ACLU Distorts the First Amendment Again

29 09 2006

Filed under: ACLU, Church and State, Prayer

Updated: 9/29 – liberal blog attacks Christian validity.
Updated: 10/1 – liberal takes a second wack.

School-based religious activities, heralded by some who welcome a return of God to public classrooms, came under fire in a new lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee this week.

The lawsuit claims that a series of Christian meetings and prayer events at Lakeview Elementary School in Mt. Juliet violated the constitution al separation of church and state and illegally subjected young children to “religious proselytizing.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Old Hickory parents, who said their son — a kindergartner last year — was exposed to religious events and messages that were “coercive” and “highly offensive.”

The activities included a “Praying Parents” group that regularly met in the school cafeteria during school hours and dropped off fliers in classrooms to let children know they’d been prayed for, according to the suit.

And it says that the school observed “National Day of Prayer” by holding a competition for students to draw posters promoting the day, handing out stickers that said “I prayed” to students who’d participated and encouraging students to link up for the day with “prayer buddies.”

Those students without a prayer buddy or a sticker stood out, “disfavored and isolated,” the suit said.

ACLU attorney Eddie Schmidt said he did not object to religious events that took place on school grounds before or after the school day, as long as they did not involve the endorsement and promotion by school officials. Some of these events, however, did take place during school hours and established a pattern and practice of endorsing not only religion, but a particular version of Christianity, ACLU attorneys said.

But that claim, in the view of an attorney with the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, is “absurd on its face.”

“Essentially what (the ACLU) fails to distinguish is the critical difference between government-sponsored speech and private speech, which is constitutionally protected,” said Memphis based attorney Nate Kellum, with the Alliance Defense Fund, who read the ACLU’s suit but is not involved in the case.

Religious proselytizing. Coercive. Highly offensive. If you hear these words, you would think the child was thrown into a dark cold room with Amazing Grace blaring in his ears for hours at a time and no food given until he recites John 3:16. No he was just a school boy who didn’t want to participate in some Christian activities.

Disfavored and isolated. Welcome to life! Hello.

Doesn’t every child face this every day at every school? Pretty much. Even adults are not immune to these feelings. We should be using the young school years to train children on how to deal with their feelings, not sue the school to accomodate them.

Let me provide the ACLU a Cliff’s Notes version of how they will be defeated in this case. The ACLU’s accusation of the school endorsing religion and even a particular kind of religion is, as the ADF commented, absurd. The school would have to be forcing children to believe in the tenets of Christianity in a classroom for that to apply.

Praying students nor praying parents do not violate the First Amendment because no student is being forced to participate. Little James Doe can think about why Pluto is no longer a planet and no one else is offended he isn’t participating in prayer buddies. The school could easily get by with teaching creationism and Christianity in a classroom, as long as any “offended” child is not forced to believe. But hey, it’s a free country, and the offended can move to another school, city, county, state, or France if he continues to be offended.

Constitutional penman, Gouverneur Morris said, “Education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man toward God.” Doesn’t it stand to reason that if education was to teach “all” religions or completely omit it from public schools that Gouverneur Morris and the other Founders would have said so?

The Constitution is NOT a “living, breathing” document. Those that believe it is call people like me, “originalists.” Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment.

Well, the “breathingists” need to understand no country has a “living” Constitution. Free countries either have the same Constitution for 200+ years (ie: America, um . . . that’s it) or start a new one to “fix” the old one (France, Germany, Italy etc.).

Whatever is in the Constitution is what we go by. Thankfully, courts are beginning to realize this and thankfully, we have a decent shot should one of these cases find its way to the Supreme Court. Breathingists should also understand that certain comments by Founders have been taken out of context to negate their pro-religion stance. For example:

1.) “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.” – John Adams –

This quote is taken from a letter Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1817, in which Adams illustrated the intolerance often manifested between Christians in their denominational disputes. Lamenting the types of petty disputes between ministers, Adams declared to Jefferson:

“Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.”

Obviously, when this quote is used to prove America was intended to be a secular nation, it is vastly out of context. In reality, Adams’ position on religion was exactly the opposite of what is put forth by breathingists. Adams believed that it would be “fanatical” to desire a world without religion, for such a world would be “hell.” Jefferson wrote back and declared that he agreed.

Updated: 9/29 – Breathingist liberal blogs about my post. Go ahead and read his comments here (here is a cached page).

“Here’s your litmus test for whether it’s really a violation or not: Were this a group of Hindus or Wiccans, would you be so adamant about the ACLU being misguided in bringing a lawsuit?”

You have hung you entire argument on an irrelevant test. It is, however, a typical “breathingist” question. The Constitution is NOT living, therefore we go with what it says and the context under which it was written. Not today’s context. Therefore, religion, to the Founders, was Christianity. I’ve already laid that out clearly. Since the First Amendment is only meant to prevent a specific denomination from being declared by the federal governmentt, these other religions/cults you’ve mentioned would be rejected. They are not Christian – the obvious religion of the Founders.

“Endorsing a religion and a particular kind of religion” is just that, regardless of whether the effort is successful.”

No one is endorsing a religion, but that would be ok if they did. It’s the denomination only that we have to watch out for. This falls under the “free excercise thereof” portion of the First Amendment. I know, you breathingists omit that portion and NEVER argue for it.

“I do encourage you to read Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, which begins: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Not in any sense. Even the zaniest of interpretations does not allow for the claim that anyone pointing to this passage as evidence of the Founders’ beliefs on the matter is taking it “out of context.”

Mr. Beck, a fine writer and avid runner he is, is either ignorant or just blatently refuses to leave the humanist realm of the breathingists. It is my pleasure to inform you, Mr. Beck, that yes, that phrase, as you intend to use it, is out of context.

One final note that is worth considering: George Mason, a member of the Constitutional Convention and recognized as “The Father of the Bill of Rights”, submitted this proposal for the wording of the First Amendment:

“All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”

Thus proving my point of the invalidity of the “litmus test”.

Updated: 10/1 – Mr. Beck takes another wack at secularizing America.

First, Mr. Beck would like us to believe:

“Many of the Founders were Deists, meaning that they believed only in a god that created the universe and then withdrew from human affairs. Their god didn’t hear or answer prayers or concern itself with sexual conduct, and was certainly not the mouth-breathing, misogynistic, anti-science bigot envisaged by so many Christians today.”

Actually, only a small handful were Deists. The vast majority were Christians. I have numerous quotes, writings, and speeches that suggest this. Since this is not as relavent to the topic, I won’t include them, but if any statement exists that shows “many” Founders were Deists, I’d be open to seeing it. I don’t meet many people that know “many” Founders very often. Most think Jefferson and Madison did all the work.

Mr. Beck’s comments about the Treaty of Tripoli were out of context. He tries to defend it with this:

Follow the link and you’ll find an extraordinarily clumsy attempt to weaken the language used by George Washington in the treaty. Fittingly, this is just the sort of nonsensical, bend-over-backward bullshit Christian “literalists” and apologists use to shield the Bible from well-deserved criticism of its various inaccuracies and internal contradictions.

The Bible does not contradict itself, if you read it in context, but since Breathingists can’t even read the Constitution, I certainly wouldn’t expect them to read the Bible in context.

Mr. Beck continues:

Even were this true, the treaty could have employed far less sweeping language to convey such a meaning to the citizens of Tripoli.

True, but since this was a treaty to stop the pirating, torture, and slaughter of American ships, the enslavement of American sailors, businessmen, and passengers, the phrase “. . . not in any sense.” was used. Also a treaty is to be signed by nations. It need not include background details or footnotes of each country’s reason for signing. That’s what context is all about.

Humor time: a commenter on Mr. Beck’s page has objected to my term, “Breathingist” to describe these liberals as people who actually believe the Constitution changes from generation to generation to keep up. This commenter preferred the term “Pro-life”.

While amusing, I must inform you that the term “Pro-life” has already been taken for a much more noble cause. You’ll have to “live” with Breathingist.

The Wide Awakes trackbacked with: ACLU Distorts the First Amendment Again

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