Normally given to
who violate the 1st Amendment
"Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
The establishment clause in
the 1st Amendment of the U.S. constitution.
1 The award:
Occasionally, a North American political figure makes a statement or performs an act
that is profoundly religiously intolerant, and/or hate-filled and/or which violates the federal
constitution in a major way -- typically the First Amendment which
guarantees the separation of church and state. We now recognize some of these events by issuing a Burning
We do not intend the 'award' to
be a positive gift to a politician. The Burning Times 'award' is similar in
concept to the People for the American Way's (PFAW) 'Equinine
Posterior Achievement Award.' On the occasion of the 1999 award, PFAW
President Carole Shields said that "The Equine Posterior Achievement
Award is given to a 'leader' whose abilities to misrepresent an issue and
pander to our baser instincts have reached ridiculous levels....He
is, in other words, a genuine horse's patootie." 1,2
This award is given at irregular intervals to recognize the type of spirit of religious
intolerance that fueled the:
Of course, the governments of North America cannot exterminate religious minorities
alive, or gassing them to death. There are no major civil disturbances in the U.S. or Canada
which are based on religious intolerance. However, there have been the
occasional religiously motivated lynching, fire bombing, assault, shooting, and
economic attacks. The evil that fueled these persecutions is kept
alive today, in a diluted form, by some of our political leaders. Given a chance, the
hatred and fear will flourish once more.
On 1999-MAY-6, he signed a proclamation officially recognizing March for Jesus
Day: Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way Foundation
commented that: "This action, far from promoting religious faith and freedom,
would undermine it by creating a second-class status for all faiths other than
Christianity in Nebraska."
Reporters asked Governor Johanns whether he would sign a proclamation for a
religion other than Christianity. He replied: "I wouldn't hesitate to
sign a proclamation for the Jewish
whatever....so long as it doesn't require me to sign something I personally
don't agree with." Full details are available.
Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA-7) has been a United States Attorney, and currently
serves on the House Judiciary, Government Reform and Banking Committees. He
was offended that the U.S. army extended equal religious freedom to all soldiers on
the Fort Hood, TX, army base, including Wiccans. He
attempted to pressure the army into terminating religious freedoms for Wiccans
on all army bases. This inspired a coalition of conservative Christian groups to mount a
boycott against army recruitment, until the U.S. Army complied with Rep. Barr's wishes. Full details.
Senator Robinson (R-London)
has been a long-time promoter of the posting of the
in government offices and public schools. He sponsored a a resolution
which, in the words
of the American Jewish Congress, would "...restrict
teaching about religion in the colonial era to Christian contributions
to the public weal." The AJC commented that this resolution:
"...is offensive not only because its sponsor's purpose is to
aggrandize Christianity at the expense of other faiths. It is equally
an offense against history."
Previous recipients of the Burning Times award:
If our web site and this award had existed in the past, we probably would have recognized:
1986:Senator Jesse Helms (R, NC):
Senator Helms introduced an amendment to a bill which would have removed tax exempt
status from existing Wiccan groups and prevent any new groups from being recognized by the
Federal government. The amendment passed without opposition, but was later removed by the
Congressional Joint Conference Committee. The threat politicized the Wiccan
community. A number of Neopagan anti-defamation groups were
formed to fight the Helms bill, to educate the public, and/or to provide legal assistance to
1995:Utah Attorney General's Office: In
spite of a complete lack of hard evidence, and the total absence of criminal charges or
convictions, the Attorney General's office published a report on
ritual crime in their state. It accused members of what they called "the Occult" of widespread ritual abuse in
Most of the above cases involved religious bigotry directed against Wiccans. The scope of this award is not limited
to the oppression of Wiccans and followers of other Neopagan
religions. It is just that there are few attacks by North
American political figures against other religious groups. Back in the 1980s and
early 1990s, it seemed to be
open-season on Wiccans. Hatred against this benign faith was a cottage industry.
It was also being
promoted by a few very conservative Christian web sites.
Since then persecution has largely dissipated, due to public education, the
increase in numbers of Neopagans, and the degree to
which Neopagans have been willing to go public with their religion.
The Burning Times award has, to date, always been issued to Republican
politicians -- never to a Democrat. We are not intentionally critical of
Republicans. It is just that all of the serious attacks on religious freedom
seem to have come from that political party.
Press Release, People for the American Way, 1999-MAY-27
Nancy Coleman, "Rep. John Lewis and Peter, Paul & Mary hailed as
'Defencers of Democracy'," People for the American Way,