by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
The News & Observer published a column today in which UNC law professor Gene Nichol cited examples of “Governing for Christians.” They include:
Curiously, in his string of examples of religious beliefs being used to push political ends, no matter how silly or controversial, Nichol leaves out the “Moral Monday” protests in which he has participated. Eh, it’s probably an oversight.
Photos by Don Carrington taken at the same “Moral Monday” protest, July 9, 2013
Nor does Nichol draw a conclusion. Like many others, his preference appears to be for the reader to provide the conclusion he dare not state outright. Such as: Gosh, we need to get rid of the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion because it may offend people.
That’s where Nichol is and has been for quite some time.
This is a man who, upon gaining the presidency of the College of William & Mary, had a cross removed from the altar of a 400-year-old church on campus. In his mind, despite four centuries of evidence contra, a hypothetical non-Christian student could enter Wren Chapel, see the cross, and somehow conclude he wasn’t welcome on campus. So Nichol unilaterally took it out.
In short order, donors to the university took their donations out. Friends of the university and the chapel took their objections out in the press and public. Someone even took a lawsuit out. And before the college’s Board of Rectors took Nichol out, he abruptly resigned after being informed his contract would not be renewed, but not before he begrudgingly restored the cross — hermetically sealed in a glass box so as to keep its pulsating Christianism from radiating out and infecting passers-by like a bad sci-fi movie plot.
(I’m kidding, of course, about the rationale behind the glass box. In truth, I’m not sure what it was expected to accomplish, other than serve as a gesture of feckless contempt.)
Still, I wonder if the N&O editors have considered where Nichol is actually leading. To get rid of the First Amendment is, well, to get rid of the First Amendment. That would eliminate, in order:
I understand — no, strike that; I realize that the cause du jour is reflexive “resistance” no matter how goofy or self-defeating it might be. This urge to virtue-signal is all-consuming, and even sensibility and defensibility must succumb.
But even for the fun of “owning” the religious Right, if a newspaper were to egg on the destruction of any or all of the First Amendment, it would be terminally stupid.