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ACLU Grinch Strikes Again!!

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Rooster says:


Second, whether its declared in government documents or not, we are a nation primarily composed of Christians.


Just to nitpick a little here, we are a nation composed mostly of Christians, or to put it even more accurately, a nation whose population is composed mostly of Christians. "Primarily" has a different connotation, more than just numerical.


More importantly, Rooster, I would like to ask you and any others who believe that this is a "Christian nation," one question:


And before I ask it, I know that when I was selecting the first proper noun in the question below, I could have chosen Buddhist or Zoroastrian or Sikh or any of the dozens of other religions, but I decided to go with the one where I personally know the answer with certainty. Here's the question:


How do you think a Jewish citizen of the United States feels when he hears or reads that this is a "Christian nation?"

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I would rather have someone come into the school dressed like St. Nicholas of Myra and punch a heretic in the nose like he did Arius at the council of Nicea. haha, nevermind.



"How do you think a Jewish citizen of the United States feels when he hears or reads that this is a "Christian nation?'"


I don't know, but as a Christian, I would not be offended if I moved to Israel and heard that it was a Jewish state. I would not feel bad if I moved to Turkey and heard that it was an Islamic state or even a predominately Islamic state. As a Catholic, I would not be offended if I moved to Germany and heard that it was a Lutheran state or heard in England that it was an Anglican state. I would not feel bad if I moved to Russia and heard that it was an Orthodox state. I would not feel slighted if speakers in Taiwan stated that it was a Buddhist state. And lest you feel I am overly comfortable with hypothetical situations that do not involve my homeland, I can honestly state that it does not bother me that America is a predominately Protestant nation. Washington swore on a Protestant bible. It is always the Protestant Ten Commandments that adorn public buildings, but I do not lament. It does not offend me that John Adams was a vehement anti-Catholic or that he was not alone in the sentiment. Historically and culturally, America is a theistic (I consider deism a subset of theism), Christian, and Protestant nation. I don't feel slighted by this designation and I have pride in the Founding Fathers, even though I have the knowledge that many of them would likely rather spend eternity in hell than shake hands with a Papist like me. I guess it's a matter of perspective.

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If the ACLU really was about defending the Constitution then it would not have to defend anything in this case. The 1st Ammendment guarantees the freedom of speech & freedom of religion. If you don't like what someone says you don't have to listen! If you don't like their religious beliefs you don't have to. But they are entitled to say & what they want & believe what they want. By the ACLU trying to silence them, the ACLU is in violation of the 1st Ammendment.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I was going to start out this post by saying that I am not a big fan of the ACLU, but that's not quite true. So I'll start out a different way.


I think the ACLU is unneccessary and I don't like what it tries to do on several fronts.


I also disagree that the USA is a Christian Nation. I think that a vast majority of Americans are Christians, but there is nothing that says we have to be.


I consider myself a Christian, but have no particularly strong relation to any church or denomination. My family has had some "hot" fights with Catholicism and Catholics, but I have not.


I have a deep respect for Judaism (NJ, that's part of why I love ya) and the birth of Christianity from Judiasim that I rarely see acknowledged (what's that about 2000 years of plagarism?) I also respect the tenents of all the major religions.


With the exception of Satanism, it is my belief that all major religions are based on the hope, prayer and belief in fundamental goodness that we must all strive to achieve.


The bottom line is that I believe in religious freedom. I also have to admit, as a man who majored in Social Science, that great harm has come across time and across the world when religion is allowed to divide rather than unite people.


We live in a great country where all can pray according to the dictates of their conscience, within the parameters of privacy. Why must we fight over who is right?


In the end, it will all work out . . . whether we kill each other over the differences in the interim is really up to us, isn't it?



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If you were living in Israel or Saudi Arabia, you would find restrictions on your practice of Christianity that you probably would find pretty offensive. The U.S. is founded on a set of principles, some of which are drawn from Christianity, but the Founders set out to create a state that would have true religious freedome, and to do that they decided that the state couldn't establish religion. As that has played out, we enjoy religious freedom unmatched almost anywhere else in the world. It is a small price to pay that a minister can't come to the public school in a Santa suit and evangelize.


The ACLU is a private organization that sticks by its principles, even if they are publicly unpopular. Sound familiar?

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Adrian, I was going to write a longer post in response to yours, but to sum it all up, I agree with Hunt. Our nation differs from all of those that you have mentioned. Some of those nations have "established religions" under their constitutions or basic laws. Others, in different ways, give some governmental preference to one religion or another. In almost all of them, people of "minority religions" are relegated to "second-class citizenship." In a truly dysfunctional nation such as Iraq was prior to the recent "regime change," the government imposed a sort of secularized version of one sect of Islam (Sunni) even though the majority of the people are Shi'ite. In other countries such as Turkey and India, a major political issue for many years has been how much the government should favor the majority religion, if at all. As a result, you get the somewhat confusing scene of an election in Turkey being won or lost by the "Islamic party" when 99 percent of the nation is Islamic... or of two Hindus running for Prime Minister of India and one being considered the "Hindu candidate." In the case of Turkey, the issue is whether the country should be a theocratic Muslim state or a secular Muslim state. In India, the issue is essentially whether Muslims (the minority) should be relegated to second-class citizenship.


Here we don't have any of that. The reasons are (1) we have a constitutional provision that says the government may not establish religion, and (2) that provision is obeyed at least 95 percent of the time, notwithstanding the periodic issue of what symbols may be placed in what combinations on the courthouse square in wintertime, or under what circumstances prayers may be said in public school buildings. Also notwithstanding that fact that a few people (hi Ed) interpret the establishment clause in a manner completely different from the way the courts interpret it.


I also believe, and this goes back to my main point Adrian, is that as a result of (1) and (2) above, this is not a "Christian nation." It is a "predominantly Christian" or "mostly Christian" nation, but those adjectives merely refer to numbers. Take away the adjectives and you have a completely different connotation -- one that might be perfectly acceptable in a country that has a formally or informally established religion, but not in this country.


Adrian, you also say that as a Catholic, you are not offended by certain indicia of the Protestant majority status in this country. Fair enough. In the same way, I am not "offended" by Christmas -- I only point out that it is a religious holiday, which it is. I am so non-offended, in fact, that I married a Catholic woman, in a Catholic church, and have Catholic children. (Well, one of them says she is a Wiccan, but that's another thread.) At this very moment there is a pewter (or something) nativity scene, and a Hanukkah menorah, sitting on my tv set, and a "holiday wreath," which looks for all the world like a Christmas wreath, hanging on my front door. I'll be getting the tree next week, though we have been discussing finally going "synthetic" to keep the house cleaner. The tree will have crosses and Stars of David among its ornaments, as well as the talking Mister Spock Shuttlecraft Ornament issued by Hallmark years ago. At the appropriate time, the tree will have the Hanukkah candles burning next to it, though at a safe distance.


What was my point? Oh. Adrian, you talk about the fact that you are not offended by certain anti-Catholic events or statements in American history. I agree that what John Adams said about Catholics is of little relevance today. But let me ask you, would you be offended by suggestions within your own lifetime (or at least within mine) that a Catholic should not be president of the U.S. because he might take orders from the Pope instead of the American people? It happened in 1960 with JFK, to the point where he had to make several speeches affirming where his loyalties were. (It also happened in 1928 with Al Smith.) I can tell you that if I were a Catholic, I would have been concerned.





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Hunt, you mention restrictions on the practice of Christianity in Israel and Saudia Arabia. This is clearly true in Saudi Arabia, where any display or practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. U.S. military and government employees are worned not to wear visible crosses, Stars of David or other Christian or Jewish symbols in that country.


However, I do not believe this is true in Israel. Obviously Israel does have an "established religion," and there are some preferences given to Jews, starting with the fact that Jews seeking to immigrate receive automatic citizenship and others do not. However, I am pretty sure that Christians, Muslims and others have freedom of worship in Israel. Are you aware of specific facts to the contrary?

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What I remember is that Israel restricts efforts by Christian groups to proselytize in Israel, and that it also restricts religious displays. It's been some time since I read about this, but I do remember reading about clashes between the government and the Orthodox leaders in particular.


Here's something I remember from a few years ago, which I just looked up--hotels were banned from displaying Christmas trees or crosses in public areas. See http://www.jpost.com/com/Archive/13.Dec.1999/Opinion/Article-2.html. It appears that the ban was made by the chief rabbi. This is another difference between the US and countries with an established religion--even if the US is a Christian nation, there is no "chief Christian" to make edicts like that.(This message has been edited by Hunt)

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I belieive I am fairly open minded and frankly not offended by much related to my religion. I would describe my faith as similar to DSteele's, Protestant - unaffiliated, although married to a Catholic.


Several years ago I worked for a short period in Saudi Arabia. I remember filling out my visa application when I came to the section where I had to state my religion. I had never seen this before on any government form before. The only time I had heard of it was Germany in the 30's & 40's. I'll admit I felt weird. I almost did not fill in the information, but realized my visa would probably not get accepted and I would not be able to go do the work I was supposed to do creating a problem for my employer, (not to mention me) so I filled it in.


I went and did my job. Worked with some really great people over there. I remember talking to my Saudi counterpart about camping with his sons somewhere where there were monkeys that chased his kids around the campsite. We had a good laugh.


But I have never forgotten the fact that my religion was an issue. I could not wear religious symbols and I remember the presence of the government Religious Police.


Consequently, I have become much more aware of the concern of the encroachment of any religious association with a branch of government.


Yes, the majority of our population are Christians. But there is no one majority denomination. Imagine if the only acceptable form of Christianity allowed to be practiced was Southern Baptist, or Methodist, or Catholocism, or Episcopalian, Lutheran or any other denomination. This in fact is one of the main reasons many of the early colonists came to these shores, to be able to practice their form of Christianity without interference from the government or the majority of a society they chose to leave.


Today we are an even more diverse society with significant numbers of non-Christians among us.


There are darned good reasons to keep government and religion separate.



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You make good points and your commentary on the religious tolerance and freedom in the Unites States versus other countries affirms my thesis that you really don't have much to be offended by, relatively speaking.


haha, the Kennedy election wasn't quite within my lifetime. I was born the year that Reagan (and the pope) were shot. Regarding Kennedy, he was forced to, no, he chose to state that when it came down to business, he wasn't a Catholic at all. It's just something his family does every week. He helped to define the notion that one can be a "cultural Catholic" as if it were an ethnic group and not a religious affiliation. It is distressing. Today, those who do not renounce their Catholic faith are often barred from office. Just look at Justice Estrada. Catholicism is extremism. "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the pro-life movement?"


What is most offensive, however, is being told that this is a secular country. Belief in a god is not a requirement of religion. Few people would insist that Buddhism is only a philosophy and not a religion. What the devotees of secular humanism assert now is that one must not hold other religious beliefs in order to hold office. If a potential governmental employee chooses to apply a religious label to themself, they must publicly state that their religion is a private matter (like a hobby) and has no influence on their person. You are offended by those who call America a Christian nation. That is your right. I am offended by those who call America a secular nation.


I never claimed that the US does (or should) have a chief religion, an official religion, or a privileged religion. I simply consider theism, particularly Christian theism, to be the most significant hisorical and cultural influence.

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Adrian, actually I never said I was offended by anything at all (at least not in this thread) and I also never called this a "secular nation." I am not sure what that would even mean. I was reacting to the statement that this is a "Christian nation" and showing why I believe that to be incorrect. I am talking about facts, not my feelings.

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Hunt, thank you for providing that information and link regarding some of the actual and proposed restrictions on non-Jewish religious practice in Israel. I have to admit that when I read and think about Israel, I focus mainly on that nation's struggle for survival and I evidently missed hearing about some of the internal issues. I was aware that there has been a struggle within Israel as to how to define who is Jewish, and that is alluded to in the article you linked to. I completely agree with the statements made in that article. It is unfortunate that some in Israel act that way and try to restrict the religious practice of others.


However, I think the article still points out a distinction between Saudi Arabia and Israel. In Saudi Arabia, the restrictions are official, established government policy. In Israel, only certain rabbis and other officials are trying to impose these kinds of restrictions, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. Hopefully cooler heads will ultimately prevail.


And this again underlines the distinction between this country and many others, including Israel, in that this country bans establishments of religion. Even a nation like Israel, which I believe shares a great deal of culture and law in common with the U.S., falters in its treatment of some of its inhabitants due in part to its establishment of religion. I personally believe that Israel, a tiny nation smaller than almost every U.S. state, does need to exist as a Jewish homeland, but unfortunately there are always going to be tradeoffs in a religious state. Those kinds of tradeoffs are exactly what our Constitution helps us avoid here.

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"Others, in different ways, give some governmental preference to one religion or another. In almost all of them, people of "minority religions" are relegated to "second-class citizenship."


and today in the U.S. the minority religions would like to relegate the majority to "second-class citizenship".

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"today in the U.S. the minority religions would like to relegate the majority to "second-class citizenship"."


I see no evidence of this--this would be the situation if those religions were claiming that their faith should be taught in the schools to the exclusion of the majority religion, for example. What they're really saying, of course, is that the government must treat all religions the same, whether they are majority or minority religions--and the best way to do that is "hands off."

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