Rep. Fisher Responds: The Missouri Resolution

I have received permission from Rep Fisher to publish his email, as well as a follow up email. A little background, I had emailed him the following:

Dear Sirs,
I am writing to you to express my total shock and dismay at House Concurrent Resolution No. 13. Even though this would not have the force of law, if passed, I still find it apalling. There is more to America than Conservative Evangelical Christians and I see no reason why we should privilege them at the expense of others. This nation was founded on compromise between a wide variety of competing interests and the “all or nothing” approach displayed in the resolution undermines that priniciple. I would argue that the compromise between competing interests is one of the things that gives our society strength and cohesiveness. I would also like to point out the following:
Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

His response was:

Dear Mr…,
I have received a total of 8 emails regarding my co-sponsorship of House Concurrent Resolution 13 (HCR 13). I have chosen to answer yours because you seem to have a sense of history, a sense of Scripture, and can think without becoming hysterical.
My reasons for co-sponsoring HCR 13 are:
1. Personally, HCR 13 represented to me a temptation to deny Christianity and Jesus Christ. Since you seem to be into Scripture, I, too, will quote some that I try to follow.
Luke 12: 9 & 10: “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
You’ll notice that this Biblical injunction doesn’t say anything about going into a closet and being secretive. It is very much talking to us about our PUBLIC (before men) actions and words.
I felt that co-sponsoring HCR 13 was a very public (before men) opportunity to confess the Son of Man and to do otherwise was a denial of Christ. Those, who in the emails use words like shame, should understand that I am not ashamed to stand up for Christianity, even in the halls of government (before men). Yes, being both a Christian and an elected public official is sometimes a heavy burden and sometimes the criticism is harsh. I have a thick skin.
2. I fully understood that HCR 13 would be very controversial. Today, uttering the words Christianity or Christ in public draws all manner of scorn and labels. I am probably not as conservative as you think and I am probably not an evangelical. But I am a Christian; I proudly accept that label. Also, I believe that controversy should not be avoided—–discussion and debate are not to be feared by any side of an issue—-discussion and debate should be very instructive to all sides. What some want is for the issue to subside, pretend it’s not part of the political landscape, and not have to face the unpleasantness of scorn and disagreement. Some want this issue to just go away and return to the status quo. Don’t think, don’t rock the boat.
3. I was and am still 99% confident that HCR 13 won’t even make it on the House calendar, much less reach the floor for debate and discussion. However, I have truly enjoyed watching the liberal element of our state and nation come out squalling like scalded dogs in protest, being forced to unmask their watered-down Christian views, wrap themselves in the Constitution, and try to justify their view that the will of the minority should trump the will of the majority. Minority rights should be protected but not allowed to dominate and actually dictate to the majority. This is the same liberal element who have successfully removed the Ten Commandments from public buildings, removed Nativity scenes from courthouse lawns, removed prayer from school, demanded students take winter holiday break instead of Christmas break, prohibited Christmas trees in schools (unless the tree is called a holiday tree), prohibited the Bible from even being used as a history or literature textbook, prohibited the singing of traditional Christmas songs (such as “Oh, Come all Ye Faithful”) in our schools, demanded “…under God…” be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance (I think they will be successful), want “In God We Trust” removed from our money, want homosexual relationships recognized as a traditional marriage (a majority of almost 75% rejected that in Missouri), just to mention a few; there, I could go on and on, but I’ve ranted and raved enough. I ask you to be intellectually honest with yourself, do all those prohibitions, removals, and denials sound like freedom? Who is freer–a student who can pray in school or a student who is prohibited from doing so? Who is freer–a community who can enjoy a Nativity Scene on public ground or a community who is prohibited (even though the majority would do so)? I firmly believe we no longer have freedom of religion in the USA, we have freedom from religion.
I apologize for such a long email, perhaps I needed its cathartic benefit. Let me conclude by making 2 final points:
1. I don’t know your age, but we wouldn’t have had this conversation prior to the U. S. Supreme Court decision that established the misguided legal precedent of “Separation of Church and State”. I am not such an old dinosaur at the age of 58, that I can’t remember writing 2 English IV papers in my senior year of high school (1965). The first paper was a comparison of the Biblical character, Job, with the Greek mythological character, Prometheus. The second paper was a similar paper that required a comparison of Biblical writers with the essays of early philosophers. Now public school students have not the freedom to expand their minds with such an assignment. Instead, our public schools and students are nothing more than Petri dishes for sociological experiments to expand the liberal-secular-humanist agenda of restricting true freedom.
2. Since you concluded with a scripture for me to ponder, I’ll conclude with one for all of us and you won’t even be allowed to do this one in a closet:
Philippians 2: 9, 10, & 11: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Barney Fisher
State Representative
District 125

When I emailed him for permission to publish the above, he responded with:

You do have my permission to post my previous email on one condition. That condition is that you post this one, too.
In most of the emails I’ve received, the senders have worked themselves into hysterical snits that have blocked their abilities to read and think clearly. It is obvious that some haven’t even read the resolution much less understood it for what it is, what it does and does not do. Many have insisted on giving me a civics lesson, questioned my education, and many have a flare for re-writing our history to suit their views.
A resolution contains no enacting clause, therefore, it cannot be law. The ridiculous claims that we are establishing a “state religion” are just that—-ridiculous. Those who are so worried about minority rights should stop worrying. Those who wonder if I’ve read the Constitution should calm themselves and read the Constitution themselves. If they did, they would realize that both the Missouri and U.S. Constitutions expressly prohibit the establishment of a state religion. Establishing a state religion is certainly not the intent of the resolution. Some erroneously call the resolution a “bill”.
For me, this resolution is 2 things: (1) A statement of historical fact. It is quite impossible to debate those who have re-written our history, so I won’t even try; (2) A protestation of loss of religious freedom—-I refer you to paragraph #3 of my previous email and add the following example of loss of religious freedom. About 3 to 4 years ago, in Humansville, Mo., one person (the smallest minority possible) successfully sued the school district to prohibit voluntary prayer in school. Not only was she successful, but she also managed, with the help of the ACLU, to line her pockets with 10s of thousands of dollars. This minority of one overrode the desires and freedom of an entire town. So much for worrying about the rights of minorities.
Some complaints have called HCR 13 a waste of time. I believe that discussion of beliefs, principles, state and country are never a waste of time. Usually, both sides of an issue can learn something.
Barney Fisher

Now, I am not as militant about religion as some are (it’s probably the cultural anthropologist in me) but I have to agree with Ed on this. On a political and legal level it is problematic, Rep. Fisher seems to be saying this resolution is a personal statement of belief, which makes it even more problematic. Why use the Missouri House and Senate as a means of affirming ones belief? This strikes me as totally unnecessary waste of taxpayer resources, and again why should those who do not share Rep Fishers’ religious views be forced to subsidize them?

5 Responses

  1. The fallacy is, of course, extremely obvious: Rep. Fisher and co. are perfectly entitled to be as religious as they like within the limits of the law, just not on the taxpayer’s dollar.

  2. Representative Fisher has the advantage of knowing the “truth”, which I suppose has set him free from worrying about things like improper entanglements between church and state. If he wants to make a personal statement of belief, then he’s welcome to take out a full-page ad in whatever newspaper he favors or to sponsor a website that praises the Lord. Instead, like many people who know (without niggling doubts or other inconveniences), Fisher is going to “stand up for Christ”. It’s foolishness, but he doesn’t appreciate that he is acting the Pharisee rather than the publican. I guess that part of the Bible doesn’t apply to him.

  3. I love how he criticizes those who, “wrap themselves in the Constitution”.
    It seems to me that doing so is a requirement for government service.
    I wish you would write back and ask why church or private lawns are not sufficient for manger scenes. And why church and private walls are not sufficient for the posting of the 10 Commandments.
    An added bonus would be to point out the Bible verse that condemns the decoration of trees.

  4. Perhaps there is some long-term value in having this enacted for future court decisions. If such a non-binding resolution can be cited, could it give weight or influence to legal decisions?

  5. I’d like to point out that Representative Fisher is definitely mistaken in his statement about the ACLU. I can find no ACLU case listed in Humansville, MO for the time period in question. In fact, a search of the ACLU’s website finds no cases filed involving prayer in all of Missouri from 1996 to the present date.
    In addition, the circumstances that he gives are highly suspect and don’t sound at all like the ACLU. They do sound like the bogus characterizations of the ACLU often given by those who, for reasons of their own, object to the ACLU’s vigorous defense of the bill of rights.

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