Monday, November 08, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: When the Personal Shouldn't Be Political

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: When the Personal Shouldn't Be Political

Gary Hart, the author of this piece, has a lot to say about the role of faith in public life in the U.S. I agree. As someone who was raised a Catholic in a predominately Protestant community and who, I was taught, sold my soul to the devil by singing in school out of the Methodist hymnal, I agree with his thoughts.

What is the worst of the "religious" revival in this country, if that's what it is (I would suggest that the form it has taken is a back slide into the thinking of the Calvinistic burnings of scientists in Geneva, and the Catholic burnings of Protestants and Jews by the Inquisition, all in the name of saving them), is that the evangelicals and others seem to feel that it is enough to "believe," to be "saved."

In the religion I was taught, you had to believe, but you also had to act as the founder wanted us to, to help the poor, the feeble, the sick, the hungry, not to stomp on them or treat them as trash. Many of the people I hear going on about what their god requires adhere more to the old testament's 10 commandments than the new testament's greatest commandment.

I ask again: if we are going to post the 10 commandments as our guide, why don't we go back farther and post the rules of Sargon or Hammurabi? They are also in the direct line of our tradition.


Blogger David Summerlin said...

Hello Chuck. It's always good to read your stuff.

I am an atheist born of pseudo-agnostic parents, who were born to a fundamentalist, southern Church of Christ family (well-educated, though they are).

Since the election loss I've been meditating on a lot of issues, and I've been finding it interesting how the most fundamental law of Christianity made its way into my psyche even through the filtration of two generations' removal.

That is, in the muddle of emotions -- anger, fear, loathing, self-righteousness, confusion -- one comes through loud and clear: love. I still love humanity, and I still love my neighbor, and I still love my enemy. I often wonder at the stupidity and fear-based motivations of my fellow citizens' actions, but I love them and indeed feel compelled to do so.

Driving yesterday I pulled up alongside a man holding a cardboard sign that read: "In need of food, drink + tax." (I'm in Seattle, now, hence the sales tax) The man smiled and waved. I was broke, so I smiled and waved back. As I drove away he blew me a kiss. Wierd.

If this nation is so full of evangelical Christians, perhaps there's a way to pull them back to the root of Christianity and remember the commandment of love. The Republicans have never been a party of love, and certainly weren't this election cycle, even though baby Bush professes to be born again. The Democrats have forgotten what it means to love on a societal scale, but we are in a better position to lead by example than the Republicans.

So here I am, an atheist, materialistic to the core, and yet I propose we as a nation take a lesson from First Corinthians:

Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.

Somehow I think that sentiment runs through the heart of liberalism. It is such a difficult commandment to keep, yet it remains when hope seems lost.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

David, I agree. I think that people who have forgotten this are the born agains, not the people in the center or moderate left. The moderate right, if such exists anymore, is too selfish to know what it means. But I agree with you, even if I find it hard to practice it in a world of deliberate ignorance.

7:55 PM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

I'm sure you're considering all the charity programs coming out of the churches folks. I've never seen a single one that didn't have some kind of program to help the needy. It's hard for church members to listen to
sermons on brotherly love and "the least among us" without contributing, and most of them do.

It's very easy to demonize conservatives as heartless hypocrites but it shows a lack of understanding what families raised in the church are actually like.......

2:54 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

I don't think so BWD. I've known and seen plenty. They are very limited. And the fact is that when we enter the next big crisis (we may be there now) for individuals and families, the churches will not be sufficient. They weren't in the Depression and they won't be in the future. Most church people I've seen have a problem of defining "the deserving poor." Doesn't work to better people, just to categorize them, which churches do very well. Demonize those outside the congregation!

3:37 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

If I have been guilty of demonizing conservatives as heartless hypocrites, I was wrong to do so and apologize.

I draw a solid line of distinction between that description and passionately criticizing policies and individuals who harm the cause of social and economic justice. Sometimes such policies are advocated and/or paid for by church-going conservatives, sometimes maliciously and often not. I try earnestly not to engage in guilt by association and extend a judgment against all church-going conservatives. When I feel "ganged up on," it is most difficult to retain my composure.

I am closely related to conservative, church-going people whom I disagree with on matters of public policy, but love nonetheless. They are not demons.

3:46 PM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

"if we are going to post the 10 commandments as our guide, why don't we go back farther and post the rules of Sargon or Hammurabi? They are also in the direct line of our tradition."

A bit of deflection but why not, I suppose. Kids need some guidelines for behavior. Granted they should be taught in the home but they should see and hear some reinforcement for those guidelines in our schools else they start believing that their parents don't know what they're talking about.

Let them start with very clear "Rights" and "Wrongs".
They can get into the situational ethics that too many schools stress later on-when they've formed some moral and ethical underpinnings.

The churches I know of do, indeed, "choose" who they're going to help. There's only so much to go around but at least they're helping some deserving poor. This is not to make a case against welfare but
I think most people would be surprised to learn how many charities are at work in this country, and a great number of them are church-sponsored.

9:44 AM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Bedrock, really? You'd think it's okay to erect monuments to the code of Hammurabi? About a third of those laws end in the phrase "shall be put to death." Several of them govern the proper treatment of slaves, and what offenses merit putting them to death. Some laws govern when a father has to put his sons to death. I remember a couple of laws governing when human appendages should be chopped off.

You'd be in favor of that because kids need some moral guidepost?

I'm seriously trying to treat you respectfully and assume that you are capable of rational thought, but you're really straining my liberal graciousness.

11:02 AM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

I was exaggerating of course. Screwed up my point though, apparently. Sorry...........

1:05 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

And, of course, BRD, what David did not say is that many of the Mosaic laws which accompany the 10 commandments do the same thing. And the Mosaic god also determined that whole cities were to be put to the blade including women and newborns. Quite a message there except that we are being so selective and just citing 10.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Mark Thomas said...

The fundamental problem here is that too many people try to categorize love, compassion and charity by political party. These virtues have nothing to do with your political affiliation, they are exclusively excersized on a personal level. If I think that people aren't doing enough then I'll do more. I'm not going to just change my vote on the basis that my candidate didn't give enough to my favorite charity this year.

You can't say that Republicans don't have love. It's morally dishonest. Let's keep personal issues personal and political issues political. This is why there is such a "great divide" in America, because people keep confusing these things. I don't hate you or think you're evil because you're a Dem, and I hope you would feel the same about me.

5:23 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Mark, by and large I agree with your general sentiment.

But I disagree that love is strictly personal. I started off this thread by saying that my own liberal political philosophies are rooted in love -- love for my fellow human beings, love for nature, love for my partner, etc. My love informs my political beliefs.

I didn't mean to suggest that Republicans are without love. That would be intellectually dishonest. I believe my suggestion was that the Republican party's political philosophy is not rooted in love. For that matter neither is the Democratic party's. But I do believe the essence of liberalism is love.

You could find a counterpart for conservatism -- perhaps proponents might choose "responsibility" or "tradition" or something similar. In a fair minded state I would probably agree that "tradition" is the ultimate authority for conservatives (as opposed, perhaps, to "science" or "reason" for liberals), but I'm not sure it's the heart. Maybe faith? That seems like a good fit.

Since my heart does not embrace conservatism perhaps I'm ill equipped to determine what lies at the heart of conservative political philosophies. But I do know liberalism.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

David - it's easy to be a conservative.

Just think that smaller government is better than bigger government, and remember that the government is spending YOUR money, and that you can find better uses for it than the government can.

And if you look at somebody who's in jail, you don't blame the system, or society, for letting them down, you say they got what they earned. Believe in personal responsibility.

And remember that the family is the heart of American society, and that the ideal family is a child with two parents at home, who teach them values & discipline.

That's it. Simple.

6:31 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Eric: Probably the reason I don't embrace conservatism is because I don't believe a single word you just wrote. Not a word of it.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

See David? I've suggested nothing extreme, and nothing to do with faith, or religion, and you summarily dismiss it.

I thought liberals profess to be open minded?

12:31 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Actually, Eric, according to history and recent paleoarcheological digs, the family of a mother, father and two children is actually a recent phenom on the horizon. The family at one time consisted of much more than that and you might want to go back and look at what some of the conservatives had to say at the time the industrial revolution created the nuclear family.

In whatever society and whenever, some people in that society have developed into crooks. I believe in taking responsibility for myself, but I also extend a certain amount of my responsibility to society. I don't think conservatives or libertarians make that extension. If it means incarcerating people in jail, then that has to happen. But we are getting a bit like England before the Victorian age when they tended to hang hungry people for stealing a loaf of bread. We are sending people to jail and paying to keep them there for victimless crimes, such as possession (without intent to sell) of marijuana. Why do you think the prisons are so full?

1:42 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

I'm afraid I don't see your point, Eric, or how my post demonstrates a closed mind.

You told me what you profess to believe, and I stated that I do not share your beliefs. The degree of "extremism" present or absent is completely irrelevant. I have not "summarily" dismissed your beliefs, because I have long contemplated the handful of beliefs you have stated and come to other conclusions.

A "closed mind" would fail to consider why you believe as you do, but an "open mind" needn't embrace or even validate what you believe. A "closed mind" would fail to contemplate in the first place. A "closed mind" would seize upon any small piece of open syntax and twist its meaning out of context to illustrate a specious or erroneous point.

2:17 PM  
Blogger rev. snakerocktruth said...


Have you visited my new blog yet?

2:20 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

I know with reasonable certainty that Eric doesn’t care, but if any other conservatives have even the slightest interest in exactly how and why I reject his assertions, here are the specifics:

Eric said: Smaller government is better than bigger government.
Some government is better than no government, which contradicts the logical extreme of this premise. A well-functioning government is better than a poorly-functioning government, which contradicts the practical application of this premise. A government that represents a large volume of the citizenry is better than a government that represents a small volume of the citizenry, which is the opposite of the ‘conservative’ application of government.

Eric said: The government is spending YOUR money.
The money a citizen pays in taxes is her/his contribution to the general welfare of the citizenry that enriches and enables his/her livelihood. For a citizen to revoke that contribution or claim it as his/her own is a selfish act of anarchy. In a representative democracy, government equals the general welfare of the citizenry. Money contributed to the general welfare belongs to the commonwealth, not to the individual.

Eric said: You can find better uses for it than the government can.
If the individual is capable of existing in a vacuum, he or she is welcome to do so. Otherwise, so long as she or he exists within, benefits and is benefitted by a structured society, the citizen has a vested interest in the continuation of that society. Selfish reclamation of the commonwealth for personal enrichment destroys society. This does not constitute a “better use.”

Eric said: If you look at somebody who's in jail, you don't blame the system, or society, for letting them down, you say they got what they earned.
More than half of the Federal prison population is serving time on drug-related offenses. You can believe whatever you want about drug abuse. I, personally, do not view drug abuse as a moral failing, or as a crime worthy of a prison sentence. Drug abuse behavior seems much more like a symptom than a disease. I do not look down upon drug addicts as criminals whose highest aspiration is to rot in a prison cell on the commonwealth’s dime. I look upon them with pity and compassion. When 100 percent of the prison population comprises murderers, rapists and grand thieves, I will agree with your premise.

Eric said: Believe in personal responsibility.
I believe in personal responsibility as I believe in social and moral responsibility. The individual’s responsibility to society is greater than her responsibility to herself.

Eric said: The family is the heart of American society.
Which family is that? No, I believe the well-informed citizen is the heart of American society.

Eric said: The ideal family is a child with two parents at home, who teach them values & discipline.
Your ideal family is illusory. Would your ideal family trump the single welfare mom? What if the “ideal” child was beaten by an alcoholic father while the welfare kid was loved and well-adjusted? What if the welfare mom with the well-adjusted kid escaped the “ideal” situation I just mentioned? The “ideal” family is a family with love, a family that lovingly serves its community with charity and intelligence. That love and intelligent dedication can come from an individual, an adult, a child, or any of the almost countless varieties of families made up of several individuals. One family with love is no closer to an "ideal" than any other family with love.

Simple. I haven’t used any code words. It’s all there naked and plain. You may agree or disagree, but that is my experience, my liturgy, my love.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

Interesting point of view.

8:47 AM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

I'm posting this on your blog, Chuck, because I know that if anyone can shoot holes in it, it will certainly be you and David Summerlin. I'd really like to have your views on it.

Call me "bedrocknaive" if you'd like, but to me it's a very simple question-as uncomplicated and as direct in language as the First Amendment.

First, to state the Amendment so we're all on the same page....

Amendment 1

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

Now let's look closely at the first phrase of the paragraph:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

This is the Constitutional phrase, the infamous "establishment" clause, that for the past thirty years or so has constituted swift and sure death for any symbol, teaching, song, utterance or other reference to religion in the public schools or civic arena.

Note that the Constitution says, specifically, that "Congress" shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

That's it. "Congress" shall make no law.

It says nothing about school teachers, choir directors, librarians or football coaches having any ability to "make law" since they are not in Congress or even in the law making business.

So how did these people ever get into the "law making" business in the first place?

I'm sure you already know this; but let's examine the rationale used by the ACLU in all the court cases over the past couple of decades, so artfully crafted to keep religion out of government affairs.

Flowing from that one very specific Constitutional phrase, and because these people are all on government payrolls,as ruled in dozens of successful ACLU cases...

A teacher is "making law" when he or she utters the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

A school choir director is "making law" when he leads students in singing God Bless America during a graduation exercise.

A mayor is "making law" when he or she sponsors a prayer breakfast.

A school librarian is "making law" when he or she places a Christmas tree in the lobby.

All of this is direct, unembellished,court rendered fact.

The distorted rationale is that since each of the positions I described is a government position, hired or elected, the " Congressional " representative has been legally determined to be "making law" when he or she requires, suggests or otherwise promotes anything that might be even remotely considered a religious activity.

Note that teachers, choir directors and football coaches are not considered representatives of Congress or empowered to "make law" when they're discussing politics, racial issues, teacher's union dues, philosophy, street crime, taxes, bypass surgery or cookouts.

Their law making power is limited to one-and only one-very specific issue; religion.

Just...... Religion, nothing else.

Ok, Fine.

Patently ridiculous on the face of it, but fine.........

Let's look at the second phrase:

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

Now let's revisit those situations where the government representative, those teachers, principals and football coaches have been determined by the ACLU and the courts to be "making law".

The student committee planning a school's graduation exercises has selected an honor student to deliver the valedictorian speech at the event. The committee has also selected certain songs to be performed by the school choir.

Does the high school principal, who has been empowered to "make law" regarding religion, have the right to approve or disapprove the valedictorian speech or the choir selections based on whether or not they contain religious references?

Since the principal does have that right according to the ACLU inspired court's interpretation of the Establishment Clause, is this not a prime face case of government censorship-"prohibiting the free exercise(of religion) thereof" and "abridging the students' freedom of speech"?

And is this censorship not in direct violation of the student's constitutional rights?

If not, why not......?

A local rabbi requests that he allowed to lead a brief prayer at the Mayor's "prayer-free" breakfast for civic/community leaders.

The Mayor or representative says, "Sorry, Rabbi, we planned this thing as a "non prayer" breakfast since we don't have thousands of dollars to waste defending it against the ACLU in Federal Court. I'm sure you understand"

Is the Mayor( clearly a government lawmaker) not then "prohibiting the free exercise(of religion)" or "abridging the freedom of speech" and risking a stiff fine or perhaps a jail sentence?

Should the ACLU be named as a codefendant, accomplice and precipitating agent in the Rabbi's law suit ?

And if not, why not...........?

The school librarian, a government employe is directed by the school principal, a higher government authority("lawmaker"), to remove the poinsettia she placed in the lobby.

Since the principal has just prohibited her "free exercise of religion", is the librarian within her legal rights to leave the poinsettia where it is and invite him to find a nice dark place for his wagging finger?

I can go on and on with this but I'm sure you see the point.

The goose has been lavishly sauced by the ACLU for the past two decades in their legal claims that any act by any government representative anywhere, anytime is "making law" when it comes to religion.

Finally, we appear to have some sauce for the gander.

There is a test case underway in which a high school student claims that she was directed to eliminate any reference to God from her valedictorian speech.

Her attorneys claim the high school principal in her case violated the student's Constitutional rights by telling her to remove those references.

The courts will now decide whether the principal's actions resulted in "an abridgment of her freedom of speech" and in "prohibiting her free exercise of religion".

And the comedic twist to all this is that the ACLU-like the Texan who couldn't decide whether to claim Texas midgets were the smallest or largest in the world- may have to decide which Constitutional violation they have to support; government censorship or establishment of a church-state.

And I sincerely hope that the following statement by Pimples for the American Way is going to be read back to them in court by the high school student's attorneys...

Separation of Church and State

People For the American Way (PFAW) and People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) have fought resolutely over the past two decades to defend our Constitutional principles and to preserve the wall of separation between church and state established by the First Amendment.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the key guarantor of religious freedom in America.
The fundamental right to worship as one chooses – or not to have a religious belief – is at the core of personal freedom.

I couldn't have said it better. And hopefully this is the very petard on which a host of ACLU and PFAW gray suits should and finally will be duly hoisted in court.

Chuck please don't start in on the "theocratic state" thing here. I know you're intelligent and well read enough to know that all of these Constitutional "violations" were taking place all over the country for about 200 plus years without a scintilla of evidence that this country was under religious rule or even threatened to be.

The other considerations aside for the moment -uncomfortable atheists, having to sing out of Methodist hymnals, left out Muslims, etc.-please give me your opinion as to the LEGALITY of the question.

Do you believe principals, school teachers and Mayors are violating a student's freedom of speech and freedom of religion under the circumstances I described above?

Thanks for allowing me to post this.......

2:39 AM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

BRT: I don't think you're being naive. I'm glad to know that you're thinking about the First Amendment.

One short way to address some of what you say is to point out that Constitutional scholars disagree. Some favor a more fundamentalist reading of the Constitution, some favor interpretation in light of changing circumstances.

One of my law professors in college cited the example of an attorney who said that the Supreme Court justices tend to rule however their personal biases dictate, and then find precedent to justify the opinion. There is some evidence to support this hypothesis.

In short, the law is what we make it. It is an ongoing argument, a large library of reasoned opinions.

I am not an attorney, nor a particularly studied Constitutional scholar, so all I have is my opinion about what the law is, or should be.

Personally, I favor law that is capable of changing with changing circumstances, adapting to new evidence as it becomes available. Therefore I would interpret the "Freedom of Speech" and "Establishment" clauses of the First Amendment according to my best understanding of what the framers were trying to prevent. It's important to remember that these guys were revolutionaries, so you have to look at the England they were revolting against. That's a lengthy historical discussion.

To address the specific anecdotes you cite, no, I do not believe the free expression of religion is stifled when its practice is curtailed in public institutions. You can pray and worship in church, at home, on every street corner, and in every private establishment, including private schools.

Nor do I believe school officials are "making law" prohibiting the free exercise of religion when they make rules governing public conduct within their public institutions. No child is prevented from believing as s/he will, or even praying -- unless they turn the public school into a congregation.

So, what do I believe about the legality? It's legal or illegal if we, as a society, say it is. I would like to see religion removed entirely from the public forum and relegated to the private sphere. That's where I would tend to make law according to my own biases, and then find precedent to back me up. Human nature, I guess.

8:50 AM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

Good answer to a pretty muddled question, Chuck. I was trying to say that, preferences aside, The ACLU/Liberal courts interpretation of the Constitution that has resulted in wiping out just about every vestige Christianity is not only morally wrong,it is Constitutionally wrong and a prime face case of restriction of freedom of speech. I would think civil libertarians would be upset at the double standard.....

3:13 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

BRT, that was David's reply. I agree with it. What you and the others who attack what the ACLU has done over the years seem to forget is that this is a melting pot of a nation. You cite the atheist forced to sing out of the Methodist hymnal which was, as far as I know, never an ACLU case, but a person nightmare of my own. At the time, I was a practicing Catholic who believed, according to my previous Catholic school teaching, that I was condemning myself by even opening the damn thing, let alone singing the hymns that were contained in it. Unfortunately that was the only voice lessons I ever had and so I still can't carry a tune.

But I don't understand why you and the others who join with you want to insist that I should sit through something that makes me uncomfortable. As I recall, many people walked out on entertainers who made them uncomfortable during the election. Yes, we can walk out of gatherings where a prayer is said. I just don't bow my head and often don't stand unless I have voluntarily gone to a religious celebration such as a wedding. But I don't understand the process by which you would place those who attend a public, supposedly secular activity such as a ball game or a public high school graduation in the position of either having to be uncomfortable or walk out of something that is not advertised beforehand as religious.

I had the misfortune, for pete's sake of having a co-worker respond, "and you know who makes it that way—Jesus" when I had made an off-hand comment about something that was not in any way connected to religion. I just looked at her and she never said anything like that again. Why should I have to be made uncomfortable about making conversation with someone who brings in a non-sequitur? Or someone who wants us to stand and pray at a public event? That's why I support the ACLU.

I was at a luncheon for retirees at a public university the other day (where I used to work), and the person who gave the grace (and I don't know why they felt we needed to say grace there) talked about Jesus. One of the best teachers I'd had at the school many years before was at the meal. He was Jewish. I was offended for him, although he might not have taken offense. It was offensive because it was unthinking.

5:11 PM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

I realize I'm not getting through and probably never will, Chuck, but I just don't put the "discomforts" you and others who aren't religious have to suffer in the same category as that of Christians who have seen their religious heritage stripped away by the ACLU and the courts.

I would estimate that 90% of Americans wouldn't feel uncomfortable at all with a school choir singing "God Bless America", with a tiny cross on a city seal or
saying the words "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance.

For that matter, I am uncomfortable every day of my life when I see egregious examples of censorship like
the recent California case where a principal wouldn't let a teacher discuss the Declaration of Independence because it refers to God.

And this expungement of the moral and religious tenets that this country was founded upon from the public arena. How has it benefitted the American society?

Does this country's burgeoning crime, drug use, teen aged pregnancy, teen aged suicide and schoolroom carnage have anything to do with it?

All I know is that it wasn't happening in my growing up years, or yours either.

But maybe you or David can explain it to me.

Just how HAS the removal of our religious history from the textbooks, the courthouses, municipal properties and public events benefitted our society? In what way has stifling a brief prayer before a football game made this a better country?

3:41 AM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

Not to your level, Chuck, but at least it gives me a place to vent.

I finally got my own blog up. Tomorrow I might be saying "I'm glad I finally got the thing down".

2:22 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

BRD, in what way did saying a brief prayer before a football game help? If both sides were praying to the same god what help did it give—just like the NFL player crossing himself after a td? Most people were just mouthing the words. Even in church, it is obvious from how they act in the outside world, most people are just mouthing words. From what you've said about how often you attend church, I suspect that's what you are doing, if you would only realize it.

What you and others don't seem to realize is that there is another heritage out there, just as old in this country as yours, and it is a free-thinking non-religious one. I saw a blogger sign himself as Thomas Paine Reincarnated and then go on to spout pro-religious language. Ironic, Thomas Paine was early condemned as a heretic atheist. You and your bunch can say all the prayers you want to; we just want you to do it as Christ urged, privately and not in public, and not in such a way that your force your believes on us.

In my growing up years drugs were just as prevalent as they are today, only we called them alcohol, beer, whiskey, or wine. And we had our classmates who were hauled off to reform school or were put on probation. But because there were fewer people then, rules weren't as strict, as they still aren't in some lightly populated rural areas, and not all of us were condemned. A lot of it was just "hi-junks" and our moral parents weren't as much concerned what we were doing as much as they were concerned we'd get hurt doing it, like the kid who got shot to death in the watermelon patch.

When the U.S. adopted the Fourteenth Amendment, they extended the freedoms of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution to each individual. It no longer had to be passed through the states. At that point each of us was entitled to respect the rights of others, particularly when we were formed as a government of one kind or another or benefited from the taxes we all paid to that government. We respect your right to pray. If you want to sit beside me in a restaurant and bow your heads to say grade, I have no problem with that although I have to admit I think it is silly. But if you want me to bow my head and say grace with you, that's out of line.

If you don't want your children to be taught evolution, that's fine. Tell them not to listen in school. But then I have every right to not consider them educated. If a teacher is ordered to teach my child creationism, then I have the right to fight that order. Creationism is a religious belief without scientific basis. If you want to teach the history of religion in this country in history class, then be fair and add the history of free-thinking, starting with Roger Williams of Rhode Island fame, and include the history of the jews, the muslims, and other religions, including the oriental religions, who have impacted this country. But don't teach one religion and don't teach religion as science.

11:28 PM  
Blogger dinahsea said...

I probably wasn't clear but I have no notion of a: a church-state or b: teaching creationism.

As I've said many times, what EXACTLY was the harm in saying a prayer at a football game or a choir singing "God Bless America"? You say that atheists and others were disenfranchised by the practice but there's no evidence of that. I KNOW however that the 80% plus Christians in this country were disenfranchised by the ACLU/liberal courts' egregious misinterpretation of the First Amendment. It's an abomination to any freedom of speech or freedom of religion guarantees contained in the Constitution and the practice didn't hurt a damned thing or really injure a single person.

Chuck unless you guys were on something different in Montana, binge drinking was relatively rare in our time-mostly beer, no drugs, no campuses destroyed when our teams lost, no jumping off balcony suicides. You know I'm speaking the truth here.

What changed?

12:49 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Obviously, like me, you were one of the goody-goodies who didn't touch the stuff and didn't run with those who did. I saw lots of binge drinking growing up, but then I'm from one of the big empty parts of the country where that was all there was to do and we raised a lot of alcoholics. So don't talk the good old days with me; been there, saw it, bought the t-shirt. And I'm wondering what public prayer has to do with the evolution of this country.

1:39 PM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

From Powerline.....

In the end--and the end may be quite far off, for, as Adam Smith said, there is a lot of ruin in a country--there are only two alternatives for any nation: religious faith and tyranny.

Because if each individual is not, as the Declaration says, endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights, then those rights are only the creation of governments. And what governments give, they can, and surely will, take away.

In the end, it is only the religious belief that each person, by virtue of being created in the image of God, is of transcendant value that stands between all of us and the boot heel of tyranny. Absent such belief, people are but cattle and, sooner or later, will be treated as such.

2:08 PM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

"And I'm wondering what public prayer has to do with the evolution of this country."

Does make you wonder doesn't it? All I know is that for the 200 plus years this country engaged in the practice we became the most powerful nation on the face of the earth.

It was only in the 60's and 70's with the "Woodstock think" and the germination of the ACLU that we started cutting and running and losing wars and the country began to sink into the moral and cultural swamp that it's become.

Cause and effect? Naw, couldn't be. Could it?

By the way I wasn't so goody-good either in my high school days. I wasn't one of the "socialites" so I didn't get invited to their toney little clique parties. But I did what most of us 50's types did-downed a few beers and thought we were getting away with something, then showed up at church on Sunday-that is if we wanted bed and board for the rest of the week :)

4:26 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Bedrock: I know where you're coming from because I've been there. I also understand your way of thinking. But you old curmudgeons just have to give way to us younger folk. It's the way of the world.

I don't think you look at the world that surrounds us and realize what is happening. We are in a world of change. In the western world it has happened before. We changed lifestyle, morality and belief systems from feudal to mercantile, from mercantile to industrial age, from industrial age in the last century to the techological change and we're into the post-technological stage and staring straight at the century of biology. The old rigid morality won't hold, if it ever did. The pioneers may have talked of god but they went on and did their thing anyway.

And I really think you need to reread the history books. You and I don't seem to have been reading the same texts. As someone who has loved history since grade school and minored in it in college, as well as doing some work in political science in college, I don't think you understand the history of this country very well. Or else you've only read the sanitized textbooks. This country has never been as religious as the nut cases want to say it was.

I say again, teach religious history—of all religions—if you wish as a sociological study, but disassociate the worship from it, and don't try to teach the religious ideas of creation as science. You don't seem to realize the number of attempts being made, including one later thrown out in Montana, to teach creation and so-called intelligent design in school systems around the country.

I think you need to at least try to understand the other side of this issue.

3:59 PM  
Blogger bedrocktruth said...

I think I understand the other side, Chuck. But there should be a way to alleviate the false fears of a
church-state and still accommodate the rights of
people of faith to free speech and freedom of religion
in public places.

It's not so "free" is it, really, if it has to be confined to their homes and their churches?

I made a post and am into discussion on this with Liberal Avenger at my new blog;

I hope you can get a sense of what I'm trying to say and welcome your comments. Best.....

6:40 AM  
Blogger Sunnye T said...

Chuck et al:

I've enjoyed reading through this series of posts, mostly because none of you use the offensive and insulting language that is so prevalent in blogging. I do hope you won't mind if I ask a question.

I understand Christian/conservative concepts of morality but what I no one has articulated is the "intellectusl"/liberal concept. As far as I can tell it involves some idea of love (although David is the only "liberal" I've ever seen express that and toleration.

If this sounds like a stupid question, I apologize but I really would like to know what the typical liberal thinks is "moral" and "ethical."

1:24 AM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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1:17 AM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:21 AM  

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