Americans United Has a Blog! Americans United for the Separation of Church and State now has a blog! Actually, it has existed for several months, but I have only just become aware of it. I have added it to my blog roll on the right, and expect to be checking it out regularly. I encourage you to do the same.
Their current entry tells the story of Margaret Sayre, an elderly Maryland resident who was in the habit of having lunch at a local, government-funded senior center. Sayre objected to the fact that the meals opened with a Christian prayer. She started seeking advice from various local officials and atheist groups. Somehow, one of her e-mails ended up in the hands of Maryland delegate Don Dwyer. Dwyer was not amused. Mayhem ensued.
I recommend reading the entire entry, but I was particularly amused by the following exchange:
Local officials and other state lawmakers declined to stand up for Sayre, but word of Dwyer's rude missive soon began circulating on the web. Michael Nord, an Americans United member in Virginia, decided to take Dwyer to task. In an e-mail message to the legislator, Nord pointed out that the U.S. Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. He went on to chide Dwyer for attacking an elderly woman.
“Way to go, attacking a little old lady who is asking for your help,” Nord wrote. “Did you kick some puppies today too? I'd hope that the people of Maryland would have higher standards for their public servants.”
Dwyer wrote back, accusing Nord of being ignorant of the Constitution and adding, “Fortunately in Maryland our constitution under the Declaration of Rights article 36 still states that in order to serve in elected office you have to believe in God. Isn't that great!!!”
Dwyer is apparently ignorant of the fact that the provision he cites was declared null and void by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1961 decision Torcaso v. Watkins. That ruling, brought by a Maryland resident who refused to affirm a belief in God as a condition of becoming a notary public, ended “religious tests” for public office in the handful of state constitutions that retained them.