Lookout!  It's an atheist!I don’t want to push this too hard – especially since I’m only really a guest here – but the “freedom of religion” issue is a big one for me. I don’t like theocracy, which is one of the earliest reasons I reacted poorly to the Bush administration.

Now, in Texas, the state GOP is attacking a Democratic candidate for judge by calling him an atheist.

The Austin-based Republican Party of Texas played the religion card in a Sept. 21 online newsletter. As alleged in the newsletter, Texarkana solo E. Ben Franks, Democratic nominee for a seat on the 6th Court of Appeals, “is reported to be a professed atheist” and apparently believes the Bible is a “collection of myths.'”

But Franks says he has never professed to be an atheist and is not a member of any atheist organization. Franks says no one with the Republican Party ever asked him whether he professes to be an atheist. However, he says he’s not surprised by the allegation.

“I’m not surprised at anything anybody says in politics anymore,” Franks says.

The Republican Party notes in its recent newsletter that Article 16, ?1(a) of the Texas Constitution prescribes the oath of office for all elected or appointed officials. The officeholder swears to faithfully execute the duties of the office and, to the best of his or her ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state “so help me God.”

“I can take the oath,” Franks says.

However, the state Republican Party questions whether Franks will uphold the law, stating in the newsletter: “Should Franks be elected in November, one would have to conclude that he will hold true to his out of touch ‘atheist’ belief system and ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas.”

“I’m very much an advocate for separation of church and state,” Franks says. “In that context, it offends me when people wear their religion on their sleeves.”

But, Franks adds, “my religious preferences are my private business. That’s not the business of anybody else.”

Atheists: actually unable to uphold the laws and Constitution of the land.

I swear. Sometimes I think when people hear the word “atheist” they see Snidely Whiplash.

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  • I just did another post about the forum from this past weekend over at Buckeye State Blog, as well as at My Left Wing. Presumably, on the front page of BSB, people are at least *seeing* it, but it’s discouraging how little payoff there is in terms of discussion.

    Okay, I’m probably a little cranky for not having had a chance to eat yet today. But I agree it’s an important topic. Time to go teach another class, but here’s the link to the MLW diary


  • Linda

    Snidely Whiplash is probably a good word for it.

    I’ve read the El Paso Times article where he made that comment. One would presume that the Times reporter has evidence to back up his comment.

    What makes good ol’ Benny Franks seem so much like Snidely is that he’ll lie to the good voters of Bowie County, smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, in order to gain a few votes. He’s now claiming to be misquoted. How sad he can’t even stick by his own convictions. Makes me wonder how poorly he’d do as an appellate judge.

    The concern I have about atheists is that they have no higher moral authority to which they answer. In some cases, I’ve met atheists who only live by the commandment, “Thou shalt not get caught.”

    Benny Franks will only tell the people what he thinks they want to hear. He won’t stand firm on his so-called convictions. Typical Democrat.

  • Brian

    Linda, you’ve missed the point. I don’t care so much about Ben Franks. Maybe he’s lying about being an atheist, and maybe he’s not.

    My problem – and you reinforce it – is that people are using someone’s faith, or lack of it, to attack them. Do you *really* think that people must believe in God to be moral? That fear of Hell is the only reason people behave reasonably?

    Do you think *I* look like Snidely Whiplash?

  • Linda

    The problem is that if Ben Franks is a liar and a hypocrite (which is what one who claims to be moral but isn’t), how can we trust him with appellate decisions?

    It’d be different if he outright said he was an atheist in Bowie County. He’ll say it in El Paso County, where he thinks he can hide the truth, but won’t even stand by his godless convictions.

    I’m not attacking him for being an atheist. I’m attacking him for being a liar, and showing people that while he claims to be an atheist in one arena, he’ll deny it in order to try to get votes. If he’d stick to his guns, I wouldn’t question his morality quite so much.

    As for the Snidely Whiplash thing, I don’t know what you look like. But I do know about the outright theivery that occurs in Bowie County under the guise of being a Democrat. These people have robbed the taxpayers blind.

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