In response to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, atheists are sitting around knitting. And in this time of national crisis, they are knitting bricks.
Worried about the supposedly crumbling wall of separation between church and state, the Secular Coalition for America (SCA) launched a “Knit a Brick” campaign to “harness outrage” at the ruling. The group will send yarn bricks to the Supreme Court, Congress, or White House staffers. Targets will be selected based on the number of bricks the Coalition’s high command receives by August 5, according to Religionnews.com. If organizers collect 400 bricks, they will send them to the Supreme Court. Eight hundred bricks will merit a bulk delivery to Congress. But the ultimate goal is 1,200, enough knitted bricks to deliver to President Barack Obama.
The original deadline was July 18, but it was extended to August 5 because of “overwhelming support.” In a July 18 tweet, SCA president Amanda Metskas indicated that at that time, the group was only a bit more than halfway to its 400-brick minimum goal.
Atheists aren’t the only ones donating bricks to this campaign. Austin Cooper, the coalition’s director of operations, told the Washington Post that members of her traditional Catholic family demonstrated their commitment to secularism by making 19 bricks for the cause.
Mike Dwyer on Twitter clung to the patriarchal convention that a brick exists in three rather than two dimensions:
If a “brick” is 3×6 and completely flat, that’s not a brick; it’s a plate. 1200 plates won’t make an effective wall. #KnitABrick— Mike Dwyer (@solarguy17) July 18, 2014
Thomas Jefferson coined the term “wall of separation” between church and state in his letter to the Danbury Baptist association.
“Legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions,” wrote the author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president. Jefferson noted that keeping government from infringing on religious freedom preserves the “rights of conscience.” The wall of separation, as described by the originator of the term, prevents government from violating the consciences of people who have religious objections to government policy. Jefferson called religious freedom a natural right and declared himself “convinced [man] has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” The Hobby Lobby ruling was not about forcing others to obey one’s religious mandates; it was about prohibiting government from forcing religious people to obey mandates that violate their consciences.
The Secular Coalition should toss the bricks and start knitting a big scarf long enough to span the distance between the Affordable Care Act and the right to free exercise of religion.
— Celina Durgin is a Franklin Center intern at National Review Online.