Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My reply to anonymous on the separation of church and state

Commentor anonymous on my post on the constitutionality of school prayer, with my commentary:

What you don't seem to understand is that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are supposed to be beyond the normal legislative process.
I understand that. My critique is that the Establishment clause does not ban voluntary religious expression in government or in schools.
Your constant bleating about how Doug can go and get a legislator to make a law to function that way Doug says the law operates is flawed in two ways.

First off, he doesn't have to. The law works the way he says it does. A century of jurisprudence that you dismiss with a wave of your hand is on his side in this.
Establishment clause jurisprudence is a garbage heap of self-contradiction and non-sequiturs. We can't post a small prayer on a school wall, but we can have "In God We Trust" on every dollar bill printed and religious passages posted on National Monuments across the country. A school teacher can't lead a voluntary prayer in school, but the President can ask Americans to pray for our troops and God to bless America. Establishment clause jurisprudence is junk law, just like Dred Scott and Plessy v Ferguson and Buck v Bell and Roe v Wade are junk law. A mistake repeated for a (half) century isn't any less a mistake.
And this isn't going to change any time soon. You're engaged in revisionism and your historical and legal scholarship is so weak and shoddy that one wonders if you got your arguments from a pack of bubble gum cards.

Yea. What role would an American citizen have in American government? We have to leave it to rabid atheists to tell us what our Constitution says.
Second, just as we don't vote on things like whether your home can be subjected to a search without a warrant, or whether you are entitled to due process of law, we don't vote on the Establishment clause.
Banning religious expression in schools and government isn't required by the Establishment clause. The Establishment clause bans an Establishment of religion-- a National Church. Offering a voluntary prayer to a class in a public school does not Establish a National Church. And banning voluntary prayer violates the Free Exercise clause. Ya know, the clause you never mention.
Mouthing "democracy" is not a get out of jail free card for your arguments.
Why would an atheist use a metaphor about "jail" to refer to people who affirm the right to free exercise of religion? A Freudian slip, comrade?
We live in a limited democracy in which certain issues have been determined to be beyond the legislative process.
Appropriate insulation of the use of government force (which you advocate) from the legislative process must be based on the Constitution, which your "separation of church and state" is not.
To push the argument back at you, if you want the Constitution to work the way you think it should, there is a process for doing that - it is called Amendment.
Here's an Amendment: "The Establishment clause shall be enforced according to what it says".
If your ideas concerning how religion should be wedged into the public sphere are as wildly popular as you seem to think they are, you should have no trouble getting the Establishment clause amended forthwith.
Americans want the Establishment clause interpreted rationally and enforced, not amended.
But I doubt it. I think that if you tried, it would just expose what a lunatic fringe you sit on.
An lunatic fringe atheist brownshirt-- who thinks that a student leading a voluntary prayer at a school graduation creates an Official National Religion that violates federal law-- calls three-quarters of the American public who believe in free exercise of religion "a lunatic fringe."

Pretty funny.


  1. Yeah, this guy is an anti-religion nut. Thank you for refuting his blather.


  2. As expected, your "rebuttal" is just repetition of the drivel that you posted earlier. Here's a clue: repeating a hand waving away of jurisprudence because you don't like it is not an argument that carries any weight at all.

    You live on the lunatic fringe. You like to pretend that everyone agrees with you, but the reason you aren't trying to advance your ideas in the legislative process is that you realize they would be treated with the derision they deserve. You won't put your ideas of how you think the U.S. should work to the legislative test because you know they would fail miserably.

    Even the poll you cite doesn't support your position. The question in the poll is whether an Amendment allowing voluntary prayer should be passed. The problem is that voluntary prayer is already permitted, and the ACLU, which you ignorantly castigate so often, has litigated in favor of the right to do just that. The thing is that you can't seem to figure out the difference between state action and private action, and as a result, your arguments concerning the Establishment clause are incoherent and idiotic. Find a poll that says that American's support an Amendment that would permit school led or school endorsed prayer and then you might have an argument to make. But you won't, because your views on that point are decidedly in the minority.

  3. @Anon,
    Sorry, Anon. It just isn't so.
    You're not in the majority on these issues. Not even remotely close.
    Most people think it fine to wish folks Merry Christmas, or recite a prayer of thanksgiving.
    Most people do NOT see such utterances - regardless of WHERE they are spoken, or by whom - to be the establishment of an official State Religion.
    The 'lunatic fringe' is not the majority. The two concepts run counter to each other.
    You may accuse representative democracies such republics of 'mob rule' and 'pressure' or 'group identity' politics and make a fair argument of it- but the ruling majority is not the fringe, is it?
    Rather the Fringe is the tiny group of misfits filing lawsuits to silence the expression of other citizens they presume to be dangerously deluded morons for not agreeing with their (shallow) cosmology.
    The fringe in this conversation are the weird little groups standing AGAINST tradition and tolerance, NOT the majority of Americans who's feelings may be summed up with the quaint saying 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. America has functioned quite well without your Marxist style interps of religious establishments.

    The part I find fascinating about this 'Atheist' or 'Secularist' (as they seem to prefer) movement is the human aspect.
    Here we have a group of people who declare their special knowledge on origins, demand a systematic indoctrination of it's message of futility and selfishness, attempt to dress themselves up as rebels fighting an 'established dogma' and 'oppression'- then accuse the defenders of that evr shifting and constantly convenient enemy dogma a 'lunatic fringe'.
    I am reminded of the teenage child bully who thinks himself a 'rebel' and gets a punk haircut, some 'colours', or dresses in an outrageous style only to challenge everyone who looks at them in an attempt to assert dominance.To make others cower in silence and make them feel...something.
    'What you looking at?' they say, expecting us to all fall silent.
    Anything I want, kid. What the F--K you going to do about it?

  4. The Poll that Dr. Egnor cites also shows that a majority of Non-Christians don’t support a school prayer amendment, almost certainly because organized school prayer would interfere with their free exercise of religion. It’s simple; in order to treat all citizens equally the government must remain neutral on religious matters.

    Dr Egnor argues as if the establishment clause is all that matters, when in fact what he’s arguing for is a weakening of the free exercise clause.


  5. @KW:

    [a majority of Non-Christians don’t support a school prayer amendment, almost certainly because organized school prayer would interfere with their free exercise of religion.]

    How does voluntary prayer-- in school or elsewhere-- interfere with anyone's free exercise of religion?

  6. “How does voluntary prayer-- in school or elsewhere-- interfere with anyone's free exercise of religion? “

    I’m no expert on prayer, but it seems to me anybody can pray any time they want to. Nobody is complaining about this sort of voluntary prayer. The problem is when the school decides to erect a religious monument, permanently display a religious mural, or sponsor organized prayer. Obviously you can’t opt out of daily exposure to a monument or mural, As for payer, even if a school makes it clear that anyone can excuse themselves from an organized prayer, there will be a stigma associated with leaving that many children and parents will feel is to high a price to pay for adhering to their religious or irreligious convictions, thus interfering with their free exercise of religion.

    People can pray when and where they want, but in a public school there is justifiably an expectation that all children will be treated equally regardless of their or their parent’s beliefs. I don’t think there are many people who would disagree with this. Even the poll you cited shows that 69% of people think school prayer should be limited to a moment of silence. This seems like a reasonable compromise to me.


  7. @anon:

    "Voluntary" under the law has an obvious meaning-- "lacking legal coercion". Voluntary means that a person is not forced. The individual has a choice as to how to respond. The individual can choose not to pray, or pray his own prayer, or ignore a plaque containing reference to God, etc.

    The Constitution expresses the Bill of Rights as "Congress shall make no law..", which means that it prohibits legal force-- laws or their equivalents-- that force citizens to do certain things. The Constitution does not address social pressure, the "right" not to see things you disagree with, etc.

    Does the content of the history curriculum-- which inherently contains specific political viewpoints-- violate the students' Constitutional right to freedom of speech? School textbooks describe the Civil Rights Movement as a good thing. But there are bigots who think that it was bad that blacks have equal rights. Does the requirement that a child from a family of bigots learn that the Civil Rights Movement was good violate the rights of that family to raise their child as they wish? Does it violate their Constitutional right to freedom of speech? There certainly is government coercion used: it the student doesn't give the right answer, he fails the course.

    If the teacher led a voluntary prayer, or if the school had a plaque on the wall, or if a valedictorian talked about Jesus at her graduation, or if some high school football players voluntarily said a prayer before a game, why is that a violation of the free exercise of religion of the other students who chose not to participate, when at the same time forcing bigots to learn that the Civil Rights Movement was good isn't a violation of their freedom of speech?

    No one has a right not to be offended. No one has a right not to hear other people's views.

    Your instincts and methods are totalitarian.

  8. “No one has a right not to be offended. No one has a right not to hear other people's views.”

    You sound like a broken record.

    Nobody is trying to silence anybody, but a public school is not a person granted rights by the constitution; it’s an organ of government limited by the very same constitution. There are plenty of teachers and faculty that aren’t shy about sharing their religious convictions as private individuals, and that’s fine, but when religion becomes an integral part of the school as a matter of policy, routine, or iconography; it’s the government institution expressing a religious preference, not the constitutionally protected expression of an individual or private group.


  9. @KW:

    Is the President legally permitted to invoke God? What exactly are the Constitutional constraints on the President regarding religion?
    Is it Constitutional for the Presidents to lead Americans in prayer, to suggest prayer, or to invoke God?

    Why are you atheists so afraid of answering that question?

  10. @KW:

    [Nobody is trying to silence anybody]

    Oh. So all of those atheist federal lawsuits and federal court injunctions against religious expression in schools were just practical jokes?

  11. Oh. So all of those atheist federal lawsuits and federal court injunctions against religious expression in schools were just practical jokes?

    Ahh Ok I get it, your confused. The Lawsuits arn't about religious expresion "in" schools they're about religious expresion "buy" schools. Individuals can do as they please in schools.


  12. Man, if you want your kids to pray in school all day, then send them to a catholic school.


    "Is it Constitutional for the Presidents to lead Americans in prayer, to suggest prayer, or to invoke God?
    Why are you atheists so afraid of answering that question?"

    I'm not afraid. I think it's ok as long as its a generic, multi-denominational prayer. Inclusive, if you will. Now if there is any mention of jesus, then you have a different issue.

    I think it's basically a political mainstay - if one president DOESNT do that, then sure enough, there will be religious kooks all over the country yelling about it, calling for death threats, etc. And politicians are always looking to their next election..

    Honestly, I dont get the big deal. Or why we need an official day of prayer in the first place. If you want to pray, DO IT. Why do you need some official day with sanctioning by the president?

  13. So i reply after he keeps harping about it, then...nothing..