A federal judge in Phoenix, Arizona, has told a group of Wisconsin atheists that they need to go home and quit fussing about other people’s business, writes Mary Kochan for Catholic Lane.
In an opinion column titled “You Whiny, Sniveling Little Atheists Are Pathetic,” Kochan left no question as to her opinion of the out-of-staters.
“You whiny, sniveling, little, pusillanimous cowards,” she writes:
You have the audacity to tell us Christians that we are “weak” and that our religion is a “crutch.” You are supposed to be so “courageous,” venturing forth boldly into the existential mystery of being alone, facing with stoicism the nothingness that awaits you at death, priding yourself on your realism and self-reliance. You are a bunch of feeble fakers.
Yes, you are outsiders. Go start your own damn country. This one was started by Christians, you puerile dimwits. It is Christians who established and largely Christians who fought and died to maintain the freedoms you enjoy. And Christians are still the majority. Apparently your vaulted belief system doesn’t equip you to handle being in the minority. That’s interesting, isn’t it? After all, this was and is a societal situation valiantly handled by millions and millions of Christians who suffered — and currently suffer — real oppression, violence, torture, economic deprivation, and cruel deaths. But you have to go through turning off the TV once in a while and so your precious puny feelings are hurt. How delicate and frail your mental architecture is!
You are a pitiful joke. Trembling over the mere mention of God. Running like babies to court because of your brittle feelings. “Oh, but judge, but judge, I saw a cross and I just can’t stand it.” “I heard someone say ‘Merry Christmas’ and it hurt my feelings.” “I just can’t sleep knowing there is a manger scene at the courthouse.” “The sight of the Ten Commandments makes me wet my pants.”
Now we see how inadequate and feeble you really are. Rage, therapists say, is the flip side of helplessness. And so we see your rage against religion in the public square for what it is: a product of your own insubstantial internal resources. Go look at yourself in the mirror if you can bear the pathetic, contemptible sight of yourself.
In case you are not certain of how Kochan really feels, she continues: “Let’s get this straight. The atheists are suing because they had to turn off the television to avoid the topic of religion or news announcements about the Day of Prayer. They had to alter their conversation to avoid the topic of religion. This made them feel like ‘outsiders.’ Oh, boo hoo.”
The case to which she is referring is a lawsuit thrown out by a judge that said the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation had no legal standing to sue Arizona’s governor for proclaiming a statewide day of prayer. The court said they were not injured by the governor’s proclamation, saying:
Plaintiffs provide affidavits to establish they turned off the television and altered conversational habits to avoid the topic of religion on the day of prayer.
Plaintiffs, however, do not explain why their alleged injury is different than injuries in other Establishment Clause cases in which the plaintiffs did not have standing, such as the President’s day of prayer proclamation. Essentially, Plaintiffs seek a ruling obliquely holding that injury sufficient to confer standing exists under the Establishment Clause where government action is covered in the news or the subject of a social conversation.
The Court declines to depart from Establishment Clause case law on this ground. Plaintiffs have not shown injury beyond “stigmatic injury” or feeling like an “outsider.”
[If the government violates the law in a way that stigmatizes a particular group, does a member of that group have standing to challenge the violation in federal court? In the well-known case of Allen v. Wright, the Supreme Court said no. According to the Court, stigmatic harm is too abstract and generalized to support standing in most cases. To permit standing on the basis of stigmatic harm alone, the Court stated, would "transform the federal courts into no more than a vehicle for the vindication of the value interests of concerned bystanders."
Arizona’s East Valley Tribune observed:
“Gov. Brewer’s proclamations proclaim a day of prayer, and one proclamation encourages all citizens to pray for God’s blessings on our state and nation,” the judge acknowledged. “Though ‘encouraged,’ no one, including plaintiffs, is obligated to pray. Nor are plaintiffs forced to alter their physical routine or bear a monetary expense to avoid a religious symbol.”
At best, the judge said, those challenging the governor’s actions have incurred a “stigmatic injury” or “feeling like an outsider.” None of that, said Silver, gives them the right to sue.
Attorney Marc Victor said his clients are weighing whether to seek review from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or file a new lawsuit in state court.
In a prepared statement Brewer praised the court, calling the lawsuit “a futile attempt to stifle an American right and tradition.”
“Citizens of every race, background and creed have been coming together in voluntary prayer since our nation’s founding, and will continue to do so against this organization’s best efforts,” the governor said.
Press aide Matthew Benson acknowledged that not everyone believes in prayer. But he said that does not mean his boss is doing anything unconstitutional.