difficult for a citizen to challenge the government on any matter which the government has deemed to be of a religious nature.

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