Opinion » Bill Cope

Constitution Reboot 3

Bob wants a taller wall between church and state


I pledge allegiance to the unfulfilled promise of the United States of America (except for the state of Mississippi, out of which nothing promising has ever come) and to the uncompleted democracy for which it stands. One nation, under guidance of enlightened men and women, indivisible--no matter what fascist hicks from south of the Mason-Dixon Line say--with liberty and justice for all. --The Pledge of Allegiance, as re-envisioned by "Badger" Bob Berzerquierre

"Got a sec, Cope? I started in on the First Amendment last night and I want you to hear what I got done so far. 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, as long as the free exercise thereof does not include such intrusive and ridiculous violations of rational behavior as the following: Half-witted Texas governors (or any other elected official) asking their constituents to pray for an end to the drought (the flood, the hurricane, the appointment of liberal judges, the construction of mosques in Tennessee, public employee unions, Barbra Streisand's career, a Democrat's presidency ... etc.); Using meaningless and empty slogans printed on legal tender and government structures (coins, bills or the Supreme Court building) as proof that the United States was designed by an Infinite Intelligence to be His own special country; Insisting that anything written on papyrus scrolls, goat skins, cave walls, medieval manuscripts or Bible Belt pamphlets should hold equal weight with the accumulated discoveries of dedicated and curious minds throughout the centuries, and should therefore be taught in schools as a valid alternative to scientific principles; Encouraging members of one's congregation to descend on neighborhoods like a plague of locusts, spreading the unsolicited news that there is a good article in the Watchtower, or that the Such-and-Such Flock of the Vineyard Something-or-other Pentagellicals is having a big Gospel music blowout this coming weekend with singing groups coming from as far away as Arkansas and Burley, or that the angel Moroni would most gladly take anyone under wing for just one penny on every dime they earn; Any claim that it was a miracle how one person happened to live through an event that killed 30 or 40 other people; Any claim that any particular natural disaster, economic turmoil or unusually high dead bird count is God throwing a hissy fit because He doesn't want homosexuals to get married; Any claim that it takes people with Good Christian Values (GCV) to administer these United States, and if some of these GCV people happen to get caught now and then with their pants around their ankles in the presence of a prostitute, male masseuse or member of their staff, it just goes to prove that God feels they deserve a little whoopee bonus for being such righteous citizens; Any claim that ...'"

"Bob! Whoa! Aren't you about done? My butt's cramping up from sitting here. Jeez, that 'establishment of religion clause' runs about 15 words in the original Constitution. And what do you have it up to? About a billion?"

"Couple thousand or so. But Cope I'm not done with it yet. I want to make sure there's no wiggle room in this version."

"OK but are you sure that spelling out specific examples of what isn't constitutional will make your new constitution any easier to interpret? Seems to me, the more words you add to any legal document just makes for more loopholes for slippery fish like lawyers and preachers to exploit. And besides, how do you intend to enforce these restrictions of yours, anyway?"

"Tax 'em, that's how! I say that if they violate the 'violation of rational behavior' clause, we drop their tax exempt status. We should have been taxing most of these outfits from the word go, anyway. The Catholics? You telling me that isn't a for-profit enterprise? Not to mention the Morm ..."

"Shhh! Neighbors. Bob, I happen to agree that these freeway humungo-churches are monuments to excess and those oily televangelists in white suits are just Bernie Madoff in sanctimony drag. But you'll never get the courts to go along with taxing them, Bob. It's, like, unconstitutional. Or something. I think."

"Cope, you show me the line that says the government can't tax a church on all the money it rakes in, and I'll rewrite it. Fact is, the day frauds like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson started using their repulsive politics as a tool to goose up their donations, there should have been a new church taxation amendment added within the week.

"Something like, just off the top of my head ... 'Amendment XXVIII: Should any persons of religious authority, self-imagined or not, choose to use their anti-Hollywood, anti-news media, anti-science, anti-education, anti-arts and anti-intellectual hillbilly voodoo to scare yahoos, in-breds and half-man/half-sasquatch hybrids into shelling out scarce cash to keep their Holy Personages in Cadillacs and cheesy antebellum mansions, such actions will immediately qualify their money-laundering systems (churches) to be added to the rolls of taxable entities, along with oil companies, organized crime syndicates, and any other organizations that have shown a propensity to meddle in public political perceptions for their personal financial gain.'"

"Jeez, Bob. You'd have a hell of a time getting that one ratified down South."

To be continued ...