Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What part of "freedom" don't you get?

Commentor Anonymous on my post about the atheist litigation in Rhode Island to force a high school to remove a small prayer on a wall mural:

Anonymous said...

Imagine that an atheist principal or teacher made a sign that said "There is no God: discard your outdated religious beliefs and start growing morally and mentally!" Then they hang this sign prominently in a public school.
These is no Constitutional issue. The relevant First Amendment clauses are:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the Free Exercise thereof..."

The sign is not an Establishment of Religion, which means an official Government Church.

The sign does not interfere with Free Exercise of Religion, because it doesn't prevent anybody from exercising or expressing their own religious belief.

There's no coercion involved. It's just a sign.
Would that be ok with you? Freedom of speech, right? 
I would go the the next school board meeting, and say I didn't like the sign. Not because it broke the law (it didn't), or because it violated my rights (I have no right to be unoffended), but because it's wrong. I don't like wrong stuff on signs in schools.

If the board voted (I like democracy) to leave the sign up, I'd try to get a sign I agreed with put up next to it. If not, I'd tell my kid to ignore it. Good civics lesson for my kid about tolerating things that you don't agree with. It's a free country.

Would you call a Christian student who complained about atheism being pushed by public officials a "little brownshirt"? I somehow doubt it. 
A Christian who dragged another man into court to silence him would be a brownshirt. Brownshirts can be atheists, Christians, etc. Censorship isn't denominationally restricted, although atheists do seem to have an inordinate fondness. I don't like government censorship, and I don't like the use of force to shut people up.
Private speech is protected. But government officials and institutions cannot push their religious views - be it atheism or Christianity - onto their students. This is the law, and it is a good law.
The Free Speech Cause of the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech..."

makes no mention of private, public, government, whatever. It doesn't prohibit speech of any sort. It protects speech. It prohibits laws that abridge freedom of speech. It prohibits the use of government force to shut people up (vide supra).

An example of government force to shut people up would be a federal judge forcing a school to remove a prayer.

And "government officials and institutions push their religious views" all the time and everywhere. Our money invokes God, our Pledge invokes God, every politician who ever lived has invoked God, our national monuments are slathered with God-talk, our military employs chaplains, our legislative bodies employ chaplains who say prayers at legislative sessions, Presidents proclaim Thanksgiving and National Days of Prayer, Presidents say "and God Bless the United States of America" at the end of every State of the Union speech, and Presidents take the oath of office with their hand on a Bible...

Yet you claim that 'it's the law' that "government officials and institutions can't push their religious views?"

What planet are you living on?

The most powerful government officials in American constantly push religious views. And it's entirely Constitutional, because it does not Establish a National Church and because we all have the right, from President to plumber, to Free Exercise of Religion and Freedom of Speech.

What part of "freedom" don't you get?





22 comments:

  1. There’s a fundamental difference between your reaction to a religious sign posted in a school and the reaction of an impressionable 8 year old that attends the school. The issue isn’t whether the 8 year old is offended or not, it’s whether the school is influencing the religious beliefs of people’s children without the consent of that child’s parents.

    What part of “freedom of religion” don’t you get?

    -KW

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  2. The sign is not an Establishment of Religion, which means an official Government Church.

    Once again you demonstrate that you are an uneducated boob with no understanding of the law.

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  3. @anon:

    [Once again you demonstrate that you are an uneducated boob with no understanding of the law.]

    So what does "Establishment of Religion" mean?

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  4. So what does "Establishment of Religion" mean?

    It isn't a mystery. Educate yourself:

    Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)
    Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)
    Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984)

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  5. Sorry Mike, The Supreme Court has already ruled that in order to be constitutional under the Establishment Clause the activities of the public schools must pass the “Lemon test” (Lemon v. Kurtzman 1971). They must have a secular purpose, must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and must not result in excessive entanglement between government and religion. That is the law of the land.

    Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for those of us who aren’t Christian conservatives, you have a sympathetic Supreme Court that displays little regard for precedent.

    -KW

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  6. Atheists do not believe in freedom, because as a matter of strict materialist metaphysics, they do not believe in freedom.

    But give them credit for being consistent.

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  7. It isn't a mystery. Educate yourself:

    Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)
    Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)
    Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984)


    No doubt, anon in, oh, 1859 would have proclaimed that Dred Scott was the final word.

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  8. No doubt, anon in, oh, 1859 would have proclaimed that Dred Scott was the final word.

    Dred Scott was an outlier of a decision that was poorly based in the jurisprudence of the day. What most people who trot it out in situtions like this don't realize about the Dred Scott decision is just how out in left field Taney was and how poorly grounded his decision was even by the standards of the time.

    in contrast, the Supreme Court has been consistent through the history of the United States on the subject to the establishment Clause, with the cases building on each other in a very easy to follow manner. Whine all you want, but this is not a set of precedents that are likely to be overturned any time soon, if ever.

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  9. Michael said, "What part of "freedom" don't you get?"

    The anonymous coward, if truthful, would have to answer, "I don't get any of it."

    Then of course, if he had the least grain of honesty he'd have to say as well, "since atheism cannot be proved and it is impossible to know there is no god, my position is one of religious blind faith, and I'm happy to admit it."

    Should expect such an admission? No, not from such a blind follower of blind fools.

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  10. Great post Dr. Egnor!

    I first came to appreciate your articulate defense of various moral positions (in particular, the rights of the unborn) from your (in times past) frequent postings at Evolution News and Views. The resulting personally vicious verbal assaults from the various atheist blogs rarely tried to counter your arguments, as vulgar character assassination seems to come much easier to them. However, I was both surprised and delighted to find that you now have your own blog, and that you've not only managed to negate the emotional sting of their frequent invectives, but have also transformed their main epithet into the name of your blog. (Maybe a stroke of genius?)

    I greatly appreciate your comments on whatever issue comes to hand. Thank you again Dr. Egnor!

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  11. Then of course, if he had the least grain of honesty he'd have to say as well, "since atheism cannot be proved and it is impossible to know there is no god, my position is one of religious blind faith, and I'm happy to admit it."

    Prove there are no invisible pink unicorns. Then you might have a leg to stand on with that argument. Good luck with that.

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  12. Anon, why won't you acknowledge that your non-belief in invisible pink unicorns is a religion and it's based on blind faith?

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  13. I'm getting a sore neck from shaking my head at the daily nonsense published on this blog. I might need some neurosurgery to get it fixed. Call me a cynic, but could it be that Dr Egnor is deliberately writing head-shake-inducing nonsense just to get some extra patients?

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  14. @anon (Great post Dr. Egnor!)

    Thank you for your kind words. It's great to hear from friends.

    Mike

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  15. @anon (atheists do not believe in freedom):

    [Atheists do not believe in freedom, because as a matter of strict materialist metaphysics, they do not believe in freedom.]

    That's really an excellent point. If freedom cannot be grounded in unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, then rights cannot be grounded at all. Perhaps this helps to explain the atheist penchant for totalitarianism.

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  16. Anonymous "No doubt, anon in, oh, 1859 would have proclaimed that Dred Scott was the final word."
    Obviously. That's why no liberal speaks ill of decisions like Gonzales v. Raich, or Kelo v New London (where the nominal liberals on the court made the wrong decision).
    Also, if you haven't already, you should probably read the decisions anon listed, Everson, Lemon (both were of the "giving public funds to non-public schools is a no-no" type) & Lynch (city nativity scenes are fine. Other decisions formed and defined open/closed forum).

    mregnor "Perhaps this helps to explain the atheist penchant for totalitarianism."
    Yeah! Take that, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Japan and France!

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  17. Perhaps this helps to explain the atheist penchant for totalitarianism.

    I live in a country where most people are non-religious and I'm still waiting for the evil dictatorship.

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  18. Dr. Egnor, you seem to have some kind of mental blockage in admitting that the fairest countries nowadays have non-religious majorities. You have an obsession with N. Korea and just ignore the rest. That is, to say the least, not very honest on your part. It must indeed be very hard for you to swallow that atheism brings social justice.

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  19. @iko:

    Most of the "fairest" (Sweden, Denmark, yada, yada) countries have long Christian histories and many still have established churches, although a fair portion of the population is functionally atheist in the past few generations. Christianity influences social mores even when it is no longer universally practiced as a religion. Christianity has long been the philosophical basis for human rights (We hold these truths to be self-evident.. Created equal... endowed by their Creator...)

    My obvious point is that all countries that have been governed by EXPLICITLY atheist governments (Soviets, China, N. Korea, etc) have been hellholes. Every single one. You need to show that atheism as a ruling ideology establishes freedom and human rights. It hasn't so far. Just the opposite.

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  20. godless atiest!!!!1!1October 26, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    @mregnor:
    It's not funny anymore.

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