Separation of Church and Dumb

Nothing boils my blood faster than a conversation on the “separation of church and state”.  The temperature rating will quickly escalate to levels comparable to the surface of the sun when I am additionally “informed” that the phrase is in the Constitution.

Michael Prell has a great article today on dumb people who get pissed off at anything to do with Christmas because it has the word Christ in it.  Which if anyone recalls is the reason the holiday began in the first place.  Best Buy and Amazon did not establish the event, though we have had Santa and given gifts for a very long time.  But the point really is that the anti-Christmas sentiment is quite perplexing.  Everyone knows Easter is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  People know that Thanksgiving was established to give thanks to Jehovah.  But Target isn’t banning its employees from saying, “Happy Easter”.

Anyway, Prell talks about this guy who failed at bombing the “Holiday Tree” in Portland.  And he points out the irony in that this Muslim terrorist tries to go blow up a Christian symbol that was already neutered by the city government and wasn’t even called a Christmas tree anymore.  So basically this guy just wanted to murder people.  Why? Because Islam is a peace loving religion…

(By the way, Prell mentions that after this guy tried to murder people in Portland via a weapon of mass destruction the Portland Mayor increased security around local mosques…not Christian churches…the local mosques.  He wanted to make sure there was no backlash on the local Muslim community that is “peace loving”.  You can’t make this stuff up.)

The kid was Somalian, and their Prime Minister assures us that Somalia is a peace loving country with peace loving people.  He apparently forgot about that little incident with Mohamed Farrah Aidid. They made a movie about it.  It was awesome!

One thing that I think is very important that Prell points out is the double standard that Christianity is treated with.  It’s really treated like a plague by most of our government.  Like they don’t want the stench of it anywhere near them or someone will complain.  Only in America does the majority rule until a fraction of the population gets their feelings hurt.

What exactly is so threatening about Christians, at Christmastime, celebrating a national holiday which was proclaimed by Congress back in 1870? This is the part where the Anti-Christmas Brigade will jump up and recite from its holiest of holy scriptures: Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which he wrote of “a wall of separation between Church & State.”

The funny thing about that wall is: it appears to only be impervious to Christians.

Earlier this year, President Obama smashed through that wall when he, too, invoked the name of Thomas Jefferson — not to oppose, but to defend the expression of religion in the biggest town square in America: New York City and the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” He said “Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion’” and he upheld “the principle that people of all faiths…will not be treated differently by their government.”

But people of different faiths are treated differently by their government.

Just a few miles down I-95 from the Ground Zero Mosque, the government of Philadelphia banned (and then unbanned) “Christmas Village.” In Portland, the “Christmas Tree Bomber” had to settle for trying to bomb a “holiday tree,” because the government of Portland already got to the infidels before him and changed “Christmas tree” to “holiday tree.” And, lest you think that this targeting of Christianity is limited to Christmastime, recall the case of 12 Christian students in Washington State who were suspended for praying at school. By contrast, USA Today reports that “some public schools and universities are granting Muslim requests for prayer times, prayer rooms and ritual foot baths, prompting a debate on whether Islam is being given preferential treatment over other religions.”




3 Responses to “Separation of Church and Dumb”
  1. Doug Indeap says:

    As an atheist, I know how it feels to hold views not shared and even reviled by many in the dominant religion of our society. You may understand then how alarming it is to hear members of that dominant group speak of their sense of persecution. History often reveals dominant groups working themselves into a lather about perceived wrongs against them before they lash out to “restore” matters as they see fit.

    Notwithstanding the oft repeated claim, prayer has not been “banned” from schools. While public schools (arms of the government) are rightfully constrained under the First Amendment from promoting religion by conducting prayers, students are free to exercise their religious liberty at school, including by praying, as long as they do so without disrupting school functions and activities.

    Notwithstanding the oft repeated claim, public displays of Christianity have not been banned. While “government” displays of religious views are constrained under the First Amendment, individuals remain free to exercise their religious liberty in the “public square.” Public displays of religion are quite common.

    And this annual hullabaloo about who says “Merry Christmas” and who doesn’t generally misses the fundamental point that each of us (individuals, not government) has the freedom to express ourselves, including our greetings to others, as we see fit. Separation of church and state has little to do with that.

    If Christians indulged in less hyperbole about supposed slights and attacks, I wonder if they would shed some of their sense of persecution–and not give the rest of us so much cause for worry.

    • nick r brown says:

      Thanks for your comments. I can attest that I don’t shed my reason as a conservative-libertarian when I comment on matters of faith. That being said, if you truly believe members of the Christian faith are not being persecuted, not allowed to pray in school on their own accord, establish self-directed meetings, etc, then I highly encourage you to visit and brief yourself on their current cases.

      As an atheist and neutral unbiased observer, looking to consider matters from all sides, I think you will find that the current cases ADF is trying in which members of our country that do contend to a religious perspective are absolutely having their civil liberties shredded.


  2. Doug Indeap says:

    When discussing separation of church and state, it is important to distinguish between the “public square” and “government” and between “individual” and “government” speech about religion. The principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment’s constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    As the ADF website shows, instances may be found where a teacher or school board or other official misunderstands or misapplies the principle in a particular case. Such mistakes go both ways so to speak. Sometimes officials stifle religious expression when they shouldn’t and sometimes they promote it when they shouldn’t. While we should strive to right such mistakes as they arise, we shouldn’t mistake them as some sort of organized persecution.