Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fact-Checking the GOP: Ted's Favorite Religious Persecution Story is a Fairy Tale

The Statement:

One of Ted Cruz' favorite tales of religious persecution rotates around Angela Hildenbrand, a high school valedictorian who, he tells his admirers, was "threatened with jail if she exercised her right to pray during her graduation speech... What kind of country are we living in where...we're threatening teenage girls with going to jail if they say the name of Jesus?"

The Facts:

The original lawsuit against the school district was filed by the family of Corwyn Schultz, one of Ms. Hildenbrand's classmates, asking the court to halt speakers at their high school graduation from leading the audience in prayers and invocations.  A district court judge issued a preliminary injunction against prayers at the public school ceremony.

According to Greg Lipper, an attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the judge ruled that "students could still make religious references in their speeches, (but) they just couldn't deliver prayers."  The judge never threatened Ms. Hildenbrand with jail time and he never said she couldn't "say the name of Jesus."  There was no threat of punishment of any kind against any student.

m'eye Verdict:
I doubt Mr. Cruz would be defending Ms. Hildenbrand if she had worn a hijab and wanted to begin her valedictorian speech with a prayer to Allah.  Remember when members of Congress refused to be present when a Muslim cleric gave the prayer to open a session of the House?

"Asalam alaikum.  Peace be with you.  O God of all nations, look with favor upon this esteemed Congress.  Guard these important decision-makers with your divine light..."  Yes, those words were so offensive to far-right Christian congressmen that they couldn't even be in the same room to hear them.

Apparently not offensive at all, however, is openly lying--as long as the lie fits the profile of a beleaguered Christian.  Far-right Christians like Ted are eager to brag about how pious they are, how they are followers of Christ, how they believe in Jesus, how the Bible is their guidebook in life.  

I think of far-right Christianity as the Carbon Cap and Trade of world religions.  If they really, really follow some verses, they believe they get a freebie on others, like the admonition against eating shell fish, or, in Ted's case, the commandment against "bearing false witness against thy neighbor."

It's a nice story, Ted, one that I'm sure your supporters are only too eager to believe, but public records call you a liar. Yes, she was told she couldn't lead a prayer during her speech. (Respect for other religions is a handy lesson to learn, one you obviously missed in your upbringing.) But, no, she was not prohibited from saying "Jesus."  And, no, she was never threatened with jail time if she defied the court.  I'm giving you 3 out of 5 Gops.

You get the 4th one for never bothering to mention that little Angela Hildenbrand got her way on appeal and all the American non-Christians at her graduation ceremony got to listen to her pray.  There are no reports of anyone leaving the room.

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