Scott Pilutik

I am an attorney and consultant living and working in Manhattan, focusing primarily on church/state constitutional law. I'm a recognized expert on the Church of Scientology organization. I also have strong interests in intellectual property law where it intersects with emerging media, and free speech.

I support the efforts of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Creative Commons, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I am a member of the New York County Lawyers Association and the New York State Bar Association. I also enjoy (watching) hockey and (doing) photograhy.

Online I can be found on Facebook, Twitter. My resume can be viewed here. I can be reached by phone at 212.645.6241 or by e-mail at pilutik[at]gmail.com.

Hindu-gate followup

The American Family News Network (AFN) is reporting:

A conservative Idaho lawmaker [Bill Sali (R)] believes America’s founding fathers would not have wanted a Muslim elected to Congress or a Hindu prayer delivered in the U.S. Senate.

Bill Sali is probably correct in one sense — the framers would have flinched at Hindu prayers and Muslim members of congress (or at least been somewhat divided). But most of the framers would have been equally uncomfortable with black and women representatives (and forget voting).

Sali’s brand of Populist Originalism is obviously incoherent and obviously unworkable–America was a smaller, whiter, narrower universe in 1789 and any argument that relies on the probable personal preferences of the framers must take their probable prejudices–many since societally repudiated as bigoted and vile–along with it. Unless, of course, you agree with those prejudices. But if your Constitutional argument is simply that the framers would have had serious reservations about Muslim and Hindu participation in government (and it should therefore be disallowed today), how can you consistently hold that women and blacks should vote and be permitted to participate in the political process?

I can hear the answer already: because the Constitution was amended to account for those developments. But getting back to religion, the Constitution makes no exception for Christianity–indeed, it makes no exception, accommodation, or privilege for any religion. Article VI prohibits religious tests political office, and the First Amendment speaks of religion generally.

The framers were well aware of the dangers of any particular sect (mostly Christian) gaining a favored toe-hold in the political structure, and warned explicitly against it. Today, the politically savviest Christians appear to agree on a host of policy issues (even the historically-evil Papists), so this danger appears to be less of a concern for Christians than at any other time in history. Separation was an ideal many Christians cherished so long as competing Christian beliefs could be kept in check–now those same Christians are emphasizing the common ground, and moving forward as one. Liberal Christians have almost no voice in the media.

Courts and scholars don’t take Christian Nationalists serious, nor should they; Christian Nationalists are not the least big concerned with reasoned debate but rather advancing talking points, many of which are demonstrably false. But these talking points have legs–our representatives argue them on the Congressional floor–so the hollow foundation upon which they’re built needs to be exposed.

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