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Court rules Pledge of Allegiance 'unconstitutional'

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To a point, I agree with Merlyn_LeRoy. A township shouldn't force a particular faith down people's throats. I also agree that the display of one religious sign or symbol opens the door to others. However, I think a township has a duty to utilize its resources to promote public harmony and to restrict their utilization from those purposes that would be offensive to the community. In other words, the government serves the people. For example, if a manger scene is erected on the grounds of a public park for Christmas in a predominately Christian township, this serves the people in the community. And if Jews in the same community want to erect a similar memorial on public property for one of their holidays, the township should allow it to happen. However, when religious or anti-religious memorials are being displayed simply to make political statements, which are offensive to the community, I believe the township has a duty to disallow such displays. In other words, such displays would not promote harmony in the community, but discord. Every community has different standards but I agree that all faiths need to be considered when a township allows such displays. Nevertheless, I don't agree all faiths should have equal access if the intent is to create disharmony. Many so-called "faiths" are striving for this equal access just so they can offend people in the community. A responsible township has to ask themselves, is the community being served by a satanic display? Is a sign promoting atheism serving the community? Now, I know there is a tiny minority out there who thinks these faiths or non-faiths are worthy causes. There's probably a slightly larger minority that believe - regardless of their worth, these faiths or non-faiths deserve the same protections as any other belief. In regard to the use of public resources, I disagree. Yes, they can write books, produce movies, and explore all the mediums of the world to promote their cause. This, I would not deny them. The problem is, when a display is put on public property, the local government is subjecting the entire community to that belief, whether they like it or not. Of course, the counter-argument would be - no display of faith (or non-faith in the case of the atheist) should be permitted on public grounds. Again, I disagree. So long as the local government is considering the community at large, if they believe such a display would promote harmony in the community and/or it is non-offensive, then they should permit the use of public property.

 

Lastly, local governments should be given credit for having a brain. Is atheism a religious belief? No, how can anyone view it as such? It's a philosophy, which denies the existence of God. Likewise, is Satanism a religious faith or is it an anti-faith? Let's get real. If we are talking about religious freedoms, let's make sure we're talking about religions that recognize God, and not belief systems created as alternatives to or for the purpose of rebelling against, those very same religions. I know Merlyn sees no difference, but I hope and pray that the majority of us do. In a decade or two, what kind of society our children will be living in, will be defined to a large extent by how many of us recognize this difference. Do you think being open-minded and religiously tolerant means accepting Satanism and atheism as religious faiths? If so, then perhaps I am in a minority and Merlyn will see the America that he envisions one day. I'm praying that it doesn't happen.

 

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That means if someone gets to erect a sign in front of town hall promoting baptists, "I" also have the SAME right to erect a sign promoting atheism (or whatever).

 

The problem is that YOU don't live in my town. You and your lot want to come to my town and tell me what to do. If the local unbelievers want a sign, that's fine.

 

And can the idiotic canard about atheists fearing your particular god; it's no more convincing than if I used the same argument on you that you, deep down, really believe in Zeus.

 

I do. God said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That implies that other gods exist and that he is supreme among them.

 

As for atheists being destructive, do you have any idea how common atheism is among scientists?

 

Oh, you silly boy. We're not speaking of physical construction or destruction, we're speaking of spiritual destruction.

 

shiva/bramah/vishnu cycle anyway

 

Last time that I checked, that was Hindu.

 

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Rocky and Bullwinkle, of course! I used to catch their reruns between classes. Rooster7 has another nice response and I support his outlook on this. In response to an earlier comment, I DO know some Jews and Moslems who are offended by Nativity Scenes on courthouse lawns, for example. My Buddhist and Hindu friends haven't said anything to me about it. They understand private displays on private lawns but the public buildings like local schools sadden them. But they, being small minorities where I live, bite their tongues in resignation. I think the old phrase, still applicable, is: "They know what's good for 'em." At least that's what the good-ole-boys used to say about these things not too long ago. And that designation between 'us' and 'them' is precisely what I think is a problem. There is a town nearby that a few years ago (about 35) had a sign at the edge of town that said, "N***** don't let the sun set on you in ". In the minds of a minority, however it may be defined, there may not be much difference between then and now as long as they are identified as separate and excluded.

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That means if someone gets to erect a sign in front of town hall promoting baptists, "I" also have the SAME right to erect a sign promoting atheism (or whatever).

 

The problem is that YOU don't live in my town. You and your lot want to come to my town and tell me what to do. If the local unbelievers want a sign, that's fine.

 

If I "come to your town", I'm a local now, right? I can move into your town whether you like it or not.

 

But, like I keep pointing out, what people keep attempting to actually do is use public money to promote their religion and disallow (or simply not subsidize) displays by anyone else.

 

Now, regarding your statement:

If the local unbelievers want a sign, that's fine

Does it get exactly the same treatment as other signs? If the other sign(s) are paid for with government funds, is this one? If the other sign(s) are in front of city hall year-round, is this one? It sounds like you're describing a public forum, if all signs are treated equally, and any group can create a sign.

 

That's the problem when city hall puts up the ten commandments; it's put up by a government committee who decide what religion(s) to promote, instead of creating an open forum where anyone can present their views. And yes, such forums have to be what's termed "viewpoint neutral", you can't exclude people just because you don't like them, as Rooster7 would do. Equal rights means equal rights, not "special rights" only for people who have the "right" religious views.

 

As for atheists being destructive, do you have any idea how common atheism is among scientists?

 

Oh, you silly boy. We're not speaking of physical construction or destruction, we're speaking of spiritual destruction.

 

No, you apparently were. I wasn't; I consider "spiritual destruction" to be in the same class as the politics of elves.

 

shiva/bramah/vishnu cycle anyway

 

Last time that I checked, that was Hindu.

 

D'oh!

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"For example, if a manger scene is erected on the grounds of a public park for Christmas in a predominately Christian township, this serves the people in the community. And if Jews in the same community want to erect a similar memorial on public property for one of their holidays..."

 

ummm - a query. who paid for this stuff? did the ALL the taxpayers pay for the Christmas exhibit? if so, are ALL the taxpayers gonna pay for the menorrah? the way this is written, it seems like it's if the Jews want to pony up for the 'memorial', then it's ok.

 

If that was the intent, I gotta disagree - but I should wait for clarification before going off half-funded! :-)

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At the risk of making things worse, I remind everyone that BSA does exclude, and for nothing more than exercise of the first amendment right of free expression. That being the case, I suppose it is scoutlike to act likewise.

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This is a country of majority rules but minority rights. However, when the minority has more rights than the majority, something's wrong. Too many people forget that the majority has rights too.

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If that was the intent, I gotta disagree - but I should wait for clarification before going off half-funded!

 

It's a good question. Unfortunately, I'm not confident about my answer. At this point, I could go both ways. Here's an analogy. In the public schools, the Supreme Court allows public prayer if it's initiated and approved by the students. I think that's a fair interpretation. I believe the Supreme Court should show the same respect for the rights of the citizens in a township. That is to say, if the citizens bought and paid for such a memorial, and it complied with my previously posted criteria, then I think it would be appropriate. Or if the memorial was initiated by referendum, I think it would even be appropriate for the township to make the purchase. It would not be an attempt by the government to endorse or establish a religion. Such a purchase (if initiated by referendum) would merely reflect the will of the people.

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"Or if the memorial was initiated by referendum, I think it would even be appropriate for the township to make the purchase."

In my community, if such referendum passed and public money was proposed for any religious display specific to one faith (the one mentioned before was a manger scene), the minorities would successfully argue that the local government was endorsing that faith. Their argument would be that the majority, by virtue of larger population size, simply rolled over all the minority faiths. They would win their case. However, if any of the faiths wanted to use the local school building after hours for a private meeting, they could have their displays for the duration of the meeting, no problem. Alternatively, if private funds are used for the display, and it is erected on private property (church campus, for example) there is obviously no problem, even if it is deeply offensive to the minorities. The same would be true for the minorities although as I mentioned in an earlier response, in my community such minorities would probably "know what's good for them" and they would refrain from being offensive. In this country minorities and majorities have identical rights and responsibilities and I think this is a good thing. But the perception by some majority members seems to be that when a minority exercises their equal right, it is somehow wrong.

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the minorities would successfully argue that the local government was endorsing that faith.

 

No doubt some would argue. And in many if not most cases, they may be successful. However, I maintain that the government would not be endorsing a faith by making such a purchase. They would be serving the will of the community, which they were elected to do. The endorsement would be the community's, not the government's.

 

Their argument would be that the majority, by virtue of larger population size, simply rolled over all the minority faiths.

 

The phrasing of this statement infers that the goal of the majority is to do harm to the minority. First, that is not the goal. Secondly, I don't see the harm that you are implying in this statement ("rolled over all the minority faiths"). It's an unfair portrayal of the process. Majority Rulethis is exactly how it is suppose to work in democracies and representative republics. The Constitution guarantees individual rights. These rights would still be intact. The government would not be making an endorsement. The endorsement would be that of the collective community. All minorities would be free to worship as they pleased. Their religious freedoms would not be violated. "Individual rights" does not mean that minority populations have an equal voice to that of the majority. That violates the principles of every democracy. It simply means each individual is guaranteed a certain right or rights regardless of the will of the majority. And as I have previously stated, those rights would still be intact.

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yet surely, if the majority decides to spend tax dollars to celebrate THE VERY THING that separates them from the minority (the birth of Jesus, for example), that's wrong. what if they were celebrating whatever the majority skin color was, would that be ok because it was the majority supporting it?

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"what if they were celebrating whatever the majority skin color was, would that be ok because it was the majority supporting it? "

 

In case you haven't noticed it, many tax dollars are spent celebrating minority skin colors. Our school has a whole month dedicated to "Black history month" and there are only six black students in the school. The school has more Orientals than Blacks but there is no "Asian History Month." Our county sponsors Black Heritatge Festivals, Latin Festivals but I have never seen a European or Asian Festival.

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The concept that "people" and "communities" and "groups" and "minorities" and "majorities" have rights is still the biggest stumbling block in this debate, for some. As has been correctly pointed out already, only individuals are granted rights (either through the Bill of Rights, natural law, human rights or the hand of God). Once individuals start to form a group, their rights don't just pool together to suddenly be worth more collectively than they were independently. Collectively, their will and their influence may be mightier, but not their rights.

 

Here's an exercise, that may make the process of understanding this a bit easier... instead of focusing this debate on just one of the rights granted by the Bill of Rights (freedom of/from religion)... pick another one of the rights from those amendments. Let's say it's freedom of speech... do those of you who argue that a community should be able to vote, and by majority decide to post a religious decree on the walls of city hall, also believe that same community, by majority vote, should have the ability to suppress or squelch an individual from speaking his mind?

 

(I anticipate one response will be that my example is about denying a right to an individual, whereas the previous debate was not intended to be that... eye of the beholder.)

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Once individuals start to form a group, their rights don't just pool together to suddenly be worth more collectively than they were independently

 

Sure they do. It's called democracy in action. This how representatives are elected, referendums are passed, and how elected officials create laws - by majority vote.

 

The concept that "people" and "communities" and "groups" and "minorities" and "majorities" have rights is still the biggest stumbling block in this debate, for some. As has been correctly pointed out already, only individuals are granted rights (either through the Bill of Rights, natural law, human rights or the hand of God).

 

Have you read the Bill of Rights?

 

There are references to the people this document. Try as you will to redefine the word, but Websters recognizes this as a plural.

 

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

 

Contrary to your opinion concerning "only individuals are granted rights", the Bill of Rights clearly provides the people with rights. It does not identify the individual as being an entity separate and above a group.(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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tjhammer, ahem, it is still the same amendment(#1). BSA is in conflict with this amendment. There are individual rights and rights that are exercised collectively as groups, sometimes exactly the same rights. Corporations have rights similar to those of individuals and the examples go on. In some sense, because a group has a different set of abilities from an individual, there are some differences in rights that are granted to them. But the basics (like speech) are still the same, good thing too.

Zorn, local governments around here sponsor Scottish Highlander days and pour serious money into St. Patrick's Day. Do you want to ban all of them? In one town they even have a Red Neck festival called "Spittoono" (lots of fun by the way) but I'm not sure if local gov't does much more than provide traffic control. It is OK for you to be offended by any of these. The argument that one is preferred over others is more difficult. Arguments about displays and signs are fun but there are also truly important issues that relate to the same principles in questions. A Jewish family moved into the area from Minnesota. Their boys were good students who enjoyed school activities. The mom was a substitute teacher. However, when the father objected that his sons had to pray to Jesus during each morning devotional, his sons were cut from the team, his wife no longer called to substitute, the boys made to sit in the hallway during the devotional. True story. I seriously doubt that this is the way you would want the majority to rule, I could be wrong. Incidentally, they were ultimately forced to move away. Later, a more forceful individual gave the school board a good legal spanking and schools now devote their time to academics.

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