home
RSS
June 11th, 2010
03:17 PM ET

Separation of church, state and Twitter?

If you are one of the some 3,000 Twitter followers of U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, then you probably know he is a prolific tweeter of Bible verses. Today he tweeted:

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
From twitter.com/RepShimkus

The 140-character missives are causing "unease" with Bernard Schoenburg, a columnist from The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois.

A group not particularly thrilled about them is Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which reached out to us about about the tweeting congressman.

Barry Lynn, the group's executive director, told the CNN Belief Blog, "He wants people to adopt his Christian world view. There is probably no way to go and sue anybody about this. I would hope members of Congress would know their constituents are more interested in how to solve unemployed than your favorite Bible verse."

When asked if the congressman would be able to spell out a solution to unemployment in the 140-character limitations of Twitter, Lynn said, "You could get a good start."

Lynn says his group is not planning to sue because, "some things are so trivial you can't file lawsuits against them, but the fact this is an official government venue for spreading ideas ... it should raise concerns."

Shimkus' office told CNN that Schoenburg's column was the first complaint they had fielded about the posts.

Late this afternoon, Shimkus posted an apology in two tweets:

To twitter and FB followers. I am relatively new to this as many know tweets were designed to let people know what one is up to.

I do a daily devotions so that is part of my day. I am sorry if I have offended anyone and I appreciate the comments in support.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics

soundoff (196 Responses)
  1. White Blaze

    The official status depends on how you use it. In the case of the congressman he links it with his official Government website (all members of congress have their own government website) Not only is it linked but his tweets are fed into and appear on his Government website. This is not a website setup for his personal use or running for office but a site setup for him in an official capacity by the government for his official use. If he wanted a personal twitter account he should probably avoid using it for official messages out of his office.

    June 12, 2010 at 4:17 am |
    • Achtung

      I see what you're saying. You're right, he does link it to his official .gov web page. He also links his Facebook and YouTube accounts to his government page. But even if it's an official government page, does that mean there should be no personal opinions of any kind? If that was really the case, then every .gov page should probably have no personal opinions. Realistically, though, that likely would not happen.

      June 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Achtung

    "Lynn says his group is not planning to sue because, "some things are so trivial you can't file lawsuits against them, but the fact this is an official government venue for spreading ideas ... it should raise concerns."

    So Twitter is an official government venue now, huh? They must be moving up in the world.

    June 12, 2010 at 3:54 am |
  3. Dave

    Twitter Dee...Twitter Dum, to apologize is simply dumb. There's no way in heaven's name I'd apologize for this. If the people don't like it, don't read it, it's as simple as that.

    June 12, 2010 at 1:33 am |
    • Tom

      It seems that many non-religious people are as hateful and intolerant as the religious people they accuse.

      June 12, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  4. Frank G

    The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.
    – James Madison, Letter to F.L. Schaeffer, Dec 3, 1821

    June 12, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  5. Frank G

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

    June 12, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  6. Brandon Tripp

    I don't mind that he expresses his religious beliefs, just as long as he doesn't attempt to push it on me.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  7. Josh

    I don't know about anyone else but I've had my fill of overly religious republicans. Their words of love seem to turn into war mongering and lots of dead innocent people.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  8. Carol

    Well! That's interesting. My post at 12:10 am was up immediately. Hmmm. The post to which I referred in that post was submitted twice; the second time, the reply indicated it was a repeat so obviously it was received. Where is that post? Again, could this be censoring?

    June 12, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  9. Luke

    The global religion scam needs to end.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Jason

      @Luke

      Intolerance needs to end. And yes, that would be you.

      June 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  10. Carol

    It's strange that my post of about 15 minutes ago was not printed. Comments have not been closed, yet another post is printed after mine. My comments were relevant and to the point. Could this be an example of censoring my freedom of speech?

    June 12, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • hariseldon

      Carol

      It's strange that my post of about 15 minutes ago was not printed. Comments have not been closed, yet another post is printed after mine. My comments were relevant and to the point. Could this be an example of censoring my freedom of speech?

      No. Freedom of speech is about what limits the government can put on your speech. It has nothing to do with what CNN allows you to post on their privately owned website.

      June 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  11. Sammmy3

    If there were a separation of church and state, then noone could serve in government, because everyone has some sort of religions beliefs. Even atheists believe there is no god or goddess, and thus could not serve.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  12. Frank G

    You know neo-cons, you guys would be freaking out if this guy were Islamic and sending quotes from Koran. Mixing religion and politics is so very dangerous and stupidly opens the door for other religious groups to do the same and becuase you guys have basically set the precedence, they will use that to open the door to push their views as well. I respect your right to worship your deity how you see fit, so long as you don't infringe on my rights. Just as you don't want government using your tax dollars to fund abortion, I don't want my tax dollars used to perpetuate your religion or anyone's for that matter.

    June 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  13. Dee

    boocat
    Not when he or she is making decisions that affect the country....he can take his religion and shove it..separation of church and state...that's what the founding fathers had in mind.

    Obviously you know nothing about what the founding fathers had in mind........ If you read and researched ALL the writings, you'd see how ridiculous that statement is. You're just reciting what you've been told. If you want to believe that there should be that much separation, go for it, but don't tie the founding fathers to it. 57 of the 59 signers of the Declaration of Independence were devout Christians, most of them were ministers. That doesn't seem too much like separartion of church and state like you describe...................

    BTW, whether you like it or not, Jesus will make one very big decision that will eternally impact your life. I hope, for your sake, that it's positive!

    June 11, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  14. Dee

    Obviously you know nothing about what the founding fathers had in mind........ If you read and researched ALL the writings, you'd see how ridiculous that statement is. You're just reciting what you've been told. If you want to believe that there should be that much separation, go for it, but don't tie the founding fathers to it. 57 of the 59 signers of the Declaration of Independence were devout Christians, most of them were ministers. That doesn't seem too much like separartion of church and state like you describe...................

    June 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
    • Paul Hatfield

      Christianity: The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree....THIS is what we're supposed to BELIEVE???

      June 12, 2010 at 6:40 am |
    • Jason

      @Paul

      You do know that intolerance and bigotry go both ways... right? Stop trying to attack and insult people based on their chosen beliefs.

      June 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  15. TBA

    Typical Right Wing Religious Republican.

    June 11, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  16. RVPE

    Thanks Congressman for inspiring us to reach for something higher than just our own selfish thoughts.

    June 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  17. sophiajim

    i would like to see what would be said if he was of another belief like the Koran. all believe he has the right now would go crazy. all the republicans can do is say no to everything so the man has to do something in the 16 hours they work a week out of the 6 months they are their

    June 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  18. craig

    The congressman should say anything he wants when he tweets. People need jesus in their lives. They took God out of everything and look at this country. I remember when I was in school the teacher said bible versus all the time and we did the Lord's prayer. When I'm on facebook I quote bible versus all the time. Thank you congressman, you have nothing to be ashame about. This country needs jesus. Oh yea, I am a liberal

    June 11, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
  19. Paul

    Please, Rep. Shimkus, tweet: Matthew 10:34-35,

    [Jesus said]: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." (King James Version).

    Get with the 21st century already, America !!!!!!!!!!

    June 11, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
    • Keyona

      That's what I'm talking about..

      June 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
    • Lawrence

      That's a vital utterance of "the man" and an idea being kept alive all too well by the christian right. My favorite utterance is Mathew 6:5-8. I wish more folks would read, heed and teach their children. America would be better off for it.

      June 12, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  20. Flex

    Religious republicans are so embarrassing. I fly over them. L.A., S.F., Chicago, New York City, Boston, Miami, London, and Berlin.

    June 11, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.