For the attendees of the Republican Convention, there are two gods. One is the big man in the sky, you know, the one who hates gay people, Muslims and abortion and loves only guns. The other is Ronald Reagan, a man whose words Republicans still cling to, much like a 3-year-old in Walmart, desperately hugging his mommy’s leg. Well, they think they cling to his words. In reality, Reagan said some things that are the antithesis of current Republican values, and GOP convention goers are about to be hit hard with one quote on a giant billboard reminding them of that very fact.
In 1984, Reagan made a statement to the Temple Hillel and Community Leaders in Valley Stream. His statement was a passionate defense of the separation of church and state.
“We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs,” Reagan said. “And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.”
It was even caught on video:
Naturally, it would be difficult to fit that all on a billboard, without causing 12 car pileups, so the Freedom from Religion Foundation chose just some of his words for their convention site billboard.
“We establish no religion in this country…Church and state are, and must remain, separate.”
Here’s what the billboard will look like.
While this does seem like professional level trolling on behalf of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the secular organization explained that the message is far too important to be called just trolling.
“The RNC needs to be reminded that our nation is predicated on a godless and entirely secular Constitution,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The fate of our Establishment Clause hangs in the balance of the election. We’re not voting for the next president—we’re voting for the next Supreme Court justice.”
Marni Huebner-Tiborsky, the director of the Northern Ohio Freethought Society, a chapter of FFRF, agrees. “This billboard couldn’t be any more timely, and is definitely needed to remind our political leaders and the public that political campaigns should stick to a secular platform, where real change can happen,” she says.
While the platforms for either party haven’t been released, if the GOP’s 2012 platform is any indication, the Republicans have no interest in keeping church and state separate, yet the last platform lacked pretty much anything Jesus would have endorsed. Under the Renewing American Values section of their platform, Republicans were treated to the real Republican priorities, which include preventing gay people from being happy, hating abortion, but preventing gay people from adopting, preventing people from getting help feeding their children, preventing the sale of birth control, preventing poor people from receiving healthcare, etc. This year, look for the addition of hating Muslims, and of course, that “big, beautiful wall” with Trump’s name all over it.
Will the billboard suddenly send warming blood through Republicans’ hearts of stone? Sadly, no. While there was much wrong with the Reagan administration, and a Donald Trump would probably not be possible without Reagan’s influence, today’s Republicans are no Reagan. By their standards, today, Reagan would be called a RINO (Republican by Name Only). He didn’t hate enough people. Still, their convention, like the last three decades of conventions, will be all Reagan all the time. That’s why this billboard will be a brilliant slap in the face. It will be up all month.
Featured image via Win McNamee at Getty Images.