A Mississippi group known as the Magnolia State Heritage Campaign is working to get an amendment on the 2016 ballots that would, among other things, establish Christianity as the state religion:
The State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues; and, accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens. The acknowledgments hereby secured shall not be construed to transgress either the national or the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
As if the middle finger Mississippi was sending religious minorities wasn’t already large enough…
They still have an uphill battle, needing more than 100,000 signatures before the amendment can be voted on by the people. But this is Mississippi. If anything can get people excited to vote, this would be it.
Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says that the initiative has no chance of surviving even if it passes:
It wouldn’t be the first time the state does something idiotic.
Finally, there is no way to proclaim — even in a quasi-official manner — an official state religion without running afoul of the U.S. Constitution. If the people of Mississippi are foolish enough to pass this monstrosity, there’s little doubt it would be immediately challenged in court. And the state will lose.
The strangest statement in all this may come from one of the activists working to get the initiative on the ballot:
“My great great grandfather, James Hervey, fought on the Confederate side. Also, my grandfather died in World War II in segregated armed forces, fighting for the United States, so I have the right to fight for my southern heritage,” said Anthony Hervey of the Magnolia Heritage Campaign.
I don’t understand why anyone would want to preserve such an awful heritage… but it’s hardly relevant, anyway. Your wistful memories of segregation and slavery don’t trump the Constitution.
The group’s plan doesn’t stop there, by the way:
The measure would call for the display of the Mississippi state flag, which includes elements from the Confederate flag, in front of all public buildings, designate “Dixie” as the official state song, and preserve Confederate symbols at the University of Mississippi.
It’s like a big game of “How many awful ideas can we pack into one ballot initiative?” I don’t expect much from the state, but it’d be nice to see more residents speak out against this.
(via Raw Story. Thanks to Shauna for the link)