Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Difficult Question

As I write this I am sure I will create a firestorm of disbelief amongst my conservative brethren. Perhaps it is the reason I have chosen to comment on this article from World Net Daily out today.

Our nation is predominately a Christian Nation and was founded on many Judeo Christian ethics and principals. To their credit our founding fathers understood that religious beliefs are personal, deeply held, and that each individual has the right to believe and worship as they so choose.This is why we have the First Amendment Establishment Clause in our Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, as well as many other enlightened thinkers of that time, understood the need to prevent religion from interfering or controlling the political agenda of a nation. They knew the dangers of a State Church such as existed in England during their lifetime in the Church of England. Our founders simply understood that each INDIVIDUAL had the right to worship, or not, as they chose.

My personal beliefs run concurrent with those of our Founding Fathers and drafters of The Constitution of the United States. Our political entities and religious institutions should operate separately and without influence on the other. Spiritual guidance is properly found in the church, and the affairs of state are properly left to the government.

The issue driving todays post is described by these excerpt from the WND article.

"A political candidate in this week's primary election for the office of comptroller in Illinois has filed a lawsuit against the state charging it officially expressed "hate" and "hostility" toward Christianity and other religions that include a belief in God by allowing atheists to post a sign in a state building at Christmas"


The sign as posted by Freedom from Religious Foundation:

"At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Perhaps there are those, because of  their deeply held  religious beliefs, find this hateful and thus unacceptable. However, atheism is merely the lack of belief in a higher authority or being. It is not hateful or evil to deny the existence of a Supreme Being. Perhaps it is misguided, and maybe one day those who are atheist will confront  the possibility they were wrong. However, they pose no threat to those who believe in a creator and Supreme Being.

With respect to the immediate issue. Christians find the existence of a post such as above by Freedom from Religion Foundation distasteful and threatening to their beliefs. On the other hand, and by the same token, atheists find religious beliefs distasteful when they witness that which they do not believe.

So... my point is this, the founding fathers recognized the need to allow for each and every INDIVIDUAL to believe as they so chose, without the interference of government or the pressure of any particular beliefs those governing might hold.

Hence the First Amendment Establishment Clause of The Constitution of the United States of America. The founding fathers being Deists, did not give us freedom from religion, rather they in there infinite wisdom gave us the right as INDIVIDUALS to believe, or not, as our conscience guides us. It is for this reason they held that church and state should be separate and neither should have influence on the other.

So... in government buildings it is reasonable that neither religion nor atheism be a preference or denied a presence. If one is allowed so should the other. Perhaps it is best if neither is allowed. In all private establishments and places both are acceptable.

13 comments:

  1. now, here we could really battle, my friend. lol

    the reading of the first amendment, itself, would declare a different conclusion than the one you came to.

    also, the actions of the founding fathers would result in a different conclusion than you came to.

    i could argue that your own feelings about religions are a factor in your conclusions.

    i'd argue that the only way to come to the conclusion you have taken is to interpret the Constitution from a "living document" point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I could argue that subject religious feeling in fact might lead one to the opposite interpretation...

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

    This clause is "the separation of church and state" practice the nation has held to for 233 years. It was crafted after Jefferson's "Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom which when enacted in Virginia created a separation of church and state.

    The purpose of the Establishment Clause was clearly meant to restrict our government from either establishing a state religion (church)or, from prohibiting THE PEOPLE (individual) from freely exercising their right to the religion of their choice.

    In my view of this case as outlined in WND is that it is frivolous and meant to deny the non believing from expressing their views in the same manner religious individuals wish to express their.

    I fail to see how this reflects +a living document" point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  3. RN,
    "The purpose of the Establishment Clause was clearly meant to restrict our government from either establishing a state religion (church)or, from prohibiting THE PEOPLE (individual) from freely exercising their right to the religion of their choice."

    i agree there and we have an example of that from in history from our mother government, King Henry VIII when he established the Church of England and made the monarch the head of the Church, but one thing.

    if you read that amendment you'll see it says nothing about what religions can do. it essentually places the establishment of religion above the law. it allows religions to act unrestricted by the law of the state. and it doesn't allow the state to discriminate against any religion because of religious practices either because that religion does not adhere to the laws of the state. and we have seen the state do exactly that in history. Bob Jones University is one exanple of it.

    and it doesn't prohibit the state from recognizing that we are a nation under God as the atheist will argue and are arguing.
    taking an oath on the Bible has been a practice of this nation since its inception, so how can we say that the founding fathers intended to separate state and religion as it is being done now? that amendment separated the state from religion. it did not separate religions from the state.

    in fact, i'll contend that the Declaration of Independence was the direct result of the religious beliefs of the founding fathers. i would contend that they acting in accordance to the religious belief at that time that kings had the divine right to rule.

    ReplyDelete
  4. tolerance is the key word to the understanding of that amendment, RN, not separation

    ReplyDelete
  5. I understand what you are saying, and I realize that the Establishment Clause says nothing about freedom from religion. Rather it allow for freedom of religion as the individual chooses to believe. I guess on this we agree then.

    My point is that an atheist, who can be spiritual in some sense of the word, has the right to publicly display their opinion as much as the devotedly religious individual does.

    As to tolerance Griper I tolerate both. I do not believe however that the opinions of a minority should be repressed under the charge being made in the specifics of this case.

    That my friend is true intolerance. And I recognize the intolerance of some atheists towards religion. IMHO both are guilty of intolerance.

    ReplyDelete
  6. no one says that the opinions of atheists should be repressed by my understanding of it.

    the question actually boils down to the essential question of the existance of God. and if He does exist then we would have to acknowledge that nations are under His rule. and if He does not exist then nations are not under His rule.

    we must remember that the term God is a term of hierarchy of life not of a particular religion. every religion recognizes the existance of a God. it is in the identification of Him that separates religions or religious belief of individuals.

    and we must recognize that the word Christianity is not a religion but a collective word incorporating many religions. at one time it could have been declared as one when Christianity was united under one religion but no more.

    and with that we can see that the founding fathers was not adverse to the idea of religions influuencing the behavior of the state which is not the minset of this day.

    we are a nation whose government is of check and balances. thus they saw no need to keep religions from influence it because they acted as a check on the domination of any one religion thus a balanced influence. Article 6 clause 3 implies this.

    a good example of this is the Quaker religion which is a pacifist religion. if a quaker was elected to office and a vote on war was taken that quaker should vote nay each time regardless of reason even if we were attacked and would be acting in self-defense. now, everyone would know that the vote cast by that quacker was by religious conviction. that article prevents laws to prohibit the ban of the quacker religion from being elected to an office. that would have prevented President Nixon from being elected.

    we have a situation now with Senator Kerry and Representative Pelosi in regards to the abortion issue being that they are Catholics. and as you have probably heard there have been calls out that they should be excommunicated because of their stance on it. so, i believe that the founding fathers understood that religions had a role in government but that government was to have no role in the relious convictions of the people.

    it in essense came down to two alternatives. either ban those religions whose beliefs might be against the idea found in the Constitution like wars or abortion or else permit religion to influence the vote of a representative so that he may remain in accordance to his religion so that he will not be punished by his religion as many religion do when one of their members acts in a way that is seen as contradictory to the beliefs of that religion.

    religions has always been an influence on governments. but history will show that it was the state that chose which particular religion was to have that influence not the other way around.
    i always like to think of it as being that the state recognized that religion was the guardians of the morality of the laws it enacted. and in the past the state chose which religion was to be used to guide its morality.

    by choosing the concept of majority rules in this nation we have chosen to allow every religion to be the guardian of its laws and it is determined by vote which would reflect the the many different religious beliefs of its members in Congress.

    ReplyDelete
  7. so, as you say we are a Christian nation not because of a rlationship between the state and a particular religion that the first amendment prohibits but because of the commonality of beliefs of the many different religions within the concept of the term Christianity and this would include Judaism which cannot be considered as a Christian religion also for the most part.

    and if we are worried that just the recognition that we are a nation under God will eventually lead us down the path to a particular religion then we dare not even go into the opposite direction either. and declaring that we are a secular nation is a path that could eventually lead us down the path to atheism too.

    it is either one path we must risk or the other path we must risk. which is the preferrable? Would a nation that declares that God does not exist be more tolerable to those who believe He does exist or would a nation that declares that God does exist be more tolerable to those who believe he does not exist?

    we have seen in history where religious belief of God was persecuted but can you show me one time when atheist beliefs were persecuted?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ahh yes, religious beliefs were persecuted, I agree.

    And so it goes that religious beliefs held by the majority did the persecuting at various times throughout history.

    I believe you will recall when those times were. One was the Salem Witch Trials, of course they were preceded throughout Europe by horrible atrocities inflicted by the Church on innocent individals.

    Ethical and moral behaviors do not derive their basis from religion exclusively.

    One must recognize the rights of all men to lead the life they so choose in so long as long as that choice does not infringe on anthers right to live theirs.

    It is called respecting the rights of others, and those that fail to do so have no rights in civil society.

    And, to finish, in the event of the use of force by anyone against another the proper response by the state should be swift, decisive, and final.

    Live and let live, and worship, or not as each choses. I am totally okay with that.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Ethical and moral behaviors do not derive their basis from religion exclusively."

    never said that they do, RN.

    but am saying that religion is a necessary element of a society if it is to acknowledge it as being under God.

    if as the atheist say that we are not a nation under God then religions are not a necessary element of a society. and this is a dangerous thought. for then there is no reason to protect the religious beliefs of another.

    and viewing religions only from their bad side is one argument the atheist will use to denounce them. they don't want people to see religions in terms of the good that they have done for societies.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "And so it goes that religious beliefs held by the majority did the persecuting at various times throughout history."

    it wasn't the religious beliefs of the majority that did the prosecutions.

    it was the religious beliefs of those who held the power in society that did.

    the people believed as the king believed and when the king changed his beliefs so did the people.

    we need to remember that Europe and each of it nations have a very collective mindset societies which is different from the US which had a very individualistic mindset. that is why socialism was so easily accepted there.

    we were never a nation where obedience and subservience to the government were attributes of a society.

    though i'll argue that we are slowly becoming one. the fact that we accept Social Security and were unwilling to change it as GWB proposed is proof of that. along with this fact is the idea that some sort of socialized medicine has passed in both houses for the first time ever adds to that fact.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Europe and each of it nations have a very collective mindset societies which is different from the US which had a very individualistic mindset. that is why socialism was so easily accepted there.

    we were never a nation where obedience and subservience to the government were attributes of a society.

    though i'll argue that we are slowly becoming one. the fact that we accept Social Security and were unwilling to change it as GWB proposed is proof of that. along with this fact is the idea that some sort of socialized medicine has passed in both houses for the first time ever adds to that fact."

    Yes, and with each genertion it is likely we will look more and more like Europe.

    Individualism and egoism is already frowned upon by many, has been so for some time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. yup and where collectivism exist there is one thing they all have in common, a dominant centralized government and weak local governments.

    also the attitude that the people exist and work to support governments and its programs rather than working to support themselves.

    ReplyDelete

As this site encourages free speech and expression any and all honest political commentary is acceptable. Comments with cursing or vulgar language will not be posted.

Effective 8/12/13 Anonymous commenting has been disabled. This unfortunate action was made necessary due to the volume of Anonymous comments that are either off topic or serve only to disrupt honest discourse..

I apologizes for any inconvenience this necessary action may cause the honest Anonymous who would comment here, respect proper decorum and leave comments of value. However, The multitude of trollish attack comments from both the left and right has necessitated this action.

Thank you for your understanding... The management.