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When patriotism wasn't religious
September 12, 2002 7:44 AM   Subscribe

When patriotism wasn't religious (nytimes) Last night in front of the Texas Capitol in Austin, the 9/11 memorial vigil featured singing of The Lord's Prayer; a Baptist reverend who talked mostly of caution against the "Islamic government of Sudan" and "Islamic mobs" who attacked Christians and Jews in Pakistan; and a Catholic bishop who addressed "our God" over 100 times. Am I wrong to think this amount of religiosity was inappropriate in front of a mixed public crowd at the statehouse? How can we be free when church and state are so intertwined?
posted by skyboy (122 comments total)

 
Following these, Lee Greenwood's anthem "God Bless the USA" started to blare and by that point I felt so isolated I had to leave the vigil.

I had come to honor the memory of those killed, and honor those who risk their lives protecting us -- I'm one-degree from a firefighter who died at WTC -- and I simply couldn't accept how the podium was being used.

By contrast, the minister at the firefighter's memorial service that morning gave a much shorter and less political speech.

It would be foolish of me not to recognize that there are (regional) religious majorities in this country, and I welcome their freedom to practice and pray together*...

But it seems downright un-American to mix multiple faith-based sermons within a nonsectarian service that is open to the public, and I just feel I need to say so. That the speakers messages' were of fear and (implicit) exclusion is even more troubling considering how our global society changed on 9/11/2001.

* For those for whom it would make a difference: I'm not Muslim, nor an atheist. But I'm one heck of a equalist, and 100% patriotic.
posted by skyboy at 7:45 AM on September 12, 2002


As long as I am not punished for not believing in a certain religion, and as long as I am free to believe in whatever religion I want, then I really don't care if government officials express their own religious views.

How can we be free when church and state are so intertwined?

I would only consider my freedom to be at jeopoardy if I could be legally/criminally punished for not following a government mandated religion. Or if the government outlawed religious belief.
posted by jsonic at 7:53 AM on September 12, 2002


But jsonic, it's not that the government officials are expressing their own religious views, it's that they're expressing them as the views of the nation. It seems like a pretty slippery slope to me.
posted by kate_fairfax at 7:55 AM on September 12, 2002


The First Amendment of the Constitution says the following:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

I am not sure how the gathering in Texas violated this point?
posted by Odi et Amo at 7:56 AM on September 12, 2002


There is a great deal of lip service paid to "freedom" in the current climate... how free do our non-christian fellow citizens feel standing in a fervent crowd such as this? I know that I myself have censored a lot of thoughts that I would otherwise feel free to speak due to the overwhelming presence of christian patriots in my hometown.
posted by dorcas at 7:56 AM on September 12, 2002


dorcas, your censoring of your own thoughts is your own decision.
posted by David Dark at 7:59 AM on September 12, 2002


Are you implying that the government should protect us from not "feeling" free? 'Just curious.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:01 AM on September 12, 2002


I thought it was similarly deplorable how the deaths were used as a tool to justify bombing Iraq. It seemed really cynical and transparent to me.
posted by goneill at 8:04 AM on September 12, 2002


Surprisingly, our very own Bible-totin' president only mentioned God twice in last night's speech from Ellis Island.
posted by dayvin at 8:05 AM on September 12, 2002


Odi, this doesn't really violate the 1st amendment. I think you get into trouble when the FDNY has a priest on staff ( he died in the attacks, I've seen the pictures a hundred times, but his name escapes me ).

Also, the House and Senate have priests on the payroll. That to me is crossing the line.

how free do our non-christian fellow citizens feel standing in a fervent crowd such as this

Like a Jets fan at a Giants game I would assume. It's awkward, and a bit uncomfortable. Thinking different from a crowd will never be a cozy feeling. Even if the speaker in Austin had included every religion in his speach, you would still be surrrounded by Christians.
posted by remlapm at 8:05 AM on September 12, 2002


how can we be free when church and state are so intertwined? why, just follow the leadership of our heroic president, that's how! why do you hate america so much? why do you want the 'terrists' to win? do your patriotic duty and commit violence against a brown allah-worshiping freak today! send 10% of your income to the Faith-based Government Tithing for Homeland Security office so that heathens the world over can be erased from existence! don't you know our founding fathers all beleived in the holy trinity - oil, compound interest, and control of the masses through fear of god?!
[bends over toilet, hurls chunks at high velocity]
posted by quonsar at 8:07 AM on September 12, 2002


Patriotism and religion seem to lie at the root of all war; I respect the citizens of the US and personally believe in their 'freedom'. I cannot accept, however, that war is the answer rather than a realistic and practical analysis of the causes of the resentment that built to the hatred that flew the aircraft into those buildings (it wasn't just the pious hypocrisy that upset them).
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:08 AM on September 12, 2002


As a non-Christian American, I can understand your discomfort. I share that feeling of isolation some times, and am annoyed by those that would aggressively "bear witness" to me.

However, I don't think that people should be forced to avoid saying what they think or believe in public gatherings.

Now, if the only way you are allowed to say anything at such public ceremony is if you are a "Good Christian Patriot" that's a different story. ...
posted by moonbiter at 8:08 AM on September 12, 2002


remlapm, his name is Father Mychal Judge.
posted by dayvin at 8:09 AM on September 12, 2002


[quote]Patriotism and religion seem to lie at the root of all war;[/quote]

I would hazard to guess that the root is even more basic than that. And I'd also exchange the word patriotism for nationalism, but that's just me.
posted by trioperative at 8:11 AM on September 12, 2002


shit, this isn't ubb.
posted by trioperative at 8:11 AM on September 12, 2002


Arthur Schlesinger Jr. remains the best and the brightest of the best and the brightest.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:14 AM on September 12, 2002


kate_faifax: it's that they're expressing them as the views of the nation. It seems like a pretty slippery slope to me.

I think that any time a politician claims to be speaking for the "American People" their claims should be scrutinized skeptically. But in the end, they are simply expressing a viewpoint. If a government official attempted to enforce their specific religious views, only then is your freedom in peril.
posted by jsonic at 8:15 AM on September 12, 2002


That a Baptist minister and a Catholic bishop invoked God in their speeches isn't exactly a surprise, but it does sound more like a Christian church service than a memorial. There were Muslims and Jews (and I suspect a few other theists and atheists) among the 3000 killed. How difficult would it have been to invite a rabbi or iman to say a few words?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:17 AM on September 12, 2002


Remlapm:

Again, having a priest on a payroll of the fire department or a priest for the House or Senate does not violate what the constitution has stated regarding religion and the state. If there was a law passed that said that there had to be a Christian(and I use this word in the most general way) priest or for that matter any priest from any religion on the payroll of the NYFD or the House and Senate....I would say there is a problem. I am not aware that this is the case. To further make the problem difficult, I think that the constitution is referring to the Federal Congress and not that of the states....but I am far from a constitutional scholar.
posted by Odi et Amo at 8:18 AM on September 12, 2002


How can we be free when church and state are so intertwined?
Gee, last time I checked I realized that I am still truly free to think for myself regardless of what religious leaders say about politicians and what politicians says about religion.

I'd really practice religion (although I do wonder about God, I guess my disclaimer is that I'm an agnostic, so to speak), but I do recognize that freedom is a balance between one's right to practice religion, which is support by the government, and the right for people to free from the oppressive imposing of religion, which is also enforced by the government.
posted by Bag Man at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2002


how free do our non-christian fellow citizens feel standing in a fervent crowd such as this?

Speaking as a non-christian fellow citizen, and having been in crowds like this in the wake of Sept. 11, I feel I can share a love of my country but still differ on matters of religion. I might feel a little put-out, or left out, because a majority of the crowd are praying to J.C., but that's certainly not an infringement of my freedom. In situations like 9/11 where people are coming to terms with such grief I think it would be unreasonable to deny them the religious aspect.

At any rate, Christians and other conservative religious folk are bombarded daily with messages from our secular culture that go against many of their deeply-held beliefs, so I'm not inclined to get worked up over it.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:31 AM on September 12, 2002


hope I'm not too far off the beaten path, but has anyone ever thought about how most marriages are the ultimate union between church and state? religious, traditional ceremony ("before God") and a binding contract to your spouse required by the state.
posted by pallid at 8:35 AM on September 12, 2002


"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 prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state." Thomas Jefferson. The prosecution rests.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:36 AM on September 12, 2002


Odi et Amo: De jure, no, it's not required that the House chaplain be Christian. But de facto, even appointing a Catholic instead of a Protestant caused quite an ugly fight.

That stinks a whole lot like establishment to me.
posted by ptermit at 8:37 AM on September 12, 2002


Gee, last time I checked I realized that I am still truly free to think for myself regardless of what religious leaders say about politicians and what politicians says about religion.

One could say the same about Iraqis, without calling them "free".
posted by salmacis at 8:38 AM on September 12, 2002


I would disagree that the constitution even needs to be the test here. It's pretty clear that no law is being broken. But it's distasteful to wag your god around at what should rightly be a secular memorial. If I want to go to church, I'll do it on Sunday. Public gatherings ought not be Christian services.
posted by Gilbert at 8:41 AM on September 12, 2002


I'm not a member of any organized religion, but I support those who have faith and who want to commemorate and remember the events of 9/11 in the context of that faith.

I object to taxpayer supported Christian religious services on any occasion, not the least on an occasion when a multi-denominational service would have been the one most appropriate for those being commemorated.

I object to my tax dollars being used to portray "Christian" religious services as the automatic choice of a nation of peoples whose religions span the range of every major religion on the planet.

I object to the heavy-handed way that Bush shoves his conservative Christian faith down the throats of the American public at any opportunity.

I honestly do think the man believes that if you're not Christian, you might as well just pack your bags for hell and I'm afraid of him for that reason. Extremism isn't more acceptable because it's cloaked in "Christian" dogma.
posted by AnneZo at 8:48 AM on September 12, 2002


At any rate, Christians and other conservative religious folk are bombarded daily with messages from our secular culture that go against many of their deeply-held beliefs, so I'm not inclined to get worked up over it.
Ty - your tolerance is admirable, but I can't let this slide. You're saying that since Christians have to put up with the fact that they no longer infect every root and branch of people's daily lives with their magical thinking, we should commensurately put up with those occasions where they attempt to conscript us as a nation into faking allegiance to their diety?
posted by soyjoy at 8:53 AM on September 12, 2002


Pallid, my fiancee and I are getting married soon. We have made every effort to keep any mention of God out of the ceremony and off of the ketubah (a Jewish marriage "contract"). We are both Jewish in history and culture, although I am atheist and my fiancee is agnostic... I guess you could call us "secular Jews."

No problems here with intermingling of church and state in our marriage!


Back to the topic at hand, I find it extremely disturbing that in almost every event that I have participated in which invokes the name of a god, its always the Christian god, all other religions are ignored. IMHO, if you can't be inclusive of all people and their religious beliefs, then its not appropriate to pray to any specific god in an open, public forum. Keep your God out of my life, please.
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 8:57 AM on September 12, 2002


You're saying that since Christians have to put up with the fact that they no longer infect every root and branch of people's daily lives with their magical thinking,

Hyperbolize much? Your unfortunate use of the word "infect" ignores the fact that religion, specifically Christianity, played a major part in every single social movement in U.S. history, abolition, suffrage, civil rights, anti-Vietnam, anti-nuclear, etc. Obviously religion inspires evil as well as good, but try to have a more balanced view. And point your lazy derision somewhere else.

we should commensurately put up with those occasions where they attempt to conscript us as a nation into faking allegiance to their diety?

No one is attempting to "conscript" anyone else into anything, no one is forcing you to pray along, and no one is mistreating you or denying you any of your rights just because they happen to be practicing their religion where you can see it. If you feel threatened by that then that's obviously your issue.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2002


I find a sick sort of dark irony that whoever that dude was happily complained about Islamic mobs persecuting Christians in Pakistan. What about the Christian bombers obliterating Muslim weddings in Afghanistan? Ok so that wasn't on purpose, and there are probably much better examples one could dig up, probably some of them right here in America, but I really dislike this our-side-vs-their-side mentality. There are so many injustices in the world I don't see the benefits of singling out one example over the others while ignoring any that may tar the reputations of your friends or allies or sympathizers. Not sure where I'm going here, but I don't like it when public figures go damning this sect or that sect.

And on preview, looking at FullFrontalNerdity's post, I couldn't agree more. I'd like to see a national movement away from the use of "God" specifically referring to the God of the Bible. Hell, Arab Christians call this very same God "Allah," so it isn't like the names of these deities is that important.
posted by mogwai at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2002


FullFrontalNerdity: then its not appropriate to pray to any specific god in an open, public forum.

Because you don't agree with someone else you feel justified in restricting what they can and cannot say in public? Interesting definition of freedom.

Keep your God out of my life, please.

How exactly is God being forced into your life? Are you threatened with jail time for not believing, or are you just unhappy that others openly talk about their beliefs? If you want a public event that specifically restricts people from mentioning religion, then organize one. Forcing an event organized by somebody else to agree with your opinions doesn't sound very free to me.
posted by jsonic at 9:24 AM on September 12, 2002


What about the Christian bombers obliterating Muslim weddings in Afghanistan?

When exactly did the pope order that?

Despite all the rhetoric, the bombers in use in Afghanistan belong to the people of the United States, not a church, Christian or otherwise. It is arguable that the US actions in Afghanistan have a Christian endorsement, but please don't presume that the government ordering those actions is controlled by Christianity, or for that matter, following the tenets thereof.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:29 AM on September 12, 2002


how most marriages are the ultimate union between church and state? religious, traditional ceremony ("before God") and a binding contract to your spouse required by the state.

The only part the state requires is the state contract. It's up to individual couples whether they want to have a religious ceremony as well. There's no intertwining there, except that some religious institutions won't perform a ceremony unless there's a gov. contract (because they want to appear to be connected to the legality: they don't want a marriage they perform to not "be real" so they'll only perform marriages that have already been legally rendered). Others will; all depends on the religious institution.

I'm atheist and don't really care that much when people invoke god as a way to find comfort. I only feel bothered if it's implied that god is the only way, which i didn't feel during sept. 11 services. Just take it metaphorically (which I think on some level even most believers do, since they still go through intense grief when loved ones die etc, and if they really truly took it literally that they're just hanging out in the sky, why would it be so sad?)
posted by mdn at 9:31 AM on September 12, 2002


Ty - Yes, the word "infect" was hyperbolic. Given. The period of time I was evoking predates the movements you reference, and the U.S. itself - a time when church and state were truly one, the return to which many in Bush's circle seem to be trying to achieve. But "lazy" derision? Having studied this subject quite a bit both academically and on my own and having published articles on the topic, this is anything but an offhand dismissal. My viewpoints may be many things; lazy ain't one of 'em.

And yeah, sure I feel "threatened" when our leaders invoke "God" to assure us it's OK to go start an unneeded war that will inevitably have violent repercussions here. I can "choose" not to "pray along," yes, but with bible-thumping zealots like Ashcroft in charge of determining who's a threat to the state, that "choice" has its own frightening implications. Again: I don't think that danger to my freedom is on a par with the inconvenience of having to live in a society where not everybody happens to acknowledge one's own magical - er, sorry, mystical - world view.
posted by soyjoy at 9:42 AM on September 12, 2002


jsonic: Sorry, that probably came off wrong. I don't feel its right for a publicly funded event to be partisan to one god over others. And that's exactly what the original FPP described.

Pray to whomever you want, that's your business. I pray to nobody (except the porcelain god, on occassions of great excesses *smirk*) and should not be forced to sit through such services at public events (e.g. public school graduations, inaugurations, etc.) Our freedoms are designed to protect the minority, aren't they?
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 9:48 AM on September 12, 2002


Things don't change. I came across a piece written by Mark Twain -- remember him? -- on www.textz.com a kind of successor to the old Guttenburg project with lots of books and shorter stuff both old and new, in and out of copyright, all downloadable. Anyway, the piece is called The War Prayer. I would have posted it here but its pretty long and I'm still a newbie and I'mnot allowed. Nevertheless, its well worth reading in this context.
posted by donfactor at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2002


with bible-thumping zealots like Ashcroft in charge of determining who's a threat to the state, that "choice" has its own frightening implications.

Do you really believe Ashcroft is going to come after the unbelievers? Or is this just more hyperbole?

Again: I don't think that danger to my freedom is on a par with the inconvenience of having to live in a society where not everybody happens to acknowledge one's own magical - er, sorry, mystical - world view.

Uh, what danger to your freedom? The one you just imagined in your previous sentence? The danger of having to sit through a three minute prayer?

Our freedoms are designed to protect the minority, aren't they?

Yes, balanced against the will of the majority.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:01 AM on September 12, 2002


I agree with Ty. Want to add that I believe the Constitution and it's amendments are brilliant precisely because they rarely speak in terms of absolutes, rather, they seem to understand that the governance of a democracy will always be a matter of balancing multiple perspectives. These documents implicitly recognize that extremes in almost any direction are potentially harmful to freedom.

The First Amendment is a powerful case in point: it is a strange and paradoxical beast - its first two clauses cannot be seperated from one another ... but have also set the groundwork for intellectual scuffling for the entire course of US histroy - and lie behind the current arguments.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..." clearly means that there can never be a state sponsored religion. This, however, cannot be considered seperately from the second clause ... "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

When the potential force of the state is used to either enforce a particular religion (as in, for instance, some Muslim countries), or forbid the practice of a particular religion (as, for instance, when some communist countries outlawed what they called "the opiate of the masses"), seriously negative outcomes are almost assured.

Because the First Amendment explicitly denies either extreme, there will always be a tension between the two conflicting pulls, and continual arguments over where exactly the point of balance really is.

Those who object to ministers paid by the state, or who resent so much religious talk at public gatherings, or who don't want Bush "shoving" his religion down their throats, are clearly focusing on the first clause ... and fear the "slippery slope" towards establishment that such things may indicate.

The people speaking at those events, however, and those paying the ministers, and Bush talking openly about religion are looking at the second clause - and to them, America went overboard in the opposite direction during the Clinton era ... in which almost any reference to religion at all is very nearly forbidden in public life. To them, this is an equally "slippery slope" towards the state using its power to "prohibit the free exercise thereof".

While we are living in politically correct times, and being perceived as "insensitive" is very nearly same thing as being called a "sinner", it should be noted that the First Amendment not only does not guarantee that everyone will be "comfortable", in fact, it virtually assures that we will all be permanently uncomfortable. It is precisely because that Amendment delibrately scripts an environment of perpetually balanced tensions that we've been arguing back and forth for the last two hundred years, and will continue to argue back and forth for the next two hundred. We are supposed to.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:01 AM on September 12, 2002


...since they still go through intense grief when loved ones die etc, and if they really truly took it literally that they're just hanging out in the sky, why would it be so sad?

From what I've observed, I think people who grieve do so for themselves, or for the loved ones of the deceased... not for the actual deceased.

But I do think a lot of religious people believe in God(s) in a somewhat theoretical sense.
posted by Foosnark at 10:06 AM on September 12, 2002


My problem is how observance of the tragedy is being used to further establish a national religion, call it "Americanism". According to at least one Republican spokesperson, Sept 11 is a sacred day for America. The truly religious should be as wary of this trend as the non-religious since it dilutes their message to feel-good nationalism.
posted by norm29 at 10:13 AM on September 12, 2002


To answer your question skyboy, lead by example. How is that, well don't participate, ignore it. Yes, if you go out and make press of the wrong, well like they say bad press is still good press. So what to do, show how it is done. I will stand behind you and follow by example.

Or do we just talk about things and point. There are elections coming up. What do you plan on contributing to your community, besides a vote? And if my pastor mixed state within his church I would revaluate being a part of his congregation. Now I'm not taking away from how you mourn, there is nothing wrong, as long as you do it with dignity reflecting honor on you and the dead. But if you show no class, then what have you done for the dead.
Not RIP.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:25 AM on September 12, 2002


FullFrontalNerdity: I see your point about not having to hear religious stuff at events like graduation, but I think it would also be weird if any mention of religion was strictly forbidden at the event too.

If someone did say something religious at a restricted event, would they be punished? I wouldn't want to see that happen simply because somebody didnt want to hear the word "God".

...should not be forced to sit through such services at public events

I wouldn't say you are really forced to stay, but it does kind of suck that if you don't want to hear it your only choice is to leave.
posted by jsonic at 10:25 AM on September 12, 2002


The truly religious should be as wary of this trend as the non-religious since it dilutes their message to feel-good nationalism.

But it is a question of balance. The truly religious - who turn to their religion with the greatest intensity in trying to cope with death - would likely be equally upset if any mention of God or religion was completely banished from a day of rememberance.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2002


Dissing Islam is regrettable and unconstructive. But what is also regrettable is that the only Islamic-sourced dissing of the terrorists has been in minimal, and hushed tones. Has there ever been a rally by Muslims publically condemning and distancing themselves from Osama and Company?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:31 AM on September 12, 2002


Do you really believe Ashcroft is going to come after the unbelievers? Or is this just more hyperbole?

Watch out: the hyperbole of choosing the word "infect" is not analogous to claiming something has "frightening implications" when it doesn't. So, no, not more hyperbole: I definitely meant that the AG's largely unchecked power combined with his worldview creates a real danger to those who dissent from it. Is that news to you? Citations needed?

And Midas, "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" is not what those of us who object to govt. endorsements of Christianity are doing. Religion has a place: In the house of God. That clause preserves the right of people to worship in whatever house of God they wish to, which, you'll recall, had indeed been prohibited many places before that was written. But allowing people to worship, to freely associate and even to individually, publicly declaim their faith is not the same as having our government officials publicly endorse ONE religion to the exclusion of others or to claim that the U.S. is a "Judeo-Christian nation." That is what I am strongly objecting to.
posted by soyjoy at 10:32 AM on September 12, 2002


As an ordained minister of Christian persuasion I have often been asked to speak or pray at public gatherings and commemorations. It has always been difficult to gauge how generic in my comments I should be. ON the one hand, if I have been asked to speak, someone has decided that a religious voice desired. On the other hand, I realize that not everyone believes the way I do or the way Christians in general believe. I feel guilty watering down what I believe to be truly inspirational and hope giving ideas because I may offend somebody.

I guess what I have done is speak on behalf of my particular brand of Christianity. I can say what I believe, own those comments, and not pretend that I am speaking for everyone in the crowd. I invite people to pray with me, but don't expect them to join in. I share my thoughts to hopefully provoke some thinking on the part of others but not to tell them how they ought to think.
posted by ziklagz at 10:53 AM on September 12, 2002


But what is also regrettable is that the only Islamic-sourced dissing of the terrorists has been in minimal, and hushed tones. Has there ever been a rally by Muslims publically condemning and distancing themselves from Osama and Company?

I agree ParisParamus, it's very regrettable. Not one rally has happened, and not one will. The law abiding Muslims of the US will not participate in such an event because they know if they do, there will be a price to pay "back home". Many fear their families, many of whom still live in the Middle East, will be targeted. That's why they call it terrorism.
posted by pallid at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2002


I definitely meant that the AG's largely unchecked power combined with his worldview creates a real danger to those who dissent from it. Is that news to you? Citations needed?

Yes, please provide citations to back up your implication that Ashcroft will come after those who dissent from his beliefs, and how that relates to you having to sit through a few prayers at a public memorial service.

Don't get me wrong, I think Ashcroft is one of the most bizarre people ever to serve as AG, but get a grip.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2002


Religion has a place: In the house of God.

This certainly is your opinion, and is a legitimate opinion. But that is your distinction ... there is nothing in the Constitution or its Amendments specifically relegates religion to churches, or precludes its expression in the public sphere. It merely says the state will never be able to force individuals to profess belief in any particular religion, nor will it be able to forbid individuals from professing the faith they have adopted. Simply because Christianity happens to be the current faith of the majority doesn't mean its adherents can be forbidden from even mentioning it anywhere but in churches.

(For what it's worth, if I am personally anything, I'm probably a neo-Platonist ... and having studied a bit of history, pretty much think Christianity is little other than a a set of tribal superstitions ... an odd amalgamation of a number of older belief systems. But I'm not bothered in the least if people want to praise Jesus in any forum. My wife is much less forgiving - when we lived in Houston we constantly had people coming to our door to share "the Word" ... she'd let them in and talk to them, and over the course of the discussion wind up unbuttoning her shirt to the navel, teasing them unmercifully. I told her she was just mean - she said that it was a "philosophical argument meant to challenge the beliefs of their repressive little brains". My wife loves the US Constitution, because she probably would not stay alive very long in a Muslim country. :)
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:05 AM on September 12, 2002


there will be a price to pay "back home". Many fear their families, many of whom still live in the Middle East, will be targeted. That's why they call it terrorism.

I really don't know if this is true: what about Muslims with no roots outside the West?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2002


What if numerous references to the Christian god in the public forum initially referenced above were instead substituted with references to Buddha or Allah?

I suspect that our Christian friends would have a lot to say about the inappropriateness of that scenario. They would also understand how non-believers feel virtually every day.

The constitution is there to protect everyone from the tyranny of the majority. Freedom *of* religion means freedom *from* religion (despite Sen. Joe Lieberman's claims to the contrary). When the government continually embraces the tenets of a particular (or any) religion - i.e., faith-based initiatives, 10 commandments displayed in courthouses, pledge of allegiance, etc. - non-believers have every reason to believe that the government has embraced religion as a doctrine and they will most likely not receive the equal protection and treatment otherwise guaranteed by that government.

All the more so in times when the enemy du jour is decidedly non-Christian.
posted by krtzmrk at 11:14 AM on September 12, 2002


Midas, you have a very cool wife!

Ziklagz--does that mean that when you speak at a public event, you say exactly what you would say if you were preaching at your church? Are you invited to these events to spread your particular word or as a representative of religion in general or as one of many religious representatives present?
I speak as a jewish person who agrees with FullFrontal wholeheartedly--if christians speak of God it's fine, but when it's all jesus this and jesus that, and accepting jesus as the savior of america against those heathen muslims and islam--I'm shut out of that, along with many other people in the audience at public events, and that's not right...
posted by amberglow at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2002


How can we be free when church and state are so intertwined?

What Church are we talking about? Catholic is different than Baptist. The main (historical) reason for religious tolerance has been to reject the idea of a state religion and to protect the religious from other religious people who happen to have control of the state.

The fact that those guys both can be up there is because of the First Amendment. I understand people being uncomfortable with God being dragged into public events. But the answer is more voices, not fewer.
posted by oddovid at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2002


I really don't know if this is true: what about Muslims with no roots outside the West?

I would be willing to bet the percentage of Muslims in the US without family ties to the Middle East is very, very low. My comment stems from an interview I saw with a Muslim teacher here in the US. He was explaining why there were no demonstrations and stated said reason as a key factor.
posted by pallid at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2002


soyjoy: Religion has a place: In the house of God

krtzmrk: Freedom *of* religion means freedom *from* religion

So you're saying we should segregate Them then? That's obviously the only way to be free from Them and their "Ideas". There's a lot a history behind that sort of thinking, where Them == (Christians|Blacks|Jews).
posted by turbodog at 11:30 AM on September 12, 2002


But the answer is more voices, not fewer.

Succinct. And absolutely perfectly expressed. That is the vision implicit in the First Amendment.Neither an established religion nor the absence of religion - but rather multiple free expressions of it. My favorite PoliSci professor in college once said he disliked the metaphor of the "melting pot", and thought it ought to be replaced with that of a flower garden. The ideal should neither be an entire garden planted with only one flower, nor an acre of dirt where nothing can be planted at all for fear that one flower will take over ... rather, simply a garden full of all manner of different plants flowering as they will ...
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:35 AM on September 12, 2002


I think that talk here about Christianity is confused. There are Christians and then there are Christians. Where I live people, when asked might say, "I am C of E," or "I'm a Catholic" or "Methodist." What I find myself worrying about the ones who announce at the drop of a hat, "I am a Christian." These are born again zealots who would be happy to see those who are not saved be destroyed in the Final days which they believe to be imminent. From what I have heard the AG numbers himself, among these. The prophecies of the end times, mostly American mis-readings of certain Old and New Testament texts, colour his thinking about most issues. "How," such people ask, "will this affect the coming Apocaplypse and how can I help to hurry it up?"

Such people, and there are many of them, around these days, are in my opinion just as dangerous in the long run as Wahabi Muslims or ultra-orthodox Jews who murder more liberal politicians.
posted by donfactor at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2002


Somewhat related links:

Newsweek's interesting article about heaven includes descriptions of, among other things, how the promise of heaven has been used to motivate the faithful to go to war (sorry - Google cached version was all I could find). Thus, it is a politically smart move to get Americans talking about heaven right now while we are on the brink of war...

The parents of Flight 93 victim Christine Snyder refuse to participate in a memorial service because it included a Muslim speaker.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:03 PM on September 12, 2002


by skyboy "...Am I wrong to think this amount of religiosity was inappropriate in front of a mixed public crowd ...and by that point I felt so isolated I had to leave the vigil.

Skyboy - You were in a group of people with different views than you have, they were expressing their views, and you felt isolated and had to leave? Why did you have to leave? I'm not trying to be snarky - I'm just trying to understand why you and so many others don't want other people to be able to state their own opinions because you don't happen to agree with them.

Even if they had not been expressing their views in a speech, they would still HAVE their views, and you would still be isolated. Is it the hearing of those people's opinions that made you uncomfortable?
posted by trigfunctions at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2002


Yes, please provide citations to back up your implication that Ashcroft will come after those who dissent from his beliefs...

OK, I'm sure you saw the list of what basic constitutional rights we've lost in the past year and/or are already aware of those. Chief among these for dissenters is the 4th amendment, which has been eviscerated in cases where there's a "suspicion" of domestic terrorism. What could cause such a suspicion? Well, someone who's not on the same side as Ashcroft's America in this war.

Paranoia? Rob Morse observes that Ashcroft's statement that "freedom is not a grant of any government or document, but is an endowment from God" is "scary, especially for nonbelievers." Because if we ain't got God, we got no freedom for the AG to remove.

Has Ashcroft already jailed people simply for dissenting? Or simply for disbelieving? WE DON'T KNOW, because in violation of his job description, Ashcroft has detained more than 1,000 people for extended periods of time, refusing to release key information about them to the public or even to Congress! Once he comes clean about all of those "criminals" I can give you a full accounting.

Is it such an odd concept that Ashcroft might target the godless? Maybe, but it's hardly mine: Robert Scheer asks, "can the attorney general be trusted to protect the rights of those whose spiritual life rests outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition when he has excluded them from the ranks of civilized people?" And Brian Doherty answers, "Ashcroft is a man at war not simply with Muslim extremists, but with secular America." Constitutional law professor Jamin B. Raskin says America's "conservatives" are prepared to push constitutional amendments to deal with a host of symbolic, cultural and even supernatural problems, and Nat Hentoff reminds us that "the new law's definition of 'domestic terrorism' is so broad that entirely innocent people can be swept into this surveillance dragnet." Call me crazy, but that's scary, and it's precisely because Ashcroft answers to God alone, rather than to the constitution.

Thank you and God bless.
posted by soyjoy at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2002


Yes, please provide citations to back up your implication that Ashcroft will come after those who dissent from his beliefs

"There's a difference between a culture that has no king but Caesar, no standard but the civil authority, and a culture that has no king but Jesus, no standard but the eternal authority. When you have no king but Caesar, you release Barabas -- criminality, destruction, thievery, the lowest and least. When you have no king but Jesus, you release the eternal, you release the highest and best, you release virtue, you release potential."

Does he say that he's coming after the non-believers? Not exactly. But considering his position, the attitude that non-Christians are "the lowest and the least" makes for a pretty disturbing picture.
posted by frykitty at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2002


As always its a bit foolish to ignore Supreme Court rulings in regards to constitutional issues. The establishment clause is a bit more complex than the far-right's interpretation:
"The establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor a federal government can set up a church. Neither can they pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can it force nor influence a person to go to or remain away form churches against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbelief's, for church attendance, or non attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion." Majority Supreme Court opinion written by Hugo Black in Everson v Board of Education in 1947.
Sure sounds like they're professing a belief to me. Not to mention taxes spent on in-house holy men. It would almost be excusable if it wasn't 100% Christian, but the egalitarian ideal is dead with those heavily invested in faith. They 'know' baby Jesus is the one for them and others who don't agree simply don't matter much. Its just a disgrace on a national level to see this kind of ignorance of other cultures, religions, non-believers, etc and proselytization fueled by a horrible attack on US citizens. What a horrible shame to be suppsedly honoring the dead Christian style when the dead are not all Christians.

This is unexcusable, and here in Chicago we had crowd-pleasing moments of silence which is a pretty good compromise, though the mayor gave some kind of weirdo carefully worded prayer. Really, why bother? The moment of silence works well enough without disillusioning the religious elements (and ESPECIALLY their votes) and violating the separation clause.

Then again this is Chinatown, err, Texas.
posted by skallas at 12:49 PM on September 12, 2002


I really don't know if this is true: what about Muslims with no roots outside the West?

Has it ever occurred to you, PeePee, in your well-documented zeal to tar all Muslims with your blackened brush, that many of them actually DON'T feel responsible for what happened because they don't subscribe to the extremist beliefs which begat the attacks? Heaven forbid they should walk around upright, secure in their own conduct and not guilty by proxy of misperceived association.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2002


Has there ever been a rally by Muslims publically condemning and distancing themselves from Osama and Company?

You do realize that every time Muslims in this country have held a vigil or service that had anything to do with 9/11, we've done exactly that? Every single time? Public denunciations of extremism and Osama at Muslim events are so common they're like a mantra. Apparently its faded into the background for you, or the news doesn't consider it interesting enough to report. I'm sorry if we didn't have one that was exclusively focused on Osama, but our resources have been spread pretty thin.
posted by laz-e-boy at 1:02 PM on September 12, 2002


donkeyd: nice cheap shot.

laz-e-boy: you raise a valid point, for which I thank you. Just know that the message isn't getting through very well.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2002


tubodog:

I don't think any "Them" should be separated at all.

I just think that freedom to practice religion also means the freedom to not participate in any one religion - or to not practice any religion at all.

But when the state systematically embraces religion in general, or worse, one religion in particular, I am no longer free from religion.

Does this mean I am being dragged into a church at gunpoint to practice religion? Of course not.

Does it mean that I have something to worry about if I am a Muslim or atheist falsely accused of a terrorist activity and have to walk by a plaque of the ten commandments posted prominently in the courthouse on my way to trial and then swear to god that I am telling the truth? I think so.

Am I a particularly attractive target in the eyes of John Ashcroft under these conditions? I think Soyjoy would agree that I am.
posted by krtzmrk at 1:11 PM on September 12, 2002


nice cheap shot.

Praise from the master.

Just know that the message isn't getting through very well.

Particularly because you're not receptive to it.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2002


soyjoy- nice try. Having looked through your links, there isn't one which supports the idea that Ashcroft will jail non-Christians simply because they don't believe in his God, as you implied earlier. The best you can do is state: "WE DON'T KNOW, because...Ashcroft has detained more than 1,000 people for extended periods of time, refusing to release key information about them to the public or even to Congress." I agree that it's very troubling that Ashcroft is doing this, but it by no means supports your earlier implication that he will use the power of the government to jail or detain non-Christians who don't believe as he does.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2002


So you're saying we should segregate Them then(a point for me to base from , thanks turbodog)

I saw an interview last sunday on 60 minutes(I did not agree with all of the interview) she said something about westerners being refereed to as the infidel. He says no, your the bible carrying people. Ok then she says and you can carry your Koran into the United States, which he seemed to think was great, but she goes on and asks, can we come with our bible to Saudi Arabia he says no. That is segregation in my book.

Modern times has helped some countries to stop forcing religion on their country but still have a State bases on a Religion and staying moderata with the times. Yet we are free from it in our State, the religion from the beginning. But we are forgetting it was not too long ago, ask your relatives who first came why they came here. And if you believe in God then I can sense He is Almighty to you. So does He need to force you, well God has never forced me in my faith. That is true freedom from religion in my view.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:36 PM on September 12, 2002


It seems to me this thread has largely ignored the point of the original post, which, unless I've got it wrong, was the question of whether a state-sponsored or state-funded assembly should include on the program the practice of a particular religion, to the exclusion of others. There are tactful ways of including space for prayer OR quiet thought, without directing everyone to pray to a particular deity regardless of whether or not they believe in that deity.

The point of the Schlesinger piece and, I thought, of the post that linked to it, was that patriotism has become inextricably bound up, in the rhetoric of our rulers, with patriotism. Meaning that the practice of patriotism is viewed, and often enforced, as a practice necessarily linked to the profession of belief in a single supreme Being. Atheists, though they may practice their ethics far more conscientiously than self-professed "believers," are viewed as intrinsically suspect; the addition of "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance is symptomatic of this. I don't believe in God; is it automatically therefore the case that I don't believe in America, or desire to promote this country's welfare? I don't think so.

I agree that those who do believe in God whould be allowed to speak freely about their beliefs, even at state-sponsored occasions. But audience participation segments on those same occasions should not automatically exclude a large portion of the citizenry. It's like inviting everyone to the event and then announcing it's being held at a country club that doesn't admit women/black people/homosexuals.

posted by Raya at 1:43 PM on September 12, 2002


krtzmrk: your notion that you have freedom from religion is complete BS. Religion is a notion, an idea, a belief. We, as Americans, are free to believe, think and say whatever we want. You do not, conversely, have the right to not hear what you don't believe or want to hear. That street doesn't run both ways.

Maybe we need to amend the Consitution to have a Right to Convenience: whereas others have thoughts which are Not Right and in conflict my Right Thinking, let them be Silenced so as not to Inconvenience and Intrude Upon my Enlightened Existence.
posted by turbodog at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2002


oops, apologies for my open bold tag above. Didn't mean to shout. Sorry!
posted by Raya at 1:46 PM on September 12, 2002


Ty - This portion of the debate is now veering toward pointless, so I'll conclude my side of it here, having provided ample evidence (as did frykitty, thanks) that a) Ashcroft believes his job as AG is to serve God's will above and before the U.S. constitution, that b) he sees nonbelievers as enemies of both God and America and that c) he has expanded his own power to prosecute, and persecute, those HE defines as enemies to an unprecedented level. In addition I have pointed toward a few (of many) knowledgeable analysts who opine that publicly dissenting from our "national religion" may become dangerous exactly because of this. And it may be a small point, but I didn't say "Ashcroft will jail non-Christians simply because they don't believe in his God." I'm sure those jailed will have done something else wrong, such as running a stop sign, having an abortion or smoking medicinal marijuana.

I think what I've cited makes a strong case. I can't provide evidence of what Ashcroft will do to nonbelievers in the future, because it hasn't happened yet, and I can't provide evidence of what he's already done and why because he is withholding that evidence from the American people. Additionally, when someone is this fanatical, it's hard to put an upper limit on what kind of abomination they may try to get away with. However you slice it, that's a scary situation - and to once more state my original point which you keep missing, such a situation is far more troubling than that of believers who simply must live each day in a secular culture.
posted by soyjoy at 1:47 PM on September 12, 2002


Then again this is Chinatown, err, Texas.

Isn't that ChinaGrove, Texas?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:52 PM on September 12, 2002


Raya, I did, with my ending thought, Now I'm not taking away from how you mourn, there is nothing wrong, as long as you do it with dignity reflecting honor on you and the dead. But if you show no class, then what have you done for the dead. Not RIP. Common sense no, or must a law be made so it is a law, not a common?
posted by thomcatspike at 1:56 PM on September 12, 2002


I think what I've cited makes a strong case.

I disagree. The case you've made strongly indicts a wacko, (many Christians feel that he is too), but hardly indicts public religious displays. If you're afraid of Ashcroft, as you admit you are, then write your congressional representatives detailing his atrocities and excesses (which I agree are many). Vote in the next election. Use the very Democratic principles that protect you, rather than grouse about them favoring Christian beliefs. You see, we have a rule of law here, and Ashcroft can't violate that without offending all (Christians, Atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.).

This may just be me, (an Agnostic), but I'm really getting the sense that most religious persons in this country (or at least this forum) are willing to tolerate if not embrace other religious beliefs; and yet Athiests are not. Hhmmmm...
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2002


Thomcatspike: Common sense no, or must a law be made so it is a law, not a common?


But there already is a law, as the Sup. Ct. quote posted by skallas makes clear. It says the state can't force anyone to practice or profess a particular religion. What is public prayer at a secular, state-sponsored occasion but just such a moment of enforced observance? It should at least be accompanied by the recognition tht not all taxpaying, law-abinding attendees are necessarily believers. "I invite you to meditate on the significance of this event to you personally" or "...to observe silence for a moment while those who wish to pray, so so" would do.
posted by Raya at 2:11 PM on September 12, 2002


Good afternoon, and thank you, members of the choir for that heavenly introduction.

As always, I'm tempted to merely preach to you all today from my usual text, The Book of Saint Mutilate.

(Can I get an Amen!?)

But verily, in honor of members of the predomnant religion in our country whining for their "right" to use resources that belong to all citizens as tools to assert their particular worldview, and for those MeFites above who think that the Constitution somehow guarantees religious bigotry, I decided to revert back today to a minor text (The New Testament), written in part by a minor character (Matthew), who quotes some diminutive and unauthoritative guru (Jesus Christ) discussing the proper manner and venue for prayer, to wit:

1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.


Now brothers and sisters, I have no idea what all that means. This selfsame JC character ranted on about "loving thy neighbor" and "turning the other cheek" and "forgiving those who trespass against you" and even how rich people (hallelujah!) ain't a-gonna make it to heaven . Why his goddammed Father went so far as to get some stonecutter to chisel out "Thou shalt not kill", and we all know we're sure as Hell not a-gonna follow that wimpy little admonition.

(Can I get a "Praise the Fold?!)

So my advice to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, is to take JC with a grain of Mrs. Lot. Continue, as some of you do continually, to pick and choose selectively what you believe, from your own sacred texts.

And may God Ble$$ America.

Amen.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:15 PM on September 12, 2002


Amen!
posted by Raya at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2002


Uh, you know there, f_and_m, one of things that keeps a lotta peoples from embracing a hard-core Bible-is-literal-and-to-be-followed-to-the-letter based view of Christianity is that those folks (we) don't believe that quotes out of context actually mean a helluva lot. And I would like to point out that not one person here has shown that public resources were used in any event without the will of the people (some maybe, but I guess they don't believe in Saint Mutilate. The individual cannot thwart the will of the people without the rule of law, now can they?). Other than that...AMEN...(whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean).

Just an aside; its prolly not good form to admonish people not to selectively choose what to believe when you've just done that. I'm just sayin'.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:36 PM on September 12, 2002


laz-e-boy: you raise a valid point, for which I thank you. Just know that the message isn't getting through very well.

Thanks. I'm acutely aware of that. It's very frustrating for me, as you can tell.
posted by laz-e-boy at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2002


Thanks, Raya, for bringing this back around: I have no quarrel with believers of Christianity or other theisms, including atheism. I consider myself quite tolerant and therefore flexible on this -- perhaps moreso than some here, I'm even willing to accept a (small) amount of theism at events as part of human, or more correctly, societal nature.

My unease last night was largely due to the extent of the messaging, and its inappropriate character: For over 30 minutes, several speakers exalted one deity, and the *public* audience was repeatedly asked to pray to that deity. (Similar to those who remain silent during the Pledge's "... under God," I'm okay with remaining silent while other faiths pray -- once, or maybe twice. But three times and more?)

I guess I am arguing that a moment of silence would indeed have been the most equitable approach. Public prayer always excludes somebody, but if it had been short, it would perhaps have been easier to let it be.
posted by skyboy at 3:08 PM on September 12, 2002


skyboy, I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I'm kinda confused, (clueless is one of my special gifts, I guess). Are you actually holding to the thought that we just spent time and space arguing about what *you* would have thought appropriate for a 9/11 memorial? I ask, because I thought this was about what people want in a country of predominant Christian belief, and what is allowable to be displayed in a public gathering within that context of venue and law.

Here's the thing: It doesn't matter whether a call for prayer goes to a Christian God once, twice, thrice, or for hours. I understand why an Atheist would be uncomfortable with that and feel left out. But the line is drawn. If the will of the people accept it, and it does not, by law, violate your rights, you have no beef of which to speak. I'm not trying to be harsh on you here. I'm just saying that you or no other gets to choose the degree with which I or any other can show my religious affiliations. That is guaranteed me by the first amendment to the Constitution. If you felt that a service involving "God" was an affront or a misuse of public funds, you are welcome to challenge that within the courts of the United States. And claiming that those courts won't be fair to you before the fact doesn't help the cause.

I don't know if religious expression in a public ceremony is right or wrong, but I do know that whining about it is as much bigotry as is shown those who are accused of "exclusion". Probably more.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:47 PM on September 12, 2002


correction - "is shown *by* those "
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:56 PM on September 12, 2002


Brothers and sisters, we have a question from the congregation. The brother says:

Uh, you know there, f_and_m, one of things that keeps a lotta peoples from embracing a hard-core
Bible-is-literal-and-to-be-followed-to-the-letter based view of Christianity is that those folks (we) don't believe that quotes out of context actually mean a helluva lot.


Out of the mouth of babes! A man after my own heart! You mean the quotes above don't happen to coincide with the "context" of your own world view? Like I said: disregard them then! It's what some of our "public" Christians do best! Truly, the kind of Christians that love Christian prayers at government events really don't think Christ's teachings "mean a helluva lot."

~chuckle~

I'm with you, brother, and I'm here for you. Go right ahead. Feel free to attempt to explain/"put into context"/spin the entire chapter of Matthew 6 (part of The Sermon on The Mount), the fundamental teachings of Christ, The New Testament, and our ownest own Ten Commandments.

Here are some other teachings. Be sure to put them in the proper "context" for us, will you? I mean, some of us Christians would hate to actually have to follow the hard teachings of Christ, if instead we can weasel-explain them away and get back to our Money, our War, and our self-righteous Public Prayers.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, `If thou dost will to be perfect, go away, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.'

Luke 12:33 Sell what ye have, and give alms: provide yourselves bags, which become not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever he is of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 19:16 And behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?

17 And he said to him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith to him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness.

19 Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Luke 14:12 Then said he also to him that invited him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made thee.

13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind:

14 And thou shalt be blessed: for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

39 But I say to you, That ye resist not evil: but whoever shall strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

41 And whoever shall constrain thee to go one mile, go with him two.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.

Luke 6: But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

I'm sure we'll all be spiritually enraptured to learn about the true "context" of Christ's teachings...how we can disregard those that are inconvenient for us...and of what remains of Christianity once his teachings are put into "context" (read: explained away).

Again, Amen. Now I must get back to ignoring (er...I mean"putting into context") the sixth chapter of Matthew. I'm due to give the opening Christian (hey, majority rules, pal) prayer tonight at the State Capitol, denounce Islam as a religion of evil on the Larry King Show....and after that I have to bless some troops and clusterbombs headed for Iraq.

P.S.: Just an aside to all; it's prolly not good form to call yourself a "Christian" when you don't really follow the teachings of Christ. And it's prolly not good Christian form to support public Christian prayers at government, taxpayer-financed events when Christ taught that public pray-ers are hypocrites. I'm just sayin.

~wink~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:21 PM on September 12, 2002 [1 favorite]


Wulf: I was looking for opinions and I'm glad to have gotten healthy debate out of it. I respectfully dissent with the notion that government is 100% right as long as it acts in the will of the majority sect or faction.

As a member of a minority, I've felt these feelings as long as I can remember, at least back since Boy Scouts. I've long ago learned to accept that I will be occasionally be uncomfortable in a society of 'predominant Christian belief'.

I simply refuse to believe that my government should encourage this when public venues, funds and/or personnel are present, however implicit the endorsement may be. To me, and apparently a few others in this thread, the Constitution rejects such endorsement.

We clearly have different interpretations of the spirit, if not the law, of the First A's clauses on religion. As has already been pointed out, as there is the ever-present vagueness by which we argue which truths it embodies: That's usually where public policy and legislation emerges, no?

Since you brought it up, I have in fact decided I'll dedicate some time to the task of attempting to raise awareness, if not change common practice, on this issue.
posted by skyboy at 4:40 PM on September 12, 2002


Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
~wink~ indeed
posted by turbodog at 4:45 PM on September 12, 2002


The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

Exactly. Witness public "Christian" prayer.

Really. How could Christ have been oh so mistaken about the meaning of his very own teachings on prayer and peace, when current "Christians" know the One True Way.

~wink indeed~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:01 PM on September 12, 2002


I simply refuse to believe that my government should encourage this when public venues, funds and/or personnel are present, however implicit the endorsement may be. To me, and apparently a few others in this thread, the Constitution rejects such endorsement.

I agree with the sentiment that fosters this. What I disagree with is the idea that separation of church and state goes far enough that it coerces action on the part of any, and I do mean any. You say that religion must be absent from venues in which govt. personnel are involved. Is anyone associated with govt. to be bereft of religion then? Expression of a belief does not constitute law or the application of said. If one is to remove themselves from public venue just to practice belief then I claim that as coercion, and a violation of the first amendment. I am not defending Ashcroft's view of Christianity, I am defending his right to have it. The legislation of American law defends my right to preach whatever, whenever I choose. I will not support taking that away from Ashcroft or any other, because I will not support taking that right away from myself. That is the slippery slope we stand on every day. I applaud any effort you make to change the legalities of the offending situations. But for me, simply put, I will not give up my rights willingly to Ashcroft, or to those who feel excluded by public displays of religion, whatever the form.

Foldy, foldy, foldy. I'm well aware that you can quote the Bible. So what. I can quote the Quran, and I guarantee I can make it look like it calls for violent force against infidels who do not embrace Islam. But that's another thread, isn't it? ~wink~

I will not help you attack Christianity, any more than I would help another here attack Islam. Though your speeches here are amusing, they don't address the point of what is allowed by the US Constitution. Attack Christianity all you wish; it won't change the fact that you are shit-stirring for no purpose other than your own amusement.

(p.s. I like your evangelical slant, but you might consider that it speaks to a very small part of the US population. You're used to that, right?)
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:17 PM on September 12, 2002


By the way, there, f_and_m, why don't you quote us all that stuffage about "fishers of men"? I'm a little rusty on that. ~wink~
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:20 PM on September 12, 2002


Re: Supreme Court opinion by Hugo Black

No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbelief's

So who can explain to me why I, an atheist, cannot hold an elected position here in North Carolina.

For sometime I have been feeling a bit like a non-smoker in a bar in 1950. That is I'm not allowed to whine about those who blow smoke in my face (or up my ass.) I'm just supposed to grin and bare it because the majority like to smoke/believe in Jesus.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:29 PM on September 12, 2002


Ooops! I meant "bear it" of course!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:32 PM on September 12, 2002


Please, f&m, cut it out. You're missing the point -- this has nothing to do with Christian theology.

Wulf: We're still apart, but I respect your stance. Here's hoping that new legislation is unnecessary -- but increasing public consideration of non-majority beliefs wouldn't hurt us as a nation, on many different fronts.
posted by skyboy at 5:33 PM on September 12, 2002


So who can explain to me why I, an atheist, cannot hold an elected position here in North Carolina.

That question sounds rhetorical. But I'm game; so why?

Here's hoping that new legislation is unnecessary

To that, I will say "Amen".
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2002


Just in case anybody thinks I'm being mean, please understand that I'm just a staunch supporter of the Constitution and what I see as its ideals. I'm an Agnostic, but a raging patriot for Democratic ideals. Freedom rules, and I'd hate to see it diminished for any, even the smallest, quietest and weakest of of us all.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:43 PM on September 12, 2002


Little 'd' or Big 'D'? ;-)
posted by skyboy at 5:45 PM on September 12, 2002


Both. (Holy shit, I'm gonna drummed out of the Republican defense club for sure. I do that, ya know...defend Republicans. Stupid, right, whatever.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:10 PM on September 12, 2002


That question sounds rhetorical. But I'm game; so why?


Not rhetorical.
posted by frykitty at 6:23 PM on September 12, 2002


But Wulfgar! it is not rhetorical:

The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:29 PM on September 12, 2002


Sorry, frykitty for stepping on your toes!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:30 PM on September 12, 2002


Sorry, frykitty for stepping on your toes!

More links = good.
posted by frykitty at 6:35 PM on September 12, 2002


Apologies to you both. I had no idea, probably because these strictures are not enforced. If they are, I, for one, would like to see the instance. I'm not trying to undercut your points; its just that I live in a state with sodomy laws, and I know that they are not enforced simply because the state has no will to pay for the constitutional challnge to them. Why the state doesn't repeal the laws is beyond me. But without an arrest, no private citizen can challenge the laws either. Interesting twist. But it leaves us in the same boat. Has an Atheist ever held office in North Carolina?
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:39 PM on September 12, 2002


Ugh! my eyes are getting too tired to research this, but I did find this relevant story that took place in South Carolina (which has the same restrictions):

In 1990, Herb Silverman, a professor of mathematics at the College of Charleston and an atheist, decided to challenge these unconstitutional clauses by running for governor. However, due in a large part to the political influence of those who wished to uphold South Carolina's religious test, the law stayed on the books despite its blatant unconstitutionality and Silverman's direct legal challenge.

But Silverman did not give up. He next decided to try to become a South Carolina notary public, a non-elected office. Normally, of course, no one anywhere gets turned down for the position of notary public. But Silverman crossed out the phrase "so help me God" on his notary application, and was duly rejected. In the period 1991-1993, he later learned, South Carolina received 33,472 notary applications, and approved 33,471--all but that of the atheist Herb Silverman, who is probably the only person in the history of South Carolina to be rejected as a notary public.

Only after four years of massive lawing and delay did Silverman finally receive his notary commission, in August of 1997. Despite his efforts, none of the offensive clauses were stricken from South Carolina's constitution, which continues to sneer at unbelievers.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:57 PM on September 12, 2002


amberglow: I don't say the same thing at a civic function as I do on Sunday mornings to the congregation. Different contexts. Also, a close look at the Christian scriptures and the teachings of Jesus tell us to be servants of everybody. Jesus spent more time working the hypocrisy out of the churchy people of his day and was quite loving and hospitable to those who were outsiders. Personally I don't denounce Islam, Buddism or anything else as much as I promote discipleship of Jesus. Any Christian who is spending time denouncing other religions is probably trying to hide the gaping holes in our own behavior
posted by ziklagz at 8:08 PM on September 12, 2002


f_and_m may seem off topic, but (s?)he points to a relevant corollary of skyboy's original complaint: the fact that much of this public prayer and pious mention of God consists of people not using their Constitutional freedom of speech to express their dearly held beliefs, but rather abusing it for political advantage: public expression of religion has become largely a political tool. That's partly why it's discomfiting--even for the genuinely devout--to see so much of it in public places: belief is brandished as a credential, a license, a stamp of authority. The fact that religion-as-credential is actually inscribed in the consitutions of seven states merely reinforces this point. In the other 43 states, while the laws may be more enlightened on this one point, religiosity is still used as an instrument of political leverage.

The analogy to sodomy laws is relevant (though the anti-atheist laws are enforced, as Gravy points out): like homosexuals, atheists are forced underground, able to exercise their freedom of expression only in private. The consequences of open atheism may not be dire (no political career, constant verbal bullying by the deist set), but they amount to discrimination based on creed, which last I checked was un-American.
posted by Raya at 9:00 PM on September 12, 2002


And, Wulfgar!, it's not about outlawing public displays of religion. Of course not. It's rather that the government has a responsibility to be inclusive, because it is the government of all the people--not just those who agree with the phrase "In God We Trust," or for that matter just those who voted for it. Bush is the President of all Americans, religious or otherwise, Republicans or Democrats, and neither he nor any other person holding public office should focus on catering to one section of that population to the exclusion of all the others.

In this country, decorative Christmas stamps are available in December so that Christians can use them to send their Christmas cards. Those of us who don't believe in God, however, are free to buy other stamps, bearing images of non-religious significance. Why shouldn't similar consideration be exercised when public ceremonies are planned? By all means, let houses of worship hold ceremonies at which prayers in the style of a particular faith or denomination are offered. But let the public, secular ceremonies be equally inviting to all.
posted by Raya at 9:12 PM on September 12, 2002


Um, as SLoG pointed out, Atheism is defensible by law, even if it takes time and willpower to defend it.

And I think you give f_and_m too much credit. (S)he doesn't deal at all with what is legal. He (yes, I believe him to be a "he") attacks Christianity as hypocritical. If there are those who stamp themselves with the seal of the beast (political authority), then fine; lets deal with them in their time. What f_and_m attempts to slam is the Christian belief of prayer, public or otherwise. And he's made a remarkably poor argument for his case, relying on weakly supported quotes from a book he obviously despises but knows how to research the annotations of, as if hypocrisy was a given. Its not. Hide from the deadly enemy, and spread the word was the message that Jesus spread, if you choose to believe such stuff. That religiosity is being used as a trump card is different and removed from whether or not Christianity is viable. Foldy argues one thing ( a ridiculous and unprovable thing), you argue another.

That people will use their constitutional rights for ill should not be your focus or a great concern. It happens all the time (Larry Flint). Yes, politicians use it, but thats not the mystery you seem to think it is. When you claim that religion is being wielded as an invisible public club against the masses you are saying that you know more than "them", that you are above the manipulation. I highly doubt that, not because I doubt politician's ability to manipulate, but because I doubt your ability to see that much more than the rest of us. Many Americans believe in God and Christ, and all sorts of things that other Americans don't seem to understand (though they obviously think they do).

Here's the thing,: those that don't believe in a higher power believe that they're being oppressed by those that do believe in something (I'd link to a Monty Python quote but I'm too lazy). What seems evident to me is that it is far more important for unbelievers to be left alone than it is for believers to preach. After all, if you don't believe in a power beyond yourself, everybody that tells you otherwise is slapping you in the face with their fantasy, right? Uhh, no. They believe as you do, just differently. The biggest difference is that you don't want to hear what they believe, period, yet they do want to hear what you believe because they might change your mind (they were directed to do that by God, so cut them some slack, okay?). Belief is not a sin or ignorance in the best of cases. Its a reasoned response to chaos. Nobody holds a patent on the truth of life's pain. So chill a little. If you think that there is no higher law, then let the law be the law. Sue the govt. for wasting your time on publicly funded religious ceremonies. But don't pretend that the Constitution doesn't protect believers more than you. You're misguided. You do believe, just not what you think others do. And the Constitution protects all of those beliefs equally.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:47 PM on September 12, 2002


Wulfgar!: I appreciate your engaging with me in such detail, but I think you haven't got me quite right. Let me try one more time. I AM interested in hearing what religious folks believe. And, when I'm talking to religious folks, I actually don't tell them that I don't believe in God, because I don't want to seem to attack their cherished beliefs. By all means believe: in fact, Jesus, while I don't believe he was any more the son of God than any of us, said a lot of very wise things, many of which f_and_m quoted in his posts. I would only be delighted if more people believed in the doctrine that Jesus preaches, by and large, in the Gospels.

All I ask is that the same consideration be extended to me: I don't mind public prayer (assuming that it's sincere; I do mind the hypocrisy of those who sanctimoniously preach against others' sins and are then found to have committed similar ones themselves. But I think we all, irrespective of creed, mind that). I just would like it if, rather than being asked to "sign on to" a group prayer in public, I were invited to pray but permitted not to. When I go to a church service, I obviously expect to be led in prayer, and I am happy to show my respect for the congregation by kneeling or standing when they do, singing hymns, etc. But when I'm in a public square, at a ceremony that is supposed to be civil and not religious, I don't think it's too much to ask that the prayers be optional and a secular alternative offered.

And when you say,
But don't pretend that the Constitution doesn't protect believers more than you,
I simply have to disagree: it doesn't protect believers more than me; it affords them precisely the same measure of protection as it affords me. That was the genius of the founding fathers, and John Ashcroft, the State of North Carolina, et al, violate the spirit of their founding document, though not the letter.

Finally, it's possible that I give f_and_m too much credit, but I think you give him too little. He is not attacking Christianity, but rather attacking those who pray ostentatiously, "in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men," while neglecting to practise what they preach by acting in accordance with the principles outlined by Jesus in the Gospels, or (if they feel, like you, that those teachings are merely "quotations out of context") at least engaging in a principled theological discussion of why, for example, they do not feel bound by the sixth commandment ("thou shalt not kill").

I can understand why f_and_m's tone of extreme sarcasm would give you offense, as a professed Christian, but I really think he is aiming his sarcasm at the "hypocrites" Jesus himself is said to have lambasted--and not at the message preached by Jesus himself, which, on the contrary, he seems to find quite congenial.
posted by Raya at 10:23 PM on September 12, 2002


But don't pretend that the Constitution doesn't protect believers more than you,

This is why I really need an editor. I meant to say that the Constitution doesn't protect believers more than you, period. It doesn't afford any more protection to Jerry Falwell than it does to f_and_m.

And please accept, I am not a professed Christian. I am a true Agnostic, painfully questing for the spark that gives us all the idea of a higher power. I know the Bible extremely well; that doesn't mean I should accept another's interpretation of it.

My issues with f_and_m go very deep. I agree with him on so many levels, and yet he uses us all as a springboard from which to launch his disdain. My concern here has been, quite simply, to defend the very freedoms that Ashcroft and others (some Atheists) would deny us. fold_and_mutilate is welcome to rain his own brand of terror on those who believe in the book. I, for one, will not be held to his version of reality.

And I thank you truly, Raya, for having done what is seen so rarely on Metafilter anymore; for having read what was written and responded with great intelligence.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:52 PM on September 12, 2002


~chuckle~

Ordinarily (and despite my well known evangelical bent) I wouldn't comment much more on a thread that has now degenerated into craven cries of "terrorism". But it was in fact pointed out herein that Jesus was a fisher of men...an excellent example, He....for me and for all of us.

I just had no idea some of you were already in a barrel, waiting for the shot, as it were.

Please, f&m, cut it out. You're missing the point -- this has nothing to do with Christian theology.

Uh, no, and I'm actually exactly on point. I'm not talking about Christian theology at all. I'm talking about Christian hypocrisy (although they certainly don't have a corner on that odious market). It is a certain segment of the "Christian" population in this country most vocally demanding their "right" to enjoy the appearance of state authority.

You folks say you'd feel uncomfortable if no mention of your religious beliefs were made in a state-sponsored event...that state silence on religion is an infringement of your "rights?" Surely you Christians want to grant all your brothers and sisters your same "rights", right? Then do the Christian (and patriotic American) thing and make sure mention of EVERY one's religious beliefs is made at state sponsored events, and in the schools. Inconvenient? Then just shut up, head for the nearest church, and don't foist your religion on us as some kind of state-sanctioned belief system. Your hypocritical discomfort needn't impose on everyone else, unless of course, you really don't follow Christ's admonition to love your neighbor as yourself....unless you really just have some political agenda you want to pursue in public.

And no attack on Christianity here. Those who teach that Christianity succors violence and coercive proselytizing from the bully pulpit of the state are the ones who profane Christianity.

Foldy, foldy, foldy. I'm well aware that you can quote the Bible. So what. I can quote the Quran, and I guarantee I can make it look like it calls for violent force against infidels...

No, I really doubt you can do any such thing. But that's not really the point here, is it? We're talking about Christian hypocrisy, and we're neck deep in it in this country on this issue of the just separation of church and state.

What f_and_m attempts to slam is the Christian belief of prayer, public or otherwise.
Nope. Wrong again. I slam the Christians (and their Agnostic apologists) who don't even understand and follow the teachings of their own scriptures, then try to impose their misunderstanding on the rest of us.

And he's made a remarkably poor argument for his case, relying on weakly supported quotes from a book he obviously despises
Wrong yet again...you're on a roll. I'm quoting the Christian Bible, a book I happen to love. Ever heard of it? Some of you "Christians" or even you Agnostics who profess to "know it extremely well" might try actually reading it sometime. And we're still waiting to hear how The Sermon on the Mount, The Ten Commandments, and much of the New Testament are "weakly supported quotes", and how their message magically changes depending on whatever "context" you need to support your own political agenda.

I got plenty more where those quotes came from. Hint: the entire New Testament.

But I keep forgetting. To support some agendas, we have to fit everything Christ taught into "context", right?

Sorry. We'll all take Christ's magnificent teachings over your lame and lukewarm "context" forever.

Hint: if you turn the handlebars slightly away from the untenable direction you're headed, you'll find that you don't have to backpedal so much with this talk about "context" and so forth.

fold_and_mutilate is welcome to rain his own brand of terror on those who believe in the book.

Gasp, terrorism. Such rhetoric. Shall we break out a body bag for you from the terrible hit I made on the World Trade Towers of your tenuous understanding of Bible, Christianity, and American separation of church and state? And you're the one decrying quotes from the Bible as "weak". Looks to me like you're the only one here who despises "the book", as you call it.

Hmmm. Like I said, we were talking about hypocrites...and fish...

~wink~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:43 PM on September 12, 2002


And now folks, for my final sermon, may I admonish you to climb out of the barrel, come down off the steps of the state capitols, shut your public praying/braying mouths, and get your asses into the hospitals and ghettoes and poor countries of this earth.

Christ and Mohammad and Buddha et al didn't teach us to spend our days repeating endless mantras of "one nation under god", or use our limited time lobbying for the "right" to indoctrinate school kids into our own particular religion.

We've been taught by scripture and example to care for one another.

Dry off and get started.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:53 PM on September 12, 2002


and get your asses into the hospitals and ghettoes and poor countries of this earth

Said the guy who spends a lot of preachy-time in front of a computer screen.
posted by owillis at 12:13 AM on September 13, 2002


Touche. And yet, for all that.....he's right.....
not just about Christians, but about all of us. Here we are just coming up to Yom Kippur and I'm girding my loins (figuratively speaking) for a new orgy of apologizing to God. It bugs me not because I disbelieve in God but because if God exists, he doesn't need our apologies. It would be a lot better if we thought about who does deserve them (the homeless who starve while Kenneth Lay vacations in Bermuda, the sweatshop workers who made my Gap jeans, etc...) and then spent our resources on making their lives better so we would have less to apologise for, next year.

Moral of the story, and to a certain extent of this whole thread: talk is cheap!

But I've already ranted about this here, no point in going on and on...
posted by Raya at 9:36 AM on September 13, 2002


You folks say you'd feel uncomfortable if no mention of your religious beliefs were made in a state-sponsored event

It is precisely this kind of misrepresentation that convinces me that f_and_m is a troll. Nobody ever said that in this thread. If that is the basis from which one proceeds, than its not a mystery why that one would be wrong more often than not.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:50 PM on September 13, 2002


Wulfie - Dunno whether f_and_m is a troll or not, and don't quite subscribe to the level of silliness (and wordcount) in some of those posts, but this is not much of a misrepresentation. It paraphrases what many people said, that asking religious people to sit through a godless service is as much a problem as, or bigger than, asking nonbelievers to sit through a religious one. This was the basis for my back-&-forth with Ty on the proposition that asking religous people to live in a secular society was as much of an affront as asking secular people to live in a religious one. Once again, I don't think so.

I think Gravy's smoking analogy is apt: "We're" not asking "you" to stop smoking, to stop smoking in public, or to stop arguing for the merits of smoking in your one-to-one encounters. But that doesn't mean you get to blow smoke in our face: If you stand on a taxpayer-funded stage, light up and say "true Americans should smoke" that's wayyyy too far on the other side. The harm done by that vs. the harm to "you" by being asked not to smoke while on that stage is not utterly out of proportion. The former is the greater harm.
posted by soyjoy at 1:36 PM on September 13, 2002


Thomcatspike: Common sense no, or must a law be made so it is a law, not a common?

Raya , I agree with ya, and like what you said here; to observe silence for a moment while those who wish to pray, so so" would do.
This is plain common sense to me, yet it is unfortunate that we have to make laws to protect against.

A joke I heard; How does a drunk screw in a light bulb?
He holds the light bulb to the socket with it in his hand and lets the world revolve around him.


So I put it in that context as folks seem to want to buck the laws and do as they please in the name of religion or fundamentalism. This is the United States, not Burger King, so you can't have it your way.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:36 PM on September 13, 2002


It paraphrases what many people said, that asking religious people to sit through a godless service is as much a problem as, or bigger than, asking nonbelievers to sit through a religious one.

This is where we disagree. Nobody has asked for Godless services. There have been many calls for "less" god or recognition of all gods. There is no legal right to prohibit religion from public display. I don't think that one person here ever claimed that it is merely offensive to have a religion removed from public ceremony. There are many here, including myself, that hold that that would be a violation of the first amendment, and hence, illegal.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:40 PM on September 13, 2002


Harvard's says there's something for everyone:
Multireligious Commemorations of September 11 - The Pluralism Project
posted by sheauga at 7:17 AM on September 14, 2002


There is no legal right to prohibit religion from public display.
Right, but there IS legal precedent for prohibiting the enforcement of a religious pratice on a mixed crowd in a state-sponsored setting. Hence: no prayer in public schools (but daily prayer in parochial schools is welcome). The point made here by skyboy and others is that a state-sponsored ceremony should be handled similarly to the public schools situation. Not so very outlandish.
posted by Raya at 8:55 AM on September 14, 2002


I miss that place. Tech boomtown, my home.
posted by firestorm at 11:13 PM on September 14, 2002


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