‘You Have No Right to Be Here’

A state legislator told an atheist at a public hearing, “You have no right to be here!”

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune reports (via Pharyngula via Mike at Obloggers):

Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, “What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous… it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!

“This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God,” Davis said. “Get out of that seat… You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”

Sherman, a Green candidate with whom I no doubt disagree on many issues, relates the following about the story at his web page:

On Wednesday, April 2nd (my 55th birthday), I testified in Springfield before the House State Government Administration Committee. My testimony was that Governor Blagojevich’s plan to donate one million tax dollars to Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago is unconstitutional. For background, see the March 4th update, below. Representative Monique Davis responded for the committee. She accused me of hating god. She said that the state should donate the million tax dollars to Pilgrim Baptist Church because the people of Illinois believe that there is a god. At a time when we are in the midst of a decades-long pervasive epidemic of Roman Catholic priests raping America’s children, Representative Davis said that I was a danger to the children of Illinois because I tell them that there is no god. She said that I had no right to inform children of that perspective. She then ordered me out of the witness chair, screaming, repeatedly, “Get out of that seat,” because I’m an atheist. Made me feel like Rosa Parks, who also was told, “Get out of that seat,” and arrested when she didn’t give up her seat on the bus to Whitey. Now that [African Americans] like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn’t them who are being discriminated against. On the 40th anniversary, today, of his murder, I’m sure that my boyhood hero, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been appalled at Rep. Davis’ bigotry. Eric Zorn wrote a column, yesterday, about the exchange between Rep. Davis and myself. His column is complete with both a printed transcript of part of the exchange between Rep. Davis and me, as well as a link to an audio recording of most of the exchange. Here is a link to Eric Zorn’s column. Here is a direct link to the audio recording, courtesy of Eric Zorn…

In this story, Sherman’s shrill web comments and his political views are irrelevant; he has as much right to testify at a public hearing as anyone. Needless to say, any legislator who told someone of any religious faith to “get out of that seat” would gain instant national infamy.

As an aside, though, apparently the church in question burned down, and the subsidy was intended to help rebuild the church. I have to wonder why this wasn’t covered by insurance. In my view, the government has no business subsidizing the rebuilding of any private facility that the government did not itself destroy.