After military officials at Fort Bragg cut off the resources for Rock Beyond Belief, many people have been complaining to their local politicians. That includes George G. Cleveland, a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives. He’s also chair of the state’s Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs committee.
So it’s even more incredible that he responded to one complaint with this (emphasis mine):
Ms. [name witheld] — This is a Federal issue not a State issue. With that said I would like to point out that the Constitution States that the federal government cannot establish a religion and cannot prevent the free exercise of a religion. There is nothing in the Constitution that addresses church and state, in fact for over a hundred years the Capitol building was used as a church. This was initiated by Thomas Jefferson. The idea of separation of church and state started in the twenties by secularists who did not want prayer in the public space. They have been quite successful in redefining the Constitution on this issue. I personally believe that the Country would be better off with prayer in the public space.
Rep. George Cleveland
Legislative Office Building, Room 417-A
300 North Salisbury Street
Raleigh NC 27603
How many mistakes can one guy make in that short a response…? And it’s not like he doesn’t know the First Amendment — he alludes to it right up front.
What Rep. Cleveland “personally believes” about prayer is irrelevant. The fact is that atheism deserves equal protection under the law and Fort Bragg officials didn’t give it equal footing for reasons that are still unclear.
Yes, we have freedom of religion and freedom from it, but that also includes freedom to believe in god or not believe in one. The government can’t take sides, but that’s exactly what Rep. Cleveland is doing.
His email address is in his signature line. If you have a minute, go (politely and respectfully) tell him what you think.