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FFRF to Kasich: Bill of the Rights, not bible, grants civil rights

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It’s the Bill of Rights, not the bible, that grants citizens rights, Governor Kasich.

The news headline, “Kasich proposes new government agency to promote Judeo-Christian values,” sounds like satire of reality from The Onion.

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate, is dead serious. He floated the idea yesterday of creating an agency to promote Judeo-Christian values as part of a broad national security plan to defeat the Islamic State. In an NBC interview, he described the agency:

“Its job would be fundamentally to revive what we used to do. . . . We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to be . . . part of a Judeo-Christian society.”


Kasich contends “freedom, opportunity, respect for women, freedom to gather” come from Judeo-Christianity  (but that decidedly excludes the freedom to immigrate).

While Kasich’s presidential competitors Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, plus more than half the nation’s governors, endorse a religious test for immigration, Kasich is suggesting a religious test for good citizenship, period: “It’s essential that those in the West begin to embrace again our Jewish and Christian tradition.” (By the way, aren’t these the politicians who are always trumpeting the benefits of so-called “small” government?)

To NBC’s credit, as reporter Peter Alexander questioned Kasich about the rights of Muslims and atheists, NBC flashed on the screen the current demographics showing 23% of Americans identify as nonreligious. Kasich managed a weak compliment for some Muslims, but not even an acknowledgment of the nation’s atheists and agnostics and our rights.

The freedoms Kasich listed don’t stem from religion. They’re secular values derived from the Enlightenment. The bible promotes rule by divine authority. Our Declaration of Independence notes that governments are human, “deriving their just powers from the concent of the governed.”

Nowhere does the bible discuss “inalienable rights,” much less women’s rights! Instead we’re treated to more than 600 mostly primitive or irrational rules ordained by the deity of the Old Testament such as to show no pity: “Life for life, eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a foot for a foot.” There are no biblical paeans to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or to our collective civil rights. Instead the bible thunders “Homosexuals are an abomination. Their blood shall be upon them,” and curses, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

About that “respect for women” that Kasich alleges Judeo-Christianity promotes: Since 2011, Ohio under his leadership has enacted at least 16 anti-abortion measures, including a ban on 20-week abortion, prohibiting state-funded rape crisis counselors from referring women to abortion services and stripping Planned Parenthood of $1.4 million in federal family planning dollars.

The number of abortion providers has dropped from 16 to eight during his time in office, according to Mother Jones magazine. Kasich’s idea of “respect for women” seems on par with that of patronizing anti-suffragists who insisted for a century that they were “honoring” women by not sullying their fair hands with a ballot.

Every freedom won for women, small or large (from wearing bloomers to riding bicycles, to being permitted to attend universities and enter professions, to vote and to own property), was opposed by the churches. It’s not “Judeo-Christianity” that has freed women. Women won freedom ourselves by challenging the strangulating strictures of scripture, including the odious injunctions such as “suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” that riddle the New Testament.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who launched the American women’s movement, was an agnostic and nonconformist, as were most early feminist leaders. Stanton, who wrote the very words of the 19th Amendment granting women suffrage, as well as “The Woman’s Bible” dissecting sexist scripture, reminisced in “The History of Woman Suffrage” about how “The bible was hurled at us from every side.”

We’re still fighting the religious war against women’s rights, led in part by governors like Kasich, who is inspired to deny women their rights by his belief that “Life is a gift from God.”

It’s an embarrassment that a former congressman, now a sitting governor seriously running for president, does not realize that the U.S. Constitution invests sovereignty in “We, the People,” not “We, the Judeo-Christian people.”

It’s the Bill of Rights, not the bible, that grants citizens rights, Governor Kasich.

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