While Arkansas takes a small step forward, a few people in my home state of Washington want to take a great leap backwards. Some crank named Kimberlie Struiksma, who is apparently associated with education, has proposed to put a remarkably clueless measure onto the ballot. Behold Initiative Measure No. 1040:
Initiative Measure No. 1040 concerns a supreme ruler of the universe.
This measure would prohibit state use of public money or lands for anything that denies or attempts to refute the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe, including textbooks, instruction or research.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would require state government not to use public funds or property for anything that denies or attempts to refute the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe, including but not limited to appropriations for displays, textbooks, scientific endeavors, instruction, and research projects. The measure would provide that no person shall be questioned based on their personal values, beliefs, or opinions regarding the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe.
That’s just the abstract, and if you’re a masochist, you can read the whole thing; it’s long and tedious. You can get the gist of it, though, in a few paragraphs. It’s a weird document that tries to explicitly silence atheists and cut off any representation of godlessness, but at the same time flounces about and insists that this isn’t discrimination. It’s going to exclude atheists from everything.
Respecting no establishment of religion, yet with respect to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, whose existence has been declared in the preamble to the Constitution of the state of Washington, the state shall make no appropriation for nor apply any public moneys or property in support of anything, specifically including, but not limited to, any display, exercise, instruction, textbook, scientific endeavor, circulated document, or research project which denies or attempts to refute the existence of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.
There’s a clue to the motivation here in the restriction against “any display”: I bet this is aimed directly at the people who dared to put up an atheist sign alongside the Christmas tree at the Washington state capitol this past year. Many people fulminated against that, and here’s Ms. Struiksma trying to make it illegal for atheist ideas to be presented, while anyone who endorses a god will not be discriminated against.
Then it gets expanded to cover just about anything that might offend a devout Christian. If you read the definitions, for instance, you discover that one of the targets of the ban, “scientific endeavors”, is defined as “any act, idea, theory, intervention, conference, organization, or individual having to do with science.” Apparently, the state cannot support any atheist who is a scientist. There goes a large percentage of the faculty of the University of Washington!
There are also lots of frantic clauses to assure everyone that this is not a “government sponsored witch hunt” and that it wouldn’t “limit or infringe upon religious freedom” — which, of course, simply highlights the fact that that is exactly what it is intended to be and do, and that the author is fully aware of it.
Don’t panic yet, Washingtonians! This is only a proposed initiative. Ms. Struiksma must gather the signatures of 241,153 registered voters by July in order for it to actually be put on the ballot. There aren’t that many crazy stupid people in the state, are there?
On second thought, maybe you should worry a little bit.