Texas isn’t the only state that is constitutionally challenged. In fact, Mississippi is giving us a run for our money when it comes to (willful?) ignorance about what the First Amendment means.
Earlier this summer, our friends at Advocates for Youth brought us the disturbing tale of an abstinence-only rally/evangelical prayer meeting sponsored by the state of Mississippi:
In May, the state of Mississippi threw a state-funded abstinence-only rally for students where they were told the value of not having sex until marriage (including a chant that went “Stop! Don’t touch me there! This is my no-no square!”). That in itself is legal, but not when the rally itself is from start to finish a blatant attempt at proselytizing students in Christianity.
The ACLU just brought forth a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi last week for violating the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from promoting one religion over another.
(You can read about the rally — and watch video clips — here. Suffice it to say, this rally didn’t simply brush up against the church-state boundary. It trampled right over it.)
Now Mississippi Senior Pastor Lt. Governor Phil Bryant weighs in with local news reporter on the lawsuit, but apparently under the impression that he was really speaking to a Sunday school class at his church:
“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.”
(Pause to let that sink in — or to weep quietly.) Let’s count the problems with this statement:
- Government telling young people “about our faith” and “faithful Christianity beliefs” is a little something the Founders liked to call “establishment of religion.” And they weren’t too fond of the idea of government telling citizens what to believe.
- Did you notice that the lieutenant governor believes it’s only the “young women in the state of Mississippi” who need to be educated? Sadly, this “boys will be boys” attitude is not uncommon in abstinence-only programs (as TFN revealed in our report earlier this year), and it has the effect of unfairly burdening young women with responsibility for controlling the behavior of males.
- One more time for the record: the ACLU didn’t decide that government can’t establish a religion or coerce belief. The Constitution settles that issue!
Watch the video for yourself. And if you are so inclined, say a little prayer for the young people of Mississippi who live in the state with the highest teen birth rate in the nation (ever higher than in Texas!), but have leaders who think the best thing the government can do is preach to students.