FFRF Calls Red Mass “Conflict of Interest”

Days of the Theocracy?

Isn’t this what theocracy would look like?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written President George W. Bush and Chief Justice John Roberts requesting that they “absent themselves” in the future from Red Masses.

The Roman Catholic Church traditionally sponsors a “Red Mass” before the start of each new Supreme Court term. Catholics on the Court include Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas, all of whom were all in attendance (in addition to nonCatholic Justice Breyer).

With four members of the high court now practicing Catholics, the Foundation suggested the Court needs to scrupulously avoid any appearance that America’s largest religious denomination “is favored or endorsed–or is calling the shots.”

The Roman Catholic Conference regularly lobbies and speaks out on issues before the Court (despite its tax-exempt status). It has been a leading opponent of the Oregon right to death with dignity bill, and the right to abortion, both issues before the Court this term.

“Appearing at this mass is a conflict of interest,” said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. Gaylor called the cozy post-Red Mass photos of Bush and Roberts with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick “particularly disturbing.”

“Isn’t this what theocracy would look like?” she asked.

Gaylor wrote Bush and Roberts:

“Cardinal McCarrick is certainly free to say any masses he likes. But it is unseemly for the Chief Justice or other members of the U.S. Supreme Court, in their official capacity as justices, to attend a formal religious service held for the Court by one denomination. It appears as if one particular denomination has your ear and that of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“In reading the U.S. Constitution, we can find no instructions that the Supreme Court should commence its term with religious worship or ‘Red Masses.’ Our secular Constitution explicitly forbids religious tests for public office or the establishment of religion by our government.

“There are well over 2,000 different Christian sects worshipping in the United States, not to mention other religions. If every denomination summoned the Supreme Court to a special worship service, the Court would do nothing but attend sermons!”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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