Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On the 50th anniversary of the school prayer ban



Peter Smith has a reflection on the 50th anniversary of Engle v. Vitale, the Supreme Court decision that banned prayer in public schools.

Excerpt:
Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the landmarks in that case law — Engel v. Vitale, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school-sponsored prayer in a New York school district amounted an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
The prayer said:

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.” 
A year later, there followed the decision (in which famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair was involved) banning school-sponsored devotional readings of Scripture. Later court precedents kept curtailing publicly endorsed expressions — including more recent ones banning student-led prayers at football games, Ten Commandments postings and the teaching of creationism as science. At the same time, such precedents have allowed students to meet voluntarily in Bible clubs and have “See You At the Pole”-type prayer activities.
Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority decision in Engle. Black rose to prominence in the Democratic Party as a cappo of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, where he was Grand Kleagle for recruitment. He began his political career by providing pro-bono (and successful) legal representation with acquittal to a man who shot an unarmed Catholic priest to death. Black brought the Klan slogan "wall of separation of church and state", which was Klan-speak for "no Catholics or dogs allowed", into Supreme Court jurisprudence, an arena in which the unconstitutional "wall of separation" slogan of nativists had been notably absent since the nation's founding.

Smith quotes Black's opinion in Vitale:

“There can, of course, be no doubt that New York’s program of daily classroom invocation of God’s blessings as prescribed in the Regents’ prayer is a religious activity. It is a solemn avowal of divine faith and supplication for the blessings of the Almighty.”

“…The constitutional prohibition against laws respecting an establishment of religion must at least mean that in this country it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government.
Prayers have been composed by government officials at all levels of government at all times past and present, and will be composed in the future. Our monuments and speeches and national documents are slathered with God-talk. Our country is unrecognizable without it. The Declaration of Independence specifically attributes our rights to our Creator, and the Constitution specifically cites the Declaration as the founding document of our nation. The Constitution dates itself as being written in the 12th year of the independence of the United States of America-- that is, it dates itself to 1776.

In Cotting v. Godard (1901), the Supreme Court ruled:

The first official action of this nation declared the foundation of government in these words: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "While such declaration of principles may not have the force of organic law, or be made the basis of judicial decision as to the limits of right and duty, and while in all cases reference must be had to the organic law of the nation for such limits, yet the latter is but the body and the letter of which the former is the thought and the spirit, and it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. No duty rests more imperatively upon the courts than the enforcement of those constitutional provisions intended to secure that equality of rights which is the foundation of free government.
Black ignored a mountain of American history and tradition, and the precedent of the Supreme Court itself. He substituted a KKK slogan for two centuries of American history, tradition and precedent, and against the overwhelming will of the American people.

Black again:
“… Neither the fact that the prayer may be denominationally neutral nor the fact that its observance on the part of the students is voluntary can serve to free it from the limitations of the Establishment Clause. … When the power, prestige and financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, the indirect coercive pressure upon religious minorities to conform to the prevailing officially approved religion is plain. But the purposes underlying the Establishment Clause go much further than that. Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion.”
The Establishment clause prohibits an official federal religion, like the Church of England. A voluntary prayer in a school is not an official federal religion. Those who don't want to pray are free not to. They have no right to censor the prayers of others. Black's Establishment Clause jurisprudence is bigoted pap, unmoored to any history or scholarship or jurisprudence. Perhaps the eyeholes in his hood were too small to read through.

Smith quotes Justice Potter Stewart, the only dissenter in Engle:

“With all respect, I think the Court has misapplied a great constitutional principle. I cannot see how an ‘official religion’ is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it. On the contrary, I think that to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our Nation.”   
I agree with Stewart, except for the "respect" part. No respect is due to those who use misrepresentations of the Constitution and of our nation's history as a cudgel to crush prayer and reference to God in our civic life. The only motivation for doing so is hate.

Those who ban prayer were, and are, hooded bigots.

72 comments:

  1. Miles V. SchmidtJune 27, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    So let's make it a law to begin each day in our public schools with "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,that they are endowed by their creator with inalienable Rights...."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea!

      They'd try to ban it, though. They're already trying.

      Delete
    2. That "endowed by their creator" part is getting very controversial. Obama has quoted the Deceleration on two occasions and dropped the "by their creator" part.

      So, will it soon be a illegal to teach the founding documents of the United States in public schools? They mention God. They say that He is the source of our rights. So let's teach that to our children in civics and American history classes, shall we?

      Did you ever notice that their version of freedom always involves banning things? Can't say that. Can't wear that t-shirt. Can't have that prayer banner on the wall. Can't have a moment of silence. Can't teach kids proper history, because it contradicts the lies we've told them about being a secular nation from the beginning. Can't say grace of a meal purchased with federal tax dollars. Can't say Jesus at a graduation ceremony. Can't have a church buy an advertisement at the school sport stadium. Can't, can't, can't.

      We're the religion police, and that is most certainly NOT ALLOWED! All for your protection of course. We only do it because we care deeply about your right to practice that silly superstition of yours.

      TRISH

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    3. Sorry, I shouldn't say that "they" mention God. Not the Constitution, but the Deceleration.

      Well, the Constitution does too, but only in the date. It was still permissible in those days to say "Year of Our Lord." No one threw a fit.

      But the Deceleration specifically identifies God as the source of our rights, which means that government cannot grant or deny rights, only to respect them or disrespect them. That's the idea, anyway.

      I'd love to see that taught in a public school today. "Okay kids, today we're going to learn about our God-given rights. Does anyone know who the source of our right is? That's right. It's God."

      Which is exactly what should be taught in school. But because some people can't stand the mention of the word God, they have succeeded in handicapping our education system and teaching half-truths. Our education system is poorer for it.

      Our kids can't read, write, or do math. They don't know the history of their own country, never mind other countries. They finish near the bottom among industrialized societies in math and science.

      They're testing the wrong things! It isn't fair to test our children on subjects that aren't being taught in schools anymore.

      But they do know that "gay people are just born that way" and how to put on a condom by the age of twelve. The schools are doing a bang-up job.

      TRISH

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    4. @ TRISH "Did you ever notice that their version of freedom always involves banning things?"

      Well sure. In their world, freedom means banning things. Lots of things. Anything the resembles religion. That's their version of freedom. It's a sick inversion of true freedom.

      Joey

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    5. Deceleration of Independence? LOL

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    6. Sorry Oleg, that was auto spellcheck.

      But you know what I meant. I'll work on my typing skills while you think of a better objection. Deal?

      TRISH

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    7. TRISH: I'd love to see that taught in a public school today. "Okay kids, today we're going to learn about our God-given rights. Does anyone know who the source of our right is? That's right. It's God."

      I support that! Let the teacher also explain why God chose to give those rights exclusively to white males with a certain minimum level of income. In fairness, he became less picky as time progressed and included the rest of the population. No doubt, thanks to lobbying efforts of Mary.

      Delete
    8. Oleg,

      I don't understand what you think you're accomplishing with your snark.

      "Let the teacher also explain why God chose to give those rights exclusively to white males with a certain minimum level of income."

      He didn't. Neither did Declaration or the Constitution, which tells me a lot about your knowledge of those documents.

      For starters, you draw exactly the wrong lesson from American history. God given rights were given to everyone. That's the idea, anyway. It was government that chose not to respect them. So actually the history of blacks (for example) being denied their rights proves exactly the opposite. Their rights were trampled upon, yes. But the only reason they were trampled upon is because governments didn't recognize them, not because God had not given them.

      Here's the basic concept, Oleg. What government giveth, government can take it away. We have certain rights as human beings. Governments can violate those rights, and sometimes they do. But they can never take them away. Even in the midst of gross violations, those rights remain ours.

      Secondly, what discrimination did exist was not the result of the Constitution or the Declaration. In those days, only white males with a certain share of property could vote, but not because the Constitution says so. Voting requirements were left to the states. One hundred years later, Wyoming became the first state to allow women to vote. Every state could have allowed women (and blacks) to vote from day one. It was their choice and their fault for not doing it. Don't blame the Constitution or the Declaration for that.

      Also, no rights in the Constitution were dependent upon race or sex. It doesn't say that you have a right to a speedy and public trial (unless you're black.) It doesn't say that you have a right to free speech (unless you're a woman).

      There were times when such rights were not recognized by the states. Of course. But there it is again--they are not recognized. That does not means that the Constitution denied them to blacks and women. The states did.

      "In fairness, he became less picky as time progressed and included the rest of the population."

      Nope. God given rights were God given rights from the beginning. They have been violated down through time, but never dissolved. They're being violated right now too. But the idea is that rights come from God, and not from government. I understand that as an atheist, such an idea is enigmatic for you. You don't believe in God, so you think rights are treats from the government. When the government feels like being nice, they extend rights to you. And they can snatch them back at will.

      TRISH

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    9. I spent a lot of time responding to something that was a distraction, at best. It was a snarky comment, not a real argument.

      Now, can you please explain to me why it's become taboo to teach one of the most fundamental concepts of American civics--namely, that our rights are God given?

      Why do we have to blackout the parts of history you don't like? Why do you get to decide what our kids will learn?

      TRISH

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    10. By the way, that's why I think you're a bigot. People who want to censor history because of an intolerance of hearing the word "God" in school are bigots.

      From Merriam-Webster.

      Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

      That's you.

      TRISH

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    11. That was a very well thought out response, TRISH. It was more than Oleg deserved.

      The concept of God-given rights scares the crap out of people who want governments to be the dispensers of rights. They cannot tolerate it and that why they want to make sure that it is a foreign concept to the next generation. The best way to do that is to forbid teachers to teach it.

      This idea, which is so essential to the concept of America, is being denied to school children.

      And yes, I think Oleg is a bigot too. Thank you so very much for not apologizing.

      Joey

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    12. They're dismantling America, piece by piece, concept by concept.

      God given rights such an important element of who we are as a nation. That's why it's got to go.

      Oleg, my rights come from God. Your rights come from God too, you just don't understand that because you're an atheist.

      I'll defend yours if you'll defend mine. That's all I ask.

      JQ

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    13. TRISH: For starters, you draw exactly the wrong lesson from American history. God given rights were given to everyone. That's the idea, anyway. It was government that chose not to respect them.

      Let's unpack what you wrote, TRISH.

      In what sense were these rights "God-given?" Did the Founding Fathers receive them directly from God? Did they get some tablets enumerating the rights like Moses? Curiously, the Founding Fathers did not leave behind any mention of that. My theory (sensible, I think) is that the Founding Fathers came up with the rights they thought they deserved and mentioned God as a figure of authority. It's hard to argue with rights coming directly from God, rather than from King, but there is no sign of God's direct involvement in formulating them. One would think that the Founding Fathers would mention that momentous event somewhere, but I can find nothing of the sort. By the 18th century, God showed up in public a lot less than he used to in Moses' times.

      So it seems like the "God-given" rights were proclaimed by the fully human Founding Fathers. These were the same people who formed the US government as well as the governments of the states. If the same people proclaimed one thing (rights for all men) but implemented them in a much more limited way (rights for white males of sufficient income) then perhaps they engaged in a little bit of rhetorical flourish. They didn't exactly free their own slaves after signing the Declaration, did they?

      Delete
    14. And TRISH, I don't think I fit the dictionary definition of a bigot: I do not treat all members of a group, in this case Catholics or even Christians overall, with hatred or intolerance. There is not a single instance of that which you can point out. None whatsoever. You have made it up. One Christian commentator on this blog had the decency to point that out on a previous thread (I appreciate that, crus).

      You, on the other hand, refer to all liberals with hatred, as this comment of yours indicates. You are a bigot, madam. I don't make such accusations lightly, TRISH, but in your case it is well deserved.

      You may have learned to use a spellchecker (or more likely, haven't learn to turn it off), but you still need to work on decency.

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    15. All right, Oleg. I see that you're missing my point entirely. You don't agree with the concept of God-given rights. That's obvious.

      That does not mean that teaching about it is unconstitutional. Oleg's opinion on the matter has no bearing on its constitutionality. If you refer to my original comment, you will see that I said:

      "So, will it soon be a illegal to teach the founding documents of the United States in public schools? They mention God."

      Do you see where I said illegal? My meaning was clear. Schools will avoid teaching proper history and civics to avoid the nightmarish lawsuits that follow whenever the word God isn't censored in public life.

      Your not liking the concept of God-given rights is pretty irrelevant. The point is that it's foundational to our nation and now basically verboten because of a mistaken misinterpretation of the First Amendment. History must be censored because, um...the Constitution says that teaching about God in school isn't permitted? Well, it doesn't, but let's just pretend that it does so that we can avoid hearing about God.

      When you remove God as the granter of rights, that leaves government. Governments actually prefer when their citizens think this way, because they want to be able to take those rights at will. So, Oleg--can the government take away your rights at will? I understand that they can violate them, but can they TAKE them? There's a difference.

      TRISH

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    16. "And TRISH, I don't think I fit the dictionary definition of a bigot: I do not treat all members of a group, in this case Catholics or even Christians overall, with hatred or intolerance."

      You treat us as second class citizens.

      "There is not a single instance of that which you can point out."

      I most certainly can. You want to exclude all worldviews but your own from public schools, to the detriment of education. "Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices;" You are obstinately and intolerantly devoted to your own atheistic worldview, which is why you attempt to censor history. Anyone who teaches what the Declaration really says is committing some kind of egregious violation of the Constitution. Am I correct? Your bigotry has been on display in this post and others.

      "You, on the other hand, refer to all liberals with hatred..."

      I did nothing of the sort. If you read it again, you will see that I put liberals in quotation marks. I have no problem with liberals, only with "liberals." Liberals are fine people. "Liberals" are tyrannical bullies. They tolerate nothing. They talk a lot about pluralism and dialogue but actually lose their damned fool minds when someone else is permitted to have another idea.

      Also, I didn't even refer to ALL "liberals", I referred to four such "liberals" who comment on here: KW, Anonymous, Bachfiend, and you. Four people is not all "liberals" or all liberals.

      So you're making crap up again.

      "I don't make such accusations lightly, TRISH, but in your case it is well deserved."

      Bull. Just like the rest of your response.

      TRISH

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    17. Hey, yo Oleg,

      You really, really need to take a course in the enlightenment philosophy.

      If you decide that you don't agree with it, that's fine. But that doesn't mean that we can't continue to teach the Declaration in schools.

      JQ

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    18. TRISH: All right, Oleg. I see that you're missing my point entirely. You don't agree with the concept of God-given rights. That's obvious.

      Of course it's obvious. I am an atheist. God-given means made-up to me.

      TRISH: Your not liking the concept of God-given rights is pretty irrelevant. The point is that it's foundational to our nation and now basically verboten because of a mistaken misinterpretation of the First Amendment.

      What is verboten?Has the Declaration of Independence been censored and all references to God sanitized from it? I don't think so. Are students prevented from reading the Declaration of Independence where said references to God are on plain view? I don't think so, either.

      I think it's you who doesn't get my point, or rather a question posed to you. Let me repeat it. How do you know that these are God-given rights? They were clearly written down by humans (the Founding Fathers). What makes you think these rights were given by God? Are there documents showing the process of transfer (from God to the Founding Fathers)? I am genuinely interested.

      Delete
    19. Yo, JQ, what makes you think I need to take a course in "the enlightenment philosophy," whatever that means?

      Delete
    20. "What is verboten?Has the Declaration of Independence been censored and all references to God sanitized from it? I don't think so."

      In schools, yes. Teachers may not teach that our rights come from God, which amounts to blacking out sections of the Declaration.

      "How do you know that these are God-given rights?"

      I don't.

      I also know that teaching it is not unconstitutional. But some people who don't care to read about the Constitution have said that it's so.

      Here's your point: The concept of God-given rights is stupid.

      Here's my point: Teaching the concept of God-given rights in schools is not unconstitutional. But just try to imagine a teacher in 2012 telling her students that our rights come from God. "You can't do that!"

      Talking to you is like talking to a wall because you simply don't listen to what I'm saying. You assume that you know what I think, but really you don't know squat.

      TRISH

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    21. Now you're fudging your answers, TRISH. In your own words, teachers don't actually black out sections of the Declaration of Independence. But, again in your won words, if they do not state that our rights come from God then they effectively censor it. Sorry, this doesn't compute.

      Even you acknowledge that you don't have any evidence that the rights listed in the Declaration are God-given. Then what would be the basis for a teacher to say that these are God-given rights? Only because he or she is a believer? And what happens if a student is not a believer? Why would that student care to be given a religious instruction in a public school?

      I do not pretend to read your thoughts, TRISH. I respond to you on the basis of what you write, not what (I think) you think. If what you write is not very coherent then it isn't my problem.

      Delete
    22. @ Oleg,

      We understand that you don't care for God given rights. You think it's dumb. The stumbling block is that you don't believe in God. One doesn't make sense with the other.

      Oleg thinking it's dumb is not the same as unconstitutional.

      Get it?

      Here's where atheist partisans become so problematic. They think that because they don't agree with Jefferson's assertion, that the rest of us just have to tailor our history lessons to them.

      History lessons suffer for it. It would be like teaching kids that Martin Luther King was a great civil rights leader while hiding the fact that he believed that America was failing to live up to Christian ideals. His Christian faith was central, not incidental, to his life's work.

      I think every January students should study King in his own words: Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

      Oleg, I'm not sure if you have kids, but how would you like your children taught that a just law is one the comports with the law of God? That's what King said. How much of our history are you will to sacrifice in order to make it God-free? Will there ever be a point at which you are satisfied?

      Joey

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    23. Joey,

      I have asked TRISH how she knows that these rights were "God-given" and she replied that she didn't.

      Let me ask you the same question: how do you know that these rights are God-given and not decided by mortal men who then added some rhetorical flourish to their declaration?

      Delete
    24. "Now you're fudging your answers, TRISH. In your own words, teachers don't actually black out sections of the Declaration of Independence."

      Ever heard of figurative language? They don't use a black marker. But when the Declaration of Independence becomes unteachable, that's an abomination.

      "But, again in your won words, if they do not state that our rights come from God then they effectively censor it."

      Yes, Oleg. That's one of the document's most important concepts. And we don't teach our kids that anymore because overly sensitive people such as yourself throw tantrums and file lawsuits. You've won most of those lawsuits, not because the Constitution supports your point of view, but because a lot of judges who don't care about the Constitution do. And now we can't teach our children the true story of our country because it makes the anti-theists cry. Nice typo ("won") by the way. See, we both make them?

      "Even you acknowledge that you don't have any evidence that the rights listed in the Declaration are God-given."

      I never said that they were. I said that teaching as much is not unconstitutional.

      "Then what would be the basis for a teacher to say that these are God-given rights?"

      Irrelevant to my point, but I'll answer it anyway. The reason is because it's a part of American civics, and central to our national identity. And you want it eliminated because you're a big baby who can't tolerate other ideas. Which, incidentally, is the definition of a bigot.

      "And what happens if a student is not a believer?"

      All students are free to accept or reject Jefferson's words. But again, irrelevant to my point.

      "Why would that student care to be given a religious instruction in a public school?"

      I don't care if they "care" to have religious instruction in school. That has no bearing on the constitutionality.

      "I do not pretend to read your thoughts, TRISH."

      You think I'm advocating for God-given rights. From the beginning, I have made it clear that it's not a question of whether it's true or not. It's a question of its constitutionality, and thus its legality in public schools. You're still having an argument with something that I have not said. You are jabbing at strawmen. It's impossible to have a constructive conversation with you because my words have to go through the filter of your prejudices.

      "If what you write is not very coherent then it isn't my problem."

      My words are perfectly coherent. You're not intellectually honest enough to read them.

      Here is my final question to you. Is teaching about God-given rights constitutionally permitted in public schools?

      TRISH

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    25. @ Oleg

      I asked you first. Have come courtesy and answer my questions.

      There were three of them.

      "Oleg, I'm not sure if you have kids, but how would you like your children taught that a just law is one the comports with the law of God? That's what King said. How much of our history are you will to sacrifice in order to make it God-free? Will there ever be a point at which you are satisfied?"

      Joey

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    26. LOL, I am not only a bigot, but I am also dishonest! I wonder what crus thinks of tangling with such a low-life. TRISH, you are a hoot. Love you!

      I don't think the teaching of the Declaration of Independence should be censored at all (you are mistaken on that). And as far as I know, it isn't censored. The students must read the text of the Declaration, God-given rights and all right there. I see no sense in teaching that the rights are God-given—as opposed to framed to be God-given by the founders. There is no basis to state that they are, but it surely should be taught that the founders phrased it that way. And it is taught that way, again as far as I know.

      Delete
    27. Joey, here are your answers:

      * How would you like your children taught that a just law is one the comports with the law of God?

      My son has gone through college by now and he surely knows all of that, and more.

      * How much of our history are you will to sacrifice in order to make it God-free?

      None. I don't want the US history to be rid of references to God. I want it to be truthful.

      * Will there ever be a point at which you are satisfied?

      That's a rhetorical question, there is no need to answer it.

      Your turn.

      Delete
    28. @ Oleg,

      You still haven't answered the questions.

      You're having a very different discussion than Trish and I are having. There's a difference between constitutionality and policy preference. We're talking about one, you're talking about the other.

      Joey

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    29. I have answered your questions, Joey, you just refuse to accept the answers. And I take it that your answer won't be forthcoming. No surprise here.

      Delete
    30. The answers to your first two were pretty lame.

      And you didn't answer the third. It wasn't rhetorical.

      So no, you haven't answered my questions.

      Joey

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    31. As I said, I answered the questions. Now you acknowledge that but complain that the answers are "lame." That's what I said: you don't like them. Tough life, Joey!

      The third question need not be answered. It started with the wrong premise, that I wish to sanitize the US history by getting rid of religious references in it. Well, I don't. In light of that, I am not sure how I can answer the third question. It doesn't apply to me.

      Delete
    32. Now, can you please explain to me why it's become taboo to teach one of the most fundamental concepts of American civics--namely, that our rights are God given?

      Because they aren't. The Constitution specifically states the authority relied upon by the document, and it isn't God.

      Delete
  2. You literally have no right to use the government to force the Children of non-Christains to suffer thru your religious rituals or face the kind of stigma and social ostracization that Egnor so loves to dish out.

    -KW

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    Replies
    1. There is no force.

      Atheists have no right to live in a religion-free environment. They only have a right not to practice it themselves.

      If I, or our school board, or anybody else wants to have a religious ritual in which participation is voluntary, you have no right to intervene by force.

      You are a bigot who uses force to silence religious expression.

      Delete
    2. KW,

      Does the right not to be stigmatized or ostracized extend to all children? Or only yours?

      The reason is because Christian students are stigmatized and ostracized by events such as Day of Silence, which should actually be called Day of Being Silenced. It's more than though. There's a pervasive prejudice against Christians, and it is perpetuated by the school system.

      If this type of prejudice were aimed at another group--say Hispanics, or homosexuals--you would care. But because it's us, you tell us to quit whining.

      No one should be forced to participate in a religious act. And no one is being forced to participate. You're just pissed because a religious act is happening and they aren't hiding themselves.

      Joey

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  3. the Supreme Court decision that banned prayer in public schools.

    Liar! It did nothing of the sort.

    You will certainly have to account for all your lies on Judgment Day. I shudder to think of the punishment that awaits you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All right, anonymous.

      What did it do then? Enlighten us.

      Joey

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    2. Why not read the decision, Joey? Or is that too much work for morons?

      Delete
    3. No, I want you to tell me. Go ahead.

      Joey

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    4. Anon,
      Howling 'liar' does nothing for your argument. Quite the contrary.

      "You will certainly have to account for all your lies on Judgment Day. I shudder to think of the punishment that awaits you."
      Does this mean you BELIEVE, Anon? Or are you mocking Christian beliefs?

      Delete
    5. What did it do then? Enlighten us.

      If you read the opinion, you'd know that it prohibited school organized prayer, later expanded slightly to include school sponsored prayer.

      Students are free to pray on their own if they want to. In fact, doing so has been confirmed by case law as a Constitutionally protected right.

      Delete
  4. It's interesting to note that plaintiffs in Engel v. Vitale were a mixed bunch that included, aside from atheists, religious Jews and Unitarians. The Jews and Unitarians felt that this government-established practice promoted a particular religion that was not consistent with their religious beliefs.

    It's preposterous to portray Judge Black as an enemy of religion. He was a Christian, and moreover, a Sunday school teacher in Birmingham.

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    Replies
    1. He preferred his version of Christianity over another and used the government to suppress the kind he didn't like. "Separation of church and state" was his vehicle.

      Besides, I don't think that Egnor portrayed Black as an enemy of religion. An enemy of Catholicism, sure. But not an enemy of religion.

      TRISH

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    2. Anyone with a brain should be an enemy of Catholicism - that unredeemably corrupt organization. I emphasize Catholicism, not Catholics - most North American Catholics pay no attention to what the Pope and his corrupt henchmen say.

      Delete
    3. Nice Anonymous.

      So you're with the KKK on that one.

      "Anyone with a brain should be an enemy of Catholicism"

      Hey, pissy Oleg: do you recognize bigotry when you see it? Now's your chance to show us that you don't tolerate that kind of hatred.

      "I emphasize Catholicism, not Catholics - most North American Catholics pay no attention to what the Pope and his corrupt henchmen say."

      You don't have a problem with Catholics, just as long as they don't practice Catholicism. Catholics who don't practice Catholicism aren't Catholics.

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    4. anonymous agree with the Ku Klux Klan opinions on Catholic Church. Good to know for further discussions.

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    5. Sure Domics.

      He's a big fan. Hugo "Hoodie" Black is a hero of his.

      The Torch

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  5. Catholics who don't practice Catholicism aren't Catholics.

    90% of American Catholics would disagree with you.

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  6. TRISH: I don't think that Egnor portrayed Black as an enemy of religion. An enemy of Catholicism, sure. But not an enemy of religion.

    There is no support for this charitable reading of Egnor's post. Here are relevant excerpts from the last two paragraphs:

    A voluntary prayer in a school is not an official federal religion. Those who don't want to pray are free not to. They have no right to censor the prayers of others. Black's Establishment Clause jurisprudence is bigoted pap, unmoored to any history or scholarship or jurisprudence. Perhaps the eyeholes in his hood were too small to read through.

    [...]

    No respect is due to those who use misrepresentations of the Constitution and of our nation's history as a cudgel to crush prayer and reference to God in our civic life. The only motivation for doing so is hate.


    This is not limited to Catholicism. Egnor's point is pretty unequivocal: the judges who decided the case were bigoted against (Christian) religion. Try to argue with that.

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    1. "Black brought the Klan slogan 'wall of separation of church and state', which was Klan-speak for "no Catholics or dogs allowed", into Supreme Court jurisprudence, an arena in which the unconstitutional 'wall of separation' slogan of nativists had been notably absent since the nation's founding."

      If Egnor had been trying to say that Black was an enemy religion or Christianity, his sentence would have been different. It would have read:

      "Black brought the Klan slogan 'wall of separation of church and state', which was Klan-speak for "no CHRISTIANS (or BELIEVERS) or dogs allowed",

      The nativists he refers to were Protestants. The KKK was one of their leading organizations. Everyone knows this.

      Hugo Black was a Protestant anti-Catholic bigot. Anti-theist anti-Catholic bigots have seized on his words in more recent years.

      Here's what they have in common--they both hate Catholicism, and they both abuse an extra-constitutional phrase to justify restricting the Catholic religion.

      Here's where they differ. Black was a Protestant, whereas the anti-theists don't believe in God at all. Black wanted to use the separation as a weapon against Catholics, whereas the anti-theists want to use it as a weapon against believers in general.

      TRISH

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    2. I am afraid, TRISH, that you are quoting from an irrelevant part of the opening post, which does not deal with Engle v. Vitale. The decision in that case banned nondenominational prayer, not Catholic prayer.

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    3. Yes, silly. I got that.

      But Hugo Black was the judge who inserted the Klan phrase into case law.

      Hugo Black was the KKK member. Hugo Black was the anti-Catholic bigot.

      What part don't you get?

      TRISH

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    4. The irrelevant ones, obviously. :)

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    5. But Hugo Black was the judge who inserted the Klan phrase into case law.

      No, he wasn't. But don't let the facts stand in the way when you are clutching your pearls.

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  7. The strange part of all this to me, as a Canadian is that anyone listens to such rulings. I suppose it has to do with all the lawyers etc.
    No offence meant, but it does come off like Kafka.
    Sometime in the 1980's (I cannot recall when) some idiots in the SCC decided that morning prayers (Lord's Prayer) and the anthem were 'exclusionary' and effectively outlawed them in public schools. Nobody but the big city boards paid any attention at all. The anthem is now back, and there are all sorts of accommodation for all sorts of prayer (Muslim, Jewish, and Christian - as needed) in the Schools.
    My son was permitted to say the Lord's prayer in the morning (aloud with the other Christian kids), his Muslim pals allowed to go and pray together, etc etc.
    An interesting personal note: Most of my/our Jewish pals see the lord's prayer as a beautiful prayer. They bow their heads when it is recited. That holds true of my Israeli friends as well.

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    1. crus,

      You'll agree that it is one think to permit a morning prayer and an entirely different one to organize its.

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    2. Well, sort of Oleg. It depend on what you mean by organize.
      It also depends on the mix of kids at the School.
      I have lived in areas where the permission to pray was the ideal fix - as there was many faiths present. So, there was a time allotted for the various groups and they were free to do meet and/or pray.
      I have also lived in areas where (currently) where the vast majority (98% +) is Christian and the prayers are part of the school day, like the anthem and/or oath.
      There is a few moments set aside, and one of the kids leads the prayer. Sometimes they are read on the PA system (ie Christmas or Easter), but usually it is class to class thing.
      The few kids who are not Christian are free not to pray, or even leave and do something else. Most of the kids who do not, as I understand it, sit and read or finish the homework they were supposed to do the night before.
      Two or three Muslim students at my son's high school organized a 'prayer room' for themselves and went there to pray, for example.
      No problems for anyone.

      I would conceded there is a difference between permitting prayer and FORCING prayer on unwilling kids.
      But that was never the case, at least here in my part of Canada or during my lifetime (or those I have lived in).
      Most schools just continued as they were (no need for a shift) and nobody noticed or cared.
      My wonder is inspired by the obedience to these rules as if they actually meant something or stood for something worthwhile.
      The schools and parents should decide these matters, not some lawyer in a distant capital.

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    3. Coercion can be subtle. Engel v. Vitale mentioned peer pressure as one of the forms of coercion. A kid simply may not feel comfortable being the weird one in a class of praying students. In any event, organizing a Christian prayer is promotion of Christianity. It may not matter much in Canada, but in the US the separation of church and state was, is, and will be a big deal.

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    4. I should also note the ONLY school my son attended where the staff were largely intolerant of all prayer (permitted, but reluctantly) was in Toronto, and it was by far the WORST school my son attended.
      It was rife with criminal activity, serious violence, and sectarian strife (especially between Muslims and Sikhs). The school was constantly under lockdown, and the teachers were the most soft headed academics I have ever met in my life.
      It also held a terrible academic record. I am not sure that the hostility to ALL faiths was the problem, but it sure was a symptom.
      Needless to say, we got him out of there as fast as we could. He spent a semester in a Catholic school before we moved out of Planet-Toronto and back to Canada (a Canadian joke).

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    5. Well, crus, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. In fact, in this case it's not even that: anecdotal evidence isn't the same as data. I sympathize with your son's experience in Toronto, but a bad school is just that: a bad school. I can list our own experience with public schools in the US, but I don't think it matters all that much.

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    6. " It may not matter much in Canada, but in the US the separation of church and state was, is, and will be a big deal."
      This may well be the key to my mystery, Oleg. We are not a republic, and our constitution and charters are geared toward religious freedom, signed by Christian parliamentarians and Monarchs. Further we do not generally look kindly on ideas that assimilate or eliminate (any) culture or religion. We are not a melting pot. We are a tapestry.
      Again, dialectics come into play.
      Red vs Blue. Protestant vs Catholic. Christian vs non-Christian. Religion vs Atheism. Constructs created to divide and rule. These concepts are seen as imperial anachronisms here.
      Just not an issue here. Our biggest problem with this kind of thing is with the Quebec Separatists and the various issues with policing and crime.
      As for peer pressure, it isn't an issue with regards to prayer. Quite the contrary, actually.
      We are more concerned with drug use and promiscuity in peer settings that some sort of 'viral morality'.
      Besides, forcing kids to pray or pressuring them into it will result in the opposite. Canadians are quite reserved in their patriotism (excepting this Sunday of course!) and faith, at least generally speaking.
      We try to use honey, not vinegar, to bring in the bees.

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    7. I know, crus, Canada is a quirky country. Its citizens still love the Monarch, even though the connection is fairly tenuous. And I like Canada, actually. Been there twice this year: in BC (as you will recall) and later in Ontario.

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    8. Oleg,

      "a bad school is just that: a bad school."
      Oh, I agree.
      My point was not that prayer makes the school better, but that in my own experience the better schools allow for cultural and religious growth like prayer and have a strong focus on education (ie three R's plus history and science) and are not labs for social engineering experiments of the teachers or government.
      That simple really. Just an observation - not a conclusion.

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    9. "I know, crus, Canada is a quirky country. Its citizens still love the Monarch, even though the connection is fairly tenuous."
      LOL
      This is a mystery to you folks south of the 49th, I know. But it is not 'quirky' to us and the connection is a historical and cultural one. It is also a much stronger connection than most would actually guess. Especially considering the two centuries of American attempts to undermine it. We resist, and grow stronger and richer by the day. Our resolve is strengthened by our observations.
      Many of my family in Britain tell me 'you are more British than Britain, these days." I believe it. I am also VERY proud of it.
      Anyway, I am glad you enjoy being here. We have much to offer, and I am sure you would be welcomed. I enjoy being in the States too. I think the contrast of our two crazy but somehow functional systems probably benefits both nations.

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    10. I'm surprised they don't drive on the left side of the road in Victoria. That's one British town. Easier to find a tea shop than a Starbucks.

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    11. Oleg,

      They used to drive on the left. All of BC did. Then they had to switch.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_on_the_left#Canada

      Joey

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    12. Oleg,
      Victoria is a gorgeous place. No Two ways about it.
      When in Canada try 'Tim Horton's'. Much better coffee than Starbucks for a fraction of the price. They are EVERYWHERE. They also make excellent pastries and doughnuts. I have yet to meet an American that does not quickly convert to 'Timmy's' after a stay up this way.
      And YES, they do tea too (steeped and several types).
      :P
      Going to fix a cuppa now you have me thinking of it!

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    13. I have been to a Tim Horton's. The snob that I am, I still prefer an espresso!

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    14. I like an espresso too, Oleg.
      Usually a double at that.
      They do all that too(at least here in Ontario): Espresso, Mochas, lattes, etc.
      In all honesty, I usually find the local coffee shops do them best - but Timmy's is a bearable black blast.

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    15. PS BEST Espresso I have had in my life was in a little dumpy joint in Santiago De Cuba. Top notch. Not only a flavour BLAST, but I was wired for hours :P
      If ever there, look for a tiny place right on the Plaza De Los Armas with the VERY original name 'Cafe Bueno' :P
      Top notch.

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