Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Remembrance of Posts Past: The Pilgrim's Progress Edition

When I first mentioned we'd be doing some Family Ties-style flashback shows, J Neo Marvin requested the Official State Religions post.  But when I went into the archives to dig it up, I discovered that it wasn't a single episode, but a whole story arc, padded out with plenty of coaching from the studio audience.  So rather than take the entire series and edit it down to one incoherent TV movie, the way Sandy Frank did with Mighty Jack and Fugitive Alien, we're going to rerun the complete Official State Religions saga over the next few days.

Flashback Fever -- Catch it!

By S.Z., originally published October 1, 2003:

Out of One, Many
Another David Limbaugh-lover item before I go to bed: if you happened to catch Phil Brennan's NewsMax article Limbaugh Shows How Intolerant 'Liberals' Wage War on Christianity, then you learned that "Even if you were reading Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity in a freezer with the temperature way below zero, your blood would still boil."  It's that annoyingly stupid of a book. 

Well, I guess Phil liked it, since he admiringly retells David's blood-boiling story of how Felix fussily corrected Oscar, "It's not spaghetti, it's linguini," and so Oscar threw it against the wall and said, "Now it's garbage!'  Only the way David tells it, it was a Bible.  Or something.  And per Phil, the book allegedly includes other stories like that.

But this is the point I wanted to talk about today: apparently the Bill of Rights only prevents the FEDERAL government from establishing a state religion, but it's okay for each individual state to have an official one (yes, this is THE hot, new Constitutional interpretation that all the right-wing lawyer-pundits are hip with).  Here's that portion from Phil's article (I don't know if he is plagiarizing David, of if this is his own work):
Thanks to the issues raised by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, for the first time many Americans were startled to learn that the famous slogan of "separation of church and state" they’ve been told bans government at all levels from allowing religious expression within public facilities or by official bodies is nowhere to be found in the Constitution of the United States. It is a largely a judicial fiction based on a deliberate misreading of the Establishment Clause "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" and the Free Exercise Clause, which follows: "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It was not until 1947 that any other meaning than that which forbade Congress (but not the states) from setting up a state-sponsored religion was found.
So, since we're getting back to what the Founding Fathers wanted (and not what the evil Supremes have forced on us), I assume we are going to let each state set up its own state-sponsored religion, like they apparently did prior to 1947.  Some states will have large rocks in their public buildings; some will require school children to hold hands and mis-recite rhyming prayers over their graham crackers, and some will make it mandatory to mail religious comic books to soldiers serving in countries with competing religions.  This promises lots of fun for everyone!

And, as other legal scholars (Alan Keyes, Ann Coulter, Anna Nicole Smith) have pointed out, if you don't like your state's religion, you can just move to one that suits your preferences.  See, that's the beauty of America: we have states to suit every religious preference, and no need to respect all of them when we can just move to a place where ours is the only one allowed.

But since most people don't want to buy a house, get the yard looking nice, and only THEN learn that their state's religion is "Professional Wrestling," I think we should start announcing what each state's official religion is now, to give everybody a chance to move, if they want, before the Official Religion clause of the First Amendment becomes binding on everybody. 

In order to get the ball rolling, I set something up (subject to minor adjustments, once everybody's had a chance to look things over).  My methodology was: I got a list of the states, ranked in order of population.  And then I went to U.S. Composite Demographics, and got a ranked listing of the most popular U.S. religions (it was taken from polls where people identified themselves with a particular religion or lack thereof).  This list include demographic groupings other than religions, but more about that later.

Then I took the most populous state: California, and matched it with the religion that the most people said they belonged to: Christianity.  And so on, through the various states and religions.  Except that about 3/4 of the way through, I realized I was going to run out of religions, and so I assigned a few states another demographics grouping that were equal in numbers to the religion that would have come next on the list (I didn't want to have any states with no one living in them; and besides, I figured that maybe the gays and lesbians, etc. would like their own state).  And when I got to the least populous states, I just got creative and assigned them a fun demographic group to try out, or a major world religion that I thought might be nice to have represented  in America.  Oh, and I assigned the same religion twice near the middle of the list, and didn't notice this until I was done, so I gave that state their choice of a couple of interesting faiths.  Let me know if you think this is going to be a problem.

Anyway, look it over, decide if you can live with your official state religion (keeping in mind it might involve hot dishes, bingo, and/or virgin sacrifices), and if not, start calling real estate agents in a state with a religion or other demographic grouping that you find more interesting.  And if you have a better idea, then let me or David know.
Official State Religions

1.  California:                    Christian
2.  Texas:                          Protestant         
3.  New York:                   "Born again" or "evangelical"
4,  Florida:                        Catholic
5.  Illinois:                         Baptist
6. Pennsylvania:               Non-religious
7. Ohio:                             Evangelical (theologically)
8. Michigan:                      Methodist
9. New Jersey:                 Southern Baptist
10.Georgia:                      Lutheran
11. North Carolina:         United Methodist Church
12. Virginia:                    Presbyterian
13. Massachusetts:        Pentecostal
14. Indiana:                    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
15. Washington:             Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
16. Tennessee:              gay/lesbian
17. Missouri:                  Episcopalian
18. Wisconsin:               Judaism
19. Maryland:                 Eastern Orthodox
20. Arizona                    Satanism (or Juche--they can have their pick)
21. Minnesota:                 Buddhist
22. Louisiana:                  Non-denominational
23. Alabama:                   French speakers
24. Colorado:                  Megachurch attendance
25. Kentucky:                  Jehovah's Witnesses
26. South Carolina           United Church of Christ
27. Oklahoma:                 Mennonite Church USA
28 Oregon:                      agnostic
29. Connecticut               Churches of Christ
30. Iowa:                         Hindu
31. Mississippi:               atheists
32. Kansas:                    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
33. Arkansas:                 Unitarian Universalist
34. Utah:                        Seventh-day Adventists
35. Nevada:                    Neo-pagan (incl. Wiccans)
36. New Mexico              Church of the Nazarene
37. West Virginia            Reformed Church in America (RCA)
38. Nebraska:                Libertarian party members
39. Idaho:                      Baha'i
40. Maine:                      Native American Religionist
41. New Hampshire:       Sikhism
42. Hawaii:                     Deism
43. Rhode Island:           Weight Watchers
44. Montana:                  Dittoheads
45. Delaware:                 Jedi
46. South Dakota:           Zoroastrianism
47. North Dakota:           Zombies
48. Alaska:                      Ingayats
49. Vermont:                   Ba'al
50. District of Columbia:  primal-indigenous
51. Wyoming:                  Rastafarianism

Again, let me know if you want a different religion for your state, or have another plan for assigning State Religions.  Because the thing is: the Constitution says we either have to do this, or we have to read David's book.


Anonymous said...

I am NOT moving to Mississippi. I can't even remember the capitol of that benighted state.
I guess I'll just stay Mormon.
One thing, though: It would certainly make religious wars much easier. Everybody wants to bring those back, right?

Kathy said...

Scott- could you show some of the comments made at the time?

Scott said...

K, I would love to, but I was lazy, and by the time I got around to archiving these posts, the comments had all disappeared from the Salon blog (which has itself since disappeared).

However! Stay tuned, because tomorrow's episode is a clip show reprinting many of the original comments to this post (since the Official State Religions list turned into a massive Open Source project).

D. Sidhe said...

Despite the fact that I am in no way moving out of Washington (I'm basically an elemental tied to Mt Rainier's rainforests), this is still one of my very favorite posts. SZ, how we love you.

Weird Dave said...

I'll take Satanism over Kimilsungism any day.
But why does Mississippi get the atheists and Wyoming get the Rastas? No fair.

Anonymous said...

"since we're getting back to what the Founding Fathers wanted" ... they were a bunch of drunks ! For example, the reason that John Adams was so "contentious" was that he drank a tankard of hard cider every morning for breakfast! And he was one of the more sober Founding Fathers since he stayed away from whiskey !