Saturday, September 1, 2012

Today's Civic Atheism quiz

I love pop quizzes. Let's see how well you've studied your First Amendment jurisprudence. Get out your pencils.

Question # 1:

The following four photos depict government-sponsored publicly displayed Christian artifacts:

Ten Commandments on public property



Prayer mural in public school encouraging students to be good citizens
"Piss Christ". Photo by artist Andres Serrano depicting Jesus on crucifix
immersed in artist's own urine, paid for by National Endowment for the Arts publicly-funded grant
"The Holy Virgin Mary" A painting by artist Chris Ofili depicting the Blessed Virgin
smeared with actual elephant dung and
adorned with photos of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines
displayed in publicly-funded Brooklyn Museum of Art

Each of the four is a government-sponsored public display of a religious artifact.

Two of the displays are deemed by federal courts to be intrinsically offensive and unconstitutional government-sponsored religious expression, and have been ordered removed.

The other two are protected by the Constitution.

Please identify the offensive unconstitutional government-sponsored artifacts, and the Constitutionally-protected government-sponsored artifacts.

10 points extra credit:

Bring to class a note signed by your parents confirming that you refrained from punching your computer screen during this assignment. 

28 comments:

  1. Do you think KW, Anonymous, Bachfiend, Modus Operandi,and Oleg will get it now?

    No. Me neither.

    Religious displays are only acceptable to government when they denigrate religion. Well, no. Let me rephrase that. Religious displays are only acceptable to government when they mock CHRISTIANITY. The NEA has never done a "Piss Mohammed" and they never will.

    TRISH

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  2. The prayer banner and ten commandments where either commissioned or obtained by the government specifically for display on government property with foreknowledge of their religious nature.

    Piss Christ was partially funded by a government grant to artists designed to ensure artist have the means to continue to ply their trade, without foreknowledge of the content or plan to permanently display it at a government facility.

    The Holy Virgin Mary was temporarily displayed in New York at an art museum that also has featured many works that contain religious imagery from many religions, as is common in art museums.

    Apples and oranges.

    Bonus question: Can you identify the two works that where vandalized by religious zealots and whose creators received hate mail and death threats?

    -KW

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    1. The issue is straightforward, KW. Government entanglement with religious expression is tolerated when the expression is hostile to religion, but not when it is friendly to religion.

      If you immerse a cross in your urine, the government will send you a paycheck for a job well done.

      If you display the same cross in a public school, the police knock on your door.

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    2. @KW:

      [The prayer banner and ten commandments where either commissioned or obtained by the government specifically for display on government property with foreknowledge of their religious nature.]

      The cross in urine and the Virgin Mary with elephant dung and vaginas where either commissioned or obtained by the government specifically for display on government-funded property with foreknowledge of their anti-religious nature.

      [Piss Christ was partially funded by a government grant to artists designed to ensure artist have the means to continue to ply their trade, without foreknowledge of the content or plan to permanently display it at a government facility.]

      So if kids at school erected a cross in the cafeteria, without the government having foreknowledge of the content or the plan, that cross could be displayed without government action to remove it?

      [The Holy Virgin Mary was temporarily displayed in New York at an art museum that also has featured many works that contain religious imagery from many religions, as is common in art museums.]

      DId the display include pictures of Mohammed slathered with dung and penises?

      I find it ironic that you would classify a picture of the Virgin with dung and vaginas with "religious imagery from many religions", as if depiction of her was Catholic religious imagery, rather than an expression of hatred against Catholicism.

      Do you include crude Nazi anti-semitic cartoons of filthy Jews with hook noses in "religious imagery"?

      Is artistic expression of hatred of Christianity, in this case expressed by atheists, a form of religious expression? Is atheism a religion?

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    3. @KW:

      I said: "The issue is straightforward, KW. Government entanglement with religious expression is tolerated when the expression is hostile to religion, but not when it is friendly to religion. "

      I should have said:

      The issue is straightforward, KW. Government entanglement with Christian expression is tolerated when the expression is hostile to Christianity but not when it is friendly to Christianity.

      You scum hate Christianity, which is what this is all about.

      There are no "Piss Allah" or "Mohammed with dung and penises" displays of art.

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    4. Michael,

      Actually, religiously inspired items in publicly funded facilities are fine provided there's a secular component. The Ten Commandments would be perfectly acceptable if they were part of an exhibition of world religions for example.

      Art galleries exhibit any number of religious works, because they're art. 'Piss Christ' was actually described as non-objectionable by a Catholic nun/art critic, because she considered it to be criticizing the commercialisation of Jesus rather than criticizing Christianity.

      It's a matter of perspective. Salvadore Dali's painting of the Crucifixion, considered by the Scottish public to be Scotland's favorite public painting, despite its unconventional perspective of looking down instead of upwards at the cross, managed to find the ire of a Christian, who vandalized it. Otherwise, it's a completely conventional painting.

      The reason why no one would ever consider painting Mohammed with dung is because it's just too dangerous. Muslims regard any representation of Mohammed to be forbidden.

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    5. @bach:

      [The reason why no one would ever consider painting Mohammed with dung is because it's just too dangerous.]

      No doubt that Muslim violence tempers criticism of Islam.

      I believe that the primary reason that atheist artists denigrate Christianity much more than they denigrate Islam is that atheists hate Christianity much more than they hate Islam.

      There seems even to be some affinity on the part of atheists for Islamic totalitarianism and violence, which is understandable, given the violent totalitarian history of state atheism.

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    6. @bach:

      [Actually, religiously inspired items in publicly funded facilities are fine provided there's a secular component. The Ten Commandments would be perfectly acceptable if they were part of an exhibition of world religions for example.]

      Thank you for deciding for millions of people what is and is not "perfectly acceptable". After all, why should millions of citizens of a nation be able to choose through the democratic process the nature of government support for religious expression, when we have atheists to tell us what's permissible.

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    7. Michael,

      Another point is that which version of the Ten Commandments are going to be displayed in a publicly funded area, if they don't have a secular purpose? The Catholic version differs slightly from the Protestant one. If you choose one over the other, then you'll upset a considerable number of Christians. If you chose a bland generic one, as in your example, then why bother? I notice that it reads, thou shalt not kill, not thou shalt not murder, which is probably the more accurate version.

      But anyway, its the law. If you're unhappy with the first amendment, then campaign to get it changed. Prohibition, also an amendment, was eventually repealed. Your freedom to follow your religion is unimpaired. When was the last time you were stopped from going to church?

      You're engaging in your usual hyperbole when you claim that atheists hate Christianity more than Islam. That's just blatantly false. Insulting Islam is just too dangerous, unfortunately, because the Islamic nutcases are just too powerful. Depicting Mohammed kills people, as the Danish cartoons showed. Innocents in many countries who had nothing to do with Denmark.

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  3. KW rather beat me to it. I was very much aware of Piss Christ, the controversy surrounding it and the furor around its funding and backlash from offended parties in advance but was not aware of the Virgin Mary.

    Trish, I'm not sure whether you feel that way because you are more easily wounded by attacks you seem to feel unfairly target your team or not. This may be a North American issue since Christianity has routinely appeared to be far more glamorously packaged and not so willing to take a step back and look at itself objectively*, because it's certainly not the case in the UK where to be perfectly honest, despite what some people may have heard about us handling proponents of Sharia law with kid gloves, there are no sacred cows when it comes to criticizing or making light of faith when it appears ludicrous. If you are so desperate to see someone making fun of Islam as I have tacitly gleaned from your comments, perhaps you should rent The Infidel or Four Lions (My favourite of the two, since it was written by Christopher Morris. Very good, unhinged and very bleak) on Netflix. Both of which are British films. I think it would be hard for you to find comedy series there that we broadcast which outright demolish fanatical religious actions and indeed self congratulating atheists and agnostics when they do something silly.

    First Time Caller (calling again)

    *As an aside, I've been to the Holy See and it's beautiful but it's also the least ironic place in the Western World. So it can't be all that bad in the United States.

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  4. Oh, I should have said "look at itself objectively in the United States."

    Apologies.

    First Time Caller (calling again)

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  5. Unless you want to remove all religious themed art from all the museums that receive public funding, and dictate to artists who receive government grants what they’re allowed to portray, you’re just going to have to live with the occasional piece of religious art you find provocative.

    I’m not surprised your side wants the government to use Taliban like discretion when deciding what art to support considering you have already used the Taliban like tactics of vandalism and death threats. As with depictions of Mohamed that Muslims find so offensive, I wager that there are far fewer pieces of art that offend Christians than there would be if you didn’t get hysterical and threaten violence. Take your terrorism up a notch and I’m sure you will find art that offends Christians as rare as art that offends Muslims.

    -KW

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    1. @KW:

      [Unless you want to remove all religious themed art from all the museums that receive public funding, and dictate to artists who receive government grants what they’re allowed to portray, you’re just going to have to live with the occasional piece of religious art you find provocative.]

      Unless you want to remove all religious themed expression from all the schools that receive public funding, and dictate to schools who receive government funding what they’re allowed to portray, you’re just going to have to live with the occasional piece of religious expression in schools you find provocative.

      [I’m not surprised your side wants the government to use Taliban like discretion when deciding what art to support considering you have already used the Taliban like tactics of vandalism and death threats.]

      The Taliban doesn't employ "death threats". The Taliban uses the mechanism of government to remove religious expression that it finds objectionable. A recent example of Taliban use of government power to censor religious expression is the destruction of the Buddhas of Buyiman. A recent example of Taliban-like use of government power to remove public religious expression is the atheist removal of a prayer mural in Cranston High School in Rhode Island.

      Like the Taliban, radical atheists demand the removal from public spaces of all religious expression of which they disapprove.

      We Christians defend free expression. I have no problem with Richard Dawkins' books in school libraries and no problem with prayers in school.

      I don't like censorship, of either the Taliban or atheist variety.

      [As with depictions of Mohamed that Muslims find so offensive, I wager that there are far fewer pieces of art that offend Christians than there would be if you didn’t get hysterical and threaten violence. Take your terrorism up a notch and I’m sure you will find art that offends Christians as rare as art that offends Muslims.]

      We Christians rarely threaten violence, and should never threaten or carry out violence. Unlike atheists, we believe that threatening violence is a sin. You live in a country whose legal system and culture are based on Christianity, and our freedoms are derived from the Christian understanding of man and God.

      There are of course many countries (present and past) ruled by atheist ideologies. I'll leave the status of freedom and tolerance in atheist nations for you to investigate, as a sort of homework assignment.

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  6. Christians rarely threaten violence my ass. Both artists of the two examples you provided received death threats, that’s 100%. I would be surprised if you could find a single piece of art as notoriously offensive to Christians as these two, whose artist didn’t receive death threats. Pissed off Christians leaders don’t issue fatwa’s, but they do incite hatred from the bully pulpit, and the faithful do act.

    Your assertion that the Taliban don’t issue death threats is utterly ridiculous. The fact that you would say such a thigh demonstrates how easy you can mold your reality to match your beliefs. On any other day it’s easy to imagine you citing the copious use of death threats by the Taliban to claim some sort of superiority over them.

    -KW

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    1. @KW:

      If your argument is that entire ideological groups are responsible for threats made by sporadic individuals, then intelligent discussion is not possible.

      My argument about Taliban death threats is not, obviously that some members of the Taliban don't issue threats, but rather that the primary mechanism of repression by Taliban is the use of actual force-- government force when they hold power-- and actual violence. Similar to atheists' use of force and violence when they hold government power (although the Taliban use violence on a much smaller scale than atheists have).

      There is no religion today (atheism included) that uses violence as an instrument of religious compulsion less than Christians do.

      There are 200 million Christians in the US. A couple of them made threats about Piss Christ.

      There were tens of millions of atheists in the Soviet Union. About 20 million of them were members of the Communist Party, and participated actively in a monstrously violent totalitarian system.

      You, and atheist, are lecturing me, a Christian, about the use of violence. What a hoot.

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  7. You live in denial. Atheist holiday displays located with Christian holiday displays are so often vandalized that the Examiner asks “Vandalizing atheist holiday displays: A new Christmas tradition?” Many, if not most, of the Atheist billboards that have gone up are vandalized, in some cases within a day of their going up. It’s not just atheists who are subject to Christian vandalism; Mosques are vandalized every week. When the law is against Christian wishes, they don’t hesitate to use threats and thugery.

    -KW

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    1. I reiterate that lectures from atheists about sectarian violence are lol funny.

      "The Christians are sooo mean to me"

      You bastards have been slaughtering and jailing and suing Christians since the French Revolution, which is the first time you thugs had the power to do so.

      And the response by a 1 in a million Christian is to-- write naughty words on your asshole displays, generally on display because you sued the shit out of Christians.

      Why would you want your crap publicly displayed on Christian holidays?

      You have your own holiday.(http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_Stalin's_birthday)

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    2. kw,
      who is vandalizing Christian Churches in the US?
      I.e.:
      http://irmo.patch.com/articles/suspects-sought-in-2-irmo-church-vandalisms#photo-first

      (for others search on Google)

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  8. I think Egnor is insane. If atheists are responsible for the French Revolution then Egnor is responsible for the Crusades.

    But it's good to have all this out in the open, so his students can point at him and laugh in the hall.

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    1. @anon:

      Cult of Reason, godless genius. Some of the actors were deists (Jacobians), but atheists were a huge part of the Revolution. The French Revolution was the first atheist political movement, and the first to gain state power. It was not the last. The North Korean government is still hanging on.

      True to form, the first thing atheists did when they came to power was invent new devices. A novel form of cutlery.

      Forget the "A" or a model of an atom as the symbol of atheism. The guillotine presaged two centuries of atheist mass murder.

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    2. Michael,

      Well, if you're going to have capital punishment, the guillotine was quite a humane method. It was proposed during the dying days of the monarchy in 1789, and Louis XVI, seeing the writing on the wall, abolished breaking on the wheel as form of capital punishment.

      It continued to be used in France till the socialist president Mitterand abolished capital punishment. Many conservative presidents were quite happy with it.

      You're still deeply confused, mixing up worldviews (is there a God or not?) and political ideologies (such as anti monarchism and communism), certainly deliberately. You know the difference, but you're too lazy to make a better argument.

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    3. True to form, the first thing atheists did when they came to power was invent new devices. A novel form of cutlery.

      Except they didn't. The Guillotine was adopted pursuant to a Royal committee, the first execution was performed in April 1792, before the declaration of a republic, and a full year before the Reign of Terror. But since you lie as easily as you breathe, I'm not surprised that you would lie about that.

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    4. was a decree of the French National Assembly to establish the adoption of the guillotine...
      Dr. Guillotin was a member of the same Assembly.
      http://inventorspot.com/articles/on_april_25_we_commemorate_invention_guillotine_13113

      the King signed it as formal King of France but he had no real powers at time.








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    5. domics: The point is that it wasn't atheists who adopted the use of the guillotine. Guillotin himself was a very religious man, who was at one point a member of the Jesuit order. Most of the early advocates of the use of the guillotine were religious men, who thought that it was more humane than the then used forms of execution. Pretending that the guillotine was somehow the result of atheist thought is rewriting history.

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    6. @anon:

      The guillotine is the logo of atheism. It is fitting, as you note, that it was invented as a humane legal instrument by a Christian, and put to use for mass-murder by atheists.

      It's an apercu of atheist expropriation of Western culture-- turning things with legitimate humane purpose to unprecedented evil.

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    7. Actually, it was put to use by Christians. The use of the guillotine predates the Reign of Terror by more than a year. The number of executions during the Reign was not substantially more than usual in France, and the method was certainly more humane than many of the methods used by the religiously inclined Ancien Regime.

      If the guillotine is the symbol of atheism, then the rack, the thumbscrew, and various other torture implements are the symbols of theism.

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    8. ok, look at this picture and you will understand how the guillotine was perceveid at that times:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Robespierre_ex%C3%A9cutant_le_bourreau.jpg


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  9. I would say the first two - the ten commandments and the prayer thingy are "the offensive unconstitutional government-sponsored artifacts"

    And the last two are OK.

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