by Adam Lee, AlterNet, 5/6/13
The religious right often wages campaigns of harassment, intimidation and outright violence against First Amendment plaintiffs.
When it comes to the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, which forbids the establishment of a state religion by the government even if a majority supports it, is something most of us heartedly support.
But not all. The religious right despises the First Amendment, since it’s constantly foiled their efforts to inject Christian doctrine into government. And when they’ve lost in court, religious conservatives in the U.S. have often waged campaigns of threats, harassment and outright violence against First Amendment plaintiffs, in the hopes of intimidating them into backing down and achieving by mob violence what they can’t achieve under the law.
Last year, the Freedom from Religion Foundation contacted two public school districts in Pennsylvania, in New Kensington and Connellsville, to demand the removal of large stone Ten Commandments monuments prominently placed on school property. When the schools chose to fight, the FFRF and its local plaintiffs, including current students, filed a lawsuit.
As often happens in these cases, FFRF plaintiffs asked to have their identities concealed because they feared harassment and retaliation from the community. It was a well-founded fear, since some of them had already been receiving threats on social media. On a Facebook page supporting the New Kensington school, one person encouraged others to “slam the shit out of the bitch” who filed the lawsuit. Another commenter asked, “Have the families involved in the lawsuit been identified? I cannot believe anyone living in the community would participate in such a worthless cause. Someone needs to send that group back to Wisconsin with several black eyes!”
Because of threats like this, the court granted the request for anonymity, finding that “this basis upon which the Does fear disclosure is substantial and that there is a substantial public interest in ensuring that litigants not face such retribution in their attempt to seek redress for what they view as a Constitutional violation, a pure legal issue.” In response, Republican state representative Tim Krieger filed a bill… that would eliminate the right of plaintiffs to sue anonymously over religious symbols on public property….
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