You know what? The Stupid doesn’t burn, after all — if it did, this guy would have self-immolated long ago.
Utah Policy Daily is an online-newsletter of public policy stuff in the Beehive State — a very good one. It’s done by some top Utah political consultants from both parties, and former political writers, colleauges and friends from the University of Utah and the political and culture wars in the state.
Utah Policy Daily carried this story, this morning, which I present in full only because you wouldn’t believe it otherwise:
Constitutional Amendment Would Protect ‘Religious Liberty’
By Bryan Schott
Jonathan Johnson, Executive Vice-President of Overstock.com, is leaping into the political ring with a proposed constitutional amendment to protect religious liberty.
Jonathan Johnson of OverStock.com
The Daily Caller reports Johnson wants his proposed amendment to exempt churches from being forced to perform same-sex marriages. Johnson says the amendment wouldn’t interfere with the Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage, but it also protects groups opposed to the practice at the same time.
Johnson and some friends hatched an idea for states to pass a constitutional amendment saying: ”A religious organization, religious association, religious society or any person acting in a role connected with such organization, association or society and shall not be required to solemnize, officiate in, or recognize any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its constitutional right of conscience or its free exercise of religion.”
(The wording is still being fleshed out, but that’s basically what it will say.)
In some ways, this shouldn’t be controversial. The proposed amendment “doesn’t get in the way of gay marriage,” Johnson notes — “but it [also] doesn’t have gay marriage encroach into areas of religious liberty.”
Read more: Utah Policy – Constitutional Amendment Would Protect Religious Liberty
As I understand it, this amendment would be aimed at preventing the government from ordering preachers to marry people they don’t want to marry.
Maybe Johnson is so much a Mormon (I do not know his faith) that he does not know that this “right” is protected by the First Amendment, and has been practiced by far too many Catholic priests, Baptists ministers, and even Mormon Bishops, over the past 225 years. Preachers regularly refuse to allow their churches to be used by people for any fool reason whatever, and no preacher is forced to solemnize a marriage. In short, his proposed amendment is wholly superfluous, already covered by the First Amendment.
Unless his real purpose is to create some new way of bashing homosexuals, as I suspect. Bigot.
Here’s the scary part: This guy has created a lobbying group to push for the amendment, and has already raised more than $100,000 to push it. According to the RWNJournal Daily Caller:
As conservatives work to create a firewall on the issue of religious liberty, don’t be surprised if this effort catches on nationwide. Johnson already has a Utah PAC (First Freedom PAC) and a 501 (c)(4) that he says has “raised low six digits — and we’re not really trying yet,” he says.
How many stupid people, people wholly unaware of the First Amendment, are out there with the checkbooks open willing to be suckered by confidence schemes like this? Enough to raise “low six digits.”
Hey: For just $10,000, I’ll come to your home and explain why the First Amendment already gives us religious freedom, and tell you why it shouldn’t be mucked with. I’ll bring PowerPoints and patriotic music, if you want, and give it all to you in less than an hour — or take a whole day if you want. I won’t even charge expenses.
Then you can put your remaining money into a group that really works to defend the Constitution, or the First Amendment specifically — and I’ll tell you who they are.
Next thing you know, this guy will “come up” with an idea for an amendment to recognize Jesus.
History and policy ignoramii. Santayana’s Ghost is grumbling and going back for another cup of coffee. Has Chris Rodda heard about this yet? Ed Brayton? (Oh, yeah, Ed’s on it already. Good.)
One point of light: My old colleague at the Daily Utah Chronicle, Bob Bernick, wrote a column detailing that Utah politicians generally are not so stupidly right-wing as many in the rest of the nation, “Utah, not as crazy as we could be.” Maybe some of those not-stupid people will take Mr. Johnson aside and explain the Constitution to him.
Update: Point of darkness: Johnson has a law degree from BYU. Seriously. I thought U.S. Sen. Mike Lee was an aberration,
Here in Texas, we have the First Amendment engraved in stone, at Southern Methodist University. Photo by Ed Darrell – use encouraged.
Text of the First Amendment: Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.