A bunch of bird-brained atheists are suing a New Jersey animal shelter for holding a blessing of the animals.
American Atheists filed the lawsuit in federal court against the Bergen County Animal Shelter – claiming the law was broken when a Franciscan bishop conducted a “blessing of the animals” ceremony.
According to the lawsuit, Candice Yaacobi dropped by the shelter in search of a Chihuahua. Instead, she stumbled upon the animal blessing ceremony and the bishop dressed “in full religious vestments.”
The atheists may not be aware, but many Protestant denominations host animal blessing ceremonies, too – from pot-bellied pigs to exotic birds. My denomination, Southern Baptists, normally bless our animals after they’re slathered in barbecue sauce.
American Atheists described the event as a “ritual performed by Franciscan clergy annually on October 4th in honor of the Catholic saint, Francis of Assissi [sic].”
The atheists may not be aware, but many Protestant denominations host animal blessing ceremonies, too – from pot-bellied pigs to exotic birds.
My denomination, Southern Baptists, normally bless our animals after they’re slathered in barbecue sauce.
They claim the animal shelter violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by forcing a religious viewpoint on people like their client.
“Religion is a suspect class and governmental policies which classify individuals based on their religion are subject to strict scrutiny,” the lawsuit states.
Religion is a suspect class? Now, wait just one doggone minute…
“The government established one religious sect, Catholicism, over all others,” the lawsuit further states.
The animal shelter has not responded to the lawsuit.
“This is a suit that we shouldn’t have had to file,” American Atheists attorney Geoffrey Blackwell told Atheists.org. “We warned the shelter that using government resources to promote a religious event was unconstitutional, but they chose to ignore our claims.”
The shelter has been holding the annual blessing for the past two years without a whisper of a complaint – from human or animal.
“I’ve lived in New Jersey for more than 20 years,” American Atheists president David Silverman said in a statement. “When I walk into a government building to use government services, the government should be absolutely neutral on religious matters. Allowing a Franciscan friar to conduct religious services with staff is the antithesis of neutrality.”
Well, I can’t imagine the puppies or the kittens or any other furry critter having any objections to receiving a blessing from the One who made the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air and the beasts of the field.
That being said, I suspect the real reason for the atheistic angst had more to do with concerns that the Chihuahua was going to convert.
They say that all dogs go to heaven – but as for unrepentant atheists -- well, that's a different story.