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[P]
Freedom of Religion, not Freedom from Religion

By codepoet in Op-Ed
Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:00:48 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

I was channel-flipping the other night and passed by a public-interest channel airing a story about a Massachusetts town called Newburyport and the small scandal there that became a federal lawsuit. The town's playground had some run-down equipment and, in order to fund some renovations, there was a "brick drive" so that people could contribute to the park by buying a brick in the pathway that was to run through the park. Unfortunately, two of the bricks were deemed to have religious statements and were removed for separation of church and state by the order of the mayor. The buyers of the bricks were not contacted.


The problem with this is that these days we're forgetting about the first amendment in favor of the first amendment. Here it is for those who have not seen it enough these days:

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.

From the mayor's point of view, these two bricks were a violation of phrase one and phrases two and three didn't matter. Which sounds bad enough, until you know about the bricks and what they say. The brick that is least defendable in this context says, "Jesus loves you." I'll be the first to say that this is a little loud in its screaming of religion, however the problem is that this is not a violation of church and state. Why? Let's revive history for a moment.

"Back in the days" when religions were powerful in free nations (i.e. Rome, Israel, China, India, and most every other place with borders) the religion was the government. No conditionals. There was no separation of the government from the religious system at all. If you violated a tenet of religion, it was a crime in the eyes of the state. England was guilty of this as well, as "recently" as 1700 A.D. as well, with the Church of England along Parliament's side pointing fingers. "Disagree with us? Fine. You can leave in one piece or many, doesn't bother us."

When the first settlers came here the idea was different: the state shall have no ties with any religion. Actually, it was, "make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The goal of this article was to prevent, for the first time, a large government from having religious interactions. America was to be a safe haven for people of all faiths (though "all faiths" did initially mean Christian, that did also change).

Sadly, we became ignorant and viewed the words on the paper literally versus seeing what the real situation and intent behind them was, hence the decision of the mayor in this instance who believes that any "public" property cannot have any reference to religion at all. We have come from not making a law that acknowledges an association or belief in religion to not allowing religion to contaminate public property. The law has a phobia of non-political beliefs and openly attacks, via public officials, anyone who expresses a religious view in or on public property.

The brick should have been left alone, and not destroyed like it was (the man did not get his $60 back). Let alone the more controversial decision to remove the brick of a woman who, after losing a child during pregnancy, put a brick in saying "For all the unborn children." This was, obviously, seen as an attack on abortion, as a political statement. So now the government does not allow political statements on public ground. What does it allow? The fact is that the latter brick's intent was empathy on the part of the person submitting it for all mothers who lost children, a very, very noble cause and one that probably helped her (temporarily, at least) heal emotionally from the loss. Yet someone complained and without so much as a phone call to either party the bricks were removed and destroyed.

Then, Friday on Politically Incorrect, our favorite TV host was defending the position of not allowing a bible study group to use school property, public property, after school hours for a meeting. This was, of course, after the "Prayer at the Pole" disputes have settled down.

Where has America gone that she now oppresses the very people that made her? Where, too, has she gone, that she now defends only those that are not Christian? Where is the bias from? Where is the animosity? Why can the American government not treat Christians decently? The issue in question is really this: can religious groups be termed citizens in the same sense that the Boy Scouts or 4H can? Oh, whoops, they are somewhat religious as well, right? Well, then why can they use schools and public centers but more openly religious groups cannot?

This is the modern discrimination. This is the current crisis. After talking about religious equality it has now been deemed that any gathering of people in the name of religion is cause to deny them access to public property. Never mind whose tax dollars paid for it in the first place.

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Poll
Should openly religious groups be allowed to use public property?
o Yes, they have the same rights. 55%
o Yes, but only temporarily. 4%
o No, it is a violation of the seperation of church and state. 25%
o No (Other) 15%

Votes: 116
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o story
o Also by codepoet


Display: Sort:
Freedom of Religion, not Freedom from Religion | 141 comments (130 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
You sure you're not a Baptist preacher? (3.14 / 7) (#1)
by regeya on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:39:46 PM EST

I've heard this many a time, usually from Baptists. Yes, I'll agree with you, it seems that many cases tilt toward freedom from Judeo-Christian anything. Someone pointed out this article to me. (Thanks, jabber! :-) Seems a little odd that Matt Hale's legal protection (his hate-group "church") is allowed to have public meetings on public property, but a brick with the words "Jesus loves you" is strictly verboten.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Matt Hale Sucks!!! (2.57 / 7) (#25)
by anthrem on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:50:50 PM EST

Matt Hale lives in East Peoria, Illinois. I could get in my truck and be parked in front of his house in about 15 minutes. He sucks, big time. I am suprised nobody from Peoria has not gone over to his dad's house (yeah, he lives with his dad still! That highly intelligent supreme white guy) and burned something in his yard.

Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
[ Parent ]
Heh (1.80 / 5) (#37)
by regeya on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 01:30:35 AM EST

I went ahead and rated your flamebait up, 'coz I feel the same way. :-}

I used to share the sidewalks with him at SIU Carbondale. When I saw his picture on the front page of the school newspaper one February (Black History Month, of all months) I thought, "Y'know, that guy looks familiar." He walked by my dorm every day going to class. My dorm was between the main part of campus and Greek Row, and the Law dept. was/is right by Greek Row. The odd thing was, when he hit the front page, the African-American student community was outraged, not at Hale, but at the paper...

even odder, I'd see people of all nationalities and ethnicities just walking by him, paying him no mind, but damn, that newspaper was, evil, evil, BAD!

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

As said elsewhere (3.93 / 15) (#2)
by spaceghoti on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:42:11 PM EST

I believe in both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I should not be able to curtail your religious activities and freedoms because I don't agree with you. At the same time, your religious activities should not curtail my activities and freedoms.

I have no problem with someone posting a bumper sticker on their car espousing their religious beliefs, and I have no problem with someone taking advantage of a "buy a brick" program to say "Jesus Loves You" or "Allah Is Great" or whatever. It's one brick out of many, and it represents a personal conviction. That's fine.

My only problem is when I have to make an effort to not be hounded by religious zealots. I don't want to be harrassed by phone calls or people who want to enter my home and argue how I'm doomed to hell because I don't buy their religious materials (Jehovah's Witnesses are infamous for the latter). I don't want religious groups lobbying government to curtail my freedoms because they think it promotes sin and dancing. And I don't want religious groups interfering with private enterprises or personal choice to fight what they perceive as a "great sickness of our time." They can make their opinions known; anyone who doesn't know what they are hasn't been paying attention. The moment they attempt to enforce those opinions on others who aren't willing to agree is when the boundary has crossed and I believe "religious freedom" has ended.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

As said elsewhere (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by mami on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:42:43 AM EST

<i>My only problem is when I have to make an effort to not be hounded by religious zealots.</i>

And matter of factly religious zealots are imposing, hunting and threatening and exercising mental bribery a lot. Especially on college campuses targetting confused, depressed and lonely students. It's dangerous and I would watch out for it.

Why is it that in other countries people don't have to resort to braindead bumper stickers to tell the world what they believe in ? Why is religion not considered a private affair in the U.S ?



[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:28:52 AM EST

When a country's existance comes from several groups, once of which is evangelical, well, the idea of "sharing" a religion tends to take all privateness out of it.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]
Freedom from religion? (none / 0) (#129)
by isenguard on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 07:46:42 AM EST

I believe in both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

When you define "freedom from religion" as the right never to be approached by someone who holds to a religion, then I disagree with you. I believe (and this is quite obviously the result of my religious beliefs) that I should approach people and try to persuade them that my faith is true.

You explicitly say, "I believe...". What makes your belief in not being approached by "religious" people somehow superior to my belief that such activities are not only permissible, but benificial?

If I try to fight "the great sickness of our time", why should I prevented from doing so? You can disagree with me, refuse to join my fight, or even oppose me - but what gives you the right to prevent me from acting on my faith? What makes your beliefs more authoritative than mine?



--
Lyndon Drake
[ Parent ]
Perceived "discrimination" (3.64 / 17) (#3)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:47:51 PM EST

Christianity is by far the most prevalent religion in america, so while it may seem to be "discrimination" when this thing happens, I imagine the exact same would be the case if a muslim or jewish group wanted to include a message about "there is only one god and mohammad is his prophet" or a length from the Torah.

Maybe you should learn what *real* discrimination is before whining about a brick not being allowed to be laid, or some guy wanting to proseltyze on government property.

As for the american government not treating christians decently, dont make me laugh. Our government is *ran* by xtians wishing to push their own moral agenda upon the rest of us who AREN'T christian.

And further,
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Thats right. Congress will make no law saying "we are a christian/muslim/jewish/whatever nation, and no other!" and nor will it make a law saying "You cannot be Christian/Muslim/Jewish/whatever". In order to respect the divisions of religions in this country, it is important that NO favoritism be shown in ANY way on government property. It's called impartiality.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Impartial? (none / 0) (#106)
by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:13:34 PM EST

In order to respect the divisions of religions in this country, it is important that NO favoritism be shown in ANY way on government property. It's called impartiality.

That's exactly what I said. Please pick a side and stick with it. Either Christians are evil and "imposing" their religion upon you and should be denied rights because of it, or they should be treated like every other religion. You can't have it both ways.

I can understand having angst with certain factions of Christianity due to rather overt evangelical practices, but to say that there is no discrimination in this case, or similar ones, is to be blind. The fact is that a brick was removed because it had a religious statement that a person with your sentiment disagreed with. The manner in which this was accomplished aside, the fact that it was removed was wrong and violated the right to free speech of that individual. Yes, some could take it to be offensive, but that's why we have the "guarantee" of free speech in this country: so that, under normal circumstances, the things we say can be said without fear of retribution. That was not the case here.

And, for the extremists, no, I am not advocating allowing "fuck you" for the fact that for the environment it is in that is inappropriate. I would, however, advocate that in that case citizens against the phrase 1) name themselves and 2) come before an open inquiry into the phrase so that people can debate its existance. If the community at large decides (not the council) that the phrase should remain or leage, then that is the decision that should be held.

Which brings up another quam: communities in America have disappeared. But that's another story...

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]

It's too deadly to screw around with (3.50 / 12) (#4)
by DeadBaby on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:50:01 PM EST

The dangers of allowing church and state to ever be one again are so real and deadly removing some bricks from a town's playground is well worth it.

The true evil of religion can only be carried out when there is poltical and judicial powers to cover for your crimes. Does a brick in a playground have anything to do with that? Yes, maybe .0001% of it but isn't that more than enough?

Religion and government are scary enough by themselves.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Paranoia. (2.14 / 7) (#17)
by codepoet on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:10:09 PM EST

That's just plain paranoia. In this nation of over 300 million people there is very little chance that religion could ever become strong politically again. The fear you express is built only on a personal fear of religion and, while I have to respect your view, I cannot respect your paranoia interfering with the way free speech is supposed to run its course.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]
Ends justify the means? (3.00 / 7) (#18)
by ZanThrax on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:11:41 PM EST

What's the point of protecting a freedom by removing another?

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Religious nuts (3.40 / 10) (#5)
by DeadBaby on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:53:24 PM EST

Ok by that logic...

My cult (We call ourselves "THE NEW LIFE OF THE BROTHER JESUS") would like to buy a brick in your park. We'd like to inscribe on our brick (actually, we want to buy about 20 of them) our vile, hateful, paranoid, self serving religious propaganda.

Since you don't want to be protected from my religion there's nothing you can do about it.

Enjoy!

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Nuts? (3.57 / 7) (#16)
by codepoet on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:05:21 PM EST

Ok, sure, I agree. I would even not have a logistical problem with a satanic message on a brick. Because this is America and the price we pay for not getting stepped on is to not step on others. If I want "For the unborn children" or "Jesus loves you" then I have to allow "God is dead". While I would disagree with the point, I have to, as an American, defend the person's right to put that message there. That's the whole point. If I'm going to defend a person's right to disagree with me, that person should do the same.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]
where do you draw the line? (4.25 / 8) (#20)
by Delirium on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:04:44 PM EST

What if it's taken to more extremes? Where do you draw the line between allowed and not-allowed speech? Should I be able to buy a brick in a public park that says "I hate niggers"? After all, that is legal speech as well. What about "Women are inferior"? Or "Beware the thieving Jews"? Or "Christians are going to Hell, praise Allah"?

I think that's the reason they make these sorts of prohibitions - you can't allow everything to be expressed through a government-run forum just because it is legal speech when done with an individual's own resources.

[ Parent ]

Meetings and such (none / 0) (#107)
by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:18:52 PM EST

Well my answer to that is that it should not be a governmental body saying yes or no but a gathering of the community to make a vote on whether it is acceptable or not. In this case one person spoke up and one person removed it. That's just unacceptable.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]
Representative democracy (none / 0) (#119)
by Delirium on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 04:00:04 PM EST

Well, I suppose that's part of the larger debate over representative government - you seem to be arguing against representative government in these cases and in favor of referenda. However, it's somewhat infeasible for every issue to come up on a referendum, and in the greater scheme of things the brick in a public park seems to be the sort of "minor issue" we delegate responsibility for to our elected representatives. After all, if you disagree with how your elected representatives are deciding these issues, you can always vote them out of office.

[ Parent ]
um... okay... (4.14 / 14) (#6)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:53:30 PM EST

(though "all faiths" did initially mean Christian, that did also change).

A great number of the founding fathers didn't even consider themselves christian at the time (They were diests, what we would call agnostic today), and I belive it was Thomas Jefforson who mentioned that the bill was intended to protect Muslims and atheists
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Christians are not discriminated against. (3.64 / 14) (#7)
by area51 on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:58:14 PM EST

"Where, too, has [America] gone, that she now defends only those that are not Christian? Where is the bias from? Where is the animosity? Why can the American government not treat Christians decently? This is the modern discrimination."
There is no evidence that Christians are being discriminated against. If you want to feel discrimination, try sharing your atheism with people. You can't legally fire someone based on their religion, but you can use atheism as a basis to fire them. I don't want my tax dollars supporting Christian programs and churches. Non-Christians are made to feel like second-class citizens in the US.
"Then, Friday on Politically Incorrect, our favorite TV host was defending the position of not allowing a bible study group to use school property, public property, after school hours for a meeting."
Do you think atheists would be permitted to use church facilities to hold meetings at? Hey, they help pay those taxes that churches are so loath to pay. Remember, "render unto Caesar what is due."

Meaning of "facilities" (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by fink on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:47:43 PM EST

Do you think atheists would be permitted to use church facilities to hold meetings at? Hey, they help pay those taxes that churches are so loath to pay. Remember, "render unto Caesar what is due."
Yes, yes I do believe that anyone - regardless of belief - should be able to use any "public" building, provided it does not conflict with the primary users of that building. Incoming rant...

Here's a little story for you - this has happened in the small country town that my parents live in (Tully, Far North Queensland, Australia). I know that a similar story is listed in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; this need bear no relationship to that story.

A church building, when it has served its purpose as a church building, and has been replaced, is turned into a public bar. The religious types - particularly, the Catholics, to whom this building once "belonged", are outraged by this "desecration". These religious types insist, as you would imagine, that the church is still "holy ground". This "issue" went as far as to cause a major rift in the town (hey, it's a town of <3000 people, they need something to argue about!)
I would have to disagree; I believe that the church is holy ground only when the church believes it so, and only for those who believe it so. According to this argument, the "church building" is no longer the church. The original meaning of the building is gone - it is now a privately owned public bar.

By this same token, a church building is only used as a church on certain days - those being religious holidays (I include Sunday in this, or the equivalent of Sunday in each religion - as you know, they're all different...).

In a lot of countries, church buildings are paid for in full or in part by government, thereby making them "public" (publicly owned) buildings/property. In my opinion, this should make them available the days that they are not being used for their primary purpose - a place of worship.


----
[ Parent ]

Have you looked? (2.50 / 4) (#66)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:23:35 PM EST

There is no evidence that Christians are being discriminated against.

Have you looked? Really? The world over? If so, you missed some. (Yes, in the U.S and other 'civilized' countries, too.)

but you can use atheism as a basis to fire them

I'd like to hear more about this. I think that's equally unconstitutional.

Non-Christians are made to feel like second-class citizens in the US.

This depends a lot on where you are. In other places, the roles are reversed. I think it has more to do with "community standards" that "American culture". We've basically completely forgotten that our government not just the rule of the majority, but the protection of the minority. Either that, or we remember and just don't like it very much. FWIW, I'm not Christian and it can be trying.

Do you think atheists would be permitted to use church facilities...

That's up to the particular church, but those are private facilities. Would Catholics be permitted to use atheist facilities? Depends on the atheists, I'd say. Atheists should, and do, have equal access to public facilities.

[ Parent ]

There are many hypocrites here... (4.17 / 17) (#8)
by theboz on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:06:47 PM EST

I hear all this stuff under other conversations about how important free speech is. We always hear that information wants to be free, that software should be open source, we should be able to wear t-shirts with the deCSS code on it, and all these other things. But, when it comes to an opinion that these same people disagree with, they say that we have to ban religious people from certain things in order to protect us from something. What's up with that?

I think that the Christians should be able to pay for a brick that says "Jesus loves you." I also think an Atheist can go out and pay for one to say "God is dead." Free speech isn't just about what you agree with. It's about everyone having the opportunity to say what they want and be heard by those that want to hear.

Now, I do agree with you that it can be annoying for someone to come and bang on your front door to invite you to church and then say you are going to hell for not being saved. That is rude. However, you can tell them to go away, and if they don't, you can tell them they are tresspassing and you will call the cops. Feel free to tell them that they are going to hell or whatever you want to say. Free speech is free speech.

Now, in the context of a park being public property. That is correct that it belongs to everyone in a sense. However, when it is available to allow members of the public to leave their mark somehow, that is not the government putting one religion above any others. It is a simple act of allowing anyone to put their beliefs on there. Would you also ban someone from saying, "Life rules." because you believe more in, "Life sucks." Both are simply opinions and statements on people. Neither would have come directly from the government in an official manner. And, to carry it further, the mayor him/herself should be allowed to put a brick down that says, "Jesus loves you." Just as long as that person doesn't use tax money, and doesn't set it as an official endorsement of the government, then it's fine.

Free speech is supposed to be free, not censored when it's something you disagree with.

Stuff.

Free speech is a different matter (3.60 / 10) (#12)
by zakalwe on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:39:57 PM EST

I disagree - Free speech doesn't come into it here. The park is owned by the state whereas a T-shirt with a political message is owned by me. In the US the state does have limitations on what it can be seen to support, and a religious message publicly displayed on state-owned property could be seen as an endorsement.

The council does have a right to censor what is displayed on it's grounds, and really has only two justifiable positions: Either state that the brick and it's message is owned by the person donating, and so censor nothing (Including bricks with "Fuck off and die", "Vote Republican", or "Satan is your master" written on them), or do decide that the council owns the brick, and censor based on their aims and obligations (Decency, impartiality, non-endorsement of religion etc).

If they did choose the uncensored approach, then they would have no right to discriminate against possibly offensive bricks, and since this is a public park, that's probably the most sensible decision, and is also the most legally safe.

However, although I disagree with your reason, I don't think either brick should have been censored. Something like this is so minor, and so obviously a personal message from a member of public, rather than a council statement, that it should no more be removed than a child's picture shouldn't be displayed on a school wall because it shows a cross. Sadly, I'd guess the real reason the

Personally I think the seperation of church and state is too rigid in the states, which is probably an odd position for an atheist, but living in a country(the UK) with practically the opposite (Official head of state==Head of Church!), and having been brought up with religious schooling, I can't help but notice that we seem to be a much more secular society than the states, with far less visible degree of fundamentalism.



[ Parent ]

The state is only an agent for the people (2.33 / 3) (#84)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:17:05 PM EST

The park is owned by the state [...]

I disagree. The park is owned by the people. The state merely administers it.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (3.00 / 1) (#98)
by zakalwe on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 07:52:50 AM EST

I suppose I really should have said that the park is administered by the state. The point still stands though - The council is responsible for what they display and do with the land, since they're the ones making the decisions.

While on the topic of corrections - apologies for stopping mid-sentence in the post. Since I can't remember what I meant to say, I'll just try to stop posting at 2AM.

[ Parent ]

church and state (3.81 / 11) (#9)
by Seumas on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:24:59 PM EST

I've always been confused myself about the proclaimed "Constitutionally promised seperation of church and state" that all types of people scream about. Thing is, I've never actually seen anything even close to such a statement in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. In fact, the only related comments are toward the end that you cannot be forced to practice a particular religion.

I don't have any vested interest in it -- beyond caring that people be allowed the freedoms they are born with. It isn't like I have a religion or anything.

That being said, I wouldn't be pleased with having the 10 Commandments driven into every child's head in school. No, there is nothing wrong with most of the commandments, per se (although there is the "no other gods" which could be a conflict in some respects), but it is just a really inappropriate place for them to be preached. The same for prayer (school lead prayer, at least).

I believe that people need to be a lot more sensible though, and not make such obvious conflicts of their own personal excersise of freedom. For example, I know many people who feel strongly that there is absolutely no problem with any gay or lesbian group using school property for assemblies or other gatherings and meetings, but absolutely oppose other members of the school's community (religious people, boy scouts, etc) from using the same facilities. I say, let them both use it. Charge them a small usage fee if you want -- but the property belongs to the public and they should be allowed to utilize it, so long as the school itself isn't hosting a "come and pray with jesus" night.

Of course, everyone will complain about someone who uses what everyone else has the right to. If the religious people can excercise government to assist in their projects and such, the Christians will get pissy about the Wiccans being allowed to use them, too. Then there's always the problem of the Scientologists who, for whatever fucked up reason, are actually considered a 'religion' in this country. I'd hate to see them get to excercise the same facilities and liberties that the other religious groups could -- may as well have AT&T weasel their way into holding corporate functions at your local elementary school.

People already use the public streets on behalf of religion. In fact, I opened my door while I was in the middle of work a couple weeks ago, only to be asked "how do you feel about the future of our world today? do you feel it's reaching for an impending spiral into hell?" by a young man and a bag full of religious stuff. I can only assume he walked or drove here, using roads and sidewalks paid for with public funding. As much as I dislike being interrupted and as much as the encounter made me very uncomfortable, I'm quite pleased that I live somewhere that a person is allowed to do what he spends his days doing and would happily support his use of other public facilities in a more direct manner. As long as they aren't jumping out of the meeting rooms, into the hallways to prostletize to the kids running through the halls, then what is it hurting?

Letting them use the facilities is a far cry from forcing people to take believe in your god or suffer execution.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

It's called Judicial Review! (3.25 / 4) (#23)
by anthrem on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:46:04 PM EST

The Consitution gives us seperation of Church and state though the first amendment as determined through judicial review.

Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
[ Parent ]
Seperation (none / 0) (#108)
by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:29:14 PM EST

Yes, of course. However let's think about the words here:
1) Seperation: the parts must be distinct and cannot share portions
2) Church: religions
3) State: government

So what we have here is a statement that says that government cannot share portions of itself with religion and the reverse. That would be administrative portions, not every leaf of every branch of every religion. That would mean that what happened here was perfectly legal and fine. That would also mean that I could not even pray silently by my lonesome in a public school. To go that far is to limit free speech, and that is illegal in the United States. Once again, we fall back to the origin of the law and that is to not have a government that is controlled, or even synonymous with, a religion.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]

Pilgrims (4.05 / 19) (#10)
by Ludwig on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:25:02 PM EST

You're a little confused on your history. The "first settlers" were not the Founding Fathers, but some of the most intolerant Calvinist bible-thumpers you could imagine. Salem witch hunts? Cotton Mather? These people weren't forced out of England due to some incompatible detail of religious doctrine, it was due to them being incredibly unpleasant. They themselves were not too enthusiastic about living in close quarters with the godless Anglicans, either. Plus, they were peasants, so they didn't have much to lose by pulling stakes.

The Founding Fathers came over a century later, and unlike their Pilgrim predecessors, they were highly educated, landowners, products of the Enlightenment. Unfortunately, much of our culture to this day retains the marks of the blindly pious early settlers (liquor laws, sodomy laws, prostitution laws, etc.), since their culture was already established by the time the nation was born, and there's only so much you can do to change people's minds in the face of "the word of God." The more we can do to erase those marks, the better.

The guy should've gotten his brick back, though.

Bible-thumpers (4.28 / 7) (#19)
by MrNed on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:11:45 PM EST

"These people weren't forced out of England due to some incompatible detail of religious doctrine, it was due to them being incredibly unpleasant."

Although they were incredibly, incredibly unpleasant, they were also left over from the time Cromwell tried to do his thing with the Puritan state that became a military dictatorship. "Puritan" was originally an insult back in England. This was during the time the Stuarts were making their comeback and the national feeling of England was against Catholics and against the Puritans who caused so much greif a while earlier.

[ Parent ]
small point (3.33 / 3) (#80)
by Dolohov on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:49:05 PM EST

While I don't disagree with the point you're making, I would observe that the pilgrims were not the first settlers at all -- that honor belongs to the Virginia colonists. They weren't purely secular, but nor were they particularly religious. Their main interest was profit, if I'm not mistaken, an interest that has also survived to the modern day.

[ Parent ]
First settlers (1.00 / 1) (#128)
by isenguard on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 07:26:38 AM EST

Surely the first to settle North America were the North American Indians - the indigenous people when the Pilgrims arrived? Though I realise that Americans prefer to forget the Indians and how they were treated...

--
Lyndon Drake
[ Parent ]
Oh whah (4.31 / 16) (#14)
by 0xdeadbeef on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:50:28 PM EST

I've always wanted to lease a billboard around Christmas that says:

Kids, now you know there's no Santa Claus. What makes you think aren't lying about Jesus too?

Do you think that shit would fly if I put it on a brick to placed in a public park?

When you make public resources available for proselytizing, you've got to provide all groups the same access. It's because all the thumpers would freak if Satanists were meeting in schools that they avoid the whole controversy by not allowing religious groups at all.

I'd let you say it (3.33 / 3) (#85)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:26:49 PM EST

Do you think that shit would fly if I put it on a brick to placed in a public park?

Speaking as a Christian, I wouldn't like you saying it. Mostly because it's objectively inaccurate; "lying" is deliberate deception, whereas people who tell kids about Jesus usually believe what they say. However I wouldn't stop you. Plus, if I were the Mayor, I'd let you put that brick in the park.

The bricks are there to represent the community and its aspirations. If that's the best message you can think of to leave for future generations, then I think you have a distinct lack of imagination, but you should be allowed to say it.

However, if the Mayor who is consistent in his censorship, he should censor your message just as he censored "Jesus loves you" (an equally inane sentiment as yours, if you ask me, but it takes all sorts). Your statement is a religious statement, after all.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Usually I don't like religion, but...... (4.30 / 13) (#21)
by Blarney on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:19:53 PM EST

You'll always see me posting away about how horrible religion is, and maybe I do that a lot. Maybe more then anybody should. I'll be the first to march into the local church and demand a refund of my share of the tax money if Bush implements faith-based social services, for instance. If I ever have kids, I won't send them to a school with the 10 Commandments on the wall.

This isn't especially a religious dispute, but more like that story a couple weeks ago about some guy who tried to order a pair of Nikes customized with the word "Sweatshop" on the side. Nike rejected him with a form letter explaining that they didn't personalize sneakers with "offensive" language.

It's doubtful that Nike actually got its corporate feelings hurt. It's more likely that they were afraid to use their product as a medium for presentation of an opinion that they disagree with. If it appeared that Nike supported the opinion that their factories were "sweatshops", they'd be in trouble, as their current strategy is to claim that the factories are acceptible. Similarly, it would be risky for the government to display on their property opinions that they don't hold.

Hypothetically, would Newburyport allow the purchase of a brick with the DeCSS code on it, assuming that they knew what it was for and what it meant (and that it fit on a brick)? Could you order a "President Bush is a dictator and an idiot" brick? Could you buy a "Smoke Pot" brick? My guess is you can't.

The problem here is that the government really has no business publishing opinions at all, whether this be by brick, by allowing folks to gather in their buildings... Perhaps it would be nice if they made no choices at all what bricks to allow or not - but what if somebody orders a "Fuck You!" brick. Maybe they could allow anybody to gather in their buildings and express their feelings - but what if the "Assassinate Bush Now!" club wants to hang out? This possibility makes oversight of the contents of the bricks mandatory, and leads to the present problem where the government is responsible for the sentiments expressed. This leaves them no choice but to ensure that the words on the bricks support the current policies - separation of church and state, legal abortion, drug war, copyright law, speed limits, all of that.

Government cannot have opinions, but only laws - by its nature. I believe things like "marijuana is harmless, in moderation" , so I post on Kuro5hin and attempt to convey them to other people. The US government believes things like "Drugs are bad" - so they shoot people. Every law has the gun behind it ; drive too fast, get a ticket. Don't pay the ticket, go to jail. Escape from jail , go to prison. Escape from prison --- BAM! Just like in "Cool Hand Luke".

Let the government hint that they might believe that "Jesus loves you", and nonChristians everywhere will imagine the gun pointed at them.

Question... (1.50 / 2) (#77)
by the_0ne on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 08:05:07 PM EST

Maybe more then anybody should. I'll be the first to march into the local church and demand a refund of my share of the tax money if Bush implements faith-based social services, for instance. If I ever have kids, I won't send them to a school with the 10 Commandments on the wall.

A question to people that feel this way: What would you do to a school that teaches, first among anything in their Jr. high school curriculum, numerology? This is highly suggestive of the occult but this is what I had to learn in 2 of my Jr. high school years before we even started going on to anything that had to do with English. I never heard a thing about, oh this is the occult. If there is supposed to be this separation of church and state, why is the occult taught in our high schools.



[ Parent ]
Beats me, man - whats occult? (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by Blarney on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 03:10:13 AM EST

Hmmm. Numerology? I don't remember any numerology. What I DO remember from elementary school is staring at a mandala, while the teacher chanted, with our eyes unblinking (there were points taken off for blinking) until the lines start to disappear.

Then we had to tell our innermost meditation thoughts to the teacher. If she thought that you were holding back, she took off points.

An absolutely wonderful perversion of hippie spiritual practices! Totally unequaled!

And don't even get me started on the Blooms Taxonomy on the wall. Okay, kids, it's time to evaluate, analyise, synthesise, blah blah blah.

Stupid fucking teachers. Parroting things that they'd heard, in their quest to awaken the spirit and the mind, the left and right brain, but not understanding. Demanding memorization of these things, not understanding what they even meant.

I don't like the way you say "occult", though. Do you mean "anything that's not christian"? If so, maybe accuse teacher of doing occult stuff, but think about this before you start hollering. Think ---- they did such a shitty job on both of us, trying to present nonChristian spiritual ideas. Would you trust them to teach what you undoubtedly believe is the way, the truth, the life, nobody comes to the Father any other way, an eternity of pain awaits for those who don't GET IT?

[ Parent ]

In other madcap inscribed brick news... (4.08 / 12) (#24)
by elenchos on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:50:31 PM EST

...we have this (scroll down) from the Stranger and other sources (from the summer of 1999):
    THICK AS A BRICK

    While the Mariners are busy asking the rest of us for millions to pay off Safeco Field cost overruns--$60 million last time they came begging--the M's actually told a couple in the Northgate neighborhood to keep their damn money. Mary Bradley and David Hurley paid the Mariners over $80 to have a brick laid in the walkway at Safeco Field. Last year, you'll remember, the Mariners ran a campaign asking Seattleites to pay $75 plus tax to have a personalized brick built into the new stadium's walkway. Unfortunately, the M's weren't happy with the message Bradley and Hurley wanted inscribed on their brick: "We Voted No." The message, a reference to the original public vote on the new Mariners stadium which the Mariners lost, was Bradley's attempt to support local baseball on her own terms. "I voted against the public funding, but I'll give them $75 if they'll put a brick there for me."

    "They don't want your brick," a Mariners representative told Bradley over the phone, she says. Bradley's credit card had already been billed, and the Mariners sent her a refund for the money. Bradley argued that the hometown team was impeding her right to free speech, but the Mariners rep told her that private corporations aren't required to honor her first amendment rights. Damn straight. But, as Bradley is quick to point out, there's a major-league irony here. "They're a private corporation when they don't like what I have to say, but it's a whole different story when they're asking for public funding."--Josh Feit

I personally wouln't raise a ruckus of the odd religuous brick here and there, provided that we could get an acknowledgement that there is a wall of separation between church and state, and it is a good wall. Even if you want to manhandle a few historical facts to make government-sponsored religion seem like the norm, those were bad old days. We want the future to be less like that, not more.

Look at it a different way. Think about the prophetic function of religion, and tell me who do you think are the most holy of religious leaders: those who were part of government and exercised state power, like Pope Gregory VII or Ayatollah Khomeini, or those who stood distinctly outside and separate from government power, like I don't know, say for example, Jesus Christ?

Adequacy.org

Bad History (4.28 / 14) (#29)
by ucblockhead on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:09:34 AM EST

Back in the days" when religions were powerful in free nations (i.e. Rome, Israel, China, India, and most every other place with borders) the religion was the government. No conditionals. There was no separation of the government from the religious system at all. If you violated a tenet of religion, it was a crime in the eyes of the state.
This is patently false for both China and India. First of all, China had three separate religions that coexisted through much of its existance (Taoism, Confusianism and Buddhism) and while their strength ebbed and flowed, state oppressian was very much the exception until 1949.

Second of all, India was not a single country until 1948 or so. Prior to that, it was a bunch of little states. And for most of that time, it had many different religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) that coexisted.

Finally, it is only partially correct for Rome. After Rome became a Christian empire, there was a fair amount of oppression, but prior to that, there was quite a bit of freedom of religion. (It is important to remember that the whole "throwing christians to the lions" thing was political, not religious, and that prior to Constantine's conversion, there were a number of religions in Roman territory, including Judaism, Mitrhiasm, the Euphesian cult, Zorastarism, not to mention a large variety of different pagan belief systems. Remember, the Romans didn't give a damn what Christ said until he started getting called "King of the Jews". Then, it became political, an that's when they got upset.

And, as others have noted, "Isreal" didn't exist until 1948. If you mean the ancient kingdoms that existed in Palastine, they were exceedingly small, and usually under the thumb of a larger power.

The truth is that "back in the days", freedom of religion was fairly widespread. The only place it wasn't was in areas controlled by the Christian church. (And to a much lesser extent, Islam.)

Then, Friday on Politically Incorrect, our favorite TV host was defending the position of not allowing a bible study group to use school property, public property, after school hours for a meeting.
I just want to note here that this is completely constitutional according to the Supreme Court, and that you can thank the ACLU for that, as they sued a school district that tried to prevent a bible study group from using a schoolroom to meet, after hours.

The amount of misinformation that flows about this issue is amazing. It would help stories such as this if research was done so that they were accurate.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Oh, I don't know (3.83 / 6) (#30)
by FuzzyOne on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:13:20 AM EST

Where, too, has she gone, that she now defends only those that are not Christian? Where is the bias from?

<GratuitousCarveyReference>
Oh, I don't know...could it be...SATAN!!!!
</GratuitousCarveyReference>


LOL (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by the_0ne on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:58:57 PM EST

Amen!!!

Does that sound like the good old US or what?

[ Parent ]
Freedom from religion forever! (2.50 / 8) (#31)
by scriptkiddie on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:15:35 AM EST

I am an atheist. I do not want my tax dollars being spent on religious propaganda. I do not want my government to sanction placing religious (no, let's face it, Christian) messages in a playground that could very well be used by my children.

However, I've read that 97% of Americans believe in God. Of those, well over 95% are Christian. This country has a profound, unshakeable belief in Christianity.

If 95% of the people of this country agree with a statement, I don't see how I can protest, other than to remark about how odd it is that 97 out of 100 people I see on the street believe something diametrically opposite from what I believe.This country is a democracy; if people are so fervently religious, I don't see the point in making trouble.

Perhaps I should move to China.

The figures are flaky (4.50 / 6) (#38)
by Eloquence on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 01:40:16 AM EST

The problem with the poll numbers on belief in the United States is how the question is asked. For example, to include the "New Age" crowd, in 1976 Gallup has changed their question from "Do you believe in [sometimes: a] God" to "Do you believe in God or a universal spirit" (emphasis mine) and left it like that until today.

The number of Americans who are "absolutely sure" that there is a God has decreased significantly in various polls (from around 90% in the fifties to around 70% today). A Gallup poll conducted three times, in 1981, 1981, and 1990, has yielded the following results (N=2325;1729;1839):

There is a personal God: 65%/65%/67%
Some sort of spirit or life force: 26%/26%/23%
Don't really know what to think: 5%/5%/6%
Don't really think that there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force: 2%/1%/2%
Don't know: 2%/2%/2%

These numbers, and more, are documented in "The Polls--Trends: Americans' Belief in God" by George Bishop, published in Public Opinion Quarterly, Volume 63:pp. 421-434, 1999.

So the picture is a lot more diverse than religious fundamentalists would want you to believe, as about 10% of Americans could be labeled agnostics or atheists (and many more believe only in "some sort of spirit or life force"). Now, the numbers get really interesting when you go into the scientific community, where in its top circles, the above trend is completely reversed, and an overwhelming majority are agnostics or atheists. This was documented in a paper by Edward Larson and Larry Witham titled "Leading Scientists Still Reject God", published in Nature, 1998; 394, 313. Quote:

Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS [National Academy of Sciences] biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality).
These figures have been steadly growing since 1914. If religious fundamentalists want to get rid of atheism, the best way to start is to burn down all universities and libraries. It appears that knowledge about nature and religious belief directly contradict each other.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Well... (3.33 / 6) (#40)
by scriptkiddie on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:30:04 AM EST

By your numbers, 98% of Americans believe in God/life force/whatever.

That's a really amazing level of agreement for a country this diverse - for example, less than 50% of eligible citizens even bothered to vote in the last national election.

My point is that I recognize that I'm in the minority, and not only that, an extremely small minority. There are fewer American atheists than, to use an irrelevant comparison, Americans who speak no English (according to the Census); all told, atheists have been remarkably well-treated.

So I think it might just be time for atheists to stop complaining.

[ Parent ]

God/life force/whatever (3.00 / 4) (#43)
by Eloquence on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:19:20 AM EST

True, most agree with "God/life force/whatever". Many, many non-Christian beliefs are represented in this number, including a lot (~25%) that are more deistic than theistic. Many of these people can't even define what they believe in, they have little more than the feeling that there has to be "something". There are few atheists, but if you split up the theistic beliefs in their respective different variants, and separate them from the deists (and don't forget the agnostics, who believe that the truth cannot be known), you get a pretty broad picture, and a sentence like "Jesus loves you" is far from being generally agreed upon. Yes, atheists are in the minority, so are many other groups, religious or not. The government has no right to endorse any of these belief systems unless, of course, you equate endorsing no religion with endorsing atheism.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Still... (2.00 / 2) (#64)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:47:11 PM EST

The government has no right to endorse any of these belief systems

Yes, but they have no right to censor any of them either.

[ Parent ]

The case described here is not censorship (3.50 / 2) (#70)
by Eloquence on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 04:44:12 PM EST

The bricks were built into a wall that was put on public property, and doing so with a brick inscribed with a message would be an endorsement of that message, similar to putting it up on a school wall. Whether the message was written by government employees or not is irrelevant.

Now, if the wall was explicitly declared to be "The Wall of the People" or something like that, with a non-endorsement plaque somewhere on it, they could have allowed the religious bullshit people wanted to write on it, but in this case, they would have had to allow lots of other bullshit, too -- in fact, anything that's legal to say. And guess what the Christians who complained about this terrible discrimination and censorship would say if they'd have bricks saying "Jesus Slaves" or "Join Satan's Growing Army" on the way to the playground.

It's just another pathetic attempt of the religious right to portray themselves as helpless victims of the godless media and government. This kind of self-pity is typical for all cults.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

I disagree (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:21:42 PM EST

A lot of private organizations do this same type of thing for fundraising, or pure profiteering. They can and do have final say over what goes on them. They present these guidelines to the purchaser in advance, effectively a "we reserve the right to refuse service... (read: tell you to shut up)" sign.

They city should have done this in advance. I like the idea of an after the fact "These are people's opinion's" sign, though.

Your argument about censoring the other side stands as unasailable. Which is why, as much as I think the city blew the implementation, they have to run the system as designed (and we all know how painfull that is). As soon as they censor one brick, they give all the others official sanction. So people can complain because, Joe Candidate bought a brick and demand equal time (in an election 8 years from now). Or someone's fist name sounds like a sexual organ. There's no conceivable end to the offenses people can find.

[ Parent ]

Hm (2.50 / 2) (#91)
by Eloquence on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 02:26:53 AM EST

They city should have done this in advance.

And how do you know that they didn't?
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

They wouldn't be in this mess (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by mwa on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 07:03:31 AM EST

If they did, then the questionable bricks where allowed (somebody read them when they sold them), by whatever policy they started with. They're only allowed to change the sales agreement after the fact if they provide a shrink-wrap EULA with each brick.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I can follow you (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by Eloquence on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 07:33:43 AM EST

I think it's very well possible that they had some sort of "We reserve the right not to include certain bricks" policy (man, this sure sounds ridiculous), but even if they hadn't, what they did was probably legal (although I am not sure about the "unborn children" thing, they refer to a rule not to display political messages on public property; I have only been to your crazy country once, so I don't know if such a rule exists).
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Disclaimer sign is a GREAT idea (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by Pseudonym on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 08:14:32 AM EST

I like the idea of an after the fact "These are people's opinion's" sign, though.

I like that idea too. I think that would be a perfect compromise, in fact. No doubt you could word it better, like "these bricks are the opinions and aspirations of the people of this town" rather than wording it like a legal disclaimer.

More than covering one's legal arse, though, this sign would be, for future generations, an important historical record of contemporary attitudes towards the first amendment and freedom of religion. When attitudes change in the future, as they are wont to do, this sign might help some historian understand us better.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Some other numbers, if it makes you feel different (5.00 / 1) (#127)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 03:47:14 AM EST

The Council for Secular Humanism, a biased source, but with corroberation, says here that non-believers are as numerous as Roman Catholics in the US. That is easily a large enough number to claim to be a significant minority deserving of consideration. Which assumes that you think that minorities below a certain size can be ignored. Is that such a good idea?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Statements of religion (3.66 / 9) (#32)
by Armaphine on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:32:51 AM EST

As far as the bricks not being allowed on the basis of their having religious statements imprinted on them, and henceforth, all government related items to be free of religious ideals/sayings, I ask all the US-ians to withdraw a dollar bill from their wallets.

Now, I'm pretty sure that no matter what denomination was pulled, it probably has the words "In God We Trust" on it...

Case Closed.

The fact of the matter is that (US) gov't items can be adorned with religious sentiments, shown further through the military's use of religious chaplins in it's service. (Although I believe it is currently limited to the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.)

Simply put, religion may, and at points, should, affect the gov't. But the gov't should never interfere with one's choice in how to go about practicing their religion.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.

chaplains (3.33 / 3) (#62)
by rebelcool on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:46:06 PM EST

chaplains are generally well trained in *all* faiths, indeed there is actually a chaplain handbook with a listing of the various different faiths, including wicca among others.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

In God we trust (2.00 / 2) (#65)
by Blarney on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:08:30 PM EST

It says that, because it's just a worthless piece of paper or base metal. It has no intrinsic value whatsoever. It is only our trust in it, our countrymen, and perhaps God, that makes it worth anything.



[ Parent ]

Separation? (3.20 / 5) (#33)
by fsh on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:38:37 AM EST

Quick question first off for the people currently attending public universities: are all fraternities and sororities still allowed to use public facilities to hold meetings? And do they still receive funds from the university? Separation of church and state simply means that the government can't make laws that single out religious groups, so if something is allowed for one religious group, it should be available for all. I know when I attended college, many fraternities and sororities were allowed to hold meetings and rallies on campus. I don't see why this doesn't apply to local schools, as well. How about the reverant Boy Scouts? On my honor, I will do my duty to God and my Country,.... I know we used to meet in the church and at the local public high school. We also used to run a haunted house at the elementary school every year, and we advertised for new members at the schools every year (elementary and middle). As long as the religious group breaks no laws, I see no reason to disallow them the use of public property.

I don't think they should have destroyed the bricks. That was simply rude and uncaring, they could have given them back to the people who donated. They also should have refunded the money, for the same reason. I do agree that they should not have allowed the bricks in there, however. They don't allow grafitti of any sort in a public place, nor do they allow religious or political messages or signs of any sort. While it's legal to post a campaign poster on your own lawn, or the side of the road where other advertisements are seen, it is illegal to post them in many public parks & building grounds(although there are, in many cases, boards where advertisements of any sort can typically be posted).

There are an ample number of other public forums in which to express your opinion, but there is no provision that you can express your opinion whenever or however you wish to.
-fsh

Propoganda (4.68 / 22) (#34)
by HypoLuxa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:50:48 AM EST

This is a common sentiment being expressed by many Christians, and it simply isn't justified.

This is the modern discrimination

From dictionary.com, the 3rd definition of 'discrimination' is "Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice." Christians are not being treated any differently than anyone else here. The mayor has decided that there will not be religious messages on these bricks. The mayor did not decide to allow "Read the Koran" and "Mazel Tov" bricks, and deny the "Jesus Loves You" brick. There is no discrimination here.

This is the current crisis.

There is no crisis. You can't have a nativity scene at City Hall. You can't read the Koran at school assembly. You can't use government land to erect a shrine to Buddha. I'm not a particularly religious person, so I might have the wrong perspective on this, but how about you stack this "crisis" up to AIDS in Africa, partisan violence in Latin America, poor public education and healthcare in America. Doesn't seem quite so extreme, does it?

Never mind whose tax dollars paid for it in the first place.

Now this is straight bullshit. You're assumption that since the majority of the taxpayers are Christian, they should be able to use the goverment to proselytize. This is what was referred to in the Federalist Papers as the "tyranny of the majority." The Federalist Papers, written by a few of the Founding Fathers that the religious right loves to mention as upstanding Christian folk, extolled as one of the virtues of the American constiution was that the minorities were not forced to follow the beleifs of the majority. Christians have a huge cultural dominance in America; they are free to use the radio, television, newspapers, strange men screaming on the street telling me I am going to hell, and whatever other means they choose to spread their faith. They simply cannot use government property or resources, just as every other religion is denied the same.

As an aside, I do think that the Mayor's decision was partially wrong. "Jesus Loves You" should have been taken out, but there is no reason to take out "For all the Unborn Children." The former is a religious message, the latter is a political one, regarless of whether or not the belief was based in religion. Bad call on that one.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen

Are you sure? (2.75 / 4) (#60)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:35:48 PM EST

"Jesus Loves You" should have been taken out

The "unborn children" brick was misinterpreted, Maybe this was in commemoration of another person named Jesus. It's a fairly common name, particularly in hispanic countries.

The point really has nothing to do with religion. The city is allowing people to express their views with these bricks. It's public speech, and the government simply cannot be allowed to censor it.

[ Parent ]

The Inherent Paradox (3.00 / 3) (#72)
by HypoLuxa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:47:08 PM EST

There are two values which are held in high regard by our democracy:
  • Government cannot censor public speech
  • Government cannot provide any resource for religious proselytization


--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
There is no paradox (3.33 / 3) (#78)
by drobbins on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 08:47:29 PM EST

  • Government cannot censor public speech
  • Government cannot provide any resource for religious proselytization

At first, it does look like a paradox. However, your second item should read "Government cannot deny any resource for religious proselytization". After all, religious proselytization is speech, and we are all free to try to convince one another of our views, whether religious or otherwise. Back in high school, I remember the Mac vs. Amiga debates I had with my geek friends -- and believe me, they reached the level of religious speech, and yes, I actively tried to "convert" people to the Amiga side :)

We are all entitled to live our lives as we see fit, and speak as we see fit, and if religious speech or proselytization is something that we believe is important, then we're allowed to do it. Our founding fathers understood that it is not government's role to pick sides in this area.

You are probably thinking -- well, this wall of bricks is sponsored by the "government", so therefore the government must eliminate all religious and political speech to be "fair". Not quite. First of all, here in America we (hopefully) have the understanding that the government serves the people, not the other way around.

But what about the "fairness" issue? Our founding fathers considered a "fair" society as one that allowed everyone to express their views, no matter how controversial or "religious". Since then, we have redefined "fair" to mean something completely different -- apparently, many people think that the actual act of speaking about certain controversial, unpopular, religious, potentially offensive or unpleasant things is unfair in itself. It's naughty and wrong, and such speech should be censored by the government in order to protect all the sensitive, loving and kind people who get upset from such speech. Some of these people (or should we call them victims) could possibly even experience anxiety, confusion or (gasp!) even possible intestinal distress -- and that's not "fair"! This is the definition of "fair" promoted by the political correctness police, and it's wrong. It's wrong because by taking such an attitude, anything that anyone else considers "offensive" would be censored. And believe me, for everything that one says, it's very likely that there is someone, somewhere who is offended by it.

There are too many people who, when they read a phrase like "Jesus loves you", or "God bless", don't see it as some person's way of expressing kindness (or even their own sincere personal views), but instead interpret it as a devious Christian voodoo mental word bomb that has no other purpose than to try to sieze control of their minds and convert to them to Christianity against their will. Apparently, if you read the words "Jesus loves you" 1,000 times, your mind will cave in and you'll lose control of your mental faculties. Frankly, if someone thinks this way, they have a problem (a lack of "faith" in their grey matter?)



[ Parent ]
Damn preview button! (2.50 / 2) (#73)
by HypoLuxa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:55:16 PM EST

Ok, so I hit post and not preview before I finished that thought. My mistake.

Those two ideals are important, and they are intertwined in this issue. My counter to your argument would be that the government is not, in fact, censoring the speech of individuals, it is simply not providing resources to those individuals to make said speech. An analolgy would be that you are free to argue and disagree with me on k5, but I can throw you right out of my living room for doing the same. The government is simply not providing a forum for religious speech, which is perfectly within it's rights (the government isn't required to provide any speech a forum). The government clearly isn't allowed to go to a church or private residence and remove "Jesus Loves You" signs, but the government also cannot provide a forum or resources for "Jesus Loves You" sings.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

Usually, yes (2.50 / 2) (#74)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:09:50 PM EST

But like you said, there's a paradox. The city should have established guidelines or something before they started selling bricks. They could easily have restricted it to a name, either the donor's or in memoriam of someone else. (Or insert your politically correct guideline here.) As it was, they said "Speak", and then later said "Except that". It's too late at that point. It's more like you invite me in and I say something you don't like, so you kick me out. No problem, except I can't un-say it.

They're trying to get people to un-say things. I can see how the "unborn children" lady would be very upset after the fact. This was an expression of her grief, and I support it, regardless of whether others may interpret it as a political statement or a religious statment or not. So I have to accept that the "Jesus" purchasers, whatever their intent, have equal rights with her.

If they're going to rip bricks out. they should admit this is too problematic, refund all the money, rip them all up, and start over. Otherwise, stand by their original (non-)policy.

[ Parent ]

Government providing resources (2.50 / 2) (#83)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:09:33 PM EST

Those two ideals are important, and they are intertwined in this issue. My counter to your argument would be that the government is not, in fact, censoring the speech of individuals, it is simply not providing resources to those individuals to make said speech.

As I understand it, the person who wrote that slogan paid $60 for the privilege. I find it hard to believe (but perhaps you could can convince me otherwise; I'm an open minded kind of person) that use of government resources is a factor, when it's actually a personal donation


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Resources. (none / 0) (#113)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:43:41 PM EST

Yes, the brick was purchased by an individual (and as I said in another reply, that individual should have been fully refunded or given the opportunity to select another message), but it was to be placed on government property. This, in and of itself, is a resource. Government property is still a public resources, regardless of whether or not it was payed for by voluntary donation or compulsary taxes, and it cannot be used to promote or encourage a particular religion.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
Are you serious? (none / 0) (#139)
by DavidTC on Mon Mar 12, 2001 at 08:13:05 AM EST

Government property is still a public resources, regardless of whether or not it was payed for by voluntary donation or compulsary taxes, and it cannot be used to promote or encourage a particular religion.

WHAT? Government property is used to promote religions all the time. Have you never heard a street corner preacher? Have you ever seen a private group erect a cross where a car accident happened?

Frankly, this whole thing is insane. the government not only isn't able to ban certain religions, it's not allowed to ban all religions, because it's not allowed to figure out what is and isn't a religion. (Don't get this confused with taxes. The point there is that a church is a non-profit charity, not a religious organization.) It has no authority to say 'Jesus love you' is religious, and not 'Eris love you', simply because it hasn't heard of Eris, it certainly has no authority to say anti-abortion messages are a religious issue, and it doesn't have any right to say 'E=MC^2' isn't a religious issue. It's simply not the government's call. It's all speech. There are a few places where the government can make calls about kinds of speech, and it's basically commercial speech, which is subject to stricter rules about falsehoods or violating SEC regulations or other stuff that megacorperations really need to worry about.

A way around this, of course, would have been simply to have 'in memory' bricks, which are specifically donated to someone who has died, or just someone in general. Or just bricks with the donator's name on it.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Well, here's the deal. (2.50 / 2) (#89)
by regeya on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:49:36 AM EST

There is no crisis. You can't have a nativity scene at City Hall. You can't read the Koran at school assembly. You can't use government land to erect a shrine to Buddha.

I agree that crisis is perhaps the wrong word, but it's a problem nonetheless. The problem in this case is that this wasn't taxpayer money involved, but something placed on public property paid for by private donation. Now I don't expect City Halls everywhere to accept and display donates signs proclaiming "YOUR GOD IS DEAD" or anything like that, but the thing is that the donation was accepted, the brick was placed, then removed due to objections. Said donation was kept.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Why not? (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:55:16 AM EST

Now I don't expect City Halls everywhere to accept and display donates signs proclaiming "YOUR GOD IS DEAD" or anything like that

Why not? Why wouldn't you expect them to accept and display donations which say that God is dead? The "Jesus loves you" brick is exactly the same thing, except the message is different.

And that's what's wrong with the "Jesus loves you" brick. When the message is something that you don't like, like "God is dead", it's utterly clear exactly what's wrong with putting it on public property. The same thing is wrong with "Jesus loves you".

[ Parent ]

Agreed. (none / 0) (#110)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:33:16 PM EST

I think that this whole situation should have been handled differently, as far as the donation is concerned. I definately think that the money and the brick should have been returned, or the person who donated the money given an opportunity to choose an alternate message. Just taking the money and then removing or destroying the brick with no explanation was uncalled for.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
I'll take freedom FROM religion, thank you. (3.61 / 13) (#39)
by 6502 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:17:05 AM EST

Frankly, if it was bought with taxpayer money then I don't think any religious sentiment should be expressed. Period. I don't like religion. I'm secular. I believe organized religion, on the whole, has caused humankind more grief than even government; intertwining the two into theocracy thus appears to me to be culturally suicidal.

You cite several small examples of seemingly petty censorship of religious expressions upon public property. So what. IMO: once public property becomes a forum for one religion to proselytize their beliefs, we better accept this from every group. Otherwise, if the government openly promotes one religious group over others by denying some access, that would be blatantly unfair and probably unconstitutional.

Imagine the Moonies offering their prayers on a federal IRS building. Undoubtadly, Scientologiests will win the right to run their own charter school, which their kids could then get public vouchers to help pay tuition. I can even magine a Native American mural, painted onto some DEA office, that depicts a group consuming peyote as a religious sacrament. Of course, my imagination enjoys a bit of irony... heh.

Look, there's no way our government should ever promote religion, unless we're willing to accept every freakish cult out there with their hands out for some free propaganda. We shouldn't be doing it at the federal level, nor should we be doing it at the state and local levels either.

You want to promote religion? Do it with your own money.

0x7F

And why should you be the one to decide? (3.75 / 8) (#52)
by seebs on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:04:35 PM EST

How is it any more right for you to promote *your* belief about the place of religion, than it is for the religious people? This is sheer hypocracy. Will you also stand up and demand that non-religious vague affirmations be banned? After all, those too promote an agenda.

You are free not to be religious; you have no particular right, however, to live in a world without religion, any more than the religious people have a "right" to live in a world without atheists.

You get to exist, they get to exist. You get to say whatever you want, they get to say whatever they want. And, if you get to gather in public places, they get to gather in public places. That's what the constitution says, and it's a lot wiser than you are; it's fair to everyone.


[ Parent ]
He isn't. (5.00 / 5) (#58)
by spaceghoti on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:27:53 PM EST

Here's what he said: You want to promote religion? Do it with your own money. That isn't quite the same as ...you have no particular right, however, to live in a world without religion...

What he's said is that a religion that wants to Spread the Word and advertise their religious/philosophical position needs to fund themselves, not use government resources to do so. Frankly, athiests and all other groups are beholden to do the same already. If I want to spread the word about something, I have to use my own resources. I cannot expect the government to subsidize me.

Meeting in a public place for personal reasons is not illegal, religious or otherwise. I occasionally run a Live Action Role-Playing game (yeah, I one of them) which requires a lot more space than you might think. While we're occasionally lucky enough to find a private individual or group willing to loan space to us, more often than not we're reduced to using public property (like a park) to meet and run our game. The catch is we aren't there to publicly display and preach our beliefs in gaming. We're there for personal reasons which we're not supposed to let bother other people; if we do, we expect to invite trouble and deserve it.

Personally, I believe every group should have the same opportunity to gather and hold meetings in public places. In certain public places you have to get permission from the local government to rally, to demonstrate your peacable intentions in such a way that you aren't trying to cause a problem or infringe on other people's rights. So long as we can learn to agree to disagree, there really should be no problem. The moment someone decides "no" isn't good enough is when I believe freedoms should start to be taken away.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
It's not public money (3.71 / 7) (#59)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:28:44 PM EST

They where selling bricks for $60. Bricks do not cost $60. They where basically taking donations to help improve public facilities. That money could have come from taxpayers, but it could just as easily come from non-taxpayers. None-the-less, (if I'm reading it correctly) it was the city governement that promoted the fundraising activity. As a governmental entity, they have not right to censor "speech" once they have opened the avenue for expression.

So they did use their own money.

[ Parent ]

0x7F? (1.00 / 1) (#100)
by your_desired_username on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:37:07 AM EST

0x7F?!? How dare you!?! Give me my other bucky bit back, damnit!

[ Parent ]
"In God We Trust" (3.66 / 9) (#41)
by fsh on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:46:56 AM EST

If the US government is really so anxious to separate the church from the state, why do we still have "In God We Trust" on all (almost all?)of our currency? Is it possible to get it removed, and does anyone know if there's ever been an attempt to do so? I think that if they're going to keep religious groups off of public property (land), then they should also keep religious doctrine off of public property (currency).


-fsh

Which religion? (2.75 / 4) (#46)
by digger on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:45:06 AM EST

I understand your point and clearly the people who first put this phrase onto a coin had Christianity in mind, but .. the word "God" could now be interpreted as being the god of Islam, Hinduism or any other religion, couldn't it?

Unless, of course, this phrase is taken from a Christianity-specific quotation. I am neither American nor Christian so I do not know.



| optimisation precludes evolution |
[ Parent ]
no. (2.60 / 5) (#48)
by plastik55 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 06:11:26 AM EST

my religion does not have a god.
w00t!
[ Parent ]
In *Gods* We Trust? (2.66 / 3) (#55)
by fsh on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:47:28 PM EST

Well, Hinduists believe in a pantheon of Gods, and Islam and Christianity are both monotheist. I think you'd have a worse problem trying to convince Christians and Muslims that they worship the same God in the eyes of the government than you would in taking the phrase off of the currency. Christians and Muslims believe that their God is the only God, and that to worship other Gods isn't just a venial sin, but something much worse.
-fsh
[ Parent ]
In whom do we trust? (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by digger on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:13:16 PM EST

Good point about the multiplicity of Hindu Gods. However, I wasn't suggesting that Christians and Muslims could be considered to worship the same God: I was suggesting that the meaning of the phrase "In God We Trust" could be interpreted in an individual way. In other words: "In God We Trust - whomsoever that God might be to you".



| optimisation precludes evolution |
[ Parent ]
My bad, not writing clearly, (2.50 / 2) (#63)
by fsh on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:46:33 PM EST

What I meant to say is that since Christianity and Islam are monotheist religions, they reject the notion that there are other Gods, and that to suggest such a thing to a Christian is, in effect, an attempt to change that religion to incorporate other deities. For instance, despite the fact that C.S. Lewis was a highly regarded Christian apologist, his polytheist ideas in the Chronicles of Narnia were blasted by many religious leaders, and can still be used as a guaranteed method of pissing off a fundamentalist. (Heh, that being one of my hobbies around here....)

And, of course, this completely ignores the atheist, who would categorically deny this statement since one cannot trust in something one doesn't beleive in, as well as the agnostic, who isn't really sure if there's something there to trust or not. That's why I think the phrase should be removed; otherwise it's a hypocritical statement wrt to first amendment.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

They don't? (3.00 / 1) (#94)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 03:37:28 AM EST

I had always been under the impression that Jews, Christians and Muslims do worship basically the same god. There are a number of drastic differences between the religions, and it doesn't stop them from killing each other because they don't have precisely the same religions, but there are definate connections. Heck, there are plenty of people who to outsiders would appear to practice virtually identical religions, but go on killing each other because they percieve differences themselves. (e.g. Catholics and protestants)

Me, I know where it's at ;)

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

cultural anthropology (none / 0) (#112)
by fsh on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:42:47 PM EST

From the outside looking in, the Judeo-Islam-Christian religions look very similar on all sides, but my point was that the practitioners wouldn't agree, and in fact beleive that the members of the different groups are bound for enternal damnation. In fact, cultural anthropologists tell us that *all* religions from *all* cultures are essentially the same, and can offer volumes and volumes of mythological evidence to support this theory. One excellent summation is Joseph campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces.

My point was simply that, to be fair to all religions, we would have to change the phrase from 'In God We Trust' to 'In Gods We Trust', and that the Christians, Muslims, and Jews would all have grounds to object because they are monotheist. Since we can't please all groups, I think it would be better to remove the phrase entirely.
-fsh
[ Parent ]

fair enough (none / 0) (#121)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 04:52:07 PM EST

Of course, what bugs me about the recent redesign of the heads on quarters is that the top rim now says 'United States of America.' It used to say 'Liberty' and I'd damn well prefer the latter over the former.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
They had to move them. (none / 0) (#138)
by DavidTC on Mon Mar 12, 2001 at 07:56:21 AM EST

They had to move both 'United State of America' and 'Quarter Dollar' from the back to the front, as the back now changes, and they really need the country and amount on there somewhere. On the other hand, they seem have gotten the states to put 'e pluribus unum' on the back of them at the bottom, so who knows for sure.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
of the book (none / 0) (#133)
by Rand Race on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 09:01:33 AM EST

Arabs are the sons of Ishmael and Jews are the sons of Issac making both groups decendants of Abraham. Their religions are, at their roots, worshiping the same god that their common ancestors worshiped (obvious linguistic connection between 'Elohim' and 'Allah' and, for that matter, the 'Baal' of the pagan semites). Christianity of course is an outgrowth of judaic religion so they worship the same god too.

Islam makes this perfectly clear in the Quaran referring to both Christianity and Judaism as being 'of the book' and specifically granting them special provisions in Muslim society since, while they are mistaken in their choice of prophets, they do worship the same god.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

i agree (3.00 / 4) (#61)
by rebelcool on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:43:31 PM EST

the words "in god we trust" as well as the "one nation under god" part of the pledge of allegiance is successful lobbying by christian groups decades ago. It didnt use to be that way, and undoubtedly the founding fathers would have something to say about that.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

that, and.... (3.50 / 2) (#67)
by msbrauer on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:27:45 PM EST

The "one nation under god" was put into effect under Eisenhower as another means to combat growing communism in the US, as far as I know. One of the longest lasting results of the House Unamerican Activities Committee, I think. Interestingly, my state's schools (Montana) now have a regulation requiring the pledge to be said each week throughout the school year, but the script given to teachers to read says you may abstain for "religious convictions."

[ Parent ]
yup (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by rebelcool on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 04:01:04 PM EST

many school districts (and perhaps states) have a similar policy. Back when i was in HS i'd stand during it, but i refused to recite it.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

indeed... (3.00 / 1) (#92)
by msbrauer on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 03:07:41 AM EST

That's what I did while attending HS. Also, problems with the term "allegiance." I don't think I can give blind faith to anything...

[ Parent ]
Aye (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 03:25:18 AM EST

Yeah, my particularly nasty math teacher one year made me go out to the hall as I wouldn't pledge to the flag.

For me it's political. I like the US, the US is pretty decent, and shows promise if we can keep it working. But it's the principles that I'm interested in. 'The United States of America' is just a name for me. And it has to work hard, every day, to earn my trust and respect. I'm not about to hand it over on a silver platter. I chip in, and help it to earn that - I vote, and I research who and what I vote for, I write to politicians - but I don't believe in giving the government a free ride. It's a very bad idea, imho.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
I should hope so (2.00 / 2) (#88)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:37:49 PM EST

Interestingly, my state's schools (Montana) now have a regulation requiring the pledge to be said each week throughout the school year, but the script given to teachers to read says you may abstain for "religious convictions."

If my daughter attended a US school, I would arrange for her to abstain, because our family worships neither the flag nor the republic for which it stands.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
In God We Trust (2.50 / 2) (#86)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:29:59 PM EST

If the US government is really so anxious to separate the church from the state, why do we still have "In God We Trust" on all (almost all?)of our currency?

First off, one local council should not be equated with the US government.

But to answer your question, it might be useful to know that this slogan was added to the US currency around the time of the dropping of the gold standard. I always read it as meaning "well you can't trust the currency any more... so trust in god!"


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Yeah, we better do something about that fast (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by marlowe on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:42:05 PM EST

or something bad will happen. I'm not sure what.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
why the heck? (2.36 / 11) (#42)
by xriso on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:03:30 AM EST

Why in the world did they do this in the first place? They should put the bricks back, and set an example for anybody else who tries anything else so stupid. They could have at least told the people which restrictions they would have.
"Put your brick here for $X! Oh wait, we changed our mind and now you can't have the brick there anymore."
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Rights of one vs. no rights for one? (3.71 / 7) (#49)
by maketo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:08:03 AM EST

This might be a dumb question but "For all unborn children" might insult some pro-abortion people. They should have either the right to put a brick saying something in favour of their cause or the brick should not be there. From the viewpoint of the mayor - it would not be fair to all citizens for a way to exist to pay for an advertizment of your beliefs on public grounds. The government is for all people, be it poor (who cannot afford to pay $60 per brick and get their message on it) or rich.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
Not getting it (3.25 / 4) (#57)
by mwa on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:20:12 PM EST

They didn't get it, and neither are you. The message was an expression of consolation for parents who had lost children, not some anti-abortion propoganda. Since the "pro-life" people misinterpreted they where allowed to have it yanked.

Does that mean that if I see a brick with a latin phrase on it, misinterpret it to mean that I'm a theif, I get to sue for defamation?

If so, we'll have to remove all forms of communication, because someone might be offended regardless of the intent.

[ Parent ]

A question (3.50 / 2) (#68)
by maketo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:38:13 PM EST

If I were to put a brick pro-choice would that be allowed? It is not a question of what goes on something of public property - it is a question who is to say what is to go. I think that either it all goes or nothing goes. Besides, what about the message of all those who didnt have the $60 to contribute?
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
STILL not getting it (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by DeanT on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:12:54 PM EST

If I were to put a brick pro-choice would that be allowed?
Apparently, noone bothered to find the intent of the inscription. It's equally plausible that the intended meaning was for this brick to be in memory of all miscarried babies. It is possible the intended meaning of the brick was misconstrued.

Now, bear in mind there was probably some limit to the number of characters you can have etched into a brick, right?

So, it's pretty unlikely you can have "for all the babies truly loved by their parents but whose mother's body rejected for some reason; I wish your parents to find comfort regarding this issue"

AND who would that offend?

All that aside, the woman bought a brick. The brick should have been returned to her instead of being destroyed, along with the charitable donation portion of the brick. That is, her brick and a check for the donation should have been returned to her.

Let me summarize for you: Regardless of the message of the brick it is it is wrong to keep her donation if you don't use her brick.

DeanT

[ Parent ]

This is Oppression? (4.00 / 10) (#51)
by trust_no_one on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:15:17 AM EST

OK, no one goes to jail, gets tortured, or suffers any retribution or other harm. This is a crisis? People have been burned at the stake, crucified, herded into gas chambers, broken on the rack and beheaded for their religious beliefs. Someone can't put "Jesus Loves You" on a brick and this is a crisis? On a scale of 1-10 of religious persecution, this is a -3.

There is a serious argument to be made about the balance between the establishment clause of the 1st amendment, and the free exercise clause, but it certainly isn't helped by overstating the case as is done here. It does a serious disservice to all those who were martyred for their beliefs.

I'm sorry, but anyone who believes that Christians are a persecuted minority in the United States is seriously delusional. These claims of victim status ring hollow. They are more the cries of a formerly privileged class which has been forced to share those privileges with minorities and howling bitterly about it.

--
I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused

Where does a crisis begin? (3.75 / 4) (#71)
by espo812 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 04:56:25 PM EST

People have been burned at the stake, crucified, herded into gas chambers, broken on the rack and beheaded for their religious beliefs. Someone can't put "Jesus Loves You" on a brick and this is a crisis? On a scale of 1-10 of religious persecution, this is a -3.
Tyrants don't get the power over night to burn people at the stake. The authority and power to commit such an act is built gradually. This power starts somewhere. Today, that power may be in its infancy by banning bricks. Tommorrow books may be banned and assembly discouraged.

The mayor here is violating free speech. The city has allowed people to put messages on bricks to be publically disaplayed. As a government, they are not permitted to censor speech. Certinly you agree that saying "Jesus loves you" is speech? The mayor has abridged this freedom, a Constitutional violation.

espo
--
Censorship is un-American.
[ Parent ]
Establishment clause v. Exercise (3.33 / 3) (#87)
by trust_no_one on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:57:50 PM EST

The establishment clause clearly prohibits the government from making religious pronouncements. The free exercise clause prohibits the government from preventing people from exercising their religion. The two clauses are not mutually exclusive, as long as the exercise of religion takes place on non-government property.

Free speech is a key part of the first amendment, but so is the establishment clause. To claim that this a step toward tyranny is the grossest kind of overstatement. The brick wasn't banned. The party in question is free to put "Jesus Loves You" on any brick in his own walkway or all the bricks on his own property. He has no Constitutional Right to put a religious message on government property. I can't see how such a simple distinction manages to get overlooked in debates like this.

--
I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused
[ Parent ]

Overlooked? Nahh. (none / 0) (#115)
by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:59:43 PM EST

It wasn't overlooked, that's the point that's being debated. What, exactly, states that religious messages of the people cannot exist on government property? The government cannot sanction a religious message, but a person is free to express their beliefs however and whereever they want. What you're saying, technically, is that street-corner preachers are illegal. That sending unsolicited mail for a new church opening is illegal. That the placement of an advertisement for a "big" sermon on the roadside, local roadway distance laws aside, is illegal.

What you're saying is that anything that involves religion cannot touch public property, but that's clearly not so since it does already, has for a very long time, and will keep doing so. The fact that it happens unchallenged now is enough of a legal precident to say that the brick issue is no different. It was funded privately by a citizen and contains a portion of free speech and under the laws that protect free speech and the non-interference of religious expression it should be protected by our government instead of silenced.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]

It's the establishment clause (none / 0) (#135)
by trust_no_one on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 12:04:19 PM EST

You're correct in assuming that I take a harder line on this than say the current Supreme Court of the US. But it seems to me the most elegant solution and truest to the intentions of the founders and the clear wording of the amendment. I tend toward strict construction of the first amendment (and the 4th, 5th, 8th & 14th, but those are other debates).

I strongly disagree that your examples would be illegal under my standard. Street corner preachers, mailed announcements, and roadside billboards with religious messages are clearly legal. Only if the billboards are publicly owned would the establishment clause need to be invoked.

It's not that religious organizations must be treated the same as any other group. The first amendment makes it quite clear that they must be treated differently. Government must steer clear of religion. Allowing religious messages on government property gives the impression of government approval of that message. That is clearly in violation of the establishment clause. Restricting religous messages on private property is in violation of the free exercise clause.

Finally, unconstitutional practices remain unconstitutional even if they are unchallenged for many years. Brown v. Board of Ed which outlawed school segregation was not decided until 1954, although the practice had been commonplace up till that time.

--
I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused
[ Parent ]

Lack of free speech is a problem (3.00 / 4) (#82)
by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:05:46 PM EST

I wouldn't call it a "crisis" (or if it is a crisis, this is only one small symptom), but when people are not allowed to express their beliefs, even on public land, that is a problem.

It's hard to see how writing political or religious slogans on bricks constitutes congress establishing a state religion.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Yeah, censorship is cool. (2.33 / 3) (#109)
by marlowe on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:30:39 PM EST

It doesn't hurt anybody.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Bad Intentions (3.44 / 9) (#53)
by LaNMaN2000 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:15:21 PM EST

The fact is that a community effort to repair playground equiptment is NOT the proper forum for religious or political debate. The goal was to band together as a community to serve the common interest, not to impose individual beliefs on one's fellow citizens.

As an Atheist, I would have objected to having a brick prominently displaying "Jesus Loves You" on a publicly owned playground. This is clearly an example of "respecting" Christianity above the other faiths.

However, I would not object to having a public religious display, where people (including Atheists) are encouraged to place objects on display that exemplify their faith. Since the display would be made up of personal objects, and not be designed by the state, it can represent the beliefs of the community without being designed to promote a single set of religions, by the state. As long as nobody's objects receive special placement and none are removed, this, in my opinion, would not constitute a violation of the separation of Church and State.

Lenny

-----------------
Lenny Grover -- link-spamming to make Google give me my name back!
Then buy your own damn brick... (3.00 / 8) (#54)
by ramses0 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:34:22 PM EST

...saying "there is no god," or "religion is a load of crap."

The point is that people should be allowed to express their beliefs without government interference. That whole "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" thing? Your brick that says "religion is a load of crap" is something that congress, or the mayor (or any other government establishment) should not have any power over (ie: "no law respecting").

Now, if the community objects, then the community can decide as a group to remove the bricks, but ditching the bricks without discussion or notification is patently insensitive to the individuals who bought them.

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

The Devil's test (4.54 / 11) (#79)
by onyxruby on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:38:44 PM EST

I have a simple method of determining whether or not something is religiously biased that I like to present to bible thumpers run amuck from time to time. Take your statement that may/may not involve religion and replace the "God" with "Satan". If you would find it acceptable to have the replacement implemented, then what you want to implement should not have a constitutional conflict.

Lets try the Devil's test:

  • In God we trust In Satan we trust
  • Jesus loves you Satan loves you
  • One nation under God One nation under Satan
  • An after hours school led bible study class An after hours school led devil worship class
  • Swearing on a Bible for court Swearing on a Satanic Bible for court

    I like to use Satan simply because most Bible thumpers can't understand why what they want to do could be ojectionable to someone who is Hindu (many Gods), aethiest (no God), agnostic (keep your God), Muslim (God is vastly different than you think), Wiccan or whatever else. I certainly don't worship the devil (I'm agnostic), but there are people who do. It's their religion, and they have as much right to have whatever they want publicly displayed as a Christian.

    Let's take people who want to put the Ten Commandments in public schools. Would these same people accept certain Muslim teachings such as Woman being subservient to Men? How about not eating pork? To the Muslims, these teaching are sincere beliefs of their religion. How long until the pork farmers raise a fuss? There are a lot of people in this country who are not Christian, and they deserve to have freedom from your religion as much as you do to have freedom from their relgion.

    I hate to dissapoint you, but several of the founding fathers were agnostic, or aetheist. They as much intended seperation of church and state to be "Freedrom from Religion" as "Freedom of Religion". Many of the people who came to this country came here to get away from people like yourself that want to force your religion down their throats in public places. Even the "in God we trust" moniker on our currency, and swearing the pledge of allegience under God were relatively recent additions that were added in the twentieth century.

    Please note that the devil's test also works quite nicely for determining sexism and racism.

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

  • The meaning of "god" (3.50 / 4) (#81)
    by Pseudonym on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:03:43 PM EST

    We went through this debate in Australia a couple of years ago, deciding if we wanted a preamble to our constitution. Note that we also have a "no establishment of religion" clause.

    You would be surprised what sorts of people didn't mind the statement "under god", or "with hope in god". (Note: That's "god" with a small "g".) "God" is apparently now universally understood to mean whatever or whoever you think is in charge, if you do think someone is in charge, or the Universe if you're a deist, or the human spirit if you're a humanist...

    I found it strange, too, but there you go. Oh, and the preamble was voted out at the referendum. But I think that's because it was dumb, rather than because it mentioned "god".


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    From a little peice of art (3.33 / 3) (#102)
    by hardburn on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:52:10 AM EST

    The meaning of "god" you metion has an intresting parralell in the TV show "Babylon 5". In it, many characters refered to an all-seeing creator as simply "the universe". It is easy to see why. Take the diversity of the human race and multiply it to thousands, perhaps millions of diffrent alien species. No doubt, saying "god" would offend a lot of people. Saying "the universe" is much more politicly correct, as it can encompase any number of diffrent teachings.


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    [ Parent ]
    Mostly agreed, really. (3.00 / 1) (#117)
    by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:17:51 PM EST

    I'll say what I've said for a lot of this discussion: mostly, you have good points. But you do, like a lot of other comments, have a fatal flaw: you're exaggerating.

    Listen, all I'm saying is that speech should not be censored on the basis of content and that happen by one or two people. If the community objects, then the community can remove the brick, but that wasn't the case here. Nor was it the case with the bible study group. One or two people said it couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't happen and took it upon themselves to say no.

    No, the Ten Commandments, however much I appriciate them or believe in them, are not material for a public school, or even a courthouse (they reside outside the courthouse in my hometown as a donation from a judge in the area). However, if, after a community vote, as happened in my hometown, it is deemed non-offensive to do so, then it may be done. The point is that the community in which it is happening should have a voice as to what acceptable free speech is rather than one or two people who feel that since they were elected then anything they do is the will of the people.

    -- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
    [ Parent ]

    The Community (none / 0) (#130)
    by mwbingham on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 11:00:53 AM EST

    This is interesting. Why do you think that it is acceptable for the majority to impose (or whatever) their religion on minorities, but not for their representatives to do so?

    This is the point of a representative democracy...

    [ Parent ]

    A little much. (3.00 / 1) (#131)
    by codepoet on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 11:22:48 AM EST

    I'll give people more credit than to assume every human votes along partly lines like politicians. I don't mind representative democracy as long as when we disagree with them we have a way to show it. In this case the only method was a lawsuit, and that is unfair.

    There should me more ways to explain to the person in office they're a dunderhead than sueing the city (wasting more tax money for the defense).

    -- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
    [ Parent ]

    Kibo test (5.00 / 1) (#125)
    by lahvak on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:49:47 PM EST

    I like that test. On the other hand, if you want to downplay it little bit, try "Kibo test":
    • In God we trust In Kibo we trust
    • Jesus loves you Kibo loves you
    • One nation under God One nation under Kibo
    • An after hours school led bible study class An after hours school led Kibology class
    • Swearing on a Bible for court Swearing on a Kibo's web site for court
    Would you object against a brick saying "Kibo loves you"? It's true that that message is rather disturbing... Maybe they should censor all bricks that talk about candy corn, just to make sure.

    [ Parent ]
    Difference... (none / 0) (#132)
    by Mr. Excitement on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 05:08:37 PM EST

    The statement "Kibo loves you" isn't necessarily religious. There's no need to take it on blind faith at all. You could simply email him and find out whether or not he claims to love you.

    'Course, you're likely to get a rant on how horrible "Cheez" is, and Kibo help you if your name is Archimedes Plutonium, but hey ;^)

    1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
    [ Parent ]

    Majortity rules... or not? (3.40 / 5) (#90)
    by Magnanimity on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:53:36 AM EST

    Is it not correct to believe that if one of the bricks had stated, "For all the wonderful abortion clinics," it would be allowed to stay under all circumstances? If a brick said, "Bhudda is your friend," it would have stayed. It is no longer freedom of religion. It's not freedom from religion, either. It's all freedom from the Majority.

    Reverse discrimination, whether in the form of affermative action, or situations like this, are tearing the American Constitution to shreds. If it continues, the rights of the majority will become those of the minority. I believe the rights of the minority must be respected, but they must not be given rights that exceed that of the majority. After all, it is the majortity.



    I think mayor is a realist (4.33 / 3) (#97)
    by Rainy on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 07:41:52 AM EST

    If you allow a brick that says 'jesus loves you', you can't say no to a brick that says 'black cabal loves you'. If you put in a brick that says 'for all unborn children', some opinionated pro-choice girl will simply take a hammer and make the inscription unreadable. OR she'll get another brick that pushes her viewpoint. My point is that while in theory, having a brick that says something of this sort is perfectly legal, we live in a real world and we have to take that into account. Public spaces should be free of controversial engravings, lest they turn into pissing match between every political or apolitical group you can think of and even some that you can't think of. And that'd turn into a nuisance to all of us. Oh yeah, and.. what's the difference between 'freedom of religion' and 'freedom from religion'? Minor religions can't be really free if the dominating one shouts at them from every street corner. Isn't it fair that atheists, muslims, jews, etc should be able to walk around public places that were payed for with their taxes as well and feel that it's neutral religious ground, without being reminded every minute that vast majority of population is convinced that they're heathens and will burn in hell for eternity? For grown-ups that's relatively fine but for children that can be alot of pressure. Also, good intents are no excuse for insensitive remarks.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    What if . . . (4.00 / 3) (#101)
    by hardburn on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:43:58 AM EST

    . . . the brick said "Muhhumad loves you", or something to that effect. Would it still have been removed? If so, how many would rise up and say "we will not stand for this attack on Islam!!!" What if the "Jesus loves you" brick was in there, too, and it had been destroyed along with the "Muhhumad" (sure hope I'm spelling that right!) brick? (Likely, the Islam-supporters would have ignored it and continued the protest).

    If the majority religion in this country wishes to put their stuff on public grounds, who are we to stop them? As long as the minority religions have the same rights, I have no problem with it.

    Additionaly, the constitution of the US says (as noted above), "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . " To me, this means lawmakers should take an apathetic stance twards religion. Any ruling, either for or against any relgion, is a violation of this part of the constituion of the US. Removing the brick is actualy a greater violation of these principles then having it there in the first place, because it is a rule set against a certain religion.


    ----
    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


    All your bricks are belong to us (4.33 / 3) (#114)
    by marlowe on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:53:06 PM EST

    But seriously, folks. This whole mess could have easily been avoided by the organizers at several points:

    1) They could not have hatched this stupid scheme in the first place.
    2) They could have been up front about the rules.
    3) They could have not attempted to censor the bricks.

    I like the last one best. Doubtless there would be plenty of embarrassing bricks, but who would suffer the embarrassment? Precisely those idiots who hatched the scheme in the first place. Let `em squirm.

    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    My 1.976 cents (2.50 / 2) (#116)
    by kgeffert on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:02:37 PM EST

    I've thought about this for a while and I've read many of the comments, I feel somethings have been left out. So I wish to consolidate a few things in my opinion.

    Firstly, I think the mayor did the right thing. I also applaud the people who are arguing that the blocks should have been allowed and not destroyed. I also think in this circumstances they should refund the money to the parties where their blocks where denied.

    I find it quite intriguing that many people find it easy to seperate the rights between freedom of speech and freedom of religion when it comes to this type of expression. But after mulling over this issue I can't really agrue that either applies in this case.

    The US governement was founded on priciples to protect certain freedoms of its citizens set out in the constitution and the bill of rights. The government is beholden to its citizens to protect the ability for each and every citizen to practice these freedoms, but it not empowered to force them to excercise them.

    The government must make sure that any citizen in its constituency has the ability to practice this right if they allow this right to be excercised by other citizens. So once the walk way was completed and there was no more free spaces for blocks, those that wished to excercised their right to freedom of speech/expression/religion would be denied. What of these people? What of thier rights?

    These freedoms are non-taxable. It would illegal for you to say "you must pay to beable to exercise this right". Paying to put a phrase on a block to excercise your right is exclusionary. What about the citizens that can't afford it. The government would be selectively denying the ability for the financially deficient to excercise their right.

    Symantics could be argued all over the place here, and I'm not trying to prove a point. I'm trying to express a few points of view that I haven't seen in the other comments.

    The park is public property, owned and maintained by the government of the city. The governement is run by the people, and for the people. These people do not own these blocks. These blocks are not their personal property, they are donating money and have the opportunity to put a few words on them. These words should pass scrutiny that they will not be objectionable to the public, or cause any undue harm to any individual.

    This process should be fair and impartial. And while it may be strange to some, expression of religious belief is objectionable to some.

    A representative democracy while it is run by a majority must always be held accountable the minorty for it to be a fair system of government.

    While I don't think this is the same level as yelling "fire" in a crowed theatre, freedom of speech is not gauranteed in all situtations. I feel in this situtation, freedom of religious expression/ speech cannot be reasonably upheld. Therefore it should not be upheld for any.

    I think the mayor did the ONLY thing that help gauruntee the right to free speech and freedom of/from religion that he could possibly do.

    Anyway that was my 1.976 cents.



    Protection of "UNacceptable" speech (none / 0) (#141)
    by beergut on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:11:44 PM EST

    I think the mayor did the ONLY thing that help gauruntee the right to free speech and freedom of/from religion that he could possibly do.

    By restricting speech, even (or especially) that speech which some deem to be offensive, on public property, the mayor did not guarantee the right to free speech.

    The First Amendment does not apply to speech which is deemed acceptable. "Acceptable" speech needs no protection. The First Amendment is specifically targeted at that speech which is deemed "unacceptable", by virtue of the ideas it conveys.

    Fifty years ago, it would have been "unacceptable" to put a brick in the sidewalk that stated, "Jesus hates you", but today people would look at such a brick and have a jolly good laugh. If they had censored that brick fifty years ago, they would still be as wrong as those who censored the "Jesus loves you" brick today.

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    Along similar lines... (4.00 / 2) (#118)
    by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 02:06:53 PM EST

    If you folks want more reason that this is really about free speech, look at what the Surpreme Court just ruled about the KKK adopting a highway along a route that bussed black students must take. I think that's offensive enough (along the lines of the people here questioning a "satan brick") to make a counterpoint about what this is really about. From the article:
    Missouri also said the Klan had violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws, and had a history of unlawful violence. The Klan sued, arguing that its exclusion from the program violated its constitutional rights. A federal judge and then a U.S. appeals court ruled for the Klan. The appeals court concluded the state denied the application because it objected to the group's endorsement of racial discrimination.
    and
    They said the First Amendment protected the Klan "against those who would misuse government power to suppress political dissidents."
    Frankly, this is probably much more offensive to the community (28 states appealed) that "Jesus loves you" and it was ruled within their rights to place this statement on public ground. There is no legal reason for that brick to have been removed.

    -- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
    One major difference (3.00 / 2) (#122)
    by fsh on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 05:37:12 PM EST

    There is one major difference between these two issues. The Adopt-A-Highway sign is not a political statement per se, it's only an Adopt-A-Highway sign with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (xxx Division) name tag underneath. For the government to not allow them to purchase this sign would have been discriminatory based on political beliefs. They would not allow the KKK to hold a cross burning at the same site, however, because it's public land. While they wouldn't be able to refuse a brick simply because it was donated by the KKK, they certainly could have refused a brick if the speech were inappropriate to the nature of the public forum.

    Under the same reasoning, they government would have had no cause to reject the brick if it merely had the unborn daughter's name. Please believe me when I write that I am sympathetic; my brother has a tree in his back yard named 'Samantha'. While it hurts me to write this reply, I categorically agree with the decisions in both of of these cases.

    The purpose of the first amendment is solely to prevent the government from passing legislation that discriminates against one group at the expense of another. It does not mean that the government can't limit the expression of these beliefs in an improper forum.


    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    If it's just a name... (none / 0) (#123)
    by codepoet on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:56:29 PM EST

    I tend to believe that if the KKK wanted to buy a brick, that people would have complained. Now, perhaps since they have actual lawyers (and have been known to be less than nice to opposition) they brick might not have been removed, but the same sentiment about the removal would have existed and if the community really raised hell, I think it would have gone. Just for having the name "Ku Klux Klan" on it.

    I see little difference between one name that inspires animosity ("KKK") and another ("Jesus"). There are groups, and you need only to read the comments to this story, that see "Jesus" as offensive as "KKK" these days due to a perceived universal attempt to convert the world into Bible-thumpers. If the brick was "He loves you" I really doubt people would have cared.

    And, for what it's worth, I have a tree with the same history and do not doubt your sincerity in this.

    -- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
    [ Parent ]

    Not sure (5.00 / 1) (#124)
    by fsh on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 07:52:21 PM EST

    I don't really know what would have happened if the KKK had done this, but it's an interesting question. I'd also be interested to know whether they allowed any corporation, business, or organization to purchase the bricks. However, if any other organization were allowed to purchase a brick with acceptible speech, then the KKK would also have that right, according to the second amendment. I don't know what was on the other bricks, but if other companies were allowed to advertise in this fashion, then the KKK is constitutionally guaranteed the same right (which is exactly what the adopt-a-highway judges ruled).

    In any case, I actually meant to say that they couldn't prevent a *person* who belonged to the KKK to submit a brick, as long as what was on the brick was acceptable speech.
    -fsh
    [ Parent ]

    Hmm... (none / 0) (#140)
    by beergut on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 12:03:51 PM EST

    In any case, I actually meant to say that they couldn't prevent a *person* who belonged to the KKK to submit a brick, as long as what was on the brick was acceptable speech.

    Somehow, I am uncomfortable with the government deciding what speech is "acceptable".

    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    What I find most disturbing about this... (4.50 / 4) (#120)
    by cr0sh on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 04:01:22 PM EST

    Is that a lot of people in society seem to think that in order for them to have the opportunity to make a long lasting impact via "speech", they must purchase the ability to do so.

    Personally, I would be more proud of these people had they each bought a brick to help pave the walkway, and left it unsigned - or heck, actually got out there with the bricks, shovels, sand, and concrete (if used) and actually built the walkway themselves!

    To often it seems like the solution in most individual's mind is via monetary means, instead of getting actively involved in some manner...

    How does that raise money? (none / 0) (#137)
    by DavidTC on Mon Mar 12, 2001 at 07:42:50 AM EST

    Um, the sixty dollar bricks were to fund equipment, not to buy bricks. Bircks do not cost 60 dollars in the real world. It's like bringing a bag lunch to a fundraising supper and trying to get in without purchasing a meal, it's nonsensical, you aren't supporting anything and you're wasting space.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]
    The Lemon test... (4.66 / 3) (#134)
    by ragabr on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 05:02:26 PM EST

    the Supreme Court ruled in Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)) that for government laws/actions to pass the Establishment Clause it must:
    1. Have secular purpose
    2. Neither advance nor inhibit religion
    3. foster excessive government entanglement
    with religion
    the government "action" in this case would be the walkway itself. first, when the walkway became public property, it no could no longer be an individual's expression; this means that the government does not have a responsibility to protect Mr. Savastano or Ms. Cupo's statements on the bricks. after establishing that the government does have to take a position (when the other citizens protested), we have to take each brick separately.

    Mr. Savastano's brick obviously had a secular purpose, it was part of the walkway. when we get to the second step though, there's a problem, the brick obviously advances religion. the test stops there, the brick is unconstitutional if it is public property.

    Ms. Cupo's brick is a bit different. it's not religiously expressive (unless taken to an extreme). an excuse may be found in Washegesic v. Bloomingdale Public Schools (813 F.Supp. 559 (W.D. Mich., 1993), where the Supreme Court ruled that a picture of Jesus Christ could not be posted in the hallway, because the image has become a symbol so ingrained with the essence of Christianity. That argument would be very sketchy though.

    A point that i feel is extremely important in this issue is that the walkway was given to the town. Once it became public property, it was given to the government what to do with it. If it felt like removing certain bricks, from its property, than it has the right to do so without qualms. The one brick definitely had to go, because of the religious inscription. The second brick's destiny is ambiguous on either side.

    -------
    And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
    -rusty
    Sadly (5.00 / 1) (#136)
    by makaera on Sun Mar 11, 2001 at 11:20:14 PM EST

    It appears that the freedom of religion is turning into the freedom to never discuss your religion with anyone else. The law seems to protect people from ever having to deal with or acknowledge the existence of religion, not practice their religion freely. IMHO it is being twisted out of context and misused. This is probably due to the fear of lawsuits (any fool can sue the school that allows a bible study for violation of their freedom not to ever be exposed to religion or their freedom to never have to stand on a piece of ground where a religious thought was mentioned, and probably win). The original purpose of the seperation of church and state was to prevent a 'state religion' and the corresponding persecutions that were common in some parts of Europe at the time. It was not to try to disengage governmental facilities (i.e. schools) from use by religious organizations. Besides, looked at any coins recently? They still say: In God We Trust. This is a religious statement. The fact that this is on the coins implies that at one time in the history of this country there was a religious movement in government that was strong enough to do this.

    "Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from Washington Post

    Freedom of Religion, not Freedom from Religion | 141 comments (130 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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