Our Bizarro Attorney General on the Un-Separation of Church of State


    Fans of Superman — or Seinfeld — will know about the Bizarro world, where everything is the opposite of here.  As Jerry Seinfeld described the Bizarro Superman’s world:

    Up is down; down is up. He says ‘hello’ when he leaves, ‘goodbye’ when he arrives.

    Here in Virginia, we have the Bizarro attorney general — Ken Cuccinelli.  Just think about it:

    – A real AG upholds the law. Our Bizarro AG sues the EPA to prevent it from meeting the Clean Air Act and a Supreme Court ruling requiring the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

    – A real AG defends the powerless. Our Bizarro AG tells state colleges and universities that they are prohibited from anti-discrimination policies against gays — that, in other words, they are obligated to discriminate.

    –  A real AG defends his clients, including the state’s universities – and upholds the state and federal Constitutions.  Our Bizarro AG launches a perverse war against the University of Virginia to force a climate scientist to stop doing legitimate research.

    –  A real AG challenges powerful interests to ensure that they don’t harm the state or its inhabitants.  Our Bizarro AG pockets donations from large industries like Massey Energy and makes no effort to determine if they are committing the same kinds of coal mine safety violations in Virginia of which they have been found guilty in West Virginia.  

    And now there is the issue of separation of church and state.  Per the WaPo yesterday, our Bizarro Attorney General counseled a group of ministers on how to evade the bans on using their pulpits for political endorsements:

    Continue to be good shepherds to your congregations – and don’t be afraid when your shepherding includes giving guidance on issues that fall in the political world, because those are the same issues your congregants face each day in their world. Let your voice be heard. Speak out and guide your flock toward what is right and what is true.

    How is this problematic?  Let me count the ways:

    –  As Cuccinelli’s own spokesman admitted, “He cannot give legal advice to anyone other than his government clients.” So, of course, they decided to go with the Bizarro definitions of “cannot”, “give” and “legal advice,” which makes it okay.

    – The Attorney General should advise people on how to follow the law and bedrock principles of the Constitution, not on how to find loopholes in them.

    – The concept of separation of church and state deserves special reverence in Virginia, the first place in the world where it was codified into law, thanks to Jefferson’s Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom (drafted 1777, passed 1786), and George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, which still forms the basis for the Virginia Constitution. While right wingers love to stick phony quotes in Jefferson’s mouth, let’s try a real one here:

    I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. (Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802, well-sourced with other Founders’ quotes on the issue here.)

    Here in the land of Mason, Madison and Jefferson, we have our own attorney general taking a hatchet to this “wall of separation.”  It makes no sense – in the real world.  

    But in Cuccinelli’s Virginia, up is down, and down is up.  Hello!


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