Right and Left Can Agree, Now and Then

When it comes to this, from Pusillanimous Wanker, a Democrat and a Republican can agree. Even though it does come way of Atrios, I still agree. (original story here)

ATLANTA — A federal judge on Monday denied an appeal for reinstatement by a University of Georgia cheerleading coach accused of mingling religion with team activities. Marilou Braswell was fired in August, according to university officials, for retaliating against a Jewish cheerleader who had complained about pressure to participate in Bible study and team prayers.

The case has drawn attention to sports in Georgia, where coaches often lead players in prayer or worship.

. . . Cheerleaders, she said, were pressured to attend Bible study sessions at the coach’s home, led by her husband, a minister. Steele also said Braswell led prayers before sporting events. And Steele complained that the listserv used by cheerleaders was a vehicle for prayer requests.

"She came in our office crying, saying: ‘I just can’t take this anymore,’ " said Deborah Lauter, southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "She had dealt with this for a long time."

PW states:

Now, for what must be the hundredth time, I’m going to say . . . I, and no one else I know, are trying to A) say students cannot pray or B) advocate "kicking God out of school". What I AM saying is that public officials, in positions of authority, should not be allowed to advocate for their own faith in the course of performing their duties.

Agreed. Personally, I do not believe the whole "separation of Church and State" argument that many have put forth. In my reading, that is not what the 1st Amendment states. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…. Simply, Congress cannot pass any laws for or against religion. The Framers were worried about a national religion, such as the one that not only drove the Pilgrims from England, but the religion put upon the colonies by the Church of England, as well as the influence that the Church had in the daily lives of the Colonists. The Framers felt that the People should be able to worship as they wanted, free of governmental influence or involvement.

This is not the same as a religious emblem, such as a cross, menorah, a manger scene, even the Ten Commandments being displayed on public property. People are free to look or not. And all religions should have the Right to display their religious icons. What we have here is forced religion at a publicly funded university. Besides the obvious impropriety of the actions, how can forcing ones religious views on another person be worthy of that religion? Religion has to be felt, not forced.

I don’t agree that the country wasn’t founded on Christianity, but that is an argument for a different day. In this case, I agree with PW.

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5 Responses to “Right and Left Can Agree, Now and Then”

  1. JulieB says:

    I agree with both you and PW. And there is no way to end personal prayer at any location. For what we say to God is between God and us, not those around us. Has nothing to do with the display of religious symbols either, as you say, we can look or not look. I personally enjoy all of the Christmas lights on display around me and the decorated Christmas trees in the square downtown. It does not annoy me or shake my faith in my religion.
    Perhaps it is only those with doubts that are enraged?

  2. Thanks for the shout out, Teach.

    Hi again, Julie! I’m nicer over here. But then again, Teach doesn’t compare me and people like me to terrorists, so there you go.

    My opinion on the rest of it, and it is one that the courts (tasked with interpreting the Constitution) share nearly every time such a case comes up, is that displays of overtly religous iconography or texts constitutes a violation of the letter and spirit of the 1st Amendment . . . that they amount to a tacit endorsment of a faith. You’re free to disagree of course, and many do. But the courts’ opinions carry the weight of law. Now given enough time and right-wing hegemony . . . well, who knows what could change.

    The Constitution is deliberately vague on many points. That’s one of its beauties. Quotes like these give us some insight into the framers’ intent, however:

    “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” — Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802

    (of course, displaying the Commandments is not “a law”, but that is where interpretation comes in)

    “The law has the further advantage of having been the result of a formal appeal to the sense of the Community and a deliberate sanction of a vast majority, comprizing [sic] every sect of Christians in the State. This act is a true standard of Religious liberty; its principle the great barrier agst [against] usurpations on the rights of conscience. As long as it is respected & no longer, these will be safe. Every provision for them short of this principle, will be found to leave crevices, at least thro’ which bigotry may introduce persecution; a monster, that feeding & thriving on its own venom, gradually swells to a size and strength overwhelming all laws divine & human.” — James Madison, “Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments,”

    “The Civil Government, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.” — Madison, 1830’s

    “The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated. Adieu.” — John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825

    These give you an idea of just how “Christian” some of them were:

    “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a Virgin Mary, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter…. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away [with] all this artificial scaffolding.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 11 April 1823

    “Washington never even got around to recording his belief that Christ was a great ethical teacher. His reticence on the subject was truly remarkable. Washington frequently alluded to Providence in his private correspondence. But the name of Christ, in any correspondence whatsoever, does not appear anywhere in his many letters to friends and associates throughout his life.” — Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, pp. 74-75.

  3. I don’t want to beat this to death, but here are a few more quotes of interest:

    “I do not believe that any type of religion should ever be introduced into the public schools of the United States.” — Thomas Edison, 1847-1931

    “Protecting religious freedoms may be more important in the late twentieth century than it was when the Bill of Rights was ratified. We live in a pluralistic society, with people of widely divergent religious backgrounds or with none at all. Government cannot endorse beliefs of one group without sending a clear message to non-adherents that they are outsiders.” — Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 1991

    “A certain momentum develops in constitutional theory and it can be a “downhill thrust” easily set in motion but difficult to retard or stop…. The dangers are increased by the difficulty of perceiving in advance exactly where the “verge” of the precipice lies. As well as constituting an independent evil against which the Religion Clauses were intended to protect, involvement or entanglement between government and religion serves as a warning signal.” — Chief Justice Warren Burger, 1983

    “Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine and practice. It may not be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of nonreligion; and it may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite. The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion” — U. S. Supreme Court, Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968

    “The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion–except for the sect that can win political power” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, 1952

    “We renew our conviction that “we have staked the very existence of our country on the faith that complete separation between the state and religion is best for the state and best for religion.” — Justice Felix Frankfurter, 1948

    “The law knows no heresy, and is committed to the support of no dogma, the establishment of no sect.” — U. S. Supreme Court, Watson v. Jones, 1872

    “Christianity is not established by law, and the genius of our institutions requires that the Church and the State should be kept separate….The state confesses its incompetency to judge spiritual matters between men or between man and his maker … spiritual matters are exclusively in the hands of teachers of religion.” — U. S. Supreme Court, Melvin v. Easley, 1860

  4. I have see alot of those documents myself, PW, but I bet many others haven’t. Thanks for posting them.

    I tend to get most of my serious RW rants out on political forums, where the discourse tends to be, let’s say, rough. I really do not think all left wingers are bad, heck, I would have to indite my Mom and alot of friends. Some things tend to set me off at times, though.

  5. julie-b says:

    Thanks for the great quotes!!

    One that strikes a chord with me is:
    “The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion–except for the sect that can win political power” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, 1952
    Our safety is in our plurality.

    And Charlie, I know you’re a Jekyl/Hyde sort. S’OK.

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