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One Way to Deal With Christian Fundamentalists

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OK, this made me chuckle.

An attempt by Idaho Republicans to repeal the state’s Blaine Amendment—a move that would allow taxpayer money to flow to churches and faith-based ministries across the state—has thankfully been placed on hold.

But not before a Satanist told lawmakers how they planned to take advantage of the potential new law to create a pro-Satan school.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the Idaho Constitution explicitly forbids taxpayer dollars from funding religion thanks to something called a “Blaine Amendment.” This is a reference to a failed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, first proposed in 1875, that would have banned federal money from going to religious schools. Even though it didn’t pass, 37 states have adopted their own versions of the law.

Idaho is one of them. Article IX, Section 5 of the state’s Constitution says state and local governments cannot use any public money “for any sectarian or religious purpose.”

That’s why GOP lawmakers recently introduced House Joint Resolution 1, which would repeal that section of the constitution. If those Republicans got the votes they needed from their colleagues—two-thirds support in both chambers—the issue would soon be put in front of voters.

On Tuesday, this bill was discussed in front of the House State Affairs Committee. One of the speakers during the public comments portion of the hearing was Rowan Astra, a non-theistic Satanist. Perhaps surprisingly, Astra supported the repeal of the Blaine Amendment… but only because they had big plans for the federal money that could come their way.

… I represent Satanic Idaho. I’m here to support this. Personally, I’m excited about the ability to truly represent religious plurality, which is a value that’s upheld in Idaho and the United States of America. So I look forward to the opportunity to be able to start a Satanic K-12 performing arts school, and being able to have access to the same funds that any other religious school would have.

Either that’s brilliant trolling or an incredible plan for the future.

(Another Satanist chimed in on X/Twitter: “We Satanists are very [excited] to bring a range of ideas and philosophies to Idaho’s youth. Critical race theory, gender sciences, and a fully stocked banned book library.”)

The lawmakers didn’t address the comments in the moment, but a few minutes later, they heard testimony from Katherine Hartley, a lawyer for the right-wing Pacific Justice Institute. Hartley also supported the Blaine repeal—no surprise there—but she was soon questioned by GOP Rep. Vito Barbieri, who seemed concerned about the possibility of non-Christian religions using taxpayer funds.

Of course the next move is to just declare Idaho a Christian theocracy and ban non-Christian religions from public support, which I assume would get at least 4 votes in support on this Supreme Court. Still, there’s great value in shoving it in the fundamentalists’ faces and forcing them on the defensive a bit.

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