Someone Needs to Explain Free Speech to Micah Clark

Recently, a State Trooper was sued for proselytizing a woman he’d stopped for speeding. The Indianapolis Star has the story.

Not surprisingly, our homegrown theocrats saw nothing wrong with this.

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said that although the traffic stop might not have been the best time to quiz someone about faith, he questioned whether a police officer should lose his right to free speech because he is wearing a badge.

“I have people pass out religious material all the time. Mormons come to my door all the time, and it doesn’t offend me,” Clark said. “(This case) might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don’t think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that.”

Let’s try this slowly, so that even folks like Micah can understand: when people are acting in their individual capacities, they have free speech (and free exercise) rights. When they are acting on behalf of government–when they are what lawyers call “state actors”–the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits them from using their governmental authority to impose their religious beliefs on others.

That’s why a sectarian prayer from the Speaker’s Podium at the Statehouse violates the Establishment Clause, but a group of legislators voluntarily praying in the back of the chamber or on a street corner is protected by both the Free Exercise and Free Speech clauses of that same Amendment.

When you are acting as a private citizen, you can pray or proselytize to your heart’s content.

When you are acting as a representative of the government of all the people, you can’t.

It isn’t rocket science.


  1. Moving the dots much closer together would greatly benefit Micah Clark. Poor soul! He thinks everyone must surely think as he does. NOT!

  2. I intended to write something elaborate here, but then I thought. Why am I wasting words on Micah Clark …

  3. Would Micah feel that way if the cop was a Muslim? Or an atheist? It’s FREEDOM from Religion too ya know.

  4. The scary thing here, Sheila, is the mention of Mormon missionaries coming to our door. It cannot be denied that this state is the most backward East of the Mississippi River. Mormons were chased out of the Eastern U.S. Now they are establishing a major presence in what they know to be low hanging fruit. Woe be unto us when we become a satellite of Salt Lake. Talking about same sex marriage, there will be no sex marriage unless you’re 75 looking for a 12 year old.
    There is no separation of church and state in Utah. There, religion is the state. But no one dare mention how corrupt that state happens to be.

  5. I’d like to pretend that I knew before today the fine point of the law that Sheila makes, but I didn’t. But you know what? Law, like science, is eminently rational and, if I thought about it, I’m sure that I would have figured it out.

    So should/could/did the office in question. It’s common sense.

    Why did he do it then? Did he really think that her infraction indicated that she was ripe for saving?

    I’ll bet that he was and is a nice guy concerned with helping people but in need of some training and supervision. No big deal.

    The societal problem is Mr. Clark, who was in his rights, but guilty of fanning the flames of prejudice by assuming that what he believes is superior to what many others believe. Sort of like how Mercedes is constantly harping about the superiority of their cars.

    The solution here is obvious. We, the people, need to recognize the self serving foundation of all advertising and dismiss it for what it is. We really don’t need snake oil.

  6. Can we find the rock he crawled out from under and bust it up so there won’t be any more Micah’s?

  7. Have a scary Muslim cop pull him over on a dark road and tell him all about Allah. Time off how long before he screams “Sharia!” to the newspapers.

  8. Actually, this has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with bullying and control. And, as an individual, I have lost all patience with this crap. Next bully who comes to my door to stuff jesus in my face is going to have the dogs loosed on them. I used to be nice about it because I thought they were doing this out of actual altruism, but that’s not at all what it is. The really sick part is that this guy, carrying a gun and a badge, hasn’t lost his job. Only in the northern most southern state would this bullying not only be tolerated, but actively promoted because he’s just being a ‘good christian.’ What these shiite christians don’t see is there is less and less daylight between them and the godless heathens who bully people for allah.

  9. Donovansbrain,
    This is not such a bad idea. Generally speaking, the saying, “I love to learn, but I hate to be taught” applies, but in this case, maybe being pulled over at night by a Muslim cop who wants to covert him might serve to be very instructive. That is super unethical, using the coercive power and position of the State to carry out one’s personal goals. Both the cop and Mr. Clark need a little help with that issue.

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