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ExC-blog --Atheist opposes act


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From the Cincinatti Post


If you believe in God, knowing that Union attorney Edwin Kagin opposes something might make you support it.


Kagin is the national director for American Atheists Inc., the organization founded by famous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair.


Kagin founded and directs Camp Quest, a summer camp in Hamilton for the children of nonbelievers.


He writes books like "Baubles of Blasphemy," a collection of essays and poems ridiculing religion. Some of them are quite funny, like the poem written to God, "Dear Intelligent Designer." Here's a sample:


"Why do we jettison out our waste so near the port of birth?


"Why should any of (our) organs quit? Were we designed just for Thy mirth?


"Why does Intelligent Design make so many people fat?


"Why have we not the grace or ease designed into the cat?"


In other words, if faith in Jesus amounts to fire insurance, Kagin's policy expired a long time ago. But he's a smart, well-informed guy, worth listening to, believer or not, when he talks about religious freedom.


Lately, he's kicking a fuss about the Public Expression Religion Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed Sept. 26 by a 244-173 vote.


He says a better title would be Protecting Evangelical Repression Again.


The act would make it end a long-standing practice in civil rights cases involving the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof."


If Congress or a local government violates this clause, a citizen affected by the violation can sue. If he wins, the court can order the government to pay his attorney's fees.


The act would put an end to those kind of payments.


Its sponsor, Indiana Rep. John Hostettler, said the American Civil Liberties Union or other civil rights groups use the threat of attorney's fees to blackmail governments into settling suits out of court.


Kagin says the act would eliminate a powerful tool that those with minority religious beliefs - and little financial resources - can use to protect their rights. Without that tool, it's easier for those who want the United States to become a Christian theocracy to impose their views on the rest of us.


"They want it passed so that lawyers will not try to stop people from establishing religion," Kagin said.


It's something everyone, believers in God or not, ought to be incensed about, he said.


Suppose that Islam becomes the majority religion in Boone County, for example, and the county commissioners go to local Roman Catholic schools and tell the priests to take down all the crucifixes.


"Then see how fast they (Christians) would want to be able to have lawyers go after them," Kagin said. "It's all very nice to think, 'Let's be very protected and insulated in our religious beliefs,' until the wrong religion gets in power."


Other safeguards exist to protect churches from frivolous lawsuits, Kagin said, such as the prospect of countersuits or contempt of court citations.


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback has introduced a similar bill in the Senate, where it's expected to face stiffer opposition.


I think Kagin's right on this issue, even if he's wrong about faith in God.


These bills will do little to prevent abuse of the legal process, but will do everything to make it easier for the government to impose one religion on us all.





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