Sheep shorn bare: This wolf wants fewer religious freedoms

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I was a bit astonished when I read The Augusta Chronicle’s May 5 guest column “Defend the religion clause of the First Amendment,” written by Frank Carl, president of the CSRA’s chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Mr. Carl’s column begins with a faulty premise: that the Supreme Court and our Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, intended to prevent “religion (from interfering) in governance by the state.”

The Supreme Court has called ours a Christian nation. In the 1892 case of Holy Trinity v. U.S., the Court highlighted a multitude of public displays of Christian faith and concluded unequivocally:

“These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

Moreover, reading Mr. Carl’s piece, you would have no idea that in 1777, Thomas Jefferson drafted and proposed bills to the Virginia legislature that would annul marriages prohibited by Levitical law; punish disturbers of worship; and appoint days of public fasting and Thanksgiving.

Jefferson was instrumental in establishing church services at the U.S. Capitol, and was a faithful attendee at those services, stating: “No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”

MR. CARL DISINGENUOUSLY claims that AU’s “concerns center on public education about religious liberty, protection of religious diversity and freedom from theocratic interference in governance.” In reality, the separatists are not concerned about preserving religious liberty, but are rather dedicated to stifling it.

While Mr. Carl decries “religious bullying,” he fails to mention that AU sends hundreds of unsolicited letters to churches such as my home church – Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez – threatening to tattle to the IRS if they engage in political speech. Does this sound like respect for the free exercise of religion, or the very bullying that Mr. Carl finds offensive?

Mind you, no church in the history of America has ever lost its tax-exempt status for political speech. However, many churches have been bullied into submission to the demands of AU, or have had the burden of reporting to the IRS during intrusive, but ultimately fruitless, investigations occasioned by AU.

Mr. Carl seems to think there is a conspiracy to use government resources to indoctrinate your children with Christian ideas, specifically condemning the teaching of creation science as unscientific. I, as a product of Mary Boothe’s biology class at Greenbrier High School, circa 1999-2000, can confirm that government does indoctrinate children with certain religious viewpoints.

As Mr. Carl correctly concedes, humanism and agnosticism – and I would add atheism – are religious viewpoints, and high schools in the CSRA are teaching the evolutionary process – the main tenet of those religions.

MR. CARL IS upset that Intelligent Design might be taught in public schools. I’m upset that humanist evolution is being taught in public schools, without any mention of alternatives to evolutionary theory, which inquisitive minds might consider and evaluate in a marketplace of ideas.

This injustice was partly responsible for my decision to attend law school, and later to join Liberty Counsel, where I now defend religious liberty in the public square.

With a new chapter of Americans United in your back yard, beware and be educated, dear Americans. AU will threaten your children when they want to have Y Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Good News Clubs on public-school campuses. Don’t relent; the Supreme Court has unequivocally found these clubs perfectly constitutional.

AU will threaten your churches when they discuss cultural and political issues through a biblical lens during the election season. Don’t relent; no church to date has lost its tax-exempt status for engaging in political speech.

AU WILL DO everything in its power to end legitimate public acknowledgments of our faith and heritage, from legislative prayer at public meetings, to voluntary prayer at school football games. Don’t relent; the Supreme Court and the Constitution are on your side.

Stand strong. CSRA! AU may have just barged into town, but Liberty Counsel is a national organization with decades of experience in successfully defending your religious freedom. When the AU drops its sheep’s clothing to reveal its true identity of a ravenous wolf bent on devouring your freedom, Liberty Counsel is always ready to defend you, always at no cost.

(The writer is an attorney concentrating on constitutional law with Liberty Counsel, and is the director of Public Policy with Liberty Counsel Action. To contact Liberty Counsel, call (800) 671-1776, or visit www.lc.org.)

Comments (25) Add comment
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ultrarnr
914
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ultrarnr 05/27/12 - 12:10 am
4
4
The AC is consistent
Unpublished

Wow another example of media fairness and the AC showing both sides of an argument. Has anyone ever heard of the establishment clause in the Constitution? Guess the writer hasn't.

twolane
191
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twolane 05/27/12 - 02:54 am
0
0
wow ape you have some serious
Unpublished

wow ape you have some serious anger issues you need help with that

twolane
191
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twolane 05/27/12 - 02:55 am
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and as for your country it
Unpublished

and as for your country it isnt your country and actually people like you are a minority so how bout you get out of our country nitwit

justthefacts
22072
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justthefacts 05/27/12 - 08:53 am
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0
*

*

desertcat6
1140
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desertcat6 05/27/12 - 08:55 am
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Gee, hope no one connects

Gee, hope no one connects Human Ape with Americans United. Seriously HA, all the name calling and anger aren't the same as making an informed intelligent argument. Similarly, Mandi Campbell takes what could be a strong intelligent religious freedom aurgument, and focuses soley on Christianity and evolution versus creation issue. That said, I do have a problem with Americans United's position and tactics.

Liberty wins
158
Points
Liberty wins 05/27/12 - 08:57 am
4
2
I awoke again physically

I awoke again physically nauseous this morning, wasn't the flu, wasn't a hangover, it's the same chronic ailment that happens this time every year. I'm sick about the outstanding Americans, warriors, and friends lost defending our freedom….and yes it's personal after 20 years and a few HFZs. At times I wonder if they would still recognize what many of them sacrificed for. After reading this article THANK GOD someone does!

itsanotherday1
43366
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itsanotherday1 05/27/12 - 09:25 am
3
0
The only question I would

The only question I would have for AU regarding political speech in churches: "Do you apply your concerns across the board to ALL churches; including black churches as well as non-Christian churches?"

crkgrdn
2287
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crkgrdn 05/27/12 - 09:54 am
2
0
For those writers who cited

For those writers who cited the "establishment clause" of the Constitution, Mr. Carl's citations are all correct. Jefferson and others were concerned about a federally mandated religion that many states had. For example, in Virginia and Massachusetts taxes supported the Anglican and Congregational churches, respectively.

Much of this confusion about the relationship between the church and state originates in our public schools and many of our universities

Always, always, I told my students, don't take my word for it, look for yourself...and if you find something different tell me. Truth conquers all, the central tenet of Christianity.

Shea_Addams
1337
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Shea_Addams 05/27/12 - 09:55 am
1
2
I wonder how many people
Unpublished

I wonder how many people realize that a STATE can institute an official religion of they so choose, and the Feds are powerless to stop them.

burninater
9606
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burninater 05/27/12 - 10:12 am
0
0
.

.

Shea_Addams
1337
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Shea_Addams 05/27/12 - 10:19 am
5
3
That is true, burn....but I
Unpublished

That is true, burn....but I was speaking of the poster's on this site. Not ONCE have I seen a non-athiest call an athiest an idiot, or even be disrespectful about his/her beliefs on this site, and rarely elswhere.

Just an observation.

freeradical
1078
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freeradical 05/27/12 - 10:59 am
2
2
The fact is that in one of

The fact is that in one of the #1 terrorist targets in this land , The

Capitol Building, before every session of our publically elected

congressional leaders A PRAYER TO GOD , is offered.

WRITE THAT DOWN.

This prayer to God was not instituted by "bitter bible clingers"

As only the unintelligent , uninformed crowd think.

Offered by a Taxpayer paid for man of God.

Write that down.

In a closely associated fact , this fact in no way constitutes forcing

religion on anyone.

Never has , never will.

Only the woefully uninformed , unintelligent would think it did.

Bizkit
31601
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Bizkit 05/27/12 - 12:29 pm
3
2
The problem is people

The problem is people conflate freedom of religion with freedom from religion. The Constitution forbades a theocracy but doesn't in any form inhibit any govt official from his/her free right to practice a religion and the free speech to state so.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 05/27/12 - 01:01 pm
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0
Yes!

Bizkit, gets it. America's religious founding goals were based on the desire to have denominational choices and not be forced into joining a church selected by the state (State Church), in order to be allowed to vote or have any rights. Thus, the purpose for separation of church and state. It was never their intention to remove God, prayer, the Ten Commandments, or moral law from our society.Were these efforts to succeed, we would live in utter evil and pandemonium. Many have no idea of what they ask for.

itsanotherday1
43366
Points
itsanotherday1 05/27/12 - 03:18 pm
2
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I agree with Willow on the

I agree with Willow on the intentions of our founders; but we do have to walk a thin line when it comes to religious expression (thinking Nativities, statues, plaques, etc) on public property. We are also founded on the principle of equality for all, and "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander". I would rather forbid any religious expression than have to see the whole array of religious symbols from all other religions posted/erected on public property. That said, I fully support individual public employees having whatever they want in their private offices, and for public schools to allow whatever (otherwise legal) gatherings students want to have outside of class time. This business of atheists demanding NO religious activity anywhere on public property is bogus. If someone doesn't like their political group having a prayer, then just abstain from participating for that minute or two. Just bow to the east or whatever your preference is while they are praying.

Shea_Addams
1337
Points
Shea_Addams 05/27/12 - 03:24 pm
3
1
How does a Nativity scene on
Unpublished

How does a Nativity scene on public property equate to "Congress making a law regarding freedom of religion?" Read what the First Amendment actually says. A city or state government has every right in the world to display any religious symbols it wants. CONGRESS shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or the free excercise thereof.

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 05/27/12 - 03:38 pm
2
2
Live and Let Live

Here's a thought - maybe we should all just let each other live our own lives.

Religious folks shouldn't jam their beliefs down the throats of others, and non-religious folks shouldn't jam their beliefs down the throats of others. If you want to worship God, fine. If you don't, fine.

Nobody should be passing any laws based on "moral issues" of the day.
For example, If I like TV shows with sex and violence, that's my right to watch it. But don't try to restrict me from watching those shows with some moral campaign. If you want to watch TV preachers yelling at the screen 24/7, that's your right. I will not petition Congress to take your preaching off the air.

That's how the country is supposed to run. You do your thing, and I do my thing.

Shea_Addams
1337
Points
Shea_Addams 05/27/12 - 03:51 pm
4
2
Nobody should be passing any
Unpublished

Nobody should be passing any laws based on moral issues of the day, such as Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, etc.

KSL
130156
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KSL 05/27/12 - 03:58 pm
5
2
Specsta, are you serious?

Specsta, are you serious? "You do your thing and I will do mine"? Be very careful of what you are advocating.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 05/27/12 - 04:01 pm
3
1
Regarding Symbols of Religion

The problem we have today is that we confuse religion with God.
God is not a religion, He is the creator, the super power of this universe.

A nativity scene, prayer to God and The Ten Commandments are not about a religion, they are about God.

Our forefathers may have differed about whether they believed or accepted God as their creator and Lord, but they never argued multiple Gods. Their religious discussions, preferences and choices were about denominations, affiliations, theology, not about God(s).

Shea_Addams
1337
Points
Shea_Addams 05/27/12 - 04:09 pm
2
1
I think a bigger problem is
Unpublished

I think a bigger problem is that people don't actually READ the Constitution. People seem to assume that there is something written in there about a separation of church and state.....or they miss the part that says CONGRESS shall pass no law....meaning per the 10th ammendment, the STATE CAN.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 05/27/12 - 04:16 pm
4
1
Let's Test That Theory Of Yours, Specsta

Let's narrow your idea of "You do your thing and I will do mine" down to the workplace? to the classroom, and especially to marriage and family?

What would that look like?

itsanotherday1
43366
Points
itsanotherday1 05/27/12 - 05:55 pm
1
0
How does a Nativity scene on public property equate to "Congress

"How does a Nativity scene on public property equate to "Congress making a law regarding freedom of religion?"

SCOTUS has already spoken on that.. Sort of. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2001/12/crche_t...

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 05/27/12 - 10:09 pm
0
0
If Christians would

If Christians would understand that not everyone wants to hear their version of how we should live our lives and atheists would realize that not every religious symbol is directed at them then we would get along much better.
I think that the fire and brimstone rantings on street corners does more to drive people away from Christ's teachings than most anything. I also think that most atheists cling to their lack of religion as religiously as any evangelical. Atheism in that sense has become their religion.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 05/27/12 - 11:07 pm
2
1
Anarchy

Everyone doing their thing would be chaos. There has to be moral rules and laws. To suggest otherwise is foolish. question is, from where do our moral guidelines come? If throw out God, you also throw out the best and highest standards.

aveteran
136
Points
aveteran 05/28/12 - 03:11 am
1
0
@Shea_Addams

I don't know where you encounter non-Christians, but I usually see Christians using quite explicit vulgar language against non-Christians; frequently in response to ridicule or demands for proof. But if any state ever tried to establish its own official religion, vulgar language would be the least of their worries.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 05/28/12 - 10:15 am
0
0
People use explicit and

People use explicit and vulgar language against each other in most walks of life. That has very little if anything to do with the discussion.

Little Lamb
46076
Points
Little Lamb 05/28/12 - 02:34 pm
1
0
Good Column, Pretty Good Discussion

I appreciate Mandi Campbell's column — well reasoned from logic and experience.

When I read Frank Carl's column of May 5, I came to the conclusion that one of the main missions of Americans United is to sniff out public schools that dare to mention Intelligent Design or any of several theories of how species originated; and then to use bullying tactics to have the schools eliminate any such discussion.

Ms. Campbell is headed in the correct direction when she mentions that learning should involve letting students hear competing theories and then deciding where they stand — maybe even making up their own theories. A biology class should teach Darwinism, other evolutionary theories, Intelligent Design, other creationist theories, and so on.

It won't hurt anyone to broaden his mind.

hermes369
10
Points
hermes369 05/28/12 - 10:12 pm
0
0
Source of Jefferson quote.

I can't find any source document for the Jefferson quote. While not a Jefferson scholar, all I can find are quotes indicating that Jefferson spoke highly of Christianity as being "sublime and benevolent" but I cannot find him praising what he called the "Chrstian system" much less examples of his supporting a strict imposition of Old Testament law.

If folks on the Right really were "evangelical", meaning there is no need for an intermediary between an individual and God, they'd stop supporting people who use the power of the State to impose only a literal and dogmatic view of the Bible. Or, perhaps, they don't really believe that God is all that powerful and needs the Big Government to impose His will?

I think there are enough examples of disasters perpetrated by those who believe they have a monopoly on what is God's will. The same goes for any psychopath, whether they are using God or are using Man as the One And Only Truth(TM); I can hear the claims that atheists have killed more than religious folks, through the computer. The only truth, as best I can tell, is that we face the hereafter On Our Own and no amount of legislation will be of any use on that day.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 05/29/12 - 06:57 am
2
0
hermes369 can you explain

hermes369 can you explain further what you mean by "If folks on the Right really were "evangelical", meaning there is no need for an intermediary between an individual and God, they'd stop supporting people who use the power of the State to impose only a literal and dogmatic view of the Bible. Or, perhaps, they don't really believe that God is all that powerful and needs the Big Government to impose His will?"

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