Former Nebraska Attorney General: The Governor Can Totally Promote Christianity December 29, 2019

Former Nebraska Attorney General: The Governor Can Totally Promote Christianity

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts celebrated Christmas with a proclamation to everyone in the state saying that the day was “a time for us to celebrate and give thanks for God’s gift of Jesus Christ.”

It was state-sponsored Christianity no matter how you slice it and Ricketts received some well-deserved criticism for proselytizing in his public capacity.

Now, Don Stenberg (below), the state’s former attorney general (and treasurer), has weighed in the matter… by saying there’s nothing wrong with pushing Christianity in everyone’s faces like this when you’re the governor.

He reveals his ignorance right off the bat with this argument: “The words ‘separation of church and state’ are nowhere to be found in our federal or state constitutions.” That’s true, but the word “religion” appears twice in the Constitution, and both times, the word “no” comes right before it. Also, the courts have made it clear for decades that Establishment Clause does not allow government endorsement of faith, much less a particular virulent strain of it.

Stenberg goes on to say he doesn’t care if people are “offended” — as if that’s the reason anyone had a problem with Ricketts’ proclamation.

What does it really mean when someone says “you can’t say that because it offends me”? It means, “I am intolerant of opinions that are different from mine and I want the government (or college administrators) to punish you if you say it.”

The First Amendment provision prohibiting the government from “abridging the freedom of speech” was written for the very purpose of preventing government from punishing speech that some people might find offensive.

So, feel free to use your freedom of speech to criticize the governor — but understand the governor has every right to express his religious views, whether you agree with them or not.

This is all a straw man. No one cares about the “offense” factor here. Ricketts’ policies are far more offensive than his symbolic proclamation, anyway.

Stenberg was apparently an attorney general who doesn’t know the first thing about law.

So let’s say it slowly so he can process it: When a governor uses the power of his position to promote his personal faith in a way he would never do for other religions, he’s crossed the line and violated the First Amendment. I look forward to Ricketts urging people to celebrate Satanism, Islam, and Hinduism in the same way he does for Christianity, but it’s not going to happen. That’s how Christian Nationalism works.

At least State Sen. Megan Hunt, a progressive (atheist) legislator who actually understands the law, was quick to condemn Stenberg’s ignorance:

Hunt isn’t up for re-election next year, but consider supporting her campaign anyway. Nebraska clearly needs more level-headed lawmakers since the ones with power clearly have no clue what they’re doing. Or, at best, they know what they’re doing and they don’t care which Nebraskans they’re throwing under the bus.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

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