First Amendment -- Myopic View of the Majority

Discussion in 'Politics' started by B_bi_mmf, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. B_bi_mmf

    B_bi_mmf New Member

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    Award-winning columnist Leonard Pitts has an excellent column in syndication this morning.

    staugustine.com: Legal argument, common sense cross at the court 10/14/09

    Among other things, he suggests that establishing Christmas as a federal holiday sure as hell sounds like a violation of the First Amendment.

    "Scalia's obstinate insistence that the cross is a generic symbol manages to simultaneously demean Christianity and deftly illustrate the sort of bullying the Constitution discourages. How easily and readily the majority embraces the myopic view that its symbols and norms represent us all." (bold italics added)
     
  2. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    First Amendment - Religion and Expression


    Amendment Text | Annotations
    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.



    FindLaw: U.S. Constitution: First Amendment

    establishing a religion? prohibiting free exercise? what's the argument, other than someone wants to draw attention to their leftist secular displeasure?
     
  3. D_Drew Peacock

    D_Drew Peacock New Member

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    To place one religion or relgion's symbols or one religion's holidays as the societal norm, is to establish that religion. In this context, "establishment" is a sort of short hand for "establish as primary or normative." Thus the term "disestablish" means to take away advantage or primacy from a church or other religious system of observation. The reaction to removing hte advantage and privelige of the churches in Europe was termed "antidisestablismentarianism." This has long been one of the longest words in common useage in the english language.

    Constitutions notwithstanding, the christian church is most definitely established in North American culture. Probably less so in Quebec than anywhere else now, because of the "quiet revolution" of the 1960's and 70's there. As majority culture shifts under the weight of immigration there is a rising tide of antidisestablismentarianism mostly seen in the church media and the reactionary right. Those in the mainstream churches are much more likely to accept or even welcome disestablishment as they recognize that the church functions better as a fringe group or an outside influence than as a part of the power structure. Jesus said we are to be "salt" not that we are to be the potatoes in the stew or the meat.
     
  4. JustAsking

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    I would like to draw attention to my Christian displeasure. The cross as a generic American symbol is very distasteful to me as a Christian for obvious reasons. And for other reasons that are just as obvious, people of other religious traditions would find it equally distasteful.

    Secondly, as a Christian I also appreciate the Establishment Clause that protects me from undue governmental interference in my maintaining and practicing my faith. As the Supreme Court has said repeatedly in all of its Establishment Clause cases, that no government employee or government institution is competent to determine anyone's matters of faith.

    Furthermore, as an American, I also appreciate the ability of The Establishment Clause to protect government from religious interference, although that is harder to define and enforce. But generally, as an American, I value the freedoms expressed in the Constitution and I acknowledge that others have given their lives to protect those freedoms.

    Government mandating of religious holidays is contrary to all of this. Government mandating of religous symbols as secular is simply ridiculous.

    I my opinion, anyone who seeks to undermine The Establishment Clause is an enemy of religion and an enemy of freedom.
     
  5. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    I don't see an issue on Constitutional grounds (perhaps I'm missing something):

    On March 2, 2005, the Supreme Court heard arguments for two cases involving religious displays, Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. These were the first cases directly dealing with display of the Ten Commandments the Court had heard since Stone v. Graham (1980). These cases were decided on June 27, 2005. In Van Orden, the Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, the legality of a Ten Commandments display at the Texas state capitol due to the monument's "secular purpose." In McCreary County, however, the Court ruled 5-4 that displays of the Ten Commandments in several Kentucky county courthouses were illegal because they were not clearly integrated with a secular display, and thus were considered to have a religious purpose.

    Establishment Clause of the First Amendment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    were the displayed symbols to be Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu, I most definitely would have a problem, on the grounds that those ideologies are foreign to our culture (indeed, I would say, inimical to its highest ideals), and, thus, would be an attempt at "Establishment":

    The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church 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 disbeliefs, 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. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."

    Establishment Clause of the First Amendment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  6. SilverTrain

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    Navigating the slippery slope using the claws of hypocrisy: such an ingnoble endeavor.
     
  7. JustAsking

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    Yes, you are missing something. The Bill of Rights is set forth to protect the freedom of everyone, but also to uphold the notion of "Majority Rule, Minority Rights". Or in other words, when it comes to matters of faith, nothing is foreign to our culture. For the government to act otherwise would be a form of Establishment.

    For example, some European countries have a state religion which was, not surprisingly, established out of the dominant religion of the culture. The Establishment Clause seeks to purposely prevent this in the USA regardless of whether the religion is dominant or not. That is why the terms, "strict neutrality" is used in the court cases.

    Your comments presuppose that the dominant culture gets to impose itself on the minority culture in areas of faith. Fortunately, the American approach is to discourage this by protecting the rights of the minority culture in certain explicit areas. We are so committed to our constitution that the only oath we ask our President to swear on his inauguration is to defend the constitution.

    Why do you hate our American way of life so much, is what I want to know? If you are so determined to undermine freedom, it would be much easier to move to another country where there are fewer freedoms than we have here.

    I think you are trying to imply that America was founded and is run on Christian principles. I submit that a nation that legalizes capital punishment cannot make that claim. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights which was established by our founding fathers makes almost all of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional. The remaining Commandments which are not illegal by the Constitution cover principles that are know to be supported by both secular societies and theocracies based on other religions.

    Given that our founding fathers were extremely antagonistic to Christianity and other organized religions, it is hard to believe that our nation was founded by principles that were thought to be exclusively Christian by them. America was founded mostly on the principles that came out of The Enlightenment, and the closest our founding fathers got to religion was a kind of Deism or Freemasonry.

    As a Christian, I will defend my faith against government interference.

    As an American, I will defend all faiths against government interference.

    By the way, Nick. If you knew anything about Christianity you would know that Jesus' greatest commandments came directly from the Jewish Sh'ma which Jewish people are to say twice a day as a mitzvah. To claim that Judaisim is inimical to the principles on which America was founded is ridiculous. Jesus was a Jewish reformer, not a Jewish enemy. He reformed Judaism by altering the priority of already existing and strong Jewish principles of religious law balanced against compassion.

    As a Christian, I consider myself a reformed Jew and therefore I embrace all of Judaism including their recognition and desire for the coming of a Messiah. That I consider Jesus the Messiah whom the Jews are expecting doesn't change the rest of what I just said.

    Your castigation of Judaism and other faiths is one good example of why we need an Establishment Clause. It is to protect us from people like you who seek to undermine freedom in matters of faith in order to impose your own cultural imperatives.
     
    #7 JustAsking, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  8. vince

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    Anti-American.
     
  9. Drifterwood

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    Why do you have all those masonic symbols on your State money then?
     
  10. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

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    #10 B_spiker067, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  11. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    Thank you dear fellows, for your feelings

    but, again, does anyone have an analysis of how the article describes a situation where the tests laid out in Van Orden andMcCreary County fail, in the instance described in the article, thereby actually creating a Constitutional issue?
     
  12. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

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    When you say analysis, do you mean one that is slanted to coincide your own feelings that you stubbornly hold onto and preach to be some kind of factoid, as implied in the statement above? Or just another point of view which would engage a healthy discussion? Just trying to be clear... no need to waste time providing you with any kind of reading material if you're just going to write it off as another one of those "leftist liberal" things. :rolleyes:
     
  13. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    analysis along the tests set forth by Supreme Court.

    I went so far as to provide the basic information, the principles, and the Court's reasoning -- which is the current Constitutional law of the land.

    In view of the Court's reasoning, why would the OP's described situation fail those tests, thereby creating a bona fide Constitutional issue?

    (and, I actually have no position here, I could go either way)
     
    #13 B_Nick4444, Oct 14, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  14. B_Nick4444

    B_Nick4444 New Member

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    as I recall, the symbols used were in fact not Masonic,as far as the Founding Fathers did not intend a Masonic connotation; the symbols were there, exclusive of Masonic usage, to signify other things

    I've also heard that each of the Founding Fathers, or a majority were Masons

    really couldn't say on this one; for relevance to the thread, and what I was saying, not especially germane, as I think the issue is what religious connotation, say, a crucifix would have being displayed on public grounds. Merely displaying the cross is not a call to a religious ritual, an invocation to prayer, a command to worship. In the case of a public cemetary, it is merely a recognition of honor, respect for their loss, etc ... nothing especially religious.
     
  15. JustAsking

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    Fair enough, Nick. Your point is that here are two extremely similar cases tried by the same court at approximately the same time with two different outcomes.

    At first glance these two decisions seem arbitrary and inconsistent. But I think I understand where Breyer is coming from on the Texas Monument case.

    Breyer seems to be arguing that the Texas monument is one of 21 monuments in the park that depict those things that most influenced those who founded the state of Texas. As such, to deny the one religious component of that influence would not be a position of neutrality for the state. In these cases, neutrality is more important than what some people call political correctness, (e.g. representing all faiths equally).

    This would be akin to upholding a public school's choir director who has inserted some Christian Christmas songs into the performance repertoire during the Christmas season. To pretend, suppress, or deny the influence of Christian music on the music of that season would not be a neutral standpoint. When the court requires a "significant secular purpose", it doesn't mean that religion cannot be mentioned. The history of Christmas is a historical fact and a strong cultural influence.

    Another thing that Breyer deemed important is that the monument originated along with the others from a purely secular civic organization. I am not too sure what I think about this point, but I think Breyer's point is that the originators are neither a religions organization nor are they a government entity.

    The governmetn entity part is pretty important because the Establishment Clause was written to restrict the government from religious expression or suppression, not the public nor business entities. Therefore the biggest objection to the Texas Monument can only be its location on public property, but not that it was placed there by an agent of the government. The use of public property by the general public is not regulated by the Establishment Clause. In these two cases, the park is seen more as public property, whereas the courthouse in the other case is seen more as "government property".

    Although both could be considered to be under control of the government, the court seems to be sensitive to the affect on the public in each of the two cases. Breyer seems to think that a public park is a neutral setting in which monuments would not be construed as the government's expression but rather the public's expression of speech. And he thinks the series of secular monuments that happen to include the Ten Commandments monument sufficiently convey the secular intent of the Eagle's organization in wanting to be comprehensive in their highlighting of the influences on the formation of the state of Texas. In this case the secular nature outweighs the concern about someone misunderstanding the one religious monument as being an expression of religion from the government.

    On the other hand, anything displayed in a courthouse would be easily understood as an expression of speech from the DOJ, which is clearly a government agency. Especially if the monument doing the expression were installed there by government employees under direction and by request from an agent of the goverment and was installed there to be permanent.

    In summary, the monument in the courthouse appears to be an expression of endorsement of a particular religous tradtiion by a government agency. Whereas the religious monument in the park appears to be a part of a public expression of religous and secular influences on the history of the state of Texas.
     
  16. Drifterwood

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    I appreciate that it is a little off topic perhaps, but the motto on the Great Seal is Annuit Coeptis which means he condones (or has condoned) our undertakings. You may take the "he" to be God and tie this into the quasi religious Manifold Destiny, or you you could see it within the Novus Ordo Seclorum, which clearly spells out MASON within a pantagon along the axes of the pyramid under the all seeing eye of the Great Architect in the Sky.

    Either way I would find this symbolism complex within the terms of the first amendment.
     
  17. MercyfulFate

    MercyfulFate New Member

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    Scalia is insane, and a great reason why we should be able to remove judges who go off the road of reason.

    This joker basically said innocent people exonerated by DNA evidence, should not be considered innocent! What?!
     
  18. SpeedoGuy

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    Leonard Pitts is one of my favorites.

    The majority, of course, remains puzzled what all the fuss is about.
     
  19. MercyfulFate

    MercyfulFate New Member

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    The majority of Americans are confused by anything beyond the NFL and Dancing with the Stars.
     
  20. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Meh, I have problems with Christmas being a federal holiday but it does mean I and most other Americans get a day off so I'm not going to complain about it.
     
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