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Houston - Bible must be removed

 
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 05:35 am
You are fully able to express your belief in a civilized manner, ie, not cramming it in the face of those who don't need or want it. What's hard about that? The world is our oyster too.

You can call it historical to obscure its intent, but that don't fly.

It is not intolerance to demand civility.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 06:32 am
edgarblythe wrote:
You are fully able to express your belief in a civilized manner, ie, not cramming it in the face of those who don't need or want it.

Perhaps I still simply have not seen how having a fifty-year old monument standing around outside the court house by its back door equates with "the Christians cramming their belief in your face".

edgarblythe wrote:
It is not intolerance to demand civility.

No, I'll agree on that. Now to define "civility". <shrugs> I mean, this is a non sequitor. I understand that you consider what you demand to be mere "civility" - and therefore, you argue, it can't be intolerant - because it's just civility. You can pretty much argue anything like that.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 07:22 am
Christians have their belief so persvasively out there that they don't see the ocean for the water. They don't realize that what they are doing is rude. Sorry.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 07:42 am
edgarblythe wrote:
Christians have their belief so persvasively out there that they don't see the ocean for the water. They don't realize that what they are doing is rude. Sorry.


I think you just smacked that nail squarely on its head, Edgar!

Some Christians (a fairly decent amount of them)...just cannot see the intrusion of their religion into so many facets of public life...as an intrusion at all. I suspect they do not mean to be intrusive or rude...but they are nonetheless.

And if I may...I would like to extend that thought, Edgar....

...because "the religious" as a whole are often even more blind.

"The religious" seem to have no problem at all requesting (often demanding) that everyone "respect" everyone else's religion...

...while dissing the sensibilities and philosophy of those of us who are not religious...while making those demands or requests.

How often do we hear: "We should all respect every one else's religion!"

What the hell ever happened to the respect for non-religion...or even anti-religion.

In any case, I started a thread yesterday that questions whether we make too much of the notion of "respect" for other people's "beliefs." I am not advocating being disrespectful in that thread...as much as examining the basis for the contention that we ought do so.

For those of you who have not visited that thread and think you might have something to contribute, you'll find it here.
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Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 08:57 am
born yesterday
nimh wrote:
Debra_Law wrote:
This is not an issue of atheists trying to silence the religious folk from expressing their religious beliefs in a free society. This is not an issue of intolerance. This is a very narrow issue of Government endorsement of religion.

Religious folk can express their religious beliefs to their hearts' desires -- they just can't use the government as their messenger or mouthpiece.


I thought that what we were talking about was a monument outside the Court? How wide a zone around a court house should be emptied to guarantee a separation between church and state?

I also still insist on the worth of historicism in this context. It is a historical monument. My government is one of parliamentary democracy, yet if an ornament on or around the government buildings still testifies to the direct rule of the royals, I wouldn't consider that a breach of the current dogma of a constitutional monarchy, but simply as a reflection of the arrangements and interpretations that have shaped our past. I dont see the need to erase the past in order to protect the present; the present should do just fine by itself.


You are trying to make a distinction, but it is one without merit. It makes no difference if the placement of a religious endorsement is outside or inside a government building. It's still a government endorsement of religion. You can call it an endorsement of "history" if you want, but that semantic argument only has the power to sway people who were born yesterday.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 09:37 am
nimh wrote:
Perhaps I still simply have not seen how having a fifty-year old monument standing around outside the court house by its back door equates with "the Christians cramming their belief in your face".

Ask yourself this, nimh: why isn't a monument to the Ten Commandments standing outside a church rather than a courthouse?
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paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 03:34 pm
The only thing that makes the 10 commandments, or the Bible even, religious is what beliefs individuals bring to it.

I may look at it and be reminded of my beliefs that a Higher Power has established order and cares for me and the society I live in.

Edgar may look at it and be reminded of the feelings of alienation he experienced growing up as part of a minority.

But, in reality, they are just words carved on granite (I haven't actually seen this monument); words that have been exceedingly beneficial to our society throughout it's history -- whether you believe their source is divine or not.

These monuments no more "force" a person to accept the package of beliefs that is Christianity than does a statue of George Washington force a person to be like Washington.

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. The city was heavily influenced by Mormons, who hold a belief-system I find to be wrong-headed and offensive. The city parks and infrastructure are full of tributes to the Mormons, the main bridge from NE to Iowa is the "Mormon Bridge".

Now, even though I disagree with their beliefs, I never chose to believe that I would be mistreated by the municipal government for not being a Mormon. I never chose to feel offense. Rather, I became inquisitive as to why the city valued Mormons so much and I was able to enrich myself by learning the history of our area and the part that Mormons played in it.

I simply don't see how erasing these monuments helps our society. The only thing it seems to do is encourge intolerance of other's beliefs -- which is antithetical to the principles of our nation.
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paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 03:53 pm
Isn't it interesting how the ACLU, when talking about the 1st amendment likes to remove the part regarding religious protections:

http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeechMain.cfm
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 04:14 pm
paul2k wrote:
Isn't it interesting how the ACLU, when talking about the 1st amendment likes to remove the part regarding religious protections:

http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeechMain.cfm



They were talking about free speech in that article...and eliminated the parts that did not apply to free speech.

I don't understand your point?
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paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 04:19 pm
Here's an honest question to Debra or whoever else... where in our Constitution or law is the governement prohibited from "endorsing" religion and what is actually meant by "endorsing"?

The First Amendment reads:
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.

The Establishment and Free Exercize clauses have been put in upper-case. I fail to see how either of these prohibits "religious" monuments? Have we (from the founders to us) simply got this all wrong for the past two hundred years? Did the signers of the Declaration of Independence go against their own Constitution whenver they referenced the divine?
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 04:33 pm
paul2k wrote:
Here's an honest question to Debra or whoever else... where in our Constitution or law is the governement prohibited from "endorsing" religion and what is actually meant by "endorsing"?

The First Amendment reads:
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.

The Establishment and Free Exercize clauses have been put in upper-case. I fail to see how either of these prohibits "religious" monuments? Have we (from the founders to us) simply got this all wrong for the past two hundred years? Did the signers of the Declaration of Independence go against their own Constitution whenver they referenced the divine?


Well..I think a case can be made that by putting unnecessary wording like "...one nation, under god..." in the pledge...and "in god we trust" on our money...

...is establishing religion.

It may not be favoring one religion over another...but if the founders considered it right to protect the right of people to choose among religions...don't you think by extension we ought also to protect the right of people not to choose religion at all?

Why is that concept so difficult for you religious folks to grasp?

Whether or not the constitution prohibits the practice....don't you see that the practice is an abridgement of the rights of people who are not into religion?

And the monuments are just more of that!
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 05:48 pm
I don't know how to further address the intolerance for non Christians being expressed by some on this thread. The fact that I don't have to accept what the monuments express has nothing to do with their being there in the first place. I am sure that before we got a huge influx of non Christians into the country everyone thought that atheist's rights didn't matter. Hence, the unobstructed erection of religious monuments on government land. With the sensitivity to civil rights in the 60s and the emmigration of Muslims and Buddhists into the country, people are aware that Government is establishing state religion if they have displays of the Ten Commandments and the Christian Bible on government property. I guess Christians feel attacked for their beliefs, which has nothing to do with the movement to clear the monuments except in their imaginations. I don't see the basis for resentment.
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paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 05:56 pm
Many argue (I believe rightfully so) that secularism or atheism is a religion in itself. You have your own set of faith-beliefs just like everyone else. So, I would include secularism as part of the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses... as would most other "religious folks" you group me with.

Aside from the arguments over whether secularism undermines the very freedoms that our Declaration of Independence proclaims, I still don't see how recognizing the historical importance that something like the 10 Commandments has played in the development of our society amounts to congress making a "law respecting an establishment of religion". Congress has made no law requiring the display of religious items, the display of religious items does't amount to "establishing" a religion, and it's arguable whether the 10 commandments as displayed in a monument are "religious" anyway.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 06:10 pm
You could arguably classify some atheism as a religion if practiced after the manner of the defunct Soviet Union and possibly Madelyn O'Hare. But the average atheist has what might be termed "absense of belief," no ideology, no faith-based notions. Most would rarely mention their propensity if they did not find it necessary to protect themselves.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 06:18 pm
paul2k wrote:
Many argue (I believe rightfully so) that secularism or atheism is a religion in itself.


I have absolutely no idea of why atheism would be considered a religion...and I definitely do not think it is....but I am an agnostic...and there no way whatsoever that agnosticism is a religion.



Quote:
You have your own set of faith-beliefs just like everyone else.



No...we do not. I certainly do not.




Quote:
Aside from the arguments over whether secularism undermines the very freedoms that our Declaration of Independence proclaims, I still don't see how recognizing the historical importance that something like the 10 Commandments has played in the development of our society amounts to congress making a "law respecting an establishment of religion". Congress has made no law requiring the display of religious items, the display of religious items does't amount to "establishing" a religion, and it's arguable whether the 10 commandments as displayed in a monument are "religious" anyway.



Here are the first four of these10 "Commandments" of yours.

Quote:
1. I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.


How can you suggest that this is not religious?

And what exactly do you see as the "historical significance" in these?

As for the other "commandments"...why do you suppose this country...or any country for that matter...needed any god to let them know that the country would function better if people didn't kill each other or didn't steal from one another?

And if this stuff is not supposedly from some god or another...why are they referred to as "commandments?"

Isn't there someone or something doing the commanding?
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 07:06 pm
paul2k wrote:
Here's an honest question to Debra or whoever else... where in our Constitution or law is the governement prohibited from "endorsing" religion and what is actually meant by "endorsing"?

The First Amendment reads:
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.

The Establishment and Free Exercize clauses have been put in upper-case. I fail to see how either of these prohibits "religious" monuments? Have we (from the founders to us) simply got this all wrong for the past two hundred years? Did the signers of the Declaration of Independence go against their own Constitution whenver they referenced the divine?


Simple. What the law prohibits directly may not be done indirectly.
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paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 07:30 pm
Atheists have an active faith that the natural is all there is. There is no evidence of such (you can't prove a negative), just a faith. It is the assumption for an entire world-view.

Agnostics, if defined as "doubtful or noncommital" or "not sure if there is a god or not" would leave a person simply not caring about the issue at all. Unless, of course you have a belief that the correct belief is to be noncommital, in which case again, you are by faith pushing this belief on others.

Here are elements of your belief-system that you have expressed in only a few posts so far, Frank:

- The belief in a higher power is not reasonable.
- The belief in a higher power is insane.
- The belief in a higher power is superstition.
- The root of religion is a fear of the unknown.

Furthermore, your beliefs/experiences have produced the stated prejudices:
- Sentiments such as "Under God" and "In God We Trust" are irrelevant to our society.
- The religious as a whole are often more blind as pertaining to understanding their fellow.

Observing your posts, it seems you hold more of an atheistic worldview than an agnostic one, but either way, you do have beliefs.

If probed further, the basis of your beliefs would likely be founded on the core beliefs that (1) the only admissable/sane/non-superstitious evidence for reasoning/logic is that which we can perceive with our 5 senses and (2) if something can possibly be explained without referring to a higher-power, that is how it in reality is. Essentially you start with the assumption/belief there is no higher power and work from there... or in the very least you start with the assumption/belief that only conclusive naturalistic evidence of a particular kind is permissable evidence. Deists simply start at a different place.

This is all largely beside the point. My whole point is: your "religion" should be equally protected by the First Amendment... as it is. There are no laws on the books that prohibit you from exercizing your faith and no monument that celebrates the influence of another faith on our culture abridges your rights to exercize your faith, either. Nowhere is the right to free of opposing worldviews you find offensive offered... and in this case it isn't even an opposing worldview... it is merely the expression of the value of a particular worldview to our society. Again, one can find a particular worldview offensive while accepting the expression of that worldview.

My point on the TCs was not that they did not have religious origins or religious content, but rather that a case could be made that the display of such was not "religious" in itself (e.g. an act of worship) but rather historic. "Religious" and "Non-Religious" alike can agree that our country was founded upon a particular regligious worldview and can appreciate what that worldview has contributed, even if you don't hold to that worldview.

Look, even if you consider deism to be an antiquity of lesser minds, you still wouldn't like Greece, Rome, India, etc. to erase all of their public square references to their mythological deitys. We can celebrate our heritage and diverse culture without feeling it as an abridgement on our rights.
0 Replies
 
paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 07:32 pm
Debra, I don't follow your "directly" "indirectly" answer. It just seems to be putting different words on the same question.
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paul2k
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 07:50 pm
With this post, I believe I'll take my leave of this discussion. I doubt I have further to add and also realize that I have an intermediate view not held by many. Namely, the sides seem to be those on the one hand who believe the Constitution allows no public-square expression of belief in a deity and those on the other hand who believe our Constitution pre-supposes the Sovereignty of God over our nation. The discussion really needs to happen between these two groups.

At this point, I'm merely a deist who thinks it sad and over-reactionary to purge the public square of markers that are and were so important to our society.

Thanks for the intellectual stimulation. Best wishes to all.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Jan, 2005 09:05 pm
How one can turn absense of faith or belief into faith or belief and call it religion is beyond me. Perhaps it makes sense to the religious, but it seems pure nonsense to me.
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