William A. Gralnick

(Ed. note–apologies to readers of last weeks column. The editing was atrocious. Hopefully, this will be better.)

First, there will be no pictures today but one.

the top of a long slide downward

After all, what pictures is one to choose to highlight this low light? You’ll just have to read this one.

Every writer knows the importance of an opening sentence. I have so many, I can’t choose.

  • Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned, is one.
  • Chicken Little May Be Right, is another
  • Instead of blood in the operating room, are we facing blood in the streets?

I have even a few more, like WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!? or “Zombie Legislation, Trigger Legislation? Are we living in the age of civil nitroglycerin?” Are we in an age where it will be normal for candidates for the court to bald-facedly lie during the hearings and then show themselves to be wolves in sheep’s clothing once there.

it is my opinion that the anti-Roe decision is just the beginning of a pre-determined deep slide down the path of undoing the rights of citizens, and that it is linked to the court’s decision the day before about the Maine case on guns. Nor is it as much a political decision as it is religious.

For decades the liberal and educational elites of this country viewed state legislatures with disdain, often with good reason. They were the backwater of American politics, the elected country bumpkins of a state. For a long period of time, these same naive people looked to the Federal Government for what was needed to be done blanaced by a moderate Congress and usually a moderate President. Meanwhile the conservative and or religious right saw the potential for moving their agendas.. More and more state legislatures become Republican majority bodies and more and more of those bodies went from moderate to conservative.

The bet by the liberals and moderates was that the federal-state equation was weighted towards the federal. That was a hopeful reading, but an incorrect reading of the constitution. It’s all in that mandate that all powers not expressly given to the federal government would fall to the states. That is what is happening through the appointment of conservative jurists through the ranks up to the Supreme Court.

I was taking an opinion survey the other day. One of the questions was which statement about religion would I choose as representing my own view. One was that the Bible was the word of G-d but could be interpreted to modern day circumstances. The next was the the Bible was the revealed word of G-d an essentially meant what it said. The third was the Bible was written by men and had no devine content.

We booed Elmer Gantry in the movies. We laughed at Jerry Falwell. We mocked Ralph Reed’s” Christian based politics. We missed it. While liberals were riding their white horses, the politically driven Christians were mounting their even whiter horses. They were also suited up in holy political armour ready, willing, and able to fight. Sometimes they fought with the brute force of the Roman Army. Sometimes they adroitly used the strategy and tactics of guerilla fighters.

A mentor of mine, Rabbi A. James Rudin, said many decades ago that the the wall separating church and state was full of windows and doors. Another opening was punched through it in the Maine case. It was less about law than it was about religion. It was about weakening the separation clause. The overthrowing of Roe was less about who had the right to do what than it was about painting a moral canvass for America. Implicit in the decision was telling women not to get pregnant if they didn’t want a child, telling them that abortion was murder and murder was forbidden by the ten commandments., and that you got what you deserved if you had a child out of wedlock. The decision conveniently overlooked some other issues like a child being the spawn of rape or incest. Imagine a child growing to the age of understanding and coming to learn that he or she was not only unwanted but was the product of twisted violence.

That’s why opponents of that decision need to keep an eye on the horizon. They are facing the people who sported the popular bumper sticker throughout the south that said, “God said it, I believe it, and that’s all there is to it.” To some, it’s cute. However you view it, it is an absolutist religious statement. There surely will be laws passed in many states that will curtail or forbid contraception pills, the use of any kind of contraception, Gay marriage, and the criminalization of any act of breaking the laws. They will wend their way to the Supreme Court and the court will one by one uphold them. What will the aggrieved parties do? Take to the streets. However unless they take to the ballot boxes, they’ll lose.

And speaking of the ballot box,, to protect their assault on human rights, the religious right will continue to push restrictive voting rights legislation. It may be couched in political terms, but, “If God said it…”

The local impact can be brutal. Here are three examples from my career, three of many:

  1. a 25-year-old colleague of mine attacked in a Macon, Ga. community center while giving a political science talk on separation of church and state. “Heathen! Heathen!” was the chant.
  2. the misguided wrongly taught Jews for Jesus mailing Christian tractates and a copy of Mel Gibson’s abominable movie on Jesus to tens of thousands of Jewish households in south Florida–and not one Evangelical church willing to say anything about it.
  3. The high-jacking of the then newly minted “Spirit Day” in support of the high school’s football team. Christian teachers turned it into a triumphal day for the Holy Spirit printing and handling out box loads of T-shirts with statements from the Christian Bible and holding prayer meetings all over the school’s campus. When a law suit was filled on behalf of a Jewish teacher, he was hounded and ostracized, causing him not only lto leave his job, but the state.

Those of you who remember 50s television will remember William Bendix in the Life of Reilly. His famous line, always said in frustration, was, “What a revolting development this is!” And so it is. But without well thought out plans and determined activists, it will only becomine more revolting–at least from my perspective.


A line from an old radio show: “I never would a thunk it.” Exactly Bill’s feelings.

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