Ted Cruz laments “atheist Taliban” with radio host who called for enslaving immigrants

This morning, Ted Cruz sat down with Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson to talk about atheists. You’ll remember Mickelson as that guy who thinks we should solve illegal immigration by letting undocumented immigrants stay…as our slaves.

But Cruz had more to talk about than immigration. He’s a good Christian, you see, which means the only thing he fears more than God is the “atheist Taliban.”

Here’s the audio of their exchange, via Right Wing Watch:

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Said Cruz:

There is an assault on faith and an assault on religious liberty that we see across this country, and it has never been as bad as it is right now. When it comes to this aspect of religious liberty — driving any acknowledgment of God out of the public square — you have radical atheist and liberals who go to the court system and try to tear down longstanding monuments.

You heard the man. We atheist have this radical idea that maybe our government shouldn’t place Ted Cruz’s religion above anyone else’s. And when a state government — say, Oklahoma — puts the Ten Commandments on their capitol grounds, they either need to put Satan right alongside it or they need to take it down.

But Cruz wanted Mickelson’s listeners to know that he’s been up that mountain. He’s fought the good fight on the Ten Commandments and won. As he continued:

In Texas, I was very proud to defend the Texas Ten Commandments monument, which has stood on the state capitol grounds since 1961. And an atheist came and sued the state — happened to be a homeless man — arguing that you had to tear down the Ten Commandments. We went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and we won 5-4 upholding that monument.

Cruz is referring to Van Orden v. Perry, a case referred to the Supreme Court by Cruz when he was Texas’s Solicitor General. In that case, Chief Justice Rhenquist, for whom Cruz had previously clerked, delivered a plurality opinion ruling that the Ten Commandments could remain on Texas’s capitol grounds because they held historical as well as religious value. In a parallel case decided the next day, the Court ruled that the Ten Commandments on Kentucky’s capitol grounds needed to come down. Justice Stephen Breyer cast the swing vote in both cases.

In a concurrent opinion, Breyer made the positively bizarre ruling that because the monument had stood on Texas’s capitol grounds for over 40 years, it had garnered historical, secular significance that, taken together with a number of other factors (that the monument had been donated by a civic organization that worked with religious groups to find a nonsectarian, albeit religious, text), allowed the monument to stand. And since no one sued in the intervening 40 years, then even if the monument represented a purely religious function when it was erected, an effective statute of limitations had passed and history could be invoked. As none of this was the case in Kentucky, Breyer felt that he was free to vote against the monument in that instance.

So when Cruz says that he took Texas’s Ten Commandments monument to the Supreme Court and won in the name of Jesus, he’s playing around quite a bit with the Court’s understanding religion’s role in the state. But he didn’t stop there:

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the authors of the government shutdown to kill Obamacare.

Ted Cruz

When I was in private practice, I had the great privilege of representing over 3 million veterans — pro bono, for free — defending the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial. This is a loam-white Latin cross in the desert, was erected over 70 years ago to honor the men and women who gave their lives in World War I…the ACLU came in, they sued, and both the federal district court and the court of appeals ordered that veterans memorial torn down. They concluded you could not gaze on the image of the cross on federal land.

I will say they’re right in one thing: the cross has power. But I was proud to represent over 3 million veterans. We went to the US Supreme Court and we won 5-4 upholding that veterans memorial. And there are these zealots — as you put it, the atheist Taliban — that seek to tear down any acknowledgement of God in the public square, and it’s contrary to our Constitution. It’s contrary to who we are as a people.

There, Cruz is referring to Salazar v Buono, a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that Congress was allowed to grant land to a veterans group on which a cross memorializing veterans of World War I had stood since the 1930s. Since the cross wouldn’t be standing on public land anymore, it didn’t need to be taken down, even if it shouldn’t have been erected on public land in the first place.

And that’s really all that members of the “atheist Taliban” such as myself want; the acknowledgement that our government can’t be used to endorse religious belief. Not a specific religious belief, but religious belief in general; us “unaffiliated” folks have rights, too.

But sure, keep equating me with the Taliban, while making common cause with a man who just came out, in 2015, as pro-slavery, and then complain that it’s liberals who are dividing the country.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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