Saturday, March 21, 2015

Walker trampled 1st Amendment and will do it again.

Think Progress's Josh Israel brought back an old Scott Walker oldie and a baddie from 2001, and a now frightening idea considering what might happen if he were to ever become president.

While Republicans have pushed religious freedom to ridiculous levels, Hobby Lobby comes to mind, Walker awhile back took that 1st Amendment right and wanted to crush it. The Wiccan religion,
which celebrates nature and the Earth, wasn't popular enough he said. That's hardly constitutional:
On September 28, 2001, a group of Wisconsin legislators introduced a resolution memorializing (Sept. 11th) “the unity and patriotism of the American people, who hold diverse religious beliefs and represent diverse ethnic heritages.” Six weeks later, one of the resolution’s co-authors — then Wisconsin Assemblyman Scott Walker (R) — posted an alliterative press release, titled “Walker Questions Need for Wiccan Witch of Waupun.” He was chairman of the Wisconsin Assembly’s Committee on Corrections and the Courts and was upset that the Rev. Jamyi Witch had been hired as a full-time chaplain at the maximum-security Waupun Correctional Institution. His reason: her Wiccan faith.

The warden who hired her told the local press at the time that her interviews, references, background and extensive knowledge of a wide array of alternative religions made her the clear choice for the job: “Jamyi is an outstandingly approachable person, somebody that I wouldn’t mind approaching on spiritual matters myself. Witch’s hiring raises both personal and political concerns. Not only does she practice a different religion than most of the inmates, she practices a religion that actually offends people of many other faiths, including Christians, Muslims and Jews.”

She recalled “Walker came out saying he would do whatever it took to have me removed from my position.”

Walker’s stated objection were entirely based on her religion. Walker said, “I can’t imagine that most of the inmates would feel particularly comfortable going to that individual … I would think, in some ways from a religious standpoint, it might actually put inmates in a position that talking to [a Wiccan] is contrary to what some of their own religious beliefs might be.”

Selena Fox. Rev. Fox, whose Lady Liberty League works to defend the rights of Wiccans told ThinkProgress that Walker’s actions demonstrated a lack of understanding of the U.S. Constitution … Witch noted that his effort did “stir up right wing conservative religious fundamentalists.” A state legislative employee put out a press release, she recalled, with the language “burn the witch” … she endured multiple death threats, harassment of her school-aged children, slashed tires, and a silver cross painted on her door. 

Witch urges voters to “beware.” “If we get a man in the White House who is okay with actively seeking to have people removed from their positions because they are not of a faith he approves of… we’ve been down that road before.” Rob Boston, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State echoed that point. “The incident with Rev. Witch was a test of tolerance for Scott Walker and a chance to show true leadership. He failed it miserably.” 

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