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Who is protected under the first amendment?

Recently there was a case in CA, which I talked about here before, where a Pagan Chaplin (Patrick McCollum) was fighting for equal rights with others. California currently has a "five faiths" system - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim & Native American - and if you are of any other faith, you are just SOL.

Anyways, a group called the Wallbuilders, filled an amicus brief which is asked the court to say that McCollum's suit has no merit at all, because the First Amendment applies only to monotheistic religions like Christianity, so a suit filed by Pagans should have no standing.

Wallbuilders, which is represented by the National Legal Foundation, argues, "Christianity is the only religion that should be protected under the Constitution or at the very most other monotheistic religions might also be included." In other words, according to these guys, Paganism or any other polytheistic faith isn't really a religion, and therefore First Amendment rights don't apply.

Rather than ruling for or against the Wallbuilders brief, the courts simply stated that because McCollum was not a prisoner he had no right to file the suit. And they rejected his claims and ruled against the idea that Pagans deserve equal rights...

So this all leaves me wondering, does the first amendment really give us equal rights? Or is it simply there to make us feel safe? Who does it protect? And in what cases is it valid or not valid?

The idea that McCollum has no right to request a seat on the staff because he's Pagan - even though he's a Chaplin - and doesn't fit in to their "five faiths" to me is downright unconstitutional. And it seems to me as if the court system is side stepping the request simply because he's not an inmate - which is dumb! Because he's not just fighting to give inmates equal rights but also himself and the entire Pagan community.

So, I ask you, who is actually protected? Christians? Monotheists? or All faiths?? And what is the reality?

Answer Question

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 3:56 PM on Jun. 13, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (15)
  • Chaplain, not Chaplin (that's the Little Tramp)....

    Expect this one to go on to the US Supreme Court because this is right up there alley. It's actually surprising the 9th District took the action it did, but apparently McCollum's challenge wasn't on the right legal footing. If a Wiccan inmate filed the challenge there would have been a different result.

    For clarification: The Five Faiths system refers to who can be hired as a PAID prison Chaplain. McCollum was appointed to an unpaid prison chaplaincy. It occurs to me that there shouldn't be any paid Chaplains, however.... their needs should be secured by their denomination.

    Everyone SHOULD be protected, even those who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Answer by gdiamante at 4:03 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • *their... not "there" alley.

    Answer by gdiamante at 4:03 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • I'm confused...maybe its the headache, maybe its the long post, maybe its me not feeling well.

    What's the problem exactly? What "rights" is he asking for that he's not getting?

    Answer by hopeandglory53 at 4:05 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • That's a new one on me! Where exactly does the First Amendment protect only monotheistic religions? That's BS. Every religion/belief system is protected.


    Answer by momto2boys973 at 4:15 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • im not sure about the specifics of the case your talking about...but the First Amendment *should* protect any and all American citizens & those living on American soil. and that Wallbuilders group is stupid, no where does it state any perimeters to what "religion" means, nor should it.

    having said that...the First Amendment is about the Govt's role in ppl's religions, not discrimination by an employer or company. the First Amendment protects all from being arrested or persecuted by the Govt for ones religious beliefs. Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act (1964) prohibits employers from discriminating based on religion. but again im dont know much about this case...sounds wrong tho.

    Answer by okmanders at 5:06 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • I do expect that the supreme court will will get involved -as the should. But my question is less about the McCollum situation itself and more about the claims that the Wallbuilders group presented, and the fact that they were not addressed. Their claim that non-monotheistic groups are not included in the 1st amend. is really the question here as this is the craziest statement I've ever heard! But, it seems they have a point since McCollum was denied a job simply because he represents the wrong faith... And yes, I understand that there are less Pagan inmates, but if those in more mainstream faiths get a Chaplain (thanks for the sp correct btw) shouldn't they have them as well?

    I know many said no one should have them, but that's not the issue. Some do, and if some do, all should!

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 5:16 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • the First Amendment is about the Govt's role in ppl's religions, not discrimination by an employer or company.

    Yes it is, but this employer IS the government... As is the court who is denying McCollum's request to be a Chaplain for Cali. prisons... The issue involving the 1st amendment as that this "Wallbuilders" group stated that this the entire suit was unconstitutional because Pagans don't have the freedom of religion under it...

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 5:22 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • I really don't see the Wallbuilderscase holding up in any court of law, and they are wasting the courts time and money.  I'm sure some people are donating money to them so someone is getting rich in this group at the expense of taxpayers, really sad.


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 5:30 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • S-FreeReligionAny.jpg


    Answer by MamaK88 at 5:33 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

  • MamaK took the words right out of my mouth ^ :)

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 6:15 PM on Jun. 13, 2011

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