I read an e-mail just moments ago that started with these words: “A Christian Nation cannot put up a Christmas scene of the baby Jesus in a public place, but the Muslims can stop normal traffic every Friday afternoon by worshiping in the streets.” After a couple more paragraphs, several images are shown of Muslims bowing to pray on Madison Ave. in New York. I’m trying hard to ignore certain things so that I can focus on having a coherent point and not go off on some tangent rant. Such as pointing out there is no such thing as “normal traffic” in New York City. The Muslims haven’t stopped traffic from moving; New Yorkers did that back in the 70’s.
Where is this so-called Christian Nation? Because we don’t live in one. Continue reading →
Read the full story here (CNN). The issue is over Rep John Shimkus (R- IL) posting Bible verses daily on his Twitter account. Political activist Barry Lynn claims that Shimkus tweeting Bible verses is a violation of separation of church and state. My argument is that the only people reading the verses are the 3,000 or so followers who subscribe to receive the tweets. There is no violation here. Hundreds of comments took the same or similar positions, including those of atheists, agnostics, and those simply identifying themselves as non-Christian.
The establishment clause states that Congress shall make no law establishing a religion. Sending personal tweets is not a legislative procedure. Shimkus is also granted the first amendment right to express himself and exercise his religious beliefs freely. Again, he is not quoting the Bible on the floor of Congress but in tweets read by his followers. Does anyone care to weigh in, or is this matter too cut and dried to debate?
If the image of the cross appeared on every license plate that South Carolina produced, that would be unconstitutional. Unwilling drivers would have religious symbols thrust at them by the state. But if you don’t want an “I Believe” plate on your car, all you have to do is not ask for one. Why should it be illegal for the state to sell me one? In our society of free-market capitalism, consumer sovereignty says the buyer decidies what get produced and sold, not the government.
This post is an update to my original article Separation of Church and State. There is a lively discussion going on over at Americans United for the Separaton of Church and State about the South Carolina lisence plate issue. Here’s a link.
Let’s also keep this in perspective: Christians in China would probably find the heated debate over this issue laughable. Any underground church, hiding from their government in order to meet, has bigger issues to actually worry about. We are so spoiled rotten by being blessed beyond measure in this country, we don’t know what persecution is.
UPDATE, AUG 12 – Denise Gibel-Molini has written one of the best articles on separation of church and state I’ve read in a long time (yes, including mine). It’s about the War in Iraq, and is a little long, but is very well researched and I believe historically accurate.
The “I believe” license plate was not approved in the State of Florida, but representatives in South Carolina have approved a similar plate for their state, also depicting a cross. The Lieutenant Governor is even willing to put up $4,000 of his own money in order to begin production. This raises new arguments about separation of church and state, which I believe most people do not clearly understand correctly.
The U.S. Constitution says that the government shall pass no law regarding the establishment of a religion; a statement also known as the establishment clause. The words “separation of church and state” or even just the word “separation” never appears. Many of the original colonies were founded on principles of religious freedom and/or tolerance. The framers of the Constitution did not want a government sanctioned religion. The establishment clause is simply meant to prevent the U.S. Government from creating a state religion, one imposed by the government on its citizens. Separation of church and state has come to mean something totally different. So much so that I believe in many cases our First Amendment rights of free speech and religious expression are violated.
Allowing students in school a time to pray is not the same as the school system requiring prayer. The monument placed in the Alabama Supreme Court building recognized one of the oldest written law codes in ancient history, but it did not impose Christianity or Judaism on the people of Alabama. Even people in government have a right to express their religious views withous forcing everyone listening to them to believe the same way. Since when does “freedom of religion” equate “freedom from religion.” If a person chooses to not believe, that is their God given and U.S. government protected right to do so. By the same token, however, no one has the right to tell others they cannot profess their faith; to do so violates the believers First Amendment rights. It seems today we swap the misguided “separation” clause for our legitimate First Amendment rights.
Will the S.C. plate be struck down as well? Was Florida right or wrong to try to create their religious plate? Do you agree/ disagree with my assessment of the establishment clause? Let me hear from you.