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Morality Mine

Nevyn O'Kane

On October 17 in The Leaf Chronicle, I had the misfortune of reading the article, "More morals needed today," by Jim Monday. Mr. Monday, with the help of the Barna Research Group, manages to paint a surreal picture of the State and Church separation issue that is a sad reflection of the overall misconceptions often found on the far right. Looking deeper, I worry that this type of intellectual dishonesty, or benign ignorance, has corrupted many otherwise fine people--regardless of political slant. Perhaps through a more detailed analysis we can determine how this comes about. Mr. Monday starts off with the following:

[S]ome of the nation's judges seem to have begun to rule on some issues using their interpretations rather than the law itself.

There appears to be much confusion as to what judges actually do for a living. To clarify, they give their interpretations of the law. They do not give interpretations outside the law, but based on the law. It is also worthy of note that judicial "activism" is rarely cited when the courts rule in favor of antichoice or other staunch conservative policy.

[T]he reason the Supreme Court is taking up the issue [of Decalogue displays] is because lower courts have come up with varied decisions--some for, some against the display of religious symbols ...

This is, of course, what judges are for. Our constitution is designed to handle this exact situation by having the Supreme Court in the first place. Authors of the constitution were knowledgeable enough to know that interpretation would vary and that human beings are fallible.

I don't understand how anyone can be hurt by the display of the Ten Commandments on public property or anywhere else?

If the government is espousing the rules of a god and I do not share belief in that god, I am therefore excluded by that establishment. The monument says, "We believe in this god and this god's rules, if you do not, then you are not one of us." At the bare minimum you are different, abnormal or somehow less. These are divisions our constitution seeks to eliminate, not foster. Such majoritarianism is specifically addressed in the Bill of Rights in which we are protected from the "tyranny of the majority."

I can't see that it is nearly as offensive ... as some television programs and advertising, as well as some of the outdoor advertising we face every day.

I can turn off the television, yet--try as I might--my remote control fails to work on the courthouse wall. A strip-club billboard on the expressway is a private advertisement. When I go to pay my property tax, I am not faced with a monument stating the government's encouragement of adult entertainment. Just because some people can't see the harm in something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

It's evident that our nation needs some kind of moral rules to follow these days.

What are laws if not "some kind of moral rules?" Do we not have laws in our nation?

So why is such a commotion being placed on the display of God's Laws? It comes down basically to a spiritual battle ...

A "commotion" is being caused because these are the views of one particular god and one particular religious belief that are shown favor over all others. God's laws are different from Allah's laws are different from Buddha's laws are different from Shiva's laws are different from secular laws that must apply to everyone. The government has no place in a "spiritual battle."

Our forefathers thought they had finally come to a land where they could worship ... or not worship ...

Which is why they would allow no establishment of governmental religion. When my government places one particular religion's edicts on civic property, supported by my tax dollars, I am no longer free to choose support of worship or nonworship.

[I]t seems many religions as well as secular factions are trying to push Christianity aside ... and the scriptures predict this would come to pass.

Scriptural interpretation and the popularity of religious sects is not the province of the United States government.

A study by the Barna Research Group says, "An overwhelming majority of Americans favor allowing traditional Christian values and symbols in the nation's culture."

Great. They're called churches. I do not, however, have to go to the altar to pay my parking tickets.

Barna even concludes that tens of millions of Americans would support a constitutional amendment to declare Christianity the official faith of the United States.

Millions fought interracial marriage, desegregation, and suffrage. An appeal to numbers is not an argument; it is a logical fallacy. Just because a lot of people think something should be doesn't mean it aught to be. I will venture that millions of Americans would prefer no taxes, a two-day workweek and free Lamborghinis. That doesn't mean these are good ideas.

The story [from the Baptist Press] quoted the Barna Group as saying "almost 70 million adults favor such an amendment," based on the group's calculations. "That is a huge vote of confidence in the Christian faith and a tacit statement about people's concerns regarding the direction and lukewarm spirituality of the nation," the Barna statement said [of] the group's nationwide survey among 1,618 randomly selected adults ...

Of which 1024 were surveyed. More interesting is the survey group's assessment of society's "lukewarm" religiosity. Barna also seems to place itself in the position of knowing what is and is not a "huge vote of confidence" for Christianity. More interesting still is this quote for perspective employees from the Barna home page, "Would you like to serve the body of Christ by working with the premiere marketing Research Company in America that is dedicated to assisting God's people to do the work of the kingdom? ... [W]e are seeking individuals who want to distinguish themselves as professionals who are helping ministries fulfill God's vision." I would hardly view this as an independent source.

There are many different faith groups who would like their version of religion expressed and supported by the U.S. government. Many are "Christian," many are not. Raelians, Scientologists and Snake Handlers would all like official backing. It is not the place of the government to decide who is right and who is wrong in matters of faith.

With all these figures supposedly in favor of Christian values, how come it appears the anti-Christian forces seem to win when it comes to public court cases on Christian issues?

Who exactly are these anti-Christian forces? Could it be anyone with a differing view of one particular theology, or just someone who doesn't allude to that theology in legislation? There are plenty of Christians who think their faith is devalued, hindered or harmed by governmental interference. For example, many Christians do not want "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Are they therefore practicing the "wrong" Christianity? Will the U.S. government decide what the "right" view is?

Apparently the Christian voice in America is more silent than the adversary.

From what I hear the Christian voice is quite clear. The president claims to be making decisions based on what his Christian god tells him. Do Christians want the United States to further decide what their god is really saying to them as well?

As our nation continues in a variety of controversies, the upcoming presidential election is very important.

Indeed.

The importance of separation is of grave significance to the theist and atheist alike. When one version of one religion is embraced by the government to the exclusion of all others by implication, this deference will alienate countless citizens of diverse religious views. Any espousal narrows the spectrum of religious thought from a prismatic array of variance to a monochrome of oppression. Money, Monument or Pledge--as vehicles for one specific god they are perilous.




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Published:
  2004-10-25

Categories:
  Church and State, Religious Right

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