Saturday, May 9, 2015

#1362: Al Bedrosian

Al Bedrosian was a hardcore theocratic, batshit mainstay of Virginia politics for a while (a perennial candidate), until he actually managed to get himself elected to the Roanoke County Board in 2013. Bedrosian is a staunch theocrat, and it is worth quoting his position onfreedom of religion at some length:

As a Christian, I think it’s time to rid ourselves of this notion of freedom of religion in America. Now that I have your attention, let me take a moment to make my case. Freedom of religion has become the biggest hoax placed upon the Christian people and on our Christian nation. When reading the writings of our Founding Founders, there was never any reference to freedom of religion referring to a choice between Islam, Hindu, Satanism, Wicca and whatever other religions or cults you would like to dream up. It was very clear that freedom to worship meant the freedom to worship the God of the Bible in the way you wanted, and not to have a government church denomination dictate how you would worship. Christianity, by its own definition, does not allow freedom of religion. A Christian is defined as a follower of Jesus Christ.

So there (and of course he is absolutely wrong about what the Founding Fathers wrote about freedom of religion). The problem, according to Bedrosian, is that freedom of religion may lead to acceptance of and even measures to protect people’s rights to deviate from God’s laws as laid out in the Old Testament – “soon we are allowing laws and regulations to be enacted that are totally opposed to our belief system” – and can you imagine anything worse? It’s almost as if the secularists have the audacity to suggest a political system not modeled on the Taliban regime.

He even has a “gotcha” line against defenders of freedom of religion: “The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard. If we allow everything, where do you draw the line?” Well, some may suggest the line is referred to as “the separation of church and state,” but that one isn’t even on Bedrosian’s radar.

At least Bedrosian recognized that his platform may lead to legal challenges, but said the county could probably get free or inexpensive representation from Christian legal groups. And if it couldn’t, it could cancel the Vinton Library project. That would free up plenty of money to defend itself in a drawn-out legal battle. Such legal battles, according to Bedrosian, is what government is for (his suggestion to cut government spending was apparently just for show).

Grist for his mill was provided by the infamous Greece v Galloway ruling, which Bedrosian obviously didn’t read (he wasn’t the only one: Daniel Reiman, Mayor of Cateret, NJ, is another good example). The ruling, as readers may remember, allowed prayers at county board meetings, but was quite explicit that a legislative body cannot limit pre-meeting prayers to only Christians. Bedrosian, of course, took the ruling to mean that only Christian prayers could be allowed at county board meetings. When asked how he would respond to a non-Christian’s request to offer the invocation at the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors meetings, he – illuminatingly – said: “I would say no. That does not infringe on their freedom of religion. The truth is you’re trying to infringe on my right, because I don’t believe that.” So, according to Bedrosian having to sit through the prayers of other religions you don’t believe in infringes on your rights; he evidently doesn’t see how he just provided a pretty solid argument for why prayers at legislative meetings are constitutionally problematic (but then again, he has a rather idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution).

Diagnosis: At least he is admirably clear about his agenda, but one does wonder what the good citizens of Roanoke, VA, who elected him may be thinking.

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