News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

December 16, 2012

FLASHPOINT: Incessant attacks on Christianity by the ACLU

It is obviously apparent that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is continuing its onslaught against religious freedom in the United States. Moreover, this organization seems to be obsessed with the stifling of religious expression in the public square with its primary target being the Christian religion. The First Amendment of our constitution guarantees that no single or national religion shall be forced upon the people of the United States. Even our Tribune-Star emphasizes this very principle by overtly stating this amendment at the top of its “Opinion” page in every edition. The aforementioned amendment stresses the importance of “not making any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” (Dec. 15, 1791)

Although the Ten Commandments are currently displayed in the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2003 a federal judge ruled that these very same displays must be removed from the Alabama state judiciary, and in 2005 a similar monument in Kentucky was ordered to be removed in that it violated the Equal Protection clause. In yet another instance, the federal court in Texas determined that such a display could remain, as the memorial had a historical and secular value in addition to a religious character. Public buildings, parks and lands are the property of the American people and these continual challenges are a definite infringement to freedom of religion and expression.

After a 60-year tradition of displaying a Nativity Scene at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Calif., a U.S. District Judge rejected a motion from the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee to allow the religious display this season, while their lawsuit “plays out” against the city. The trouble in Santa Monica began in 2009 when atheist Damon Vix applied for and was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside the story of Jesus Christ’s birth. In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as homage to the “Pastafarian religion,” which included an artistic representation of the great “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” These maneuvers are a blatant mockery of the Christian religion and Judaism, as well. The last time I checked there was no protection of “Pastafarians” or “Flying Spaghetti Monsters” mentioned in our Constitution.

In 1934, a group of World War I veterans sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) erected a wooden cross in the Mojave Desert honoring Americans who gave their lives for our nation in World War I. This cross is located in the desert along with cactus plants, Gila monsters, and a variety of rattlesnakes — none of which have filed lawsuits against the VFW sponsors of this memorial. Of course the ACLU claimed that “they {ACLU} were offended” by this memorial and filed suit in federal court to get the cross removed. Well, the lower court immediately ordered that the cross be covered with a plywood box until a final decision to remove it or allow it to remain was determined. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the lower court and decreed that the memorial cross in honor of our World War I  veterans should remain at its current Sunset Rock location.

The continuing stream of lawsuits against religion, particularly the Christian religion, is a dangerous road to travel. These inane attempts to eliminate religion from the public square are only creating growing animosity toward our local, state, federal governments and our courts. In my view, a far better course of travel would include and celebrate all of our people; people of all faith to include our secular populations of agnostics, and atheists also. Our lawmakers should strive to accommodate each of these groups, instead of singling out one or two by prohibiting them from expressing their religious or non-religious beliefs; these acts are in direct violation of the First Amendment. Very simply, our laws should include all Americans by establishing display standards for their beliefs. If we are ever to be a fully tolerant nation, we should allow all religious and atheist symbols, e.g. Christian Cross, Star of David or Menorahs, the Star and Crescent, and Buddha, etc. to be displayed in our public squares. Of course to be fair and equitable, we should ensure that these displays meet certain standards of height, weight, depth and be privately funded by those specific groups. No taxpayer funds should be required to support these displays in our public buildings and or grounds. If we are serious about celebrating diversity, then we must allow participation by all who have an interest in publicly demonstrating their faith and pride in their personal value systems. True tolerance remains a two-way street.

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