News

Battle over religion in public schools waged in one of America’s fastest-growing cities

Rick McDaniel, center, superintendent of McKinney, Texas, public schools, prays at a mandatory employee meeting at Prestonwood Baptist Church in nearby Plano, Texas, in August 2017. Screenshot via McKinney schools video

McKINNEY, Texas (RNS) — Public school officials in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities are being accused of violating the separation of church and state.

The controversy has been simmering in this once-tiny cotton-farming community, about 30 miles north of Dallas, since last summer when Rick McDaniel, superintendent of the McKinney Independent School District, prayed at a pulpit adorned with a Christian cross — during a mandatory school employee meeting at a church.

Last month, under pressure from concerned parents, the 24,500-student school district decided to end a decade-plus practice of conducting high school commencement ceremonies at the same church, Prestonwood Baptist, a Southern Baptist megachurch in nearby Plano.

The change outraged Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“It appears religious freedom is under attack at the McKinney Public Schools,” Graham said in a Twitter post. “It was our refusal to remove the cross from view that created this cowardly decision.”

Pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

In a follow-up post, Graham added, “Just wondering on what planet a church,synagogue, or mosque would be expected to cover its religious symbols to host a public school graduation.”

And in another tweet, the pastor alleged that school administrators had “yielded to the pressure of atheist groups and their supporters.”

McDaniel’s prayer drew the ire of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which demanded that the school “temporarily cover iconography” to keep graduation ceremonies secular.

Its co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said in a statement after the school district’s decision: “We are pleased that the school has moved its graduation to a secular location rather than attempt to modify a house of worship into a place that appears secular. The district’s decision to change its tradition to protect its students’ rights of conscience is anything but cowardly.”

Across the nation, church-state clashes like the one in McKinney “are happening more and more,” said Charles Haynes, founding director of the Newseum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center in Washington, D.C.

“As we grow more religiously diverse in the United States and people are more visible from various religious groups that have long been here but have not been visible, we are being called in these communities to live up to the First Amendment for the first time in many cases,” said Haynes, co-author of “Finding Common Ground: A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools.”

Charles Haynes of the Newseum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center. Photo courtesy of Religious Freedom Center

Haynes said that if a cross or crosses were visible during a public graduation ceremony, that wouldn’t necessarily be wrong or unconstitutional. But the church can’t require a cross to be visible, nor require students to listen to a pastor.

“Religious freedom isn’t a local church putting conditions on a public school using its facility and making sure its cross is visible,” Haynes said. “That’s the opposite of religious freedom, and that’s exactly what the First Amendment is intended to prohibit.”

School district spokesman Cody Cunningham said in a statement that there were “a variety of reasons including proximity, availability, attendance capacity and convenience” for moving the graduation events to the secular Allen Event Center in a neighboring suburb.

“In addition to proximity, McKinney ISD acknowledges the fact that parents and community members have expressed opposing views on the appropriateness of holding graduations in a religious facility,” Cunningham said. “More recently, the public debate over the venue intensified to a level that would likely have caused a distraction at the commencement ceremonies.

“While community members are entitled to their own opinions on the issue,” he added, “graduation is not an event to be used as a platform for religious or ideological debates, but rather a time to celebrate and honor students.”

Just since 2000, McKinney has more than tripled in size, hitting an estimated population of nearly 180,000. Last year, it ranked as the third-fastest growing city in America among communities with populations of 50,000 or more, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2014, Money magazine named McKinney as the No. 1 best place to live in the U.S., saying, “Underlying McKinney’s homey Southern charm is a thoroughly modern city.”

Seven years ago, in search of a community friendly to his Christian values, James Blanchet moved his family from Southern California to McKinney. When a cashier at a local Target store told him to “Have a blessed day,” he felt like he had found it.

Blanchet, the father of a high school senior, said Christianity seems to be under increasing attack in some quarters.

But the software sales professional said he has no problem with moving McKinney’s commencement ceremonies to a secular location.

“If they wanted to hold the graduation at a non-Christian place of worship, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that,” he said at a Starbucks near the busy intersection of U.S. highways 380 and 75. “I do see both sides of it.

“So, in the scheme of things, is it a big deal? No. You’ve got to pick your battles.”

The McKinney Boyd High School 2017 Graduation at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, on June 2nd, 2017. Screenshot via McKinney schools video

McKinney school officials declined to comment on the controversy, and the district spokesman would not discuss reports of an intolerant environment in the schools.

Two McKinney public middle school teachers resigned last month after they posted anti-gay and anti-Islamic tweets. Twitter messages were discovered in which the teachers referred to Islam as a “satanic death cult,” an “evil ideology” and a “political ideology … (that) cannot assimilate,” according to the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

At a meeting last month, Farah Uddin, a Muslim mother, urged the school board to accept diversity training offered by groups including CAIR and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas.

Farah Uddin, a Muslim mother, addresses the McKinney ISD school board on Jan. 23, 2018. Screenshot via McKinney schools video

Uddin noted that the school district’s “Vision, Mission & Beliefs” statement says, “Everyone has an inherent value and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“But with recent developments, I feel we are not following this belief,” Uddin told the board. “Some students have recently come out and reported that teachers within the ISD have been engaging in racist and discriminatory behaviors toward certain students in the classroom. As a result, these students are hiding their identity out of the fear of being bullied because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

Kate Parker, a mother of two McKinney students, describes herself as agnostic.

The former public school art teacher said she has helped organize an informal, interfaith group of parents — including Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists and agnostics. The group has pressed the school board for more inclusivity and sensitivity toward students of all faiths or no faith.

Too often, Parker said, teachers have placed Christian crosses and Bible verses on school walls, prayed aloud in classrooms and said things like, “The answer to all your big questions is God.”

“It’s about making sure every kid … feels comfortable and included at school,” Parker said in an interview at Filtered, a craft coffeehouse just down the street from the Collin County Courthouse in downtown McKinney.

“Obviously, the focus has a lot to do with separating church and state and making sure that McKinney ISD is in compliance with the law,” she added. “But for the group of us who have all been interested and talking with the district about this, the real overreaching umbrella is about inclusion.”

However, other parents worry that something special will be lost by moving the commencement ceremonies away from the church.

Heather Harrison said she attended graduation for two nieces and a nephew at Prestonwood Baptist. Each event was special, Harrison said, “especially because God’s presence was there.”

“I feel like it’s another step to moving everything toward more secular,” the mother of two said. “But I know Texas is a popular place. People move here from all different backgrounds, and so you don’t just have one belief in Texas.

“You have all kinds of people that come together,” she added. “So, I see where people could have an issue with it if you weren’t a Christian. … But it makes me sad.”

About the author

Bobby Ross Jr.

146 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Hmmm…sounds like Baby Jesus is crying about this one. Some Pastors have just figured out that not everybody is a Christian out there.

    Bottom line — it is always better for a public school to use a secular facility! Or, someday you may have your graduation ceremony at a place with an L. Ron Hubbard memorial…or better yet, in a Satanic Temple.

  • I, for one, am not comfortable with having a Public School graduation in a Church. I once attended one in a Church and felt it was inappropriate and awkward.

    If it’s a Church school, then go right ahead and have it there.

  • I guarantee if the graduation were held in a mosque with the symbols of Islam visible, or if the principal were giving a Muslim prayer the was mandatory for the teachers to attend, you’d see the Evangelicals screaming for “separation of church and state”. Evangelicals want exclusive preference given to them, and all other beliefs and religions locked out of public schools. They want a Christian student club, but call for a Muslim or LGBT one to be prohibited. They want students to be off for Christian holidays, but object to students being off for Jewish or Muslim holidays. And on and on it goes.

  • You can see even by these few comments, that the devil has decided that his time has come to rule the world. Mr. Graham’s death is an appointed time for satan to begin the full onslaught, that is to be waged against humanity, during the final days of earth.

    The progressives, the democrats and the lgbt are all guilty of the social breakdown of society and are the root cause of the school shootings. The persecution of Christianity will increase from this time forward until the final hour of man on earth. “the scripture, cannot be broken”

    It was no coincidence that Graham preached to two hundred million souls.

  • “The progressives, the democrats and the lgbt are all guilty of the social breakdown of society and are the root cause of the school shootings.”

    Really?
    And Graham’s death is the cause of this graduation brew ha?

  • And yet, despite all of his prayers and preaching, gay people are a cummin’ to getya.

    And the libruls. And the Democratic Party.

    You have a sickness. Reviling, slander, gossip, and bearing false witness are in your blood.

  • We must prevent the ever increasing influence of so called “Christian Evangelicals” from imposing their twisted heretical, sacrilegious, and blasphemous version of Christianity on the US. Otherwise we will have a theocracy on a national scale like the one in Salem when MA was still a colony.

  • Holding commencement exercises in a religiously neutral setting is the right thing to do. I have driven past the Prestonwood Baptist Church and do not think that it is the most appropriate place for a public school district function.

  • I hope you are correct about Satan’s “time has come to rule the world” . . . because virtually anyone would be better than the god that you worship, praise, and glorify.

    The Bible “documents” that God killed about 2,500,000 people, and Satan killed about 10. If we try to estimate the additional killings that are not “documented” with specific numbers, then God’s killings zoom to about 25,000,000 while Satan’s killings zoom to about 60. It’s no contest – God is an egotistical barbaric genocidal maniac, whereas Satan is a progressive liberal with much higher standards of decency.

  • The murders in Sutherland springs. 27 dead.

    Dylan Roof murders 9 in a Charlotte church.

    Father DeLand, accused and arrested as another kiddy diddling priest.

    A Christian church in Wayne County, PA, will bless assault rifles.

    President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser and televangelist Paula White is set to join gospel singer Vicki Yohe and Pastor David E. Taylor of Joshua Media Ministries International at a cancer-busting miracle crusade this summer that organizers promise will be “huge.”.

    If this is what god allows in his house, please keep him out of mine, out of the public schools, and out of the civil law that governs all of us. And don’t even get me started on the adherents of the religion of peace slaughtering each other wholesale because there was question about who was the proper successor of Mohammed.

  • Maybe the scripture cannot be broken, but can it be read? Your Bible states, John 14:30, that Satan already is the ruler of this world. Your statement that he just decided upon Billy Graham’s death to rule the world is in conflict with the words of Jesus.

  • “If they wanted to hold the graduation at a non-Christian place of worship, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that.”
    #thread

  • No, actually it wasn’t a nice try.

    It was your usual name-calling anti-religion anti-religionist twaddle.

    It goes over better at JoeMyGod.

  • You’re right. It wasn’t a nice try. It failed miserably, pathetically. At least you admit it, for once.
    But you’re right, for once. I am not anti religion, I am anti-religionist.
    And i’m sure you go over to JoeMyGod for the articles. That’s why so many people used to look at playboy when I was a kid. for the articles.

  • Yes, you are anti-religion.

    Yes, you present it as “anti-religionist”.

    Operationally and intellectually they differ not a whit.

    I read both sides of most arguments. If see the same folks speaking to different audiences on a topic, I sometimes find they speak out of both sides of their mouths.

  • Heather Harrison said: “You have all kinds of people that come together. So, I see where people could have an issue with it if you weren’t a Christian. … But it makes me sad.”

    I am with Ms. Harrison. I am feeling that loss of an acknowledgement of God in public spaces and public works. But, I do believe we are no longer a majority Christian nation. More, we have different kinds of Christians and I don’t necessarily want to be aligned with some of them.

    So, what we need to do is incorporate what we Christians call Christian behavior – kindness, consideration, respect. We have to actually live the faith and not just pray about it.

  • What is wrong with being anti-religion? Why should religion not receive critical scrutiny? Religion should not get special deference.

    Many people are also anti-secular, anti-business, anti-government, anti-atheist, etc…So what if we add anti-religion !!

  • There are only school shootings in America. There aren’t any in Great Britain which much more secular than America or in Australia or any where else in the developed world. Social breakdown in our society has a lot do with economic reasons. Disagreements are no reason to blame the devil. LGBT people are part of families too. You are hurting their families and contributing to family breakdown in your own way.

  • This is after being called a spawn of the devil and you’re accusing Ben In Oakland of being a name-caller?

  • These Christianists are blinded by their agenda. Just because a school district which serves everyone regardless of religious identity decides not to use a church or have mandatory Christian prayers at official meetings doesn’t mean the school district is “attacking religious freedom”. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A middle school student can understand that!

  • China had a major outburst of school massacres a decade ago. It was well-reported on the BBC and other world media, an NOT ONE WORD in the U.S. media.

    Since they did not have access to guns, the perps used axes, which apparently were very effective on kindergarten children.

    China wound up having to post armed guards in schools.

    For reasons unknown murders of all types are higher in the U.S. than most other countries and have been for 150 years or so.

  • When I got a break I scanned the article and the comments.

    The word “spawn” appears nowhere other than in your own post.

    The word “devil” appears – besides two of your posts – once:

    “You can see even by these few comments, that the devil has decided that his time has come to rule the world.”

    I don’t see any support for “being called a spawn of the devil”.

  • “I feel like it’s another step to moving everything toward more secular”..

    Then she DOES understand the Constitution. Good!

    Boys and girls..it is very very simple: A school may not explicitly prefer or express any religion over any other. Schools are by law secular and it’s best for everyone they stay that way. What if your local school was full of Christian teachers spouting their doctrine all day? What if you were Catholic and they were spreading anti-Catholic Evangelical stuff? What if a teacher was Muslim and preached the Quran?

    It’s real simple….students have the right to express their religion in school either as an extracurricular activity (like an after school Bible study) or they can express it as a quiet prayer (so long as they do not disrupt classtime).

    School employees MAY NOT express religious sentiment while on duty as a school employee. They may attend church or lead prayer in their private lives. Hell, they can even invite a student to their church if done so outside their schools.

    No one is “taking away our religion.’ We are teaching kids that the Constitution matters.

  • Kindness, consideration and respect would mean not trying to have the government or the schools promote your religion.

  • Well said…so long as you do not force such things into schools….we are in agreement. 🙂

  • You don’t understand that you are living in a secular nation. That makes it wrong for a school to recognize any particular religion or promote religion in general.

  • I think you have learned your debating technique from Fox News or our President. You can not justify something that is wrong by pointing out that something else seems worse.

  • “Disagreements are no reason to blame the devil.” Your comment reminds me of what the sisters used to teach us in Catholic schools more than 50 years ago: The devil is too lazy to tempt us to sin; he knows we can sin well enough on our own 🙂

  • You do understand that is EXACTLY what Ben in Oakland was doing? He never misses a chance to dump on religion.

    I would have thought, having found out that by your own suggestions as to a new law to control guns you would have become either a felon or be compelled to turn them in, you’d have realized that my debating technique is fact-driven.

  • Ben, religions are ideologies that promote belief in the supernatural. Why are you not opposed to them.

  • Practically speaking the difference is naught.

    “I don’t hate you as a (Jew, Christian, Baptist, whatever), but I hate your (organization, beliefs, church synagogue, whatever).”

  • Sounds like McKinney is going in the right direction. Unusual for a city to obey the law and not whine and fight.

    The law for federal buildings on down to city govt buildings is they are supposed to be neutral on religion and that means completely void of any signs of any religion. Courts are upholding that law daily.

  • Actually promoting religion in general might pass constitutional muster if it also promotes other civic goods along with it such as hospitals, schools, and so on.

    The Founders believed religion in general to be a civic good.

  • Well, I consider kindness, consideration, and respect to also be hallmarks of good manners. I do think that is part of what a child learns in school as well as at home. There may not be a particular class called “Manners for Third Graders” or “Manners for High School Freshmen” but there are behavioral expectations. Back 60-70 years ago, when I was a child, we did call that “being Christian” – must have been hard on the few people of other faiths, but we didn’t think about it as offensive. Maybe we just didn’t think.

    But, I get what you are saying, I think. Lets not conflate these qualities with a particular religious belief but with social attitudes important to living in a multi-cultural/multi-religious world.

  • Indeed…back in the 60s….the US was predominately Christian (and still is but to a lesser degree).

    I agree. As a humanist, I advocate for the same set of norms. 🙂

  • The reason has something to do with the Second Amendment to your constitution. Have Second Amendment: have gun massacres.

  • We don’t really know what the founders believed. They were elitists living in a rural society. Most were fans of the Enlightenment and some were Deists who didn’t believe in any organized religion. They tended to be rational thinkers. At that time, before Darwin had described natural selection, it was logical to believe in an intelligent creater. Not necessarily one who cared about us.

    Except in this country most believers in European countries ane minorities. Believers are still a majority here, That doesnt give the majority the right to claim their beliefs are the truth. It would be thought control to teach or require that everyone accept their beliefs which are neither provable nor rational.

    The vast number of Amricans are Christians. Evangical Christians now control our government. They do not support health care for everyone, They cut funding for public schools. They are gutting social sevices for the poor. Where is the promotion for the civic good Their only concern is the corporations, the military, and the very wealthy.

  • So, you have a preference for axes?

    How about gasoline?

    Explosives?

    I assume you’re in the UK.

    One would have assumed after WWII the lesson about appeasement would sink in.

  • Yes, if one is illiterate one really doesn’t know what the Founders believed.

    Of course, for the literate there all those writings, and debates, and considerations at the Constitutional Convention.

    Evangelical Christians do not control our government. Nor do the Bilderbergs, aliens from somewhere or other, or international bankers.

  • I am curious about the apparent belief that if graduation is held at a “secular” venue then God is not present. We cannot throw God out of any place in God’s creation if we beleive God is the maker of heaven and earth, and if we beleive in God’s sovereignty and the lordship of Jesus Christ. As believers, those winthin whom Christ abides and who abide in Christ, never find themrselves in a place where God is not. One is still able to acknowlege the presence of God because the locus of God’s presence is not bound by a specific place. Further, we can live out the love of God we experience for ourselves, and demonstrate that indwelling spirit of love by our outward love for those who are in community with us, whether they are Christan, Jew, Muslim, agnostic or atheist. To love our neighbor as God loves us is to live in God’s loving presence wherever we find ourselves.

  • Bob, you’re good on one-liners, but you’re wrong. I’m from Australia.

    After the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia adopted tough gun laws that stopped the gun massacres.

    But please don’t take my word for it. Check out this link: http://lawgovpol.com/case-study-port-arthur/

    Or this report: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/port-arthur-interactive-the-events-of-that-day-and-their-lasting-impact-on-australian-society

    Or this one: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-23/howards-post-port-arthur-gun-laws-work,-researchers-say/7535690

  • Not many gun massacres occurred before the Port Arthur Massacre in Australia.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Australia

    Oddly one of the worst in 1926 was perpetrated by law enforcement personnel on aborigines.

    Since then their have been another 13 massacres, but while firearms are still being used (e.g., the Monash University shooting), murderers have turned to fire, vehicles, blunt instruments, and knives.

    Had Martin Bryant attempted to perpetrate the same actions in one the many states here where concealed carry is legal and common, he would been stopped early in his escapade. Of course, in common with other Commonwealth countries, Australia severely restricts handguns.

    In addition, gun deaths were higher three years AFTER the ban than three years BEFORE the ban:

    https://twitchy.com/bethb-313034/2018/02/14/watch-australian-prime-minister-explains-where-the-highest-gun-deaths-occurred-and-its-not-in-america/?utm_campaign=twitchywidget

    The evidence, then, is that a feel good law with essentially no effect was ginned up and passed by politicians who did not want to be accused of doing nothing.

    And you think that’s a good thing.

  • Bob, when you provide links you need to read them. Here are some of the gun massacres that happened before the Port Arthur massacre:

    Milperra Massacre, 1984
    Hoddle Street Massacre, 1987
    Strathfield massacre 1991
    Central Coast massacre 1992

    You have quoted a source that claims that gun deaths rose after Port Arthur, but this is contradicted by other sources. Here is one that directly deals with Bob Katter’s claim in the article you linked:

    https://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp

    Here’s another one. It contains a graph showing the substantial drop in the number of homicide deaths attributed to gunshot wounds. It also stated that Bob Katter was wrong his assertion about gun deaths in Australia.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-28/fact-check-gun-homicides-and-suicides-john-howard-port-arthur/7254880

    These two sources show that while there might be debate about what caused the drop in gun deaths, a drop in gun deaths did occur.

  • At best there appears to be some quibbling over gun deaths after Port Arthur, but all agree that they did not cease.

    So, what was the overall effect?

    http://www.gunfacts.info/gun-control-myths/guns-in-other-countries/

    Homicides were falling before the Australian firearm ban. In the seven years before and after the Australian ban, the rate of decline was identical (down to four decimal places). Homicides dropped steeply starting in 2003, but all of this decline was associated with non-firearm and non-knife murders (fewer beatings, poisonings, drownings, etc.).

    Crime has been rising since enacting a sweeping ban on private gun ownership. In the first two years after the ban, government statistics showed a dramatic increase in criminal activity. In 2001-2002, homicides were up another 20%.

    From the inception of firearm confiscation to March 27, 2000, the numbers are:

    Firearm-related murders were up 19%

    Armed robberies were up 69%

    Home invasions were up 21%

    In the 15 years before the national gun confiscation:

    Firearm-related homicides dropped nearly 66%

    Firearm-related deaths fell 50%

    Gun crimes have been rising throughout Australia since guns were banned. In Sydney alone, robbery rates with guns rose 160% in 2001, more than in the previous year.

    One ten-year Australian study has concluded that firearm confiscation had no effect on crime rates.

    A separate report also concluded that Australia’s 1996 gun control laws “found [no] evidence for an impact of the laws on the pre-existing decline in firearm homicides” and yet another report from Australia for a similar time period indicates the same lack of decline in firearm homicides.

    Despite having much stricter gun control than New Zealand (including a near ban on handguns) firearm homicides in both countries track one another over 25 years, indicating that gun control is not a control variable.

    I am not seeing what you’re seeing.

  • One reason you’re not seeing what I’m seeing is that you’re looking at pro gun web pages. Things look different when you look at other sources of information, such as this:

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/howards-gun-ban-lowered-australian-firearm-deaths-by-twothirds/news-story/7ee7884183adc87c4d0986317d2fa978

    Also you need to look more carefully at what you quote. You refer to two sources stating that Australian gun deaths were falling both before and after the Port Arthur massacre. However, you also quote a source that says that crime including gun crime rose after the Port Arthur massacre.Obviously both assertions cannot be right.

    The important thing is that gun culture has a lot to do with gun crime. Passing uniform gun laws in Australia changed the culture of the country, and this helped to prevent gun deaths.

  • Fact driven, and you say that I never miss a chance to dump on religion? Well, you started off wrong at the very get go.

    Never? I actually even praise religion, though not as often as I criticize it, I will admit. I do tend to be critical of people who hide behind religion. I also praise those who don’t use their religion as a weapon against others.

    I’m pretty consistent about that,

    In this example…

    I pointed out that 36 people died in a church. If you’re not safe in the House of god, where are you safe? You can see that as dumping on religion, and from one point of view, it is. I see it more as questioning assumptions presented as evidence, and questioning god in the light of evidence.

    I brought up the arrest of another Catholic priest for molesting boys. You cannot be a priest without a vocation. So god is calling child molesting men to the priesthood. That also makes me ask a few questions. Sorry that asking that question offends you, but I’m offended by men who molest children. It also makes me questions the wisdom of god’s choices.

    I bring up a church that apparently is going to bless AR15s. I question the morality of such a church. But then, as you know, I think we have a gun problem in this country, and churches blessing guns is a statement that god blesses those guns. That’s what blessing does.

    We have a media ministry promoting faith healing and guaranteeing miracles. Are they? Can they? Do they? Possible, but unlikely. It seems like another way to make money.

    All of these are facts as far as I know. My questions and commentary are based upon those facts. If you wish to take that as an attack on religion, that’s your privilege. I notice it is just about never liberal religious people who do these things, but conservative, and in your case, hyper conservative religious people.

    If you want your religious beliefs respected, maybe yould look at The content of those beliefs, and how they play out in the real word. I’m just one messenger o& many. If you want to believe in a gun loving god who calls child molesters to handle the Sacred Host and doesn’t seem to care much if a father has to watch his family murdered, or has some sort of a “plan”, feel free.

    Personally, I’ll work for gun control laws to get those guns off of the street. And for stronger laws regarding child molesting and the reporting thereof to get those men out of contact with children.

  • “I do tend to be critical of people who hide behind religion. I also praise those who don’t use their religion as a weapon against others.”

    = If you oppose what I want, and cite religious beliefs, you’re the bad guy

    “I pointed out that 36 people died in a church. If you’re not safe in the House of god, where are you safe?”

    = and used it as a platform to point out that ain’t much of a god if it can’t protect you

    “I brought up the arrest of another Catholic priest for molesting boys. You cannot be a priest without a vocation. So god is calling child molesting men to the priesthood.”

    = the Catholic Church freely admits imperfection. There is nothing in its theology that would support a conclusion that it claims otherwise, or that its members, even the Pope, is incapable of grievous sin. Jesus called 12, and one turned out to be a traitor. You may recall your comment when that was pointed out. The implication that god called a child molester to the priesthood simply demonstrates near total ignorance of that particular denomination and anti-religious bias. Period.

    “But then, as you know, I think we have a gun problem in this country, and churches blessing guns is a statement that god blesses those guns. That’s what blessing does.”

    = actually, no. God blesses what god blesses. The fact that some itinerant rev calls for a blessing doesn’t make god do anything. You’re thinking of a genie and three wishes.

    “All of these are facts as far as I know.”

    = most of these are opinions colored by animus and laid in ignorance.

    “in your case, hyper conservative religious people.”

    = if you know more than Moe Schlepp about religious matters, you must be “hyper conservative religious”. If you subscribe to natural law theory, you must be “hyper conservative religious”. Etc.

    “If you want your religious beliefs respected, maybe yould look at The content of those beliefs, and how they play out in the real word. I’m just one messenger o& many. If you want to believe in a gun loving god who calls child molesters to handle the Sacred Host and doesn’t seem to care much if a father has to watch his family murdered, or has some sort of a “plan”, feel free.”

    = the world isn’t perfect, evil exists, it must be god’s fault. Therefore, there is no god. The fact that the evidence is overwhelming that in reality, not theory, your approach leads to catastrophe is irrelevant since – until it does – you have created a swell soapbox from which to emit disparaging comments.

    I am remarkably unimpressed.

  • One of the reasons I am not seeing what you’re seeing is that I am looking at facts, not political rhetoric by socialists.

    The important things are that almost nothing that you believe was accomplished actually was, and that this is the United States of America with a Bill of Rights, neither of which are true in your country.

    What always puzzles me is why folks in Commonwealth think Americans share a desire to have the equivalent of the Queen of Australia and join them in creating a Nanny State.

    https://www.mintpressnews.com/the-facts-that-neither-side-wants-to-admit-about-gun-control/207152/

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/opinion/australias-gun-laws-america.html

    “But the Australian model won’t work in the United States. Here’s why: We Australians have a profoundly different relationship with weapons. Americans love guns. We’re scared of them.”

    “This difference explains why a prime minister was able to confiscate some 650,000 privately owned firearms and ban semiautomatic weapons without a single reported act of violence.”

    “That wasn’t all. Twenty-eight-day waiting times were introduced for firearm purchases. All gun buyers were required to have a genuine reason to qualify for a license (self-protection didn’t count). A national gun registry was created.”

    “No mass gun rights movement existed to articulate an opposing view. The sport-shooting organizations, which might have fought the changes, were apolitical. The elected representatives of rural communities where guns were most common were co-opted by the government’s urban-dominated leadership.”

    “Australians’ and Americans’ different relationship with firearms stems from the role that armed struggle played in their histories. In Australia, we didn’t have one.”

    “We never had a revolution. We never fought foreign troops on our soil. There was no antipodean civil war. From the moment the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay in 1788 in what is now Sydney, security was provided by the British Army.”

    “The indigenous population was displaced by force of arms, disease and appropriation of land, crimes for which many Australians still feel guilty. Prosperity, universal health care and unemployment benefits helped suppress crime. The few race riots that took place didn’t involve shooting.”

    “Australia’s founding fathers, attempting to unify six colonies, didn’t mention guns in the Constitution. They weren’t worried about government oppression.”

    “Over time, Australians came to view firearms with suspicion. Most Australians have never held one. Recreational shooting is regarded as a fringe sport. Unlike many Americans, who might proudly show off their latest pistol or rifle, Australians who own and enjoy using firearms, like me, try to be discreet.”

    “This ingrown cultural hostility toward firearms explains why there was no fear and only isolated anger at the government, even among owners, when it took away people’s guns in 1996. In the United States, even if the political opposition could be overcome, such widespread appropriation of private property and limits on personal liberties would most likely be met with fierce, even physical, resistance.”

    Amen.

  • You still cannot kill as many people as fast as with an AR15. China is certainly not the same as America, the UK or austraila.

  • Actually the body counts on the axe murders were higher than the shooting in Florida.

    In what way meaningful to the discussion does China differ from America, the UK, or Australia besides not speaking English?

  • Sorry it has taken me a day to get back to you. You pose a very good question. Here is the best answer I can give to you.

    On the one hand, I agree with you thoroughly. Religion is an ideology which promotes belief in the supernatural. There is little to no evidence that passes muster that any religion has any truth to it whatsoever, especially when it comes to a “God” and “gods wonderful plan for you.” And extra moreso with claims that ““What I say is what God wants for you.” But I would submit to you that many people have religious beliefs of some sort or another. I have noted repeatedly in my life that what someone puts out into the world is usually what comes back to that person as well. Not always, but mostly. What is this but the belief in karma? Or, for a more personal example, I have felt literally for decades that someone – I don’t know who, what, or anything else — has been watching over me. I have been extraordinarily lucky in my life. But what do I make of that? Can I prove it? No. But it’s always been a feeling nevertheless. I can think of at least one regular commentor here at RNS that would jump up and say, “it’s Jesus! Time to start believing.” There is even less evidence for naming that particular personage then there is for my belief that someone has been watching over me.

    Do I act as if I know that someone is watching over me? Of course not. One could argue easily that the one who is watching over me is simply me. I try to be very conscious and aware of what is going on inside of my head, what motivates me, what motivates other people, and external facts.

    So, in one sense, one may call this “feeling” that someone is watching over me simply a metaphor for my way of being in the world. And this is what I have also observed: we all need our metaphors, all of us. It is not the need for the metaphor that is important, but what we do with that metaphor. I have often stated on these very pages that my objection is not to religion per se, but what people do with their religion. And as far as I can tell, how people use their religion is very much a function of the kind of people they are, and not the reverse. Someone doesn’t read the Bible, and say,” I think I’ll be a raging a-hole. The Bible says X, and I will do X.”

    No. A raging a-hole, a raging bigot, an authoritarian, a fascist, will read the Bible and decide that it justifies their behavior, and makes it a good thing to be the raging a-hole that they already are. It takes consciousness and effort NOT to be that way. I remember reading a story a few years ago about a modern American Nazi who works with Jewish organizations to defuse anti-Semitism. He had seen that he was wrong and was causing harm.

    Homosexuality is the perfect exemplar for this. People that gravitate towards the “clobber passages” are simply the kind of people that want to have authority over the lives of others. (Actually, it’s far more complicated than that, but I don’t want to complicate the subject anymore than it already is). Other Christians that don’t have an issue with it, often will cite their Bibles to justify that position, not despite what their Bibles allegedly say on the subject, but because of how they read the Bible and how the Bible speaks to them. In other words, it is about the kind of people they are, not what the Bible actually says or doesn’t say. My oldest friend in the world, now some 55 years, belongs to a denomination that is very, very conservative. He is definitely a Bible believing Christian. But he’s also a sweet kind, generous, friendly, and loving person , And doesn’t see the Bible as a weapon, but as a guide to being a better person through Jesus. He has never had an issue with my being gay.

    Ultimately, I agree with you. Religion is a false ideology that promotes belief in the supernatural. But I don’t see the harm in that per se. If your religion makes your life better and you were a better person, then I’m all for it. The problem I see is that it frequently doesn’t make people better, it makes them worse, and justifies all kinds of pain and horror, actions inimical to human health and happiness, in the name of God.

    Virtually every problem we are facing on the globe today can be traced to one variable: too many people competing for too few resources. And one of the reasons for this is conservative religion, which tells people to breed without thought for consequences. There is a place where religion does not serve us, and in fact, harms us. But the people that promote this ideology are people that refuse to look at the world around them, preferring instead to believe that what they think God might say on the subject is actually what’s important, and not the obvious and very negative consequences of believing that. But that is the kind of people they are.

    I hope this answers the question for you.

  • “I am feeling that loss of an acknowledgement of God in public spaces and public works”

    You are feeling the loss of an undue privilege. There was never supposed to be an acknowledgement of a single God in our public works. We are a nation of many. A singular vision in our public works and offices is by nature exclusionary and discriminatory. If one can’t be bothered to recognize faiths besides ones own, better to avoid recognizing any.

  • Why do you hate our first amendment so much?

    Government entanglement with a given religion means it discriminates against other faiths. Religious institutions don’t have a duty or mandate to serve the entire community. They tend to use faith as a pretext to discriminate. Their civic good is drastically mitigated by problems they create.

  • I’m so glad that we can agree that facts, logic, experience, and compassion have little chance of reaching you. We have something in common after all.

  • Whether you think it is an “undue privilege” or not, it is a fact that a recognition of God in public prayer was a much accepted and practiced part of our society. We are changing, Spuddie, but it has been a part of our society for several hundred years. It was a part of the societies from which our ancestors came for several thousand years.

    As a person of faith, I do believe that faith strengthens us and guides us. I have know some wonderful Christian people as well as a few Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and HIndu families. I have also known some wonderful people who espouse no faith and claim to be agnostic or atheist. Perhaps faith is not necessary for some. But it is an important part of the formation of still most.

    I would rather we find a way to respect faith than to ignore it.

  • Ben, thank you for the thoughtful response. Our beliefs are very compatible. I think the feeling that you are describing is very common and most likely due to neural evolution, I agree that in spite of this there are many humanistic, compassionate people regardless of the religion they latched on to, or were indoctrinated with. I also feel that those who are not have the potential to change.

    My biggest problem with religion is, as you mention. Many believers don’t feel that we must be responsible for the condition of this world.
    They give that responsibility to their God. I agree with your last paragraph. I still do not respect any religion, but understand your position,

  • Thanks for your response. As I have also said many times, if someone wants his religious beliefs respected, maybe he should have respectable religious beliefs. My friend that I mentioned is the perfect example of that. It truly pains him that Christianity and the Jesus he loves is so often used as a weapon against others.

  • I agree with what you are saying. It is kind and generous. But here’s the question addressed in my somewhat lengthy posts above…

    Can we respect faith if it doesn’t act respectably? This is at base my entire argument with religionists and dominionists, with people who demand that their faith must be respected and have dominion over mine and everyone else’s. As a gay man, this is what I have been hearing my entire life. “God says it’s a sin” and therefore, whatever harm we work on you— sodomy laws, political campaigns composed of nothing but slander and lies, discriminatory laws, don’t ask don’t tell, blaming gay people in general for things we count have nothin to do with, and on and on and on and on— is justified.

    This is the place now where fundamentalists and dominionists have pushed our society. That is spuddie’s point.

  • Like so many wingers, the rare times bob provides citations at all, as you have demonstrated, they don’t necessarily agree with what he says.
    One of my favorites last year was a “refutation” of the common theme of a savior god sacrificing himself to himself. I pointed out Odin did exactly that. Floydleee posted his refutation, which of course, he didn’t bother to read, because it said exactly that: a god’s sacrifice of himself to himself.

  • Whose god? The one of your faith, or of others, of all?

    Do you expect your version of God to be the only one recognized by our government and civil society?

    If you can’t play nice with others, problems happen. 🙂

  • You ask: “Can we respect faith if it doesn’t act respectably?”

    Oh, wow. No, I don’t suppose we can. But we need to not broad-brush all Christians or all religious faiths as fundamentalists and dominionists or all the people of a particular religious belief as all believing the same. I think we are in a social transition to decide anew what it means to “act respectably”, especially when it comes to respecting people of other faiths, from different cultures, and recognizing the full humanity of people regardless of their sexual orientation. I would have thought all the knowledge we have now would make that last apparent, but some people still fight it. What is going on in finding a new place for faith in social life and in democracies is a world-wide phenomenon.

    I also think religious fundamentalism comes in waves. Unfortunately right now, the fundamentalists have ascended. But I think their wave has peaked and it will soon come tumbling down. They are not the majority and many of us are tired of the lying and manipulation. What we need to do here is hasten the day.

    I just don’t want to wipe out faith from a place in our society as a side effect.

  • Spuddie, I recognize that we have many religious beliefs in this country and many of no religious belief. I am not a Christian fundamentalist, though I am a Christian. I am looking for ways in which we can respect people of any faith and no faith and all function together.

    I claim no special religious right – only a human right. I don’t want to rule over you, deny you any rights of citizenship, any participation in the market places, any opportunities, and I don’t want to require that you live by my religious beliefs. But, we share living in the same country, maybe the same state. For all I know you live a mile away. We share a societal obligation to one another.

    Your responses do not open a door to finding common ground – but seem to claim there is none. You have the “my way or the highway” perspective of the current religious fundamentalists you rail against.

    I am not your enemy.

  • Why, do you know anyone who presents facts, logic, experience, and compassion?

    It is certainly not you.

  • No, promoting religion in general does “entangle” anything.

    The First Amendment prohibits establishment. “Church A is OK, Church B is NOT” is establishment.

    “You must got to Church A” is establishment. “Feel free to go to church, or not” is not.

    You don’t like religion. Fine, don’t belong to one.

  • Thanks for your response. I agree with you. I make a big effort not to apply the broad brush to all Christians, or all people of any faith. My beef is always with people who use their faith as a weapon, who say “believe what I believe or I’ll hurt you.” I hope I have at clear In my various postings.

  • If you were wise in this world, you would know that you can’t determine a politicians belief by reading his writings or listening to debates.

    In fact the 2nd Amendment was required by Virginia and the Southern States to be able to hold the slaves in check. The national government could not disarm the slave patrols. (Well regulated militia)

  • If you were wise in this world, you would have not believed the fairy tale that the South concocted the Second Amendment to keep “the slaves in check”.

    The state militias were not in any way dependent on the Second Amendment.

    Have you gotten rid of your military weapons yet?

  • I doubt that.

    In order to be devastated you would have understand how ridiculous your comments on religion read to anyone with even a modest knowledge of the topics.

  • Spuddie, I agree. I do not see where I expressed or implied that secular is synonymous with non-belief. I was expressing a response to an assumption some of my brother and sister believers have that God is not found outside of institutional religious settings like a church worship center. I could have been more explicit about that perhaps. I do respect the beliefs or non-belief of others, and find the hatred and animosity expressed toward folks who do not believe as someone else does to be reprehensible thus my sentence: “Further, we can live out the love of God we experience for ourselves, and demonstrate that indwelling spirit of love by our outward love for those who are in community with us, whether they are Christan, Jew, Muslim, agnostic or atheist.” It is my desire to love and show respect to others, and tried to point out to the Christans I was criticizing that we find God wherever we are. You may or may not believe as I do, but that does not prevent me from or cause me to dislike or hate you because of your particular belief or non-belief system. I apolgise for my long winded response, but I am a Presbyterian Minister and just can’t help myself.

  • Spuddie, “If you can’t play nice with others, problems happen. :)” Indeed.
    I have not seen your correspondents here behaving in any other than a respectful manner. I agree with ATF45 and confirme his closing statement, “I am not your enemy.”

  • Since I have never said “believe what I believe or I’ll hurt you”, your beef apparently is not always with people who say “believe what I believe or I’ll hurt you”.

    My impression is that your beef is with people who disagree with you, and you work hard to characterize that disagreement as faith or religion, even when they never make either argument.

  • It certainly works for you when you can cite incidents a year ago so no one can confirm your faulty recollections.

    I provided additional citations to Mglass.

  • The United States is not a secular nation. France or Mexico would be examples of secular nations.

    Nor does the United States have a state church or religion. Saudi Arabia has and England for centuries had state religions.

    The United States is neutral.

  • Hi Bob,

    First of all I would like to thank you for including a link to that article in the New York Times. It made interesting reading. However, when you reproduced it you omitted the last paragraph:

    “Australian political leaders are rightly proud of our tight gun laws, which have also reduced criminal homicides and suicides. But it is unfair to grieving and distressed Americans to pretend that the Australian solution to mass shootings can be carried out in the United States. A homegrown plan is needed.”

    You will of course have noticed that the writer said that the Australian solution to gun crimes would not work in America. However, it did work in Australia. I’ll repeat the sentence where he stated this:

    “Australian political leaders are rightly proud of our tight gun laws, which have also reduced criminal homicides and suicides.”

    Check it out at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/opinion/australias-gun-laws-america.html

    You say you deal in facts. However, that means dealing with all the facts, not just the ones that suit you. Branding inconvenient truths as “Socialist” is so misleading. John Howard, the conservative Prime Minister who succeeded in bringing in uniform gun laws to Australia, had to face down quite a lot of opposition to do it. That had nothing to do with socialism.

  • The sentences you just quoted provides zip in the way of additional “proof”, opining that Australians love it there and Americans need to solve their own problems.

    I’ve reams of data, and the fact(s) remain that you had few massacres in the past, and few (but not none) now.

    Other crime measures have gone the wrong way.

    And New Zealand, which has not adopted the Australian laws, is statistically indistinguishable.

    That hardly clinches the sale.

    Bottom line: your laws will not soon appear in an American venue.

  • Bob, you have got your facts wrong. Australia had several gun massacres.Then the laws were changed after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and the massacres stopped.

    Here’s what Fortune says about what happened after Australian laws were changed:

    “A land of roughneck pioneers and outback settlers, Australia had never embraced much government regulation and certainly not about their guns. This was a land of almost cartoonish toughness and self-reliance, home of Crocodile Dundee and Australian rules football. Here even the kangaroos box. But Port Arthur had followed too many prior deadly shooting sprees and Australians were clearly sick to death of them.

    “So what happened after the assault-weapon ban? Well therein lies the other half of the story twist noted above: Nothing.

    “Nothing, that is, in a good way.

    “Australian independence didn’t end. Tyranny didn’t come. Australians still hunted and explored and big-wave surfed to their hearts’ content. Their economy didn’t crash; Invaders never arrived. Violence, in many forms, went down across the country, not up. Somehow, lawmakers on either side of the gun debate managed to get along and legislate.

    “As for mass killings, there were no more. Not one in the past 22 years.

    “In 2002, a mentally impaired student at Monash University in Melbourne shot two people dead and injured five others. He came to his rampage with six handguns, not an assault rifle. Had he been carrying an AR-15, the toll would have been far worse. But even so, Australian lawmakers added a new National Handgun Agreement, a separate buyback act, and a reformulated gun trafficking policy to their legislative arsenal.

    “There has been no similar shooting spree since.

    “But it wasn’t just the murderous rampages that faded away. Gun violence in general declined over the following two decades to a nearly unimaginable degree. In 2014, the latest year for which final statistics are available, Australia’s murder rate fell to less than 1 killing per 100,000 people—a murder rate one-fifth the size of America’s.”

    http://fortune.com/2018/02/20/australia-gun-control-success/

    Homicide rates in Australia have gone down. Don’t believe me, take notice of the official statistics here:

    http://crimestats.aic.gov.au/NHMP/1_trends/

    Physical assaults are also lower than in the beginning of the decade:

    http://crimestats.aic.gov.au/facts_figures/1_victims/C1/

    As for New Zealand, here’s the Nationmaster comparison between the two countries:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Australia/New-Zealand/Crime

    And here’s the comparison between Australia and the United States:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Australia/United-States/Crime

    Pro-gun sources might be right about some things but it’s always wise to check with other sources.

  • I already documented for you some of the massacres which occurred after 1996.

    Yes, you can provide numerous op-eds touting your gun control scheme.

    Fortune’s “A land of roughneck pioneers and outback settlers, Australia had never embraced much government regulation and certainly not about their guns. This was a land of almost cartoonish toughness and self-reliance, home of Crocodile Dundee and Australian rules football.” is a comic book version of Australia.

    Australia is one of the most urbanized countries in the world, and most Australians have never shot a firearm.

    “In 2002, a mentally impaired student at Monash University in Melbourne shot two people dead and injured five others. He came to his rampage with six handguns, not an assault rifle. Had he been carrying an AR-15, the toll would have been far worse.”

    And had he been carrying molotov cocktails – petrol has yet to be banned in Australia – the toll could have been far worse. Oddly you just claimed “Then the laws were changed after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and the massacres stopped.”

    “But it wasn’t just the murderous rampages that faded away. Gun violence in general declined over the following two decades to a nearly unimaginable degree. In 2014, the latest year for which final statistics are available, Australia’s murder rate fell to less than 1 killing per 100,000 people—a murder rate one-fifth the size of America’s.”

    Australia’s rate has varied slightly above and below 1/5 of America’s for 150 years. So, nothing changed.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Australia/New-Zealand/Crime

    Hmmm. 19% more murders with firearms than New Zealand, but 2227 times more police per capita, 22% more intentional homicide than New Zealand, 6 times higher murder rate, and 6 times higher rate of rapes.

    Bottom line: about the only thing that Australia and the United States have in common is that both countries speak bad English.

    Australia has no Second Amendment, no NRA to defend it, nor does it have vast Western, Midwestern, and Southern areas where carrying a gun is part of a day’s work and a necessity, where children grow up learning firearm use and safety.

    There is little to support the conclusion that the Australian ban accomplished much of anything other than inconveniencing rural Australians, and the chances of a similar program being implemented here approximate zero.

    We are not a constitutional monarchy, our executive is elected not appointed, and our government is forbidden to create something akin to the recent Royal Commission and authorize it to recommend changes to a church’s doctrines and discipline – First Amendment.

    In other words, mate, we’re Yanks.

    We appreciated working with you in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but as to your gun control scheme, buggar off.

  • Bob,

    You state: Australia’s rate has varied slightly above and below 1/5 of America’s for 150 years. So, nothing changed.

    No evidence is presented to back up this claim.

    You are sure that the gun laws made no difference in Australia; some agree, but others say the gun laws did make a difference. However, all agree that the murder rate did fall.

    As for your other assertions, some may be right and others may be wrong, but as for your Second Amendment, you can keep it.

  • No, as I made clear in the last two posts I have and had no interest in dueling statistics. I have done extensive research for years on the topic and I have satisfied myself. And you’ve made it clear that no power on earth is going to stop you from touting the 1996 fiasco as no less than a panacea. Why bother you with facts?

    We plan to keep the Second Amendment.

    We also plan on not joining the Commonwealth and not making Elizabeth II the Queen of the United States.

  • True. It was more of an aphorism than a personal remark. Offense was not intended or received by the person I addressed as such. 🙂

  • Depends on what is “in general”. If it’s no particular faith in general, you are correct. Ecumenism is a way to maintain the required religious neutrality yet still express beliefs.

    If it is a single sectarian belief but is being promoted in general, as in pervasively and constantly, it very much is wrong for the government to do.

    Is your religious faith so weak, or your respect for others so absent that you require official government for your beliefs?

    Your take on establishment has always been dishonest and reductive to the point of attacking religious freedom. It’s never “feel free to join Church A” when government is entangled with them. It’s “you don’t have to join Church A, but it’s better for you if you do”.

    Establishment has always been interpreted as any official favor or disfavor with a given faith. It need not be obvious or overly intentionally coercive. But it generally gives the impression of being so.

    Government officials can express their faith on their own time. While on the job, they need to represent all people and all faiths.

  • Is your lack of faith so weak that it is threatened by general religious displays?

    My take on establishment has always been grounded in the actual court cases which delineate and define religious freedom.

    Yours has been based consistently on a fuzzy opposition to religion in general which has literally no traction in court cases and in fact is opposed to the plain text of laws such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

  • Actually if the religious displays are entirely sectarian and government sponsored, my rights are being attacked here. Government is declaring that my beliefs are disfavored and I should not expect fair treatment by them because of that.

    Your syntax is not only dominated by me, it prompted you to make a silly response which set up mine.

    You are making it clear that you have a weak sense of faith and lack respect for other beliefs. You simply want to excuse illegal actions by pretending prohibitions did not exist.

    “My take on establishment has always been grounded in the actual court cases which delineate and define religious freedom.”

    Except for the fact that you can’t seem to read one accurately or honestly.

    If you want to be accurate in such a statement, review the three part test of Lemon v. Kurtzman for whether violations of the establishment clause exist. You will find it is far more expansive than your definition.

    “Yours has been based consistently on a fuzzy opposition to religion in general”

    Not true at all. Just opposing people using religion as excuses to attack the rights of others.

    The RFRA does not supplant the first amendment and does not apply here.

  • “Actually if the religious displays are entirely sectarian and government sponsored, my rights are being attacked here.”

    You may want to look up cases on “In God We Trust” on coinage.

    “Your syntax is not only dominated by me, it prompted you to make a silly response which set up mine.”

    I’ll await some court cases.

    “If you want to be accurate in such a statement, review the three part test of Lemon v. Kurtzman for whether violations of the establishment clause exist. You will find it is far more expansive than your definition.”

    You may want to look up where the Lemon Test is actually applied and where it is not.

    For example, look at Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 582 U.S. (2017).

    In point of fact, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 restores the Sherbert Test in interpreting the First Amendment.

  • Those cases were knocked out for issues of standing.

    As I said, there already is the benchmark case for determining Establishment Clause violations
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman

    It posits a simple test on the matter:

    1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (Also known as the Purpose Prong)

    2. The principal or primary effect of the statute must not advance nor inhibit religion. (Also known as the Effect Prong)

    3. The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion. (Also known as the Entanglement Prong)

    Factors.
    Character and purpose of institution benefited.
    Nature of aid the state provides.
    Resulting relationship between government and religious authority.

    If any of these prongs are violated, the government’s action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    “In point of fact, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 restores the Sherbert Test in interpreting the First Amendment.”

    Sherbert is about Free Exercise, not Establishment. Government has no free exercise rights because it has no religious belief, due to the Establishment clause. So it is an irrelevance here. A government official does in their spare time, but not as a representative of the state.

    The Lemon test has not gone away, it was just recently used to uphold the injunction against Trump’s religiously motivated travel ban.

    It all comes down to the fact that you can’t use government to endorse your faith. The town here acknowledged that and has acted responsibly to correct the issue.

  • Provide a case, an actual case, and we can parse it.

    Otherwise waving the Lemon Test around over your head and chanting is not going to move us along.

  • Provide what? The benchmark for Establishment Clause violation? Asked and answered. As for your ability to parse a case, I won’t bother.

    Every time you are corrected on your interpretations and misreadings, you argue pointlessly for a week trying to weasel out of direct quotes which directly contradict your take.

    No point. You have no ability to read these things correctly.

  • One case, preferably your best, that shows how the SCOTUS interprets these issues as you present them.

    Your comments certainly illustrate your frustration at being unfamiliar with legal jargon and contextual reading of actual court decisions, leading to your near total inability to read them and use them to support a position.

    That’s okay, but in the absence of at least one case that shows the SCOTUS sees things your way, I’ll consider this more gorilla-like beating on your chest.

  • “You may want to look up where the Lemon Test is actually applied and where it is not.” That would require several volumes. That old dinosaur is all but dead. Every time it is “clarified” it is altered a bit more until it is now unrecognizable, and with current make-up of the SCOTUS it is ripe for being scrapped (whether expressly or not) and replaced with something more sensible and workable.

  • From Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 384 (1993):

    “Like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. Its most recent burial, only last Term, was, to be sure, not fully six feet under: Our decision in Lee v. Weisman conspicuously avoided using the supposed ‘test’ but also declined the invitation to repudiate it. Over the years, however, no fewer than five of the currently sitting Justices have, in their own opinions, personally driven pencils through the creature’s heart (the author of today’s opinion repeatedly), and a sixth has joined an opinion doing so.”

    “The secret of the Lemon test’s survival, I think, is that it is so easy to kill. It is there to scare us (and our audience) when we wish it to do so, but we can command it to return to the tomb at will. When we wish to strike down a practice it forbids, we invoke it; when we wish to uphold a practice it forbids, we ignore it entirely. Sometimes, we take a middle course, calling its three prongs ‘no more than helpful signposts.’ Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him.” – Justice Scalia in separate concurrence joined by Justice Clarence

  • “A Christian church in Wayne County, PA, will bless assault rifles.”
    This is not a Christian Church, it is an offshoot of Sun Yun Moon’s Unification Church. Egad! Jesus would puke!

  • I agree with you about the puked part, but The same logic allows anti Mormons and anti Catholics to claim that these churches are not christian, either.

  • Bob, research or no research, you haven’t explained how you came up with this claim: “Australia’s rate has varied slightly above and below 1/5 of America’s for 150 years. So, nothing changed.”

    You see, things have changed in Australia. I quote from an Australian Government website:

    “Homicide in Australia has declined over the last 25 years. The current homicide incidence rate is the lowest on record in the past 25 years.

    “The number of homicide incidents has fallen by 22 percent over the last 25 years, decreasing from 307 incidents in 1989-90 to 238 incidents in 2013-14.

    “Homicide occurred at a rate of one incident per 100,000 persons in 2013-14, a 44 percent decrease from that recorded in 1989-90 (1.8 per 100,000).

    http://crimestats.aic.gov.au/NHMP/1_trends/

    You might also like to check out what an American fact checking organisation said:

    https://www.factcheck.org/2017/10/gun-control-australia-updated/

    This quotation contains statistics, but you still might find it interesting:

    ‘Hemenway and his Harvard colleague and co-author, Mary Vriniotis, summarized the evidence in support of the theory that the buyback program saved lives:

    ‘ “While 13 gun massacres (the killing of 4 or more people at one time) occurred in Australia in the 18 years before the NFA, resulting in more than one hundred deaths, in the 14 following years (and up to the present), there were no gun massacres.”

    ‘ “In the seven years before the NFA (1989-1995), the average annual firearm suicide death rate per 100,000 was 2.6 (with a yearly range of 2.2 to 2.9); in the seven years after the buyback was fully implemented (1998-2004), the average annual firearm suicide rate was 1.1 (yearly range 0.8 to 1.4).”

    ‘ “In the seven years before the NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate per 100,000 was .43 (range .27 to .60) while for the seven years post NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate was .25 (range .16 to .33).”

    ‘ “[T]he drop in firearm deaths was largest among the type of firearms most affected by the buyback.”

    ‘The authors, however, noted that “no study has explained why gun deaths were falling, or why they might be expected to continue to fall.” That poses difficulty in trying to definitively determine the impact of the law, they write.

    ‘ “Whether or not one wants to attribute the effects as being due to the law, everyone should be pleased with what happened in Australia after the NFA — the elimination of firearm massacres (at least up to the present) and an immediate, and continuing, reduction in firearm suicide and firearm homicide,” ‘

    You have referred to “the 1996 fiasco”. For Australians, the fiasco was the massacre, not the gun buyback.

  • You’re really in love with your nation’s law.

    I noted earlier, and you keep demonstrating, that you have an endless supply of rosy, glowing, adulatory op-eds and editorials singing its high praises.

    Clearly you’re a true believer.

    Since you live there, I am sure the balance of your life will be unmitigated joy.

    At the fact level, however, all that appears to be largely self-delusion.

    The primary contribution to this country has been to give gun control pandering politicians a magic wand – “Australian ban” – to wave about at political rallies as though the totally different circumstances, legal systems, histories, and peoples are as nothing and to enrage their opponents into dissecting the actual results and suggesting that the proponents start smoking tobacco rather than their current product.

    Do have a nice day.

  • Hi Bob,

    I really am having a nice day. I spelled it out, but perhaps you didn’t notice that I quoted from an Australian Government website that the murder rate had fallen in Australia. This government website is not an op-ed piece.

    Secondly, it is Google that has the “endless supply of rosy, glowing, adulatory op-eds and editorials.” about Australia’s gun laws that you take exception to.

    Of course you are right in stating that Australia and the United States are quite different in the matter of guns. This difference makes it easier for me to have the nice day that you wished me.

  • Yes, the Australian government is very dedicated to touting a “success” even when it is not. Our politicians do the much the same.

    Oddly the murder rate in the USA dropped at EXACTLY the same rate as in Australia at the same time. Place one graph on top of the other and they are nearly indistinguishable. The USA does not have a ban.

    They’re both higher than New Zealand’s, which also does not have a ban.

    The first logical error, of course, is post hoc ergo propter hoc. The second is that correlation is not causation.

  • Bob,

    You have stated: “the murder rate in the USA dropped at EXACTLY the same rate as in Australia at the same time.”

    Where is your evidence for this claim?

    Even if is true – and you have not presented any evidence to show it is – what relevance does this have when the murder rate is so much higher in the United States?

    You are right in saying that correlation is not the same as causation, but even before you try to show correlation you have to make sure your facts are true.

  • You surely do want to tout your gun ban here in the USA.

    Last things first: I have not presented any evidence because you are not an American and don’t have a dog in the hunt.

    Our Democratic Party has waved your approach around in the air and cheered on multiple occasions and failed to get any traction outside of the deeply blue coasts whose political proclivities approximate those of the Commonwealth of Australia.

    You’re happy because you have the ban, we’re happy because we don’t, and putting more time into it to document what I already know from memory is not a worthwhile endeavor with you as an audience.

    The murder rate is higher in the United States because we are different country. You do not have a significant population of former slaves with a long history of high violent crime rates, a significant history of gang-related violence going back into the 19th century, nor did you repel an invading army or fight a bloody civil war. You do not have a significant portion of the populace familiar with arms of any kind.

    Your murder rate is higher than New Zealand’s. Why?

    Your self-identified ethnic make-up is English 36.1%, Australian 33.5%, Irish 11.0%, Scottish 9.3%, Chinese 5.6%, Italian 4.6%, German 4.5%, Indian 2.8%, Greek 1.8%, and Dutch 1.6%.

    Ours is German 14.7%. Black or African American non-Hispanic 12.3%, Mexican of any race 10.9%, Irish 10.6%, English 7.8%, American 7.2%, Italian 5.5%, Polish 3.0%, French 2.6%. Scottish 1.7%, Puerto Rican 1.6%, Norwegian 1.4%, Dutch 1.4%, Swedish 1.2%, and Chinese 1.2%.

    There is simply nothing to connect our two countries beyond a (somewhat) common language.

  • Bob,
    As you’re not prepared to provide evidence for your assertions, it’s pointless to continue exchanging opinions with you.

  • America was born a Christian Nation….”Woodrow wilson Denver CO 1911; “…This is a Christian Nation….”Church of the Holy Trinity v. The United States 143 US 457,Feb.29,1892 ; The first school law “the Old Deluder Satan Law ‘,1647 Mass./and Conn.; Article III of the Northwest Ordinance Passed in July 1787-and again Aug.1789 “Religion,Morality and Knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind,Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.’ And this reflects a Christian Sermon preached by Elizur Goodrich May 10,1787 in Conn. ;July 9,1776 General Orders by General George Washington “The General expected every Officer and man will endeavour so to live and act as becomes a Christian Soldier. ;The first Colleges and Universities in America Were by design and by law affiliated with the local Christian church and The most influential President of Princeton Rev. John Witherspoon was an ordained minister-who took a sabbatical to serve in the Continental Congress.,wearing his clerics robes..Islam is NOT compatible with our Constitution and Laws.Nor our way of Life and CAIR is affiliated with terrorist organizations.

  • I agree it is not just Christian think. Government functions should be secular. Grew up in a church that did not believe in interdenominational activities. Never felt total comfortable in another church .

ADVERTISEMENTs