An initiative on Denver’s city election ballot could signal the beginning of a major assault on the Constitutional separation of church and state by the Religious Left. The “peacefulness ordinance,” Initiative 101 on the mail-in ballot for Denver’s Nov. 4 election, purports to be an effort to make the city a better place by promoting “stress-reducing techniques” but looks like a Trojan horse designed to give Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu religious principles the legitimacy of law.
The sponsor of this measure, Jeff Peckman, (“an unemployed alternative-health consultant”) seems to have stolen the Religious Right’s basic strategy. Like Christian conservatives who claim that faith and church attendance have social benefits, Peckman claims that meditating and listening to certain kinds of music can reduce stress and help society.
According to Colorado’s largest newspaper, The Denver Post, Peckman’s patent-answer solutions for society’s ills include government practice of meditation (a religious practice) and the organization of mass meditation sessions by government leaders. (“Peace initiative irks foes,” Karen E. Crummy, Oct. 20, Denver Post, www.denverpost.com) If this isn’t a clear violation of the First Amendment’s ban on the establishment of a state religion, I don’t know what is.
Nor does Peckman want to stop at forced meditation. He wants relaxing music (read his religious music) played in public buildings. What’s next an initiative mandating the playing of “Christian” music or hymns in public places to bring salvation to unbelievers?
Just like the Christians who demand school prayers and government-mandated Bible readings, Peckman thinks that forcing religion down our throats will solve our problems. The difference is that Peckman thinks that his interpretation of certain Eastern religions rather than the Bible is the answer to the world’s problems.
Unfortunately, Denver reporters haven’t asked Peckman what faith he subscribes to. The Oct. 20 Denver Post did reveal that Peckman mediates, listens to Indian satir music and eats organic food. Those sound like Buddhist or Hindu religious practices.
This of course points to a nasty double standard or ignorance on the part of the media. Imagine if an article said, “the sponsor of the school prayer initiative, Mr. Smith, is not a Christian. However Mr. Smith reads the Bible everyday, prays everyday, goes to church every week and is concerned for the souls of average people.” Secularists and the media would quickly crucify Mr. Smith as a member of the Religious Right.
Obviously, Mr. Peckman is a true believer who is trying to force his faith on the people of Denver. Is there any difference between Hinduism or Buddhism being forced down our throats by government and Christianity being forced down our throats?
Like the Religious Right, Peckman is cloaking his religious message in nonreligious terms. He doesn’t mention Buddha or Lao-Tse, instead he talks of meditation and soothing music. The initiative doesn’t mention meditation or Eastern religious practices, it simply mentions “stress-reducing techniques.” Yet when Peckman is questioned about those “stress-reducing techniques” the main one he comes up with is a religious one associated with certain faiths: meditation.
And like the Religious Right, Peckman claims science is on his side. He claims that “peace-creating experts” trained in “scientifically-verified meditation techniques” can reduce stress in society. Presumably Peckman’s experts would receive tax money to finance their good work. What’s next, an initiative to raise taxes to pay for “prayer-warriors” to reduce crime by driving the devil out of town?
This peace initiative shows that the Religious Left may be as much of a threat to the separation of church and state as is the Religious Right. And just as the Religious Right hides its demands behind a smokescreen of “Family Values,” the Religious Left is using “Peace” as a cover for its faith-based agenda.
Events in Denver prove that Secularists may soon have to fight a two front war against Bible-thumping Christians on the right and self-styled promoters of Eastern Religions on the left.
Wording of Denver ballot initiative 101: “Shall the voters for the City and County adopt an Initiated Ordinance to require the city to help ensure public safety by increasing peacefulness – that is, by defusing political, religious and ethnic tensions, both locally and globally – through the identification and implementation of any systematic stress-reducing techniques or programs, whether mental or physical, etc., that are (1) scientifically shown to reduce society-wide stress, as measured by reduced crime, accidents, warfare and terrorism, and (2) shown to be of net financial benefit for the city?”