William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

American Atheists, Hispanic Division Sues Federal Government Over Documents

The American Atheists have once again filed suit, this time against the Federal Government over its use of the Spanish language in official documents.

The litigious group has previously sued a priest who prayed with firemen at “ground zero” after 9/11 and is currently involved in a suit against the IRS, accusing that agency of not being diligent enough in their pursuit of citizens’ money.

The current matter concerns the Federal Government’s use of Spanish across a broad range of documentation, primarily manuals and forms translated from English.

David Silverman, president of the organization, said, “The use of Spanish a clear violation of church-state separation. Just for an example, our crack team of lawyers in a cursory examination of paperwork in the San Antonio offices of the Department of Homeland Security revealed over seventy-two instances of the Spanish word for good-bye, which I cannot in good conscience bring myself to say.”

In Spanish, the word used for goodbye is often adiós, although the form vaya con Dios is also found. Both words make reference to a deity, which troubles Silverman.

“This reminds me of the time we petitioned the White House to beware of the farewell from then-president Nicolas Sarkozy,” said Silverman, referencing the infamous adieu scandal which eventually involved the Supreme Court. “Since we have been temporarily headquartered there, we’ve also asked San Antonio mayor Julian Castro to voluntarily change the name of his city to just ‘Antonio.’ If he doesn’t, we may have another case before us.”

16 Comments

  1. Source?

    I mean, it’s not April first. Not yet.

  2. …. and there’s another example of Poe’s Law. Can never tell when the american atheists organization is involved…

  3. HalflifeToolmaker

    2 January 2013 at 9:36 am

    As a person raised, and educated, in the Roman Catholic tradition, who has transitioned to a major protestant denomination, I have to give kudos to those in America who support and defend the constitution, even atheists.

  4. I anticipate future litigation regarding “goodbye” (God be with you) and “bloody” (by our lady).

  5. As a non-religious person myself, it is disheartening to see those who proclaim the triumph of reason being just as irrational as theists can be.

    Presumably AA members can say ‘goodbye’ only by ignoring its derivation from the 500+yr old phrase ‘God be with ye’.

    If they can’t, will they sue themselves?

  6. The groups lawsuit against the IRS over the tax exempt status of churches is doomed to fail.

    The IRS does not grant tax exempt status to churches the way it does to other non-profits.

    Churches are tax exempt because of standing SCOTUS precedent from a case against the state of New York that predates the existence of the federal income tax.

    That case declared that the power to tax something is the power to destroy it. There fore under the free exercise clause of the first amendment the government does not have the authority to tax churches in the first instance.

    The IRS does not grant tax exempt status to churches and cannot revoke it for any reason.

  7. Ye Olde Statistician

    2 January 2013 at 12:18 pm

    @Halflife:
    The Constitution forbids the federal government from establishing a federal Church of America, and forbids it also from interfering with the established churches of Virginia, Massachusetts, et al. This applies equally to the religious affiliations of individuals, esp. after the states disestablished their own churches. (Those who opposed disestablishment were called antidisestablishmentarians.)
    Rational people understand that saying “good-bye” or “adios” or even “Merry Christmas” is simply not construable as an establishment of religion. That so many atheists have abandoned reason is pitiful, but understandable. After all, they believe, many of them, that everything in the world, which must include reason itself, is the result of chance; and if reason is the result of happenstance, there is no reason to rely upon it.

  8. @Luis Dias: even before I finished the article I started thinking this might be from The Onion. This is so silly and a waste of resources.

  9. I grew up in New Mexico and the capital is Santa Fe and there is the town of Las Cruces. Better change those names fast berore the atheists find out and sue. Also what about Las Angeles, and San Francisco?

  10. @Ray,

    San Francisco could become Francisco.

    Las Angeles is screwed because the English translation is The Angels. Although the politicians in LA could be conceited enough to rename the City Las (The).

  11. Silverman couldn’t bring himself to translate adios but no problem using the English equivalent. Amazing. I guess English is out as well. Bet he has no problem whatsoever handling US currency which proclaims our trust in God.

    If there weren’t silly people the world would be dull.

  12. Well I do kinda wonder which day of the week the American Atheists file their suits. Certainly not on Sun Day or Moon Day because there religions whihc worship the sun and moon as deities. And Try’s Day is out as is Wotan’s Day, Thor’s Day, & Frya’s Day – cannot pronounce the names of days including Norse gods. Perhaps they file on Saturn’s Day or something.

    Also this suit must have been filed during the tenth month (December), because no right thinking American Atheist would think of putting Janus’ Month on paperwork.

    Must be tough being a dedicated atheist.

  13. It was filed on February 29. Come on people.

  14. Sander van der Wal

    3 January 2013 at 3:02 am

    Why are people being bothered by this kind of action? It clearly shows that in the USA Atheists are a minority with little influence on popular thinking. Keeping the state to the letter of the Law by filing lawsuits is the only course of action that works for them.

    And these kinds of posts is one of the many ways the Christian majority is busy keeping their majority.

  15. Silverman’s obviously not too bright. Why would he temporarily locate himself in San Antonio when Austin is so close and is an obviously better fit for his mentality and belief systems. And (sadly for him) Atheism IS a “belief” system.

  16. Briggs

    3 January 2013 at 4:32 am

    All,

    Poe’s law link, as suggested by Luis.

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