Friday, September 08, 2006

Another argument for separation of church and state

It's often hard to explain why separation of church and state matters in communities where one faith largely dominates. I hear it all the time - "we're all Christians in this town, so why can't we have a prayer at every school board meeting/graduation/etc.?"

I recently saw an article written by an evangelical Christian appearing on WorldNetDaily that is far more persuasive on this issue than I could ever be. He is against pre-game prayers because of his experience while stationed in Hawaii. He writes, "Christians and others from various Judeo-Christian traditions were in the very distinct minority in this little village that was populated predominantly by people of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Rather than a church on every corner, as is common in the continental 48 states, Wahiawa had a Shinto or Buddhist shrine on every corner."

Because of their work in their church's youth program, the author and his wife attended a local public high school football game.

Coming from a fairly traditional Southern upbringing, I was not at all initially surprised when a voice came over the PA and asked everyone to rise for the invocation.... But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan.

We were frozen in shock and incredulity! What to do? To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions....

We often advocate the practice of Judeo-Christian rituals in America's public schools by hiding behind the excuse that they are voluntary and any student who doesn't wish to participate can simply remained seated and silent. Oh that this were true. But if I, as a mature adult, would be so confounded and uncomfortable when faced with the decision of observing and standing on my own religious principals or run the risk of offending the majority crowd, I can only imagine what thoughts and confusion must run through the head of the typical child or teenager, for whom peer acceptance is one of the highest ideals.


Amen, brother.

Sara in Philly

40 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is telling to note that he felt that remaining seated during the invocation would offend the people around him, and thus wouldn't attend any further games. In my experience this sort of offense-taking at non-participation tends to be the reaction only of conservative Evangelicals -- many other religious groups, and Buddhists in particular, generally realize that not everyone shares their beliefs, and recognizes others' right not to participate.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Pooh Pooh said...

SO good Sara, Thanks. Copied and sent to a whole bunch of folks. Who could have said it better?

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Keanus said...

I saw this on the web last week. It's a classic illustration of what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes, a concept that is totally foreign to all too many Americans. Every American should be compelled to face such circumstances at least once a year from the time they are ten. Maybe more might then understand why any connection between church and state, no matter how trivial, is potentially explosive.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Atheism Quotes said...

My wife participates on Yahoo Answers where this topic comes up a lot. The argument used in this article is tried many times with the evangelicals.

The problem she runs into is that the Christians keep coming back with, "Well, we're in AMERICA, and we're a CHRISTIAN country, so we don't HAVE this situation."

You just can't make these people see that there are others in the country who don't share their views. Might makes right, the majority can do anything they want, and screw the rest of us.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Fed up said...

The interesting thing about this is why are the Buddhists not being sued by the ACLU? If that were a Christian minister praying, that school would have been sued faster then a dog chasing a rabbit. I am a Christian and you know my deal is not necessarily forcing the Ten Commandments to be in the classroom or prayers in schools or at games, but why can there not be the freedom to do it? My mom is a librarian and she had been awarded a plaque for excellence. On this award, which was given by the district, there was the Ten Commandments. My mom proceeded to do the thing that anyone else in their right mind would do and hung it on the wall. A few days later the superintendent said that she could not have that plaque hanging because of the Ten Commandments. Why? Why does she not have that freedom? I can live my life without the Ten Commandments because I'm forced to be "tolerant." Why can the Atheists not be tolerant as well?

I am sick of these trivial, and frivilous, law suits. European countries allow religion to be taught in the schools and why? Because all people are taxpayers and so every side can be heard in the classroom. Even Russia and majority of the former Soviet Union countries allow it in their schools, and majority of the citizens are atheist, I know, I've been there.

The Establishment Clause is not even in the Constitution so these things cannot be ruled unconstitutional, and in the history of things why not look and see what was going on back then? The United States was breaking away from the British Parliament and King. The King, a political and government ruler, was trying to literally force the citizens to become Church of England. There was no other alternative. Now I do not see anyone in the United States government holding a gun to the Atheist's head and say,"worship our God!" That would not be freedom of religion, that would be unconstitutional.

And about this article, do you not think that any of the other Apostles had been around when other pagan prayers were being said? I'm pretty sure they were. They didn't have to agree with it, but I'm sure they heard them.

4:57 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

Actually, Fed Up, I completely agree with you on your point about the ACLU suing that school. I have no idea when the writer witnessed this, but the ACLU would certainly take the case if someone filed a complaint.

But I must disagree with some of your other statements. Many European countries are much more hostile to religion than the US. For instance, in France, public school students are not allowed to wear a hijab (a head covering worn by Muslim women) or other religious symbols, like crosses. That would be unconstituional in the US, and the ACLU would be the first in line to sue if schools didn't allow students to wear religious symbols. (In fact, we have taken several such cases. Two that spring to mind involved Jewish students who were not allowed to wear the Star of David.)

I'm also not sure what you mean by "the Establishment Clause isn't in the Constitution." It clearly states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" in the First Amendment. That's the Establishment Clause.

And just to clarify, I agree that everyone should be tolerant of others' religious activities (or lack thereof). I myself am a PK (preacher's kid) and a former church youth group president. I have no problem, nor does the ACLU, with individuals expressing their religious beliefs publicly. It's only when it's done by the government that it becomes a problem.

Thanks for writing.

Sara in Philly

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps God Himself can clear up the matter:

"You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Dueteronomy 5

Shall we obey men rather than God?

When Christians were forced to worship the Roman emperor even ALONGSIDE Christ, they chose death.
I encourage any Christian to EARNESTLY contend for the faith once and for all time harded down to us saints, and purchased by the blood of these courageous Christ-lovers.

Jesus said, "if you love Me, keep my commandments." John 14:15

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Fed up said...

Yeah I apologize about the Establishment Clause I was confused. What I meant was the "separation of church and state." Which is not in the constitution. I really do not know why I confused that.

Anyways, on the subject of France, I have heard of that whole deal with them, but to rephrase my statement, majority of the European countries, including Austria, Germany, and Poland allow religion in schools, I'm not sure about England though.

On the subject of government, government has not made a law in regards to religion. Why can a judge not have the right to put the Ten Commandments in his own courtroom? Why can a teacher not allow them in her classroom? That is a personal choice. There is no law written anywhere forcing the students to live by them, thus how can the Establishment Clause be used in this situation? Again look at history, which is important for context reasons, what was the King of England doing? Forcing people to join a religion and a particular denomination. The King was making laws. Which I agree would be unconstitutional, but if some person wants to hang the Ten Commandments up so it makes them a better person, how does the government have the right to strip away that person's happiness? Why doesn't the ACLU go after the Supreme Court for having the Ten Commandments in their courtroom?

The only real reason I have a hard time with all of this is because we are all taxpayers. Why is religion forced to tolerate and not anyone else tolerate a little religion?

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Fed up said...

And for a last comment...

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I do believe the "free exercise" of religion is being infringed upon by the government.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Tyler Barker said...

This myth about separation of Church and State is fine for gullible atheists, but it seems to me that atheism is nothing more than the religion of hedonistic humanism; therefore, by forcing other religions out, atheists are advocating their own religion. You hypocrites aren’t about free speech and religious tolerance, you’re about trying to silence anyone who apposes your desires to glorify everything base about human nature. If you can’t shout down your opponents with obnoxious and inane chants like “hey, hey, ho, ho...” you clog up the courts with cases that pervert the intentions of America’s founding fathers.

I wonder if the ACLU is truly proud of its efforts to remove everything decent from American society? You people not only eat your vomit, like dogs, you play with it before lapping it up.

1:49 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

This is a hard argument for me personally; I am a christian, conservative republican, and strong supporter of the ACLU. Disclaimer: my personal emphasis on the original intent of the constitution could be misconstrued.
In my opinion the school should not allow prayer to be involved at any extracuricular events that are funded by the school itself. It gives the perception of endorsement to the religion, in this case Buddhism, by the school. This being said, the school is a govenment funded institution, which would conclude government endorsement of the named religion. This is exactly what the constitution protects us from.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous katdance13 said...

Kelly,
There's no such thing as a
conservative Christian Republican supporter of the ACLU. You are either lying about being the above or are the above but are ignorant about what the ACLU stands for. They defend everything we're against and will not defend anything we are for.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The part of the Establishment Clause that stands out to me is this: "CONGRESS shall make no LAW.....prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Since Congress is the LEGISLATIVE branch (makes laws)and since one of the Founders' main fears (Jefferson, etc)was the abuse of power of the JUDICIAL BRANCH,(oligarchy)I place the major blame at the feet of that branch. They, along with mega numbers of lawyers, are still today, making LAWS (edicts,rulings, judgements etc )that in efect, LEGISLATE religion to the back room, or worse. They are there for Judicial review, not to ignore "we the people.." nor to usurpt the duty of Congress, which some are doing. If America wants an athiest state, then let the people go to the Congress, NOT judges, and procede with the normal democratic process.
We did not have a significant problem with the Judicial Branch regarding religion until about 50-60 years ago. Justice Blacks' era. Then, SOME became arrogant and deciced that they could legislate/force their views upon society and get by with it. Which they did.
I do not want a Church of America (unconstitutional) but neither do I want a United Soviet States of America. The old USSR has a church and state mandate in their Constitution (ARTICLE 52:2-1977)but WE do not. Also, the "Communists Goals" for America, 1963" states VERBATUM the philosophy of the groups that want to drive religion completely out of the public square.
I would rather see too much freedom of religion and allow the society/custom to regulate it than to see people arrested via Judicial fiat, as is being done now.
Why can't we all accept one another, be more tolerant regarding our diversity, rather than have Christians in particular, being threatened and intimidated with a lawsuit almost every day of the week.
This IS America, not a Communist Nation. Lets err on the side of freedom and keep it that way.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I neglected to give proper documentation for the previous post regarding the "Communist Goals" for America - 1963. They are in the US Congressional Record of that year.--
Below is goal #28 on prayer, which is amirror image of the old USSR's 1977 Constitution, article 52:2.

#28--"Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state".

Aparently, they have achieved their goal,plus more and have managed to do that which the Congress, by LAW, cannot. njvfz

12:34 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

In support of the ACLU, religious freedom is born namely of tolerence which, ironically, is also what Jesus taught. There is plenty of room for voluntary free practice of religion (i.e. Prayer around the Pole-a popular tradition where students meet before school, and pray around the flag pole)in many different fashions; but not when it is being applied BY THE GOVERNMENT (in the above example the school is not sponsering the event, thus it is VOLUNTARY).

5:49 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

As far as why the Buddahists aren't being sued, they are not responsible. If the ACLU were to take this to court, I would think that they would file against the school, whom offered the invitation to begin with. I still hold to my claim that this is religious ensorsement by the govenment. I would like to include en excerpt from a book I truely enjoyed reading "What's a Nice Republican Girl Like Me Doing in the ACLU" written my Sheila Seuss Kennedy (previous Executive Director of the Indiana affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union). Here goes: "The First Amendment prohibits government from establishing religion...also prohibited from interfering with the free exercise of religion by individuals. That is so long as a religious obsevance does not violate a law of general application meant to protect the rights of others, the government cannot prohibit it."
I highly recommend this book, it's highly intelligent look into many contoversial issues. Anyway, I cannot say it better than Ms. Kennedy.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Fed Up said...

"That is so long as a religious obsevance does not violate a law of general application meant to protect the rights of others, the government cannot prohibit it."

And a picture of the Ten Commandments would violate the rights of others how? No matter how you slice and dice it there is no violation of personal rights.

Kelly, I do not remember Jesus teaching tolerance. When Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life no one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6) I see no tolerance there. When He calls the Pharisees "a brood of vipers" because they would not believe Him, I see no tolerance there. Jesus was always teaching about the Kingdom of God. He said there will be those who will never enter the kingdom of God, even ones who cry, "Lord, Lord." Compared to the standards of tolerance today I would classify Jesus as being not so tolerant. Jesus comforted the afflicted, but afflicted the comfortable.

One other thing that I thought of was a few years ago a certain student was denied a state scholarship because he wanted to, get this, go into theology not at a private school but at a state school! I do not remember who was behind it and I do not know what the verdict was on that, but it sure did have the smell of ACLU all over it. That is ludicrous to refuse a scholarship over a program which a state-school runs.

I do applaud the ACLU in one case, just to show that when the occasion arises that I'm not totally biased. Recently, a certain traveling choir, from Germany, was refused from singing at the school because it had religious music. Majority of classical choral music has some religious content because that is just the history of music. Many composers were writing for royalty that were usually in the Catholic church. However, the ALCU agreed that this is not a violation of "the separation of church and state" thankfully. I still think that the school refused to allow them to sing because of district policy or something, but it was nice to see that the ACLU hasn't totally gone off the deep end.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in agreement with "fed-up", who has said that the government has gone too far. It is very hard for me to believe that the original intent of the Founders, who fought for freedom of religion,and of religious speech, would approve, for example, of court-marshaling a Christian Naval chaplain, who, with permission, prayed a CHRISTIAN prayer in public..(his harsh sentence is in the process of being reversed, thanks to Congress). We need a balance, badly, for all religions. Religion should not be incrimentally silenced by judicial fiat as is being done today.
When the tide began turning in a significant way against freedom of religion in the public square and in government, was in 1947, when the Supreme Court (not voted on by the people) stated that there was a wall of separation, high and impregnable. This went against the Founders' philosophy, who believed in SUPPORTING religion but not establishing a religion/church. There is a huge differance here between the two. Jefferson, on at least two occasions, as President, had Congress publish Bibles for missionary purposes but this did NOT set up nor establish any state religion. They were also against showing partiality toward various denominations and beliefs, including the Jewish religion.
Today's definition of "separation" implies that if you run for public office, you need to watch what you say and leave your personal religious values at home. Just watch some of the past hearings for confirming judges and you will see the overt suspicion and hostility toward ones' beliefs and faith. This is against the intent of the Founders and is unconstitutional.
We now have a "secular" government (by judicial fiat) that acts as a watchdog, instead of a supporter, over ones' faith. The message is to keep it to yourself and base your legal decisions strictly on "secular reasoning" alone. This is opposite to the attitude and practice of the Founders.
We do not need extremes on either side, but again, I mostly blame the secular humanist judges and their supporters for creating divisions.




The Founders had a one-directional attitude---no ESTABLISHED religion, but they all stated that religion was a "..support for a just government.".

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACLU is ridiculous on there charge against Wilson County schools, they want to sue because they support prayer programs? Maybe they are Christian based and it was there religious freedom to start those programs. If it offends a certain religious group that it's a Christian prayer group then start you own, nobody has stopped you, circumstance doesn't make you a victim. I agree it's a stab at Christianity, the ACLU is playing Big Brother or advocate to the "cry wolf" and runs the danger of become obsolete with a grand portion of the religious community!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that, for many, the days of thoughtfully & respectfully articulating a position in opposition to someone else exercising his/her free speech rights are long gone. It is frightening to encounter so many who have chosen to deliberately cast aside history, facts and perspective, who have conditioned themselves to dangerously and emotionally overreacting to every perceived slight or disagreement. One has only to glance at some of the posts in this blog to witness this -smug arrogance, willful ignorance and knee-jerk namecalling-all stated under the rationalization of "defending my faith". Many of these persons are the same ones who are demanding that the government sanction their set of "answers", annoint them by law as everyones' "answers". They have been egged-on by their leaders who tell them to be bold in defending their faith because they are already "forgiven" for whatever over-the-top deeds they commit "in the name of God". And thus, this torrent of slander and hate-speech hurled at other Americans for simply exercising their Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech.

I will not dignify this ugliness by responding in kind. I don't care why people decide to order their lives in a specific dogmatic way. More power to them as long as they accept that their freedoms stop at my door, end short of trying to deny me the right to lawfully engage with an evolving, ever-more diverse America as I see fit.

To those whose bigotry and zeal goads them to slander and marginalize anyone they perceive as "different", those whose fears compel them to seek to steal my freedoms in the name of securing their "rights", I tell you- be forewarned. I and millions like me will not be marginalized, will never accept living in your theocracy, will never abide the tyranny of a government which would make us second-class citizens or enemies of the state solely because our beliefs don't conform with the "state religion". I will never stand aside and willingly allow my beloved land to be perverted into some modern-day version of Cromwell's Protectorate. My ancestors have bled, I have bled on battlefields all over the world to defend the freedoms our forefathers fought for; these precious rights will NOT be taken away save through bloodshed or death.

Long story short, buy into the reality-we are watching you.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't the ACLU stepping in to hlep this girl who is being denied her religious freedom?

Bible-Reading Student Gets Lesson in Litigation

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; Page B04

Amber Mangum was a frequent reader during lunch breaks at her Prince George's County middle school, silently soaking up the adventures of Harry Potter and other tales in the spare minutes before afternoon classes. The habit was never viewed as a problem -- not, a lawsuit alleges, until the book she was reading was the Bible.

A vice principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel last month ordered Amber, then 12, to stop reading the Bible or face punishment, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by Amber's mother. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, alleges that the vice principal's actions violated the girl's civil rights.

"Amber's a new Christian, and she's trying to learn all she can," said Maryann Mangum, the girl's mother. "She reads her Bible and she goes to Sunday school. . . . It really upset me when she was not allowed to read it on her own time."

John White, a spokesman for the school system, said administrators learned of the lawsuit Friday and were not prepared to comment on its claims. "We're just beginning to look into it," he said.

Mangum said her daughter was reading her Bible on Sept. 14 when Vice Principal Jeanetta Rainey approached. According to Mangum and the lawsuit, Rainey told Amber that reading the Bible violated school policy and that she would face discipline if she continued to do so.

Later that day, Amber recounted the episode to Mangum, who is her adoptive mother and also her biological grandmother. James Baker, a family friend, sent a note to the school asking that the principal identify any policy barring students from reading the Bible during their free time.

The note quoted a section of the school system's administrative procedures, saying that students "may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray before tests to the same extent they may engage in comparable, non-disruptive activities."

The principal, Charoscar Coleman, did not respond, the lawsuit says. A friend at Mangum's church suggested that Mangum contact the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit legal organization specializing in cases that involve issues of religious and civil liberties.

The institute's president, John W. Whitehead, said yesterday that the law is clear and that Amber's rights were violated. He said the lawsuit does not specifically seek monetary damages but rather that a judge declare that students cannot be barred from reading the Bible during free time at school.

"This is a seventh-grader who's probably overwhelmed by what's going on around her," Whitehead said. "This is a chance for her to get some comfort during the day. . . . What would you rather have a kid doing, throwing spit wads or sitting there silently reading a few passages from the Bible?"

11:52 AM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

Anonymous who wrote about Bible-Reading Student Gets Lesson in Litigation

This is a great case, and the ACLU would absolutely defend her right to read the Bible on her own time. We generally don't just step into a case. If the mother contacted the ACLU and asked for our help, I can almost guarantee we would get involved. The vast majority of our clients come to us and ask for our help.

Sara in Philly

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Fed Up and Tolerant As Always said...

First, let me just apologize for the "hate-speech" that I have been spreading around. I now see the error of my ways. I forgot that majority of the American public doesn't understand the Constitution and historically how and why it was written. I forgot that instead of the American people being influenced and "egged-on by their [religious] leaders" they are now influenced and "egged on" by godless, hard-hearted, ignorant, whacko professors who have their own set of dogmatic teachings. I forgot that we lived in a religious theocracy and had state churches forcing us at gun-point to the church building and breaking our arms if we didn't pay our tithe. I forgot that the education system in America isn't biggoted in one way of science at all, a.k.a. evolution. I forgot that my children now have to watch a kid go home to "mom and dad," which is really a homosexual couple, on Sesame Street, which is on what kind of stations? Oh, that's right, public stations!

Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, you are oh so very lucky that my beliefs "stop at your door" because your beliefs don't end at mine. They come at my family through the radio, T.V., Internet, billboards, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, junk e-mail, and elementary school textbooks, which apparently I have no say in the purchase of these textbooks because after all I'm just a taxpayer. Yet, "tolerance" is key in my situation. I am just the over reacting parent, scolding little Tommy for spilling milk on the carpet.

My point is simple...give options to every taxpayer. Do not cram your agenda down my throat and I will not cram it down yours. Does the Ten Commandments really hurt your eyes so bad you go blind? This is a serious question. Does it hurt me to see another religious symbol elsewhere? Not at all. In this instance I am happily content to be tolerant, this is America after all.

Tolerance from you and "your millions," Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, and different available options for education, and the like, is going to be the only way I am going to stop spewing "hate-speech," otherwise known as my 1st Amendment protected opinion. Until that happens be prepared to hear things you don't like.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is in response to "Anonymous" who wrote about the girl who was reading her Bible:
This is one of the concerns that I have stated before when I talked about the Courts interjecting their "edicts" by trying to "regulate" "freedom of religion". Congress is not suppose to impose ANY laws against religion and the courts are not legally suppose to either.
If the Courts would not have intervened so strongly in the past, there would not have been a resulting problem here with this little girl.
But now, because of the judicial system, in particular, everyone is afraid of being sued over anything that has even the slightest APPEARANCE of religion. In my state some officials got upset over red and green candy canes in the schools at Christmas!! What ever happened to a little tolerance of others? and multiculturalism? Diversity? All this paranoia over America becoming a religious state is getting out of hand.
We must not go to the opposite exteme by copying the Communist goals that say in part, "..remove any PHASE of religion.." This is very dangerous. This would give us a police state where Americans could be jailed for any infraction of the rules.
X-rated, anything goes speech is quickly defended but anything, even remotely related to religion, especially Christianity, is subject to censureship?? Like reading one's Bible? This isn't Russia!! We need a balance here.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to add one more side comment to the previous post that I wrote on "tolerance", etc.. and having a police state.
If I see a Jewish government official (Sen. Liberman, for ex.) wearing a yamakah or see a menorah somewhere, I am not going to get upset, offended nor am I going to get scared that he might turn the country into a mainly Jewish run state.
They used to hold church services in the Capitol building which Jefferson attended and the country survived that too.
If the Founders would have been socialists or worse, what type of Constitution do you think we would have had as a result of their restrictive beliefs? The Founders thought that religion SUPPORTED a just and fair and moral government but should not be the Ruler of that government. Basic meaning of the Establishment Clause.
If we keep it that way, we will be fine without the religious police micromanaging us and our kids.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a single mom going through the appeals process for ssi disability and am on the temporary assistance for needy families which requires me to go to a counselor/doctor in order to keep recieving benefits.
However the practice of western medicine goes against my religious beliefs and practices and my civil liberties. There are no other options for me and suicide seems logical under the circumstance.

2:57 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

Single mom anoymous - please send us an email at info@aclupa.org and we can see how we can help you. I'm sure there must be other options. You can also try calling us at 215-592-1513. You may have to leave a message, but we'll call right back.

Sara in Philly

3:11 PM  
Blogger Logipundit said...

So is the aclu getting involved in this
case?...the girl in Maryland who was told by the Vice Principal she couldn't quietly read the Bible in her private time at school.

11:13 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

Logipundit - Someone asked earlier about that, and I replied with the following:

------

This is a great case, and the ACLU would absolutely defend her right to read the Bible on her own time. We generally don't just step into a case. If the mother contacted the ACLU and asked for our help, I can almost guarantee we would get involved. The vast majority of our clients come to us and ask for our help.

Sara in Philly

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fail to see what this story proves - they went somewhere in which they were not familiar with the local traditions - and they actually were able to live thru it - gosh!!!

PEOPLE - Relax!!!!

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Toney said...

This has nothing to do with separation os state and Church, it is an attemt to remove the name of God from this nation.
by a bunch of nazis trying hide behind the consitution that was based inpart on bilical values.
Do you teach your kids to, kill, steal, to lie and cheat. remove the ten commandments and you remove all good morals values from a country that for more than 200 hundred years followed the moral values and principles of the ten commandments.
To all athiest, may God bless.

1:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Christians we are not called to be tolerant. We are called to love others as Christ loved us, but this does not mean being "tolerant" of other beliefs. This means loving people, not what they do. Christ is absolute truth and His word is offensive. But we should not be looking for the praise of men, rather the praise of God. All our actions should glorify Him. Sitting down and not observing a buddhist prayer is not rude. It is bold in todays society. Paul should be our model. When a mob was trying to kill him and guards had to take him away in midst of the violence, he asked to speak to the crowd and he spoke the Truth. We should also embrace this boldness. I love the verse Jeremiah 1:17-19-- "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you." declares the LORD.
This is as true now as it was then!

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Christians we are not called to be tolerant. We are called to love others as Christ loved us, but this does not mean being "tolerant" of other beliefs. This means loving people, not what they do. Christ is absolute truth and His word is offensive. But we should not be looking for the praise of men, rather the praise of God. All our actions should glorify Him. Sitting down and not observing a buddhist prayer is not rude. It is bold in todays society. Paul should be our model. When a mob was trying to kill him and guards had to take him away in midst of the violence, he asked to speak to the crowd and he spoke the Truth. We should also embrace this boldness. I love the verse Jeremiah 1:17-19-- "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you." declares the LORD.
This is as true now as it was then!

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ACLU stands for Anti Christ Leftists Union....short for Satan's law firm. Instead of helping people express their religion, why are you taking God away from society? The separation of church and state is NOT in the U.S. Constitution! Read it!

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to make a comment regarding the statement by Anonymous who posted at 1:07 AM:
I briefly mentioned before, in a previous post, the Constitution of the Old Soviet Union, 1977. Here is the exact quote from Article 52,third sentence of their constitution.
" In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church".
AS anonymous rightly stated, we do not have this LAW in our Constitution because the attitude of the Founders toward religion was a positive one, not hostile, as it was /is in Russia.
The Founders, beginning with Washington, believed that religious INFLUENCE, not dogmatic rule, was essential to a just government. They were to be neutral between religious sects and beliefs but not absolutely neutral as some see it today.
Below is one of many quotes on the importance of that influence. Below are excerpts from Washington's Farewell Address:

"Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible SUPPORTS. ,,,reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in EXCLUSION of religious principles".

Compare this attitude with the Soviets, communists etc.. Without a sense of morality in government, as a restraining force, we would be at the mercy of amoral and unjust laws made by equally amoral rulers.
Balance is the KEY. No STATE-run church but a positive, receptive attitude toward the importance of PRINCIPLES of morality and ethics in the government. In my opinion, the government has rejected the Founders' belief of the importance of said principles toward religion, to our detriment. It has instead, become overly and agressively hostile and is moving in the direction of the Old Soviet Union's version of Separation of Church and State. Very disturbing at best.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven." MATTHEW 10:33

Based on this, I certainly wouldn't want to be affiliated with the ACLU.

In the Wilson County case, the ACLU doesn't have a legitimate leg to stand on...it's just another frivolous lawsuit that will tie up our court system and waste taxpayer dollars.

Jesus taught love and forgiveness, not "tolerance". If He was tolerant, then he never would have overturned tables in the marketplace. Those who are ignorant of the bible often misquote it or take scripture out of context. Look at the next verse of the above passage...Matthew 10:34..."Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

That doesn't sound like tolerance to me.

A Christian was once asked, "What if you're wrong about Jesus? What if Jesus isn't the son of God?" The Christian man replied, "If I'm wrong, then I've lost nothing. But if YOU'RE wrong, then you've lost EVERYTHING."

'Nuff said.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm the only one who has read the original Constitution. From what I remember there is no mention of a separation of church and state. That phrase did not appear until a letter written by Jefferson to a pastor. This pastor was concerned that the government would step in and tell him how to run his church. Jefferson reassured him that there would be a separation of church and state - in regards to the state dictating to the church what they could and couldn't do. There is no denying that this country was founded as a Christian nation. I'm sorry for those of you who have issue with this. History doesn't lie. But whats the point of standing up for anything anymore. Congress is tainted, the legislature is tainted and if I look cross eyed at a woman I can be sued for sexual discrimination. America is a self-centered selfish society. If our founding fathers could see us today they would probably kill themselves.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To begin with, the words "separation of church and state" are found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. The original source of those words is a private letter written in 1802 by then-president Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut. Being a religious minority in their state, the Danbury Baptists were concerned that their religious freedoms might be considered "favors granted" by the Connecticut state legislature rather than "inalienable" rights. Their reason for fearing this was because religious oppression was being directed toward them in the form of taxation without representation. The Baptists were being forced to support another denomination and decided to write Jefferson to seek his aid, being aware of his past defense of religious freedom. Jefferson replied back, pledged his support, and reminded and assured them that, on the national level as well, the legislature of Congress had no authority or right to tax or make laws favoring an establishment of religion because there exists, in his words, "a wall of separation between church and state". However, Jefferson never wrote or even hinted anywhere in this letter that public Christian expression is outlawed by the Constitution, but rather affirmed the right of any denomination of Christians to freely express themselves in any public setting. He therefore, in effect, strongly implied that the "wall of separation" was a ONE-WAY impediment. That is, Congress could not interfere in church affairs and religious matters, but at the same time this did not dictate that Christian principles and expression were to be exiled from the operations of civil government or the public arena. Indeed, it can be seen from the metaphor Jefferson used in his reply that it is evident his "wall" was constructed to serve free exercise of religion, not prohibit it. Lastly, Jefferson’s letter concluded with a prayer. This is quite ironic since, according to the modern judiciary’s interpretation of the "establishment" clause, Jefferson had violated the principle he just expressed and endorsed! Hardly.

For the sake of argument, let’s suppose Jefferson had actually written in that letter, "It is my belief that all public Christian expression is prohibited by the Constitution." Even if he had expressed such a sentiment, no legislature can legislate from a private letter; and today’s judiciary substitutes this private letter for the text of the Constitution, which is absolutely indefensible.

The clause in the First Amendment that has been greatly abused by the judiciary and the left wing for the last fifty years in order to harass and bully Christians as well as effectively banish all public Christian expression and free exercise merely states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". That, even taken wholly by itself and without any regard whatever to its historical context, could never rationally justify the modern outrageous interpretation that has been forced on this clause. However, to really understand what this clause means, one needs to know the historical context in which it was written.

One of the driving forces behind the American Revolution was the burning desire of the colonists to establish religious freedom in America. The British people and American colonists were being forced by England’s King George III to pay taxes to support the Church of England even if they did not attend a church of the Anglican denomination or subscribe to its creed. It was one of the forms of taxation without representation that incensed them and helped spark their revolution. Fed up with that, and other things as well, after the colonists succeeded in their revolution against the British government and their leaders were involved in the task of writing a constitution of laws for the new nation, they wanted to ensure that the new federal government would not someday attempt to impose a state-ran church on the people like Britain did. To safeguard against this, they wrote that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...". The majority religion in America at that time was Christianity, so it is evident that by "religion" the Founders meant the Christian religion. The written testimony, speeches, and recorded personal accounts of that time amply prove this. Keeping these facts and the historical context of the First Amendment in mind, it is plain that what the "establishment" clause means is simply that Congress cannot pass a law that respects (favors) one denomination of Christianity over another. All denominations are to be on the same level before Congress without any bias for one or against another. In other words, Congress can't make a law RESPECTING (favoring) an establishment or organization of religion or force the American people to support any denomination or creed via taxation. This is the true meaning of this clause of the First Amendment. It was never intended to be used as a whip against Christians. To the contrary, it was designed to protect them.

The modern, totally ridiculous interpretation of this clause did not rear its ugly head until the late 1940s and wasn't accepted by those terrorists in black robes called the United States Supreme Court until well into the 1950s. This begs the question: Where was it for the first 170 years of our country's history?? It was at this time that the Supreme Court began discussing "separation of church and state" at every opportunity. They talked about it unceasingly, as if it were actually part of the Constitution. One would think they were following the quote of philosopher William James: "There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough."

Now, let's consider a hypothetical example of a typical modern abuse of this clause. An 8-year old boy (for the sake of argument let's assume his name is Jimmy Smith) brings a Bible to a public school. His brainwashed teacher discovers it and reports him to her superiors. Following that, it isn't long before the cockroaches scurry out of the woodwork (the ACLU among many others) and actually accuse the lad of violating the First Amendment to the United States Constitution! Did he really? Let's consider it. The boy is accused of violating a Constitutional Amendment that states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." Please notice that the subject in that clause is CONGRESS, not Jimmy Smith. People are then expected to believe that because Congress cannot make a law favoring an establishment of religion this necessarily means Jimmy Smith cannot bring a Bible to a government facility! If one pointed this out to anyone possessed of a halfway rational mind he or she would naturally say, "Hey, that kid isn't the Congress! It doesn't apply at all." Quite right. There is absolutely no connection between the two. It’s utterly ridiculous. Now let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that the clause actually stated: "Jimmy Smith shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." Sorry, but even if that were the reading, merely bringing a Bible to a government facility is NOT making a law respecting any establishment of religion, and above and beyond that, Jimmy Smith is not a lawmaking body anyway. He's just a frightened, bewildered little boy who is being stripped of his religious freedom by the intolerant enemies of God and Liberty. The same sound logic should have applied to the recent real life case of Judge Roy Moore and his display of the Ten Commandments on Alabama State Supreme Court grounds, which were ordered to be removed by those black-robed terrorists I mentioned earlier. Again, the subject in the clause is CONGRESS, not Roy Moore or the Alabama State Supreme Court; and hanging a religious plaque is NOT making a law respecting any religious establishment. In order to justify the modern judiciary’s interpretation and abuse of this clause, it would literally have to state: "No American citizen shall bring a Bible or Christian material to any government facility (local, state, or federal), or pray, or express any Christian sympathies in any public setting". It’s pure TYRANNY.

Whose rights, pray tell, are being violated by a child bringing a Bible to a public school, or someone praying in a public facility, or someone hanging a religious plaque? WHOSE?? HOW?? It is obvious to any possessed of common sense and decency that no one’s rights are being violated in such cases except for those of the accused. It is imperative that we understand that our Constitution is NOT a list of our rights as American citizens and a charter for government power as the left wing pretends, but rather is a set of rigid restrictions on the federal government. The Tenth Amendment, which is the key to interpreting the entire Constitution, makes this clear: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This necessarily mandates that if a particular power, authority, or function is not listed in the Constitution as belonging to the federal government, it does not legitimately possess it. The purpose of the founders in this amendment was to restrain the federal government in order to protect the liberties of the American people. This crucial principle was turned upside down decades ago by the autocratic left wing and the modern notion is that if the Constitution does not expressly prohibit the federal government from assuming a particular power, authority, or function, then it is actually warranted! This erroneous thinking has put American citizens at the mercy of the federal government and consequently opened the ever-widening door to tyranny in America through countless unauthorized federal creations and usurpations.

I could continue endlessly. However, I have already demonstrated that the modern interpretation that has been forced on the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment collapses upon the slightest scrutiny. It clearly does not support religious freedom but rather RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION OF CHRISTIANS. Owing to its abuses both past and present, as well as the evil propagated by them, it is essential that we rid ourselves of it and return to a common sense interpretation of the First Amendment and indeed the entire Constitution.

It needs to be noted that, after a fair, objective perusal of our founders' written testimony and recorded speeches regarding their faith, none can successfully dispute the fact that most of them were, in fact, strong Christians. Consider this quote by Patrick Henry, one of the patriots of the American Revolution and who gave the famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been offered asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." Could such men be fairly expected to endorse the modern judiciary’s interpretation of the First Amendment "establishment" clause?

The founders not only believed religious freedom was a basic, inalienable right of man, but thought it necessary to the health of society and government. There was, in fact, a consensus among them that Christianity was absolutely necessary to our intended system of self-government. The challenge confronted by our founders was how to nurture personal responsibility and social order in such a system. Tyrannical governments can implement a police state to force people to behave, but it is plain that this is incompatible with a system of self-government. The founders’ response to this challenge was to look toward Christianity and the Bible to provide the internal moral restraints and judgment that would induce American citizens to behave in a well-ordered fashion, therefore promoting social order and stability in government. The writings of our founders abound with this argument, and a famous example is George Washington’s statement in his Farewell Address of 1796:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens . . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion . . . . [R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Since the founders obviously believed that Christian principles were crucial to maintaining social order and political prosperity, they championed religious freedom in order to form a lively Christian culture in which a beneficial Christian code of conduct would shape public ethics and promote an environment in which Christian leaders could speak out boldly against corruption and public immorality without fear of restraint or inhibition. Religious freedom was not only an act of favor by the state, but more importantly, it reveals that the founders were perfectly aware that the very survival of society and civil order depended on a lively Christian culture, and religious freedom nurtured such a culture. In other words, the founders’ high regard for religious freedom was an act of self-preservation. This badly needs to be understood today.

One fear commonly expressed by staunch "separationists" these days regards the fact that America was founded as a Christian nation. They claim this destroys pluralism. There were many religions in America at the time of the founders, but they realized that only by establishing the country as a Christian nation could pluralism be protected. Why did they think this? Well, if you look at the world you'll see that it is replete with religious nations. Many, perhaps most of them, don't support pluralism at all. They have one state-ran religion and will allow no other religion to exist alongside. Not so in a Christian nation! In a Christian nation others of different religions are allowed to come and worship freely as Patrick Henry observed. Christians have been getting a "bum rap" for decades from the Left and are anything but the "intolerant bigots" they have been unfairly portrayed to be. If today's watered-down, spiritually anemic Christians give such people emotional fits at the slightest expression of their faith or opinions, the founders of these United States would have caused them to break out in hives! If they knew anything about the spiritual history of the United States, they would already know this. According to their hare-brained thinking, it's fine for some rudderless, gullible fool to imagine he or she has the right to walk around naked as a form of expression, or a pornographer to promote immoral, degrading filth, but how dare a hated Christian open his mouth! The tyrannical left wing, while incessantly proclaiming "tolerance", show none of their own. It exists only in their bizaare, twisted, one-sided, upside-down and inside-out version of "truth" and "freedom".

All this being said, it is worthy of remark here that even though no law has been passed by Congress that I’m aware of, it has surely respected (favored) an establishment of religion. Indeed, it has not only favored it but actually established it through forced taxation of the American public! However, this religion isn’t Christianity, but Humanism; and its foundation is the theory of evolution, which has been proven to be scientifically impossible. Therefore, an absurd amount of faith is required to believe in it, which necessarily makes it a faith-based RELIGION. The federal government-established and taxpayer-funded churches for this religion are called public schools. And the federal government (among others), by harassing and bullying Christians for the past five decades, has also violated the second half of the "establishment" clause which states that it cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. That’s where we are and have been for fifty years because certain moronic people simply cannot understand plain English. However, is the explanation really that simple? Maybe it’s because such people, out of personal grudges, hate God and through blind, emotional rage will stop at nothing to eradicate any mention or acknowledgement of Him. It’s not that they have anything against religion, since most of them likely embrace biological evolution, which necessarily makes them religious fanatics. It’s Christianity they find so abhorrent and distasteful to their willful sinful nature. This reveals that THEY are the intolerant, bigoted religious tyrants they claim Christians are. I have no doubt that, as the current meritless interpretation of the First Amendment’s "establishment" clause continues to grow exceedingly despotic, eventually the totalitarian Left will declare it to be unconstitutional for anyone to simply claim to BE a Christian! I sincerely hope I’m dead and gone before that awful day dawns.

May God illuminate the minds of those afflicted with the brand of mental blindness that has been addressed here and extend that peculiar mercy to us which He alone possesses.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Locke, a devout Christian, was actually the first to coin the phrase separation of church and state and if you actually read his writings compared to Jefferson you would accuse Jefferson of plagiarism. The American Constitution is based on Locke's writing. He said that we must have a separation of church and state because God gave us the capacity to believe in religion and God. God, however, did not give us the capacity to know 100% about religion and every minute detail that differs among religions. Furthermore, religion is a individual matter and we as individuals are only capable of saving our souls not the state. By arguing this point of the American Constitution you are arguing with Locke and thus are arguing with the entire American Constitution.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous freedom fighter said...

Thanks Kelly. And Anonymous, it is clear why you choose not to identify yourself-you are an ignorant a-hole.

12:33 AM  

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