Civil Rights And God
- What is the separation of church and state we hear so much about?
- Are the observance of Christmas and the upholding of Civil Rights mutually exclusive?
- To what length should Americans go to ensure that religious oppression is prevented?
- How does The Constitution protect us from ourselves?
A Judeo-Christian Heritage
In November of this year, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia attended an interfaith conference at Manhattan's Shearith Israel synagogue. The conference focused on the topic of religious freedom, and he is quoted by the Associated Press as saying:
I suggest that our jurisprudence should comport with our actions...Justice Scalia was referring to the fact that “God,” as a term as well as an idea, is woven into every aspect of American society, from the look of our money to the text of our Declaration of Independence.
Judeo-Christian Heritage Under Fire
Lately, however, it appears that “God” has come under fire. An example is the case of Stevens Creek Elementary School, where Principal Patricia Vidmar forbade fifth grade history teacher Steve Williams to use handouts containing excerpts from George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, and the Declaration of Independence, because they referred to “God“.
Another example is Los Angeles’ county seal, which depicted a small cross in keeping with the historic significance of the city’s being founded by Catholic Missionaries. The ACLU launched a campaign, explained in part by the Los Angeles chapter’s director Ramona Richardson, as being an effort to make all Angelinos feel welcome.
Of course, these issues are not new. It appears that ‘tis the season for lawsuits, threats of suits, and unilateral actions to avoid any mention of God. Last Christmas, for example, Clover Creek Elementary School’s music teacher Mark Denison decided to change the lyrics of the well-known Carol from an Irish Cabin to include “winter” instead of “Christmas” in the line "The harsh wind blows down from the mountains and blows a white winter to me."
Heritage Not Fit For A Citizen?
So where do we stand? Must we fear the arrival of men (and women) in overalls who will look under the dish of sweet potato pie for religious contraband? Or, in the alternative, do the performances of Christmas carols and other religiously influenced music go too far in a multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-faith society?
Must we, by the very definition of our founding fathers, seek to eliminate “God” from our public speech, in order to continue to uphold that which we cherish most - our civil rights? Please read the next article in this series on Civil Rights and Religion.
Please take a look at the editor’s book recommendations.
To understand both sides of the issue, please consider reading Susan Jacoby’s book, which “celebrates the noble and essential secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason”:
Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
To balance this perspective, I recommend David Limbaugh’s writing, which “exposes the liberal hypocrisy of promoting political correctness while discriminating against Christianity“:
Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity
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