Dave Muscato, director of media relations for American Atheists, Inc., said that Christians who complain about persecution in the public square don’t actually want equality with other viewpoints, they want supremacy over them.
In an interview with Raw Story, Muscato responded to avowals by Louisiana public officials that prayer will continue in public forums by saying that Christian officials who foist their views on private citizens are in violation of the some of this country’s most sacred founding beliefs and of the U.S. Constitution.
“These Christians,” he continued, “they’ve had a monopoly for so long. They don’t want equality, they want privilege. And when they don’t get special rights, they cry that they’re being persecuted.”
On Wednesday, the Monroe News-Starpublished an article in which local public officials vowed that whatever the outcome of the current Supreme Court case involving public prayer by government officials, Ouachita Parish will continue to open public proceedings with a Christian prayer.
The men were discussing a case currently before the Supreme Court, Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which non-Christian plaintiffs are suing the city of Greece, NY to stop Christian prayers at the outset of city council meetings, public hearings and other government events.
Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley told the News-Star, “I will always vote for prayer. More important than it being a tradition, we make decisions that affect a lot of lives in the parish and need that guidance.”
“I don’t believe it’s inappropriate. I believe the jury as a whole believes an open invocation followed with the pledge of allegiance tells people who we are,” Smiley continued.
Jerry Hicks, president of the parish school board said, “Jesus Christ is our Lord. In the U.S., our god is God. I think prayer is essential. As a board, we’ll go after that if they try to take it away.”
Calling the Louisiana officials’ stance “a slap in the face to the Constitution,” Muscato said, “The United States does not have a ‘God.’ This is not a theocracy and we have freedom or religion here. People believe in all sorts of things.”
“If a public official feels like they need to pray in order to do their job, there’s no reason that they cannot do this before the meeting,” he said. “There’s nothing stopping them from doing that.”
If that official feels they need to impress upon the jurors or members of the public the importance and possible ramifications of their decisions, Muscato proposed, they can bring in experts in jury outcomes, budget ramifications or other issues. It would be infinitely preferable, he said, to approach the public business in a way that “doesn’t involve the supernatural.”
Muscato appeared on Fox News on Wednesday alongside Rabbi Aryeh Spero and Bill Donohue of The Catholic League. He told Raw Story that while appearances by his group on Fox often result in a torrent of angry, anti-atheist emails, “Every time we go on Fox, we get new members and we get new people donating to us because people see us and they hear the crazy things that people actually believe. They see how dangerous it is that these people have a national stage.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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