Demonstrating once again the love and tolerance of others that Christian lawmakers are known for, three Alabama state representatives have denied a sponsorship request by the Atheist Law Center for use of a part of the state’s capitol building as a “rainy day” backup location for a planned event at the state Capitol.
It seems that folks at the Atheist Law Center are planning a “Rally for Reason & Picnic on the Capitol Lawn” for May 6th, which also happens to be this year’s National Day of Prayer, and the group’s president, Larry Darby, had asked for sponsorship so they could use the old archives chamber as a backup location in the event of rain that day. Such sponsorship is required for groups or individuals to hold events within the Capitol building in Alabama. All three legislators have denied the request and two have stated it has everything to do with the group’s beliefs.
Love confirmed he had denied Darby’s request for the alternate site because of the group’s beliefs.
“I don’t support his group, and I don’t support his cause,” Love said. “There’s no way that I’m going to help further his cause. He wanted to do this on the same day as the National Day of Prayer, and I would just consider it a spit in the face of faith-based groups for me to sponsor his group in the state Capitol.”
So much for representatives that represent all of their constituents. I could understand the objection if Love were being asked to personally endorse the group and the rally, but that’s not what the ALC is after. The group basically needs permission to make use of part of a government building and are being denied permission because of their belief system.
Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, is sponsoring the “rainy day” location—the Capitol auditorium—for the National Day of Prayer event.
Darby said he wrote a letter to Figures requesting sponsorship.
Figures said Tuesday she had not received the letter.
Asked if she would sponsor a “rainy day” site inside the Capitol for the atheist event, the senator replied, “Of course not. I do believe in prayer, and I believe in God and atheists don’t believe in God. I know there is a God, so why would I sponsor something that would be the total opposite of that?”
I dunno, because it’s fair? So you don’t show yourself for the religious bigot you apparently are? Because all they’re asking for is equal access?
I especially liked the justification Love goes on to provide for his stance:
Love said legislators reserve the right to deny sponsorship to any group.
“He (Darby) has spent a lifetime protesting any kind of government involvement in religion, and for him to request the use of a government building by what I consider a religious group, which are the atheists, I’m just agreeing with him on this particular position,” Love said.
And acting like a sanctimonious ass in the process to boot!
Meanwhile, Dixon goes on to show that he’s a classic cover-your-ass legislator who wouldn’t stand up for any principle that doesn’t ensure his re-election with the following statements:
In a letter to Darby, Dixon also declined the group’s request.
“My question to you is why try to draw me into a conflict?” the senator wrote. “I am a practicing Christian and would never try to draw you into a controversial act, especially when it could and probably would create problems for you as this would for me. … You can meet and protest all you want,” Dixon wrote in conclusion. “However, please don’t try to involve me.”
Dixon also said that if Darby’s event had been on another day besides the National Day of Prayer, he would have arranged a site for the group to meet inside the Capitol.
“If he wants to arrange his rally in any part of the Capitol the next day, I’ll be glad to arrange it,” Dixon said. “But I’m not going to help him protest the National Day of Prayer.”
Kinda defeats the point of the rally if they held it on a day other than the one they are trying to protest, though I’m sure it helps to diminish the amount of media attention it might get if it happened any other day. No doubt what Dixon is hoping for. Kinda like asking folks protesting a local Presidential speech to hold their protests on any day other than the one the President is in town giving his speech, ain’t it? Yeah, I’m sure that idea appeals to these guys as well.
As far as I can tell there’s nothing technically illegal about the legislator’s discrimination in this situation and Dixon’s charge that Darby is trying to draw him into a potentially controversial situation isn’t without merit. The rules are that the group needs a state sponsor “such as a legislator, an agency department head or the governor” which means it doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the three people Darby sent his request to. Some of the statements Darby has made certainly don’t dissuade one from thinking this may have been a calculated move on his part designed to shine the spotlight on these three legislators, but considering how openly bigoted two of them are I don’t necessarily think this would be a bad thing for Darby to do. Presumably he’s hoping that this little escapade will help persuade voters to vote for someone other than these three legislators during the next election, but it could end up backfiring depending on how much of the voting population in Alabama is of a Fundamentalist bent.
Still, one would hope that our legislators wouldn’t play favorites in things like this as it leaves one to question how fair they’ll be with regards to more important issues. It also stands as a shining example of how it’s still perfectly acceptable to discriminate against atheists. Just imagine the hue and cry if the group involved had been Muslim…