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The Republican Candidates And The Separation Of Church And State

Reflecting mostly the heavy evangelical makeup of Iowa Republicans, we’ve seen religious themes, and the so-called “War on Religion” by unnamed secular forces, playing in a major role in the campaign over the last several weeks. Just last week, for example, Rick Perry released an ad in Iowa in which he decried the President’s so-called “war on religion.” That, however, was just the beginning it seems. This weekend, Perry was in the pulpit of a Charles City, Iowa church addressing the role of faith in government:

“In the world today we often get told, particularly people of faith, that you leave your faith at the door, or on the steps of the public arena, don’t bring your faith into school, don’t bring your faith into the council meeting, don’t bring your faith into the capitol,” Mr. Perry told the parishioners here, as he walked back and forth in front of them, talking into a microphone. “That separation of church and state that we have been led to believe is some clear, hard line.”

He continued: “Isaiah was talking about taking your values into the public arena. As a matter of fact, you are biblically charged to take your values into the public arena.”

He condemned what he called the “politically-correct police who say you can’t bring your faith into the public arena.”

“You will be criticized, but do not be intimidated.”

He concluded: “Somebody’s values are going to decide the issues of the day, whatever they may be. Somebody’s values are going to be installed, if you will. The question is going to be, whose values? Is it going to be those of us of faith, or is it going to be somebody else’s values?”

This is a canard that you often here from the religious right. To them, it seems, the idea of  “separation of church and state” means that religious politicians are required to leave their values at the door when they take office. I don’t know anyone who actually believes this should be the case outside of the scaremongers who repeat that line pulpits on a weekly basis. Nobody is saying that values should not guide the decisions that a politician makes while in office, in fact one would hope that a leader is guided by values when making decisions like sending men and women to war, or deciding on the proper treatment of detainees. Valueless governing is what gives you places like Nazi Germany and North Korea. So, Perry’s argument is a strawman and if this an example of his so-called “war on religion,” then it is an even more ridiculous meme than I had thought it to be.

Perry isn’t alone in hitting on this issue, of course, Newt Gingrich has said that it is the motivation behind his rhetorical assault on the judiciary:

“I got in this originally for two things: the steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a non-religious country and the encroachment of the courts on the president’s commander-in-chief powers, which is enormously dangerous,” Gingrich said.

Even Mitt Romney has gotten into the game, perhaps to shore up his bona fides among evangelicals who already have doubts about Mormons:

Mitt Romney discussed religion in the public square on Friday, advocating the right to public religious expression “particularly at this time of year.”

“I know there are some people who would like to make this nation a secular nation, who want to take God out of everything that exists in this country. They try to say it’s unconstitutional,” Romney said. “I trust in God, and I know you do, and I believe it’s appropriate for us to recognize in the public square that we do indeed have a creator and that we trust in our creator, particularly at this time of year.”

Romney was responding to a question about celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday, particularly in schools. The question offered Romney a chance to contrast with fellow Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who is running an ad on Iowa TV that accuses President Obama of waging a “war on religion.” American children cannot “openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” Perry says in the ad

“How do you take God out of America when the declaration points out it’s God that gave us those rights in the first place?” Romney said. “I believe that we should be able to have religious ornamentation and celebration in the public square. Whether that’s a manger or a menorah, or representatives of other faiths, it is important for us as a society to recognize that we look to God for many of our blessings.”

As is typical when conservatives discuss this issue, Romney doesn’t quite get the legal status of religious holiday displays correct, and it is far from the case that a government entity is forbidden in all cases from ever including a religious element as part of official Christmas decorations. The Supreme Court first dealt with this issue in Lynch v. Donnelly in 1984. In that case, Pawtucket, Rhode Island had a holiday display that included  a crèche, along with other items ranging from Santa and his reindeer, a Christmas tree, for some odd reason, cutout figures of a clown and an elephant. The Court ruled 5-4 in that case that the city’s inclusion of an explicitly religious element in the display was constitutional. The only other Supreme Court case dealing with this issue is County of Alleghany v. ACLU, a 1989 case which dealt with two separate displays, a crèche that stood alone at the top of the steps of the County Courthouse, and a display outside a country office building that included a menorah sponsored by an outside group, and a Christmas Tree. The Court’s opinion in this case was heavily divided but the basic result was the Court’s ruling that the crèche was barred because its “principal or primary effect” of the display was to advance religion within the meaning of Lemon v. Kurtzman. The Menorah, however, was acceptable. Since then, the general rule for displays of this type has been that religious elements are permissible so long as they are part of a display that is not in and of itself religious. In other words, Mitt Romney gets it wrong.

This isn’t Romney’s first foray into the religion wars, of course. Four years ago, when his own faith was under attack by supporters of Mike Huckabee, he gave a speech on religion at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. Unfortunately, his speech presented a vision the proper role of religion in politics that seemed to exclude anyone who didn’t believe in a divine being:

Romney has already declared war on secular America. In December 2007, you may recall, he delivered a speech in which he defended his Mormon religion at a time when he was under assault from evangelical Christians. It was, in many respects, a sensible plea for religious tolerance.

Except that Romney called for tolerance only among believers, explicitly omitting non-believers. “Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me,” Romney said. “And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.”

As New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote the next day, “Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious.” Brooks – a conservative, though a secular one – warned that Romney was calling for “a culture war without end”.

In that same speech, Romney also said that “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” A more untrue statement on this issue has never been uttered by a Presidential candidate. Freedom, in the sense of individual liberty, does not require religion and more than it requires one to believe in the existence of extraterrestrials. Individuals possess rights because of their nature as individuals, not because of doctrines established 1,000 years ago at a religious conference. And, more importantly, one can believe in individual liberty without believing in any god. Thomas Jefferson made that one clear 230 years ago:

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg

This is the problem with the Republican Party today. It has tied it’s fortunes to the continued loyalty of a group of people to whom religion is not only important, but who believe that the lack of religion is an sign of moral defectiveness, it turns the idea of religious tolerance on its head. Under the new definition it doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to believe whatever you want regarding religion, including nothing, but that you are entitled to believe in something.

Perry, Romney and other candidates are right to argue that being a person of faith does not make him less of an American, but then nobody is really seriously suggesting that. It’s clear, though, that they would not extend the same right to an athiest or an agnostic running for political office who believed in the American ideals of individual liberty and freedom of thought, but refused to believe in the civic religion that some Republicans wish to force on the rest of the country. Rather than prattling on about a non-existent “War on Religion,” these candidates should consider again some other the words from America’s 3rd President:

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.

Or perhaps the words of America’s 40th President will move them:

“We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.”

It’s time to extend that wall and separate religion and politics.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Unfortunately there are far too many Bible bots who vote in GOP primaries to make your goal a reality. You’d have a better chance of getting all the whiskey out of Ireland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  2. mantis says:

    I don’t know anyone who actually believes this should be the case outside of the scaremongers who repeat that line pulpits on a weekly basis.

    They don’t believe it either, but it keeps the donations flowing!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. Christopher says:

    Just look around at the mess this country is in and anyone can see that this country needs to get back to the Bible. This country needs a revival.
    Vote the Bible in 2012

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 29

  4. mantis says:

    Vote the Bible in 2012

    I’m pretty sure books can’t hold office in this country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  5. ponce says:

    a group of people to whom religion is not only important, but who believe that the lack of religion is an sign of moral defectiveness

    I don’t believe that’s true.

    I think really religious people believe it is they that have no personal morality, therefore they have to get their morals from somewhere else, like a primitive superstition.

    The facts back this up, too.

    The most “religious” states are the ones that lead America in rates of alcoholism, child abuse, divorce, bankruptcy, teen pregnancies, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  6. @Christopher:

    There is only one appropriate response to what you’ve said:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4jryX_DGUQ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. legion says:

    “Isaiah was talking about taking your values into the public arena. As a matter of fact, you are biblically charged to take your values into the public arena.”

    This is the part that people like Perry and Christopher either don’t grasp or deliberately avoid – there is nothing wrong with taking your _values_ into the “public arena”… but what you may not do is take your _religion_there.

    The question is going to be, whose values? Is it going to be those of us of faith, or is it going to be somebody else’s values?

    And this is the key right here. Perry is not pushing religious _freedom_, he is very clearly leading a charge for religious _supremacy_. Atheists don’t have an agenda to force everyone to become atheists. But people who talk like Perry are quite intent on forcing everyone they can gain power over to follow their specific interpretation of religion. Beware.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. MBunge says:

    @ponce: “I think really religious people believe it is they that have no personal morality, therefore they have to get their morals from somewhere else, like a primitive superstition.”

    And when all you have is personal morality, you get famed atheist Christopher Hitchens cheering on the mass killing of Muslims. Good thing his mind wasn’t clouded with any primitive supersition.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12

  9. John Peabody says:

    Most Christians are probably more tolerant than others think on this subject. The rule tha “the outliers get all the attention” is in full force. I’m a Christian…but I surely decry and cringe at many things that the candidates say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Vast Variety says:

    I’m probably going to regret getting into this sort of discussion, but here goes.

    Nazi Germany was not a valueless society. In fact the Nazi’s took their values so seriously that they ended up pushing them to perverse extremes. In fact every time I hear someone say that evolution is a just a myth and that creationism should be taught in schools, or that gays and lesbians don’t have any rights to marriage, it conjurers up fears that a similar society that takes it’s values to such extremes is just waiting under the surface, ready to burst forth and turn America into some sort of Christan Fatherland where it’s “believe or else.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  11. TonyW says:

    Apparenly the Republicans never read the Sermon on the Mount. I thought the New Testament took precedence over the Old?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. legion says:

    @TonyW: Yes, but their interpretation of the Bible takes precedence over everything. And if you disagree with their interpretation, you’re not just wrong, you’re evil. Even if you are otherwise an ordinary Christian. That’s why these assholes are dangerous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  13. doubter4444 says:

    @legion:

    I have always wondered about this, when it seems to be an easy thing to believe, and a simple thing to say as a pol. that instead of RELIGION being the basis of our values and society, ETHICS should be instead.
    Ethical behavior crosses religion and faith, unites people from every walk, and for most major aspects can be argued upon.
    As a politician it gets you out of the weeds pretty easily, I would think.
    It boggles me that the stock response is that ethical behavior is expected in elected officials (should be in everyone, really), regardless of faith.
    Seems kind of hard to argue, unless, as you mention, you actually want to specifically inculcate a specific set of religious teachings.
    What dose someone like Christopher think of that, I wonder (no snark, intended, btw)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. MM says:

    @MBunge: As opposed to religious people like Marc Theissen, Pamela Geller, John Hinderaker, Andrew Sullivan circa 2003, etc?

    Assuming that Hitchens cheered the death of Muslims because he was an atheist is ridiculous, even for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  15. Liberty60 says:

    @Christopher:

    Vote the Bible in 2012

    Excerpted from Pat Caddel/ Doug Schoen’s column tomorrow:

    The Bible polls pretty well in the South, but has severe weakness in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
    The New Testament message does well among focus groups in New York and California, but the Old Testament stuff falls flat.

    The best strategy is to partner up with a proven vote-getter who can balance the ticket.

    The Torah has strong appeal, but limited to pockets in urban areas. It also could complicate the “war on Christmas” message.

    The Koran likewise could carry Dearborn and maybe swing California, but couldn’t survive the primaries in Iowa with high negative ratings among the important redneck demographic.

    The Principles of Wicca have regional appeal in the Pacific Northwest, but is still smarting over the whole Christine O’Donnell thing. 2016 looks more promising.

    Everything I ever Needed To Know I Learned in Kindergarten could be a contender, but suffers from a lack of gravitas. Advisors have counseled that a “Graduate School”, or even better a “West Point” version would draw the rural gun enthusiasts, and Angry White Guy demographic.

    Chicken Soup for the Soul could be the dark horse that comes out of nowhere and unifies the ticket with strong personal appeal, and minor negative ratings, not to mention a strong push from Oprah.

    Therefore we recommend Vote Bible/ Chicken Soup 2012! .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  16. Hey Norm says:

    What really amuses me is that the concept religious zealots have of religion is so childish. The idea that an infinitely old infinitely powerful omniscient being cares about the sexual orientation of humans…mere specks on the arse of specks…is ridiculous. Everyday we learn more about the expanse of what we don’t know…and yet these zealots have this silly anthropocentric idea of that un-knowable-ness.
    The arrogance of that is comical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. legion says:

    @doubter4444: Word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. flataffect says:

    The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have suffered persecution from other Christian sects from the time the church began in this dispensation. Joseph Smith, the first prophet included these statements in the Articles of Faith:

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    The First Amendments contains two religion clauses that must be read together, the Freedom Clause and the Establishment Clause. The founders knew that most religions promote public morality and good citizenship, helping the poor, and service to the community, but they also knew that churches, as opposed to religion, can become caught up in competition even to the point of violence and warfare. Therefore, they put a guard against clergy and churches being given state support..

    Nevertheless, churches and their property are tax exempt and that does not violate the establishment clause.

    My point about reading the two clauses together is that they were intended to foster tolerance, not to outlaw religious sentiments and displays from the public square. The way they have been interpreted, however, gives tiny minorities of the intolerant the power to enforce their intolerance over everyone else. The “Wall of Separation” is a phrase from a letter by Jefferson, but is not in the Constitution. Neither is religious intolerance.

    That being said, displays that are too sectarian and themselves intolerant, as opposed to Christmas Trees, Chreches and Menorahs, or slogans like “In God We Trust,” can become oppressive, and some sectarians or Muslims believe that their religious views take precedence over the laws of the country. I found the request by Bob Vander Plaats​ for Michele Bachmann to drop out of the primaries to help Rick Santorum repellent and contrary to republican principles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  19. casimir says:

    @Christopher: what does the bible say about currency swaps?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    Therefore we recommend Vote Bible/ Chicken Soup 2012!

    If it only was that simple….And much better then Rules For Radicals/Arugula 2012….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    And much better then Rules For Radicals/Arugula 2012

    Ok, that made me chuckle a bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Rob in CT says:

    Indeed, well played GA. That was actually funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. McKeever says:

    What we have is this pc claptrap in which someone claims that their feelings have somehow been hurt and then the inevitable phony lawsuit. Every year a small group of misguided individuals seek to force their views on others by trying to have a nativity scene removed. How can this possibly hurt someone’s feelings? Think back a few years to the infamous Don Imus affair: a shock jock hired to do shock talk is forced out for doing just that by King Al Sharpton and the incredibly inept network. An appropriate response by Al would have been something like if you don’t agree with the guy don’t watch him. By purchasing a tv and cable I am making a deliberate choice to watch Imus and other people who certainly may be judged by some as being nuts. I have been “offended” by the statements of Chris Matthews. I just turn the channel to something else. No forcing my opinions on others or filing lawsuits. Americans are tired of the pc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  24. Who would have guessed that in the 21st century we’d be facing a global, fundimentalist, tide?

    (An example of bounded rationality, in my opinion. Nature, or the Watchmaker, didn’t make us quite smart enough.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Rob in CT says:

    The nativity scene arguments aren’t about people’s feelings being hurt. It’s about using public space to promote one particular religion, when the public includes people of many faiths (as well as people of no faith).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Under the new definition it doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to believe whatever you want regarding religion, including nothing, but that you are entitled to believe in something.

    I believe I’ll have another drink.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. mattb says:

    Anyone want to take bets as to whether or not @McKeever and some of the other “there’s no separation of church and state in the constitution” are concerned about the eminent threat of “Sharia Law?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @McKeever:

    Every year a small group of misguided individuals seek to force their views on others by trying to have a nativity scene removed.

    And every year we have to listen to this kind of claptrap…. I am trying to force my views on you by not letting you use the power of Gov’t to force your views on me????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. mannning says:

    My tolerance for religions and non-religious religions turns out to be selective. If a specific religion or non-religious religion shows utter intolerance of my religion or any other religion, and threatens to dominate the people of my nation by force or intrigue, then I oppose it with all my strength. If that religion expects to subjugate and rule me and my fellow citizens by its own set of laws, they will be opposed–by force if necessary.

    So long as they are law-abiding and unthreatening, however, they are welcome, but they must be watched very carefully indeed lest their religious mandate for conquest surfaces to our detrement.

    Our Constitution, and specifically its guarantees of personal and religious freedoms, are not at the same time a suicide pact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. mannning says:

    Both churches and private citizens erect nativity displays on their own property at Christmas time. Some are even enactments with live people in the traditional roles. There is one of these two blocks from my home, facing a public park and on a public street. Does anyone object to this display of religious belief?

    What, then, to a viewer is the difference whether the display is on public property, exactly next to public property and quite viewable by all, and its residing on public property itself? Merely the suggestion that the religion is accepted by the owner of the property, namely the government.

    It says nothing about other religions, of course, and from the viewer’s point of view, there is no knowledge imparted whatsoever regarding the government’s acceptance or non-acceptance of other religions, unless there are other displays from other religions there also. For that you must read the Constitution, where other religions are clearly given acceptance.

    I find it quite silly indeed for some overly-reacting people to rise up to deny such displays on public property in a nation that is 80+% Christian. The same silliness has been openly expressed about crosses being prominently displayed on church steeples throughout a city. Just how far will they go wih this idea that viewing something from public property is the same as advocating something? We might as well be influenced to worship Ford or Toyota, or Colgate Toothpaste, or the Crystal Palace, or the Democratic Party, they are certainly displayed prominently, if distastefully, on TV stations (public airways licensed by the government) and in public advertising, but just not on public property per se! There is a great distance between accepting something which is good passively (out of a set of those somethings also formally accepted) and advocating something actively.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  31. mantis says:

    Does anyone object to this display of religious belief?

    No.

    What, then, to a viewer is the difference whether the display is on public property, exactly next to public property and quite viewable by all, and its residing on public property itself? Merely the suggestion that the religion is accepted respected and promoted by the owner of the property, namely the government.

    FTFY

    I find it quite silly indeed for some overly-reacting people to rise up to deny such displays on public property in a nation that is 80+% Christian.

    The nation isn’t Christian. We are not a Christian nation. 80% of the popultion may be, but we are a secular nation with freedom of religion. To let the government promote particular religions at the expense of others is unconstitutional. If you don’t care about the Constitution, so be it. Others do, very much so.

    Just how far will they go wih this idea that viewing something from public property is the same as advocating something?

    Not very far at all, because such displays are constitutional under the 1st Amendment. There is no good reason to suspect otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    @mannning:

    My tolerance for religions and non-religious religions turns out to be selective. If a specific religion or non-religious religion shows utter intolerance of my religion or any other religion, and threatens to dominate the people of my nation by force or intrigue, then I oppose it with all my strength. If that religion expects to subjugate and rule me and my fellow citizens by its own set of laws, they will be opposed–by force if necessary.

    I take it, then, that you are opposing fundamentalist Christianity, right?

    Oh, I’m sorry. Not the religion–or non-religion– you had in mind?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    @mannning:

    What, then, to a viewer is the difference whether the display is on public property, exactly next to public property and quite viewable by all, and its residing on public property itself?

    Wait, I got the answer to this one. Here, a quote from one of my favorite intellectuals:

    Merely the suggestion that the religion is accepted by the owner of the property, namely the government.

    More:

    I find it quite silly indeed for some overly-reacting people to rise up to deny such displays on public property in a nation that is 80+% Christian.

    So, let me get this straight. Putting Christian nativity scenes alone up on public property is in no way an endorsement of Christianity, but anyone who objects is whiny and overreacting because this country is 80% Christian?

    And this doesn't amount to an endorsement of Christianity in your view? Please, cracker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. mannning says:

    @Eric the OTB Lurker:

    Sure doesn’t. Where I am, if an other religion wanted to put up their symbols for this time of year, they are welcome.. Tempest in a teapot as usual!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  35. mannning says:

    @Eric the OTB Lurker:

    Well, if fundamentalists meet my criteria for being unAmerican then I oppose them. Simple as that.

    So far, I haven’t been exposed to any Christian fundamentalists that threaten the nation. There may be such, but not around here, as far as I know. But, then, I haven’t been turning over any rocks to find them, either. Have you?

    This is “one nation, under God,” as the pledge goes, ever since Eisenhower championed putting it in. Jefferson managed to refer to the Creator, too, and it was accepted, and he did put that phrase in a letter, you know; “separation of church and state,” but not in the founding documents. Neither does the Constitution refer to separation of church and state, but, rather, in the establishment clause, it bars the government from setting up a national religion. Others would have it differently, of course, but then they are bending the words of the Constitution to their wishes. I do not appreciate those, such as the ACLU, who would bend the Constitution to their own ends.

    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  36. mannning says:

    @mantis:

    Your modifications are your interpretation, not mine. The opportunity exists for other religions to put their symbols on display if they ask to, and some actually do. But today, with all of the silly nonsense you promote most government agencies avoid the troubles your kind gives them, and simply do not display any symbols at all out of fear of lawsuits from the ACLU or other groups dedicated to absolute and really uncalled for kinds of separation.

    When I worked in government spaces, we had lots of Christmas decorations, even a well-appointed Christmas tree, in the offices and conference rooms, and they held a big Christmas party there, too. I suppose that was against your ideas also. How very infantile!

    What I believe is that those offering such objections are actually mindless haters of Christianity and are just looking, nay thirsting, for any excuse to make trouble. Rational people would live and let live, and trust the sufficient separation given by our laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  37. mannning says:

    I wonder.

    It must be terrible to labor under the massive load of Christian symbolism that surrounds one in the cities and suburbs, and piques one in the rural areas of America, especially on Sundays when they all trek to church.

    Just who would feel that way? Off the cuff, I’d say it would be atheists, secular humanists, agnostics, Muslims, a-religious, neo-Nazis, and perhaps some of the vanishingly small sects of perhaps 15 other religions, such as listed in the census and make up the odd 20% or so of non-Christians.

    I suppose they feel affronted and depressed that they do not have the majority power that Christians have and practice all the time, but they do have their own places of worship unhindered for the most part and their very own symbols marking the spot. But they are not satisfied with that. No, they must attack the Christians and their symbolism as if the very existence of Christian symbols threatens to stifle all of the odd religions and cause dissention in their ranks, especially in their children. No more prayer in schools, they demand, and succeed.

    Wasn’t this Christian dominance in the US well known from way back, such that if they didn’t like it, there was ample opportunity to select another nation where their particular religion was coddled? No, they chose to stay here, because of our freedoms, security and our scale of living. Now they want to change things around to suit themselves, and tear down anything Christian they can get leverage on.

    By doing so, they are creating a growing and potentially severe backlash that puts them in a very unfavorable light in our Christian culture and way of life. Can an employer that sees the damage done to his religion honestly trust, hire and promote such destructive people if he knows their deeds? I don’t know, but it surely could be an unwritten factor. Open bias of that sort is against the law, of course, of course.

    One cannot attack a religion without such a backlash, however, and many, if not most, Christians, even divided into many sects as they are, see it as a concerted attack on their religion, and they see the levers being used as mistakes of interpretation that need to be corrected somehow, but not very clearly just yet. They marvel at the Supreme Court decisions that favor the odd religions, and grudgingly obey for the nonce, storing each affront to their sensibilities up for future use. We should appoint better justices to the court they say, and more conservatives to the legislatures and to the highet posts in the land.

    Why, they ask, isn’t the status quo satisfactory to all? Are we not sufficiently secular now? Why create such challenges to our society when they are really not needed at all? What do they gain by such attacks? What do they lose? Have any of these people felt the bias against them? Have they felt the ceiling to their ambitions looming up because of their positions? Did they have to seek out positions that favored their rather stark differing thoughts and actions, such as self employment? Why are they being so divisive?

    I wonder.

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