On Tuesday, September 27, Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener told the ACLU to “go to hell.”
No joke. You can watch the video clip for yourself:
I spoke on behalf of the ACLU at the commission meeting on Tuesday in support of a resolution that would prohibit county ceremonies from being held in places of worship. I told the commission that when a government agency holds official ceremonies in places of worship, it sends a message to the community that a certain religious group or set of beliefs is preferred—and that’s just not right.
Unfortunately, I was outnumbered 30 to 1 at the meeting and things got a little ugly. Then Wiener told us to go to hell. Then the commission voted down the resolution 3-2. It was kind of a rough day.
But that’s what the ACLU does, we take principled stands—often in the face of fierce opposition—to insure that our freedoms are not trampled by the tyranny of the majority. Today, I’d like to invite you to stand with the ACLU of New Mexico by letting your commissioners (especially Wiener!) know that the separation of church and state matters to you.
This resolution didn’t come out of the blue. Earlier this month Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston chose his own church as the venue for the graduation ceremony for new deputies. Some of the new deputies were upset that, on their special day, they would be forced to attend a ceremony in a place of worship when plenty of secular, county-owned venues were available.
We want our supporters to speak up on this issue because it is important to show that what happened at that commission meeting was unacceptable. The majority of Americans value the separation of church and state because they know that both government and religion are at their best when they are not entangled with one another.