Opinion

How ‘pro bono’ offers to defend religious monuments are stressing local go …

The Pere Jacques Marquette Shrine, foreground, near Ludington in western Michigan, in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) — It’s a shrine on public land.

The Pere Jacques Marquette Shrine was put up in the 1950s to honor a missionary who may have died there, or maybe not. There’s no real evidence to suggest the spot is special, and, wherever he was first interred, Marquette was reburied in the nearby town of Ludington, Mich. In December, the Freedom From Religion Foundation pointed out that the shrine, as it has always been known and which takes the shape of an enormous cross atop a hill, is unconstitutional. The shrine was quickly rebranded as a “memorial” and the citizens rallied around it.

Shrine or memorial — and I lean more toward shrine, given the “pilgrimages” people once made to it — no court of final resort has ever permitted a giant Christian cross to remain on government property. Such crosses, without exception, are declared unconstitutional when challenged in court.

What might tempt a small Michigan town to fight a battle that the courts have already decided it cannot win?

Well, if the city thought it had nothing to lose it might be willing to take an inevitable defeat before a judge.

And along came a spider. Enter the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ is a religious ministry, complete with sophisticated fundraising machinery, rolled into a law firm.

The Father Jacques Marquette Shrine near Ludington, Mich. Photo courtesy of Michigan.org

The ACLJ claims to be for religious liberty but might more accurately be described as promoting Christian supremacy. It gave the game away when it opposed the Park51 mosque, even suing to stop what it dubbed the “Ground Zero mosque” because “This is not a religious freedom issue. … IT’S AN AMERICAN ISSUE,” as one ACLJ email read. The ACLJ also adamantly opposes any attempt to keep state and church separate, which undercuts its professed mission because freedom of religion only exists when our government is free from religion.

The ACLJ promised the town that it would defend the massive cross shrine on public land from any legal challenge, pro bono. “We do not charge you a penny,” said the ACLJ’s attorney to the township’s governing board at the last meeting.

Pro bono? Not even a penny? The old adage holds: This sounds too good to be true. And it is.

ACLJ might not charge the Michigan township, but fighting a losing legal battle could still cost taxpayers a pretty penny, hundreds of thousands of dollars actually. That’s because the town is still liable to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees when it loses. This makes sense; governments shouldn’t be defending obviously unconstitutional actions in court, and the fee-shifting is meant to dissuade them from doing so. And remember, no government has successfully litigated a cross on public land.

Meanwhile, the ACLJ, which pulled in more than $50 million in 2015, will combine this case with a healthy dose of fearmongering to rake in the cash. If the ACLJ were serious about standing up for the town, it wouldn’t just offer pro bono representation, it would offer to cover all the costs associated with the case. This has never happened.

In fact, several local governments have been pushed into dire financial straits because of these pro bono offers from Christian-right law firms. Governments have had to take out loans, turn to crowdfunding and beg for money from national organizations such as Focus on the Family. The fundraising appeals have always fallen short, keeping the burden on the taxpayer. Here are a few examples:

The ACLJ represented the Enfield Board of Education (in Connecticut), which held graduations in churches. That violates the First Amendment. The board chair “was contacted by the ACLJ and they wanted to represent (the board) pro bono.” The school district insisted on litigating the case, and the plaintiffs racked up “about $1 million” in legal fees. The board settled the lawsuit after losing a preliminary injunction and was responsible for those fees, though it did not disclose exactly how much was paid. (The ACLJ says it was no longer legal counsel for Enfield Schools at the time the case settled.)

The city of Bloomfield, N.M., put up an unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument. The city accepted pro bono help from an ACLJ-like group, the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF’s offer was used as evidence in the complaint to show the religious purpose of the monument, and while ADF “agreed to do all the work on this for the City at no charge,” the city was still saddled with a $700,000 bill in December. The legal bill was so steep, the city is considering online crowdfunding sites, such as GoFundMe, to pay it off.

Fundraisers didn’t work for Kentucky’s McCreary County. It lost a lawsuit challenging a Ten Commandments display in a courthouse. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel — yet another ACLJ/ADF-like group; there are many, given how profitable such operations can be — represented the county pro bono.[1] Fundraising efforts, including sending requests to “national religious organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the Trinity Broadcasting Network” and local Christian radio broadcasters, raised less than 10 percent of the more than $220,000 the county owed.

In a sister case, also in Kentucky, Staver and Liberty Counsel represented Pulaski County. It was forced to take out a loan to pay the ACLU $231,662. A local paper  reported that “Staver stated that the battle is costing Pulaski taxpayers ‘zero’ dollars, since Liberty Counsel is working ‘pro bono’ for the county governments.”

Which brings us back to the Pere Marquette Shrine. This fight could easily cost the town between $500,000 and $1 million, even with pro bono legal help.

And this raises another question: Why? Why would a group of sophisticated lawyers —ACLJ’s founder, Jay Sekulow, now represents President Trump — pick a fight that they have almost no hope of winning? Cui bono, not pro bono, is the operative Latin phrase. Who benefits?

The ACLJ does. The ACLJ is picking a losing fight on purpose. It can fundraise off the Christian persecution narrative and, when the judge decides against the town and awards hundreds of thousands in attorneys fees to the other side, the ACLJ doesn’t have to pay a dime. The taxpayers shoulder all the risk; the ACLJ reaps any reward. For the ACLJ, it’s a win-win; for the township, it’s a surefire loss.

This small Michigan town should refuse the ACLJ’s offer just as it would refuse to make a deal with the devil. The town will be much better off financially and do a better job of complying with the Constitution.

[1]  Peter Irons, The Steps to the Supreme Court: A Guided Tour of the American Legal System, 175 (Wiley & Sons, 2012).

(Andrew L. Seidel is a constitutional attorney and director of strategic response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state-church watchdog and nonprofit with 32,000 members. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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Andrew L. Seidel

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  • As their attorneys, the ACLJ, ADF and Liberty Council should advise their clients of the likely outcome and what it will cost them. wouldn’t that be the HONEST thing to do?

  • The local government needs some genuine legal advice. Here goes. The town could never really justify a towering Christian cross as a grave marker, because Father Marquette isn’t buried there. The local government did not help its case by calling the site a “shrine.” By definition, a shrine is a place of religious devotion or commemoration. Government entities are usually prohibited by the First Amendment from establishing religious shrines with religious symbols. Put up a statue of Marquette like we have in the U.S. Capitol building, not a towering cross.

    Who knew that complying with the Constitution was an option?

  • You’d think it would be, but…family values. No – gay marriage. – no um there’s a good reason! Excuse! Something!

  • Thanks for the information. Given I support the free expression of religion which is a constitutional right and the supreme court has ruled that while the government may not establish a religion, it may allow religious activities on public land (such as chaplains who do services at national parks for example) I suspect there is more to the story here in the long run. Anyway, sounds like a fine group this ACLJ. Going to look them up and give them a donation to stand up to the FFRF who seem to be on a crusade against Christians.

  • Of course you support the right of “ALL” religions to inject “THEIR” religion into our Gov.’t and onto our public lands……., right? Of course you do. You’ll be happy with “ALL” religions enjoying the same privileges as christians….. right? That includes, Satanists, Islamists and even the non-religious like atheists…………right? Or is is just “CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE” you want to protect, but frame any challenges to it as ” a crusade a against christians”. Poor, persecuted, christian snowflakes. They never “crusade” against other religions, or the non-religious………….do they? Justify, make excuses, deny lie, then lie about lying. Hypocrite much? My money goes to FFRF and Americans United For the Separation of Church and State. Go ahead, pull out your johnson and urinate your christianity all over everything and every one, marking your territory and proclaiming your privilege and supremacy. A lot of us are sick and tired of it. Not happy about it? Hey, start another religious war like people like you have always done. It’s the only thing religion is good for, causing divisiveness, hatred and conflict.

  • Instead of donating to the ACLJ, why not donate to one of the towns it has represented pro bono? Sounds like they could use the money a lot more than the ACLJ.

  • “FFRF who seem to be on a crusade against Christians”

    You could have gotten that from the article if you were:
    1. Illiterate

    2. You think a community’s resources should only go to expression of your Christian faith and no other religious beliefs.

    3. Your Christian faith demands others pay for its expression by force.

    4. You missed the part where the ACLJ attacked the free exercise of other religions.

    5. or if you caught that part, you are just expressing your disdain for first amendment religious freedom.

  • There is no indication that this involved injecting religion anywhere, except for the fact that – like Martin Luther King who has a monument in Washington, DC – Father Marquette was a minister of a religion.

  • First things first. There is no such thing as a “constitutional attorney”. There are attorneys who specialize in constitutional law. Alan Dershowitz, for example, is an American lawyer and author, a scholar of United States constitutional law and criminal law, and a leading defender of civil liberties.

    Second things second. Freedom From Religion Foundation was founded by Anne Nicol Gaylor and her daughter Annie Laurie Gaylor in 1976. Andrew L. Seidel is one of a paid staff of a paid staff of twenty two, including four other full-time staff attorneys and two legal fellows.

    Annie Laurie Gaylor, who is now co-president, is the author of “Women Without Superstition: No Gods – No Masters”, her husband, Dan Barker, is the author of “Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist”, “Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists”, “The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God”, “God: The Most Unpleasant Character in all Fiction”, and “Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children”.

    In 2015, FFRF announced Nonbelief Relief, for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and their supporters “to improve this world, our only world”.

    In short Freedom From Religion Foundation is not a national state-church watchdog but an anti-religious organization with a very clear agenda.

    I am sure Seidel would be delighted if everyone just rolled over and played dead when his office sent one of the hundreds of threatening letters it sends out each year, some grounded, some quite silly. The Mafia expects the same thing when it tries to offer wise counsel and protection to small business owners.

    But this is America, and things don’t work that way.

  • I am curious if there have been any attorney disciplinary actions brought by aggrieved governmental clients against these firms.

  • “What might tempt a small Michigan town to fight a battle that the courts have already decided it cannot win?”

    To advocate the fallacy of Christian Persecution Complex maybe?

    The ACLJ benefits every time it buts in via free PR which leads to donations from their devout and misguided fanboys.

  • I’ll bite yer kneecaps….oh…running away….the Black Knight ALWAYS wins.

  • In what sense is the FFRF opposing Christians right to worship in ways that do not violate the constitution.

    You should be grateful to the FFRF…someday…a muslim community may try to insist on Muslim beliefs in public institutions…you will be grateful that the FFRF already brought suit to establish legal precendent.

  • Christians do not realize that by helping bring about stronger guidelines on separation issues, the FFRF is HELPING all religions from the tyranny of a majority religion. What if someday Islam is the majority religion?

  • You get that, I get that, the people who don’t understand the value of playing nice with others do not.

  • People are free to be anti-religious. Just like the religious are free to be anti non-religious. Goose meet Gander.

  • All people do what people do. Welcome to the human experience. Atheists are not dishonest. They don’t pretend to believe in imaginary BS, especially when they know it’s not true and being an atheist is not a religion. It’s they way all humans are when they are born until the get indoctrinated and brainwashed by the myth of god and the scam of religion.

  • WTF is the christian cross for? Justify, make excuses, deny, lie then lie about lying……….and pretend. Of course.

  • I would have to think that there are retainer agreements that make clear that attorney’s fees are payable by the client, not the firm.

  • I misunderstood. I thought you were referring to FFRF, et al. ACLJ and their ilk probably tell those they represent that they will not pay attorney’s fees they will be liable for if they lose. Surely their clients understand that. The lure of free representation must overwhelm their better judgement.

  • Bob Arnzen: The Latin cross is an internationally recognized symbol of Christianity. It is endorsing and advancing a particular religious viewpoint using government resources. Our government hosting or supporting such an endorsement is a violation of The Establishment Clause.

  • Jonathan Lashta: Excellent point! I think I’ll address that next time some crusading commenter brings them up as a solution for a community that wants to endorse a religion.

  • You wrote, “Unless the memorial to Father Marquette advances a particular religious viewpoint, or contains worship facilities, it is not a religious shrine.”

    Federal courts have acknowledged “The Latin cross is the core symbol of Christianity.” So yeah, the Latin cross that is prominently displayed on government property most certainly “advances a particular religious viewpoint.”

    It does not help the town’s case that they call it a “shrine.” Shrine: a place regarded as holy because of its associations with a divinity or a sacred person such as a saint. As a secondary definition, shrine can also mean a place associated with or containing memorabilia of a particular revered person or thing. But that secondary definition seems not to apply when the shrine contains a towering religious symbol. If the shrine contained nothing more than a statue of Marquette, then sure, the secondary definition would seem a better fit, as in the Fort McHenry example you provided.

  • Whether a Latin cross that is prominently displayed on government property most certainly “advances a particular religious viewpoint” depends on facts, circumstances, and which Federal district court’s jurisdiction you are in.

    SCOTUS – Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010) – “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not
    require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”.

    https://www.rockymountainsignlaw.com/2017/01/michigan-court-appeals-crossanchor-monument-government-speech/

    I would say that if this were the 4th or 9th district the town would have an uphill battle.

    It neither helps nor hurts the town’s case that they call it a “shrine”. There are numerous Federal “shrines”.

  • BS – SCOTUS – Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010) – “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”.

  • Atheists are as dishonest as everyone else, your hyper-neurosis anti-religiousity notwithstanding.

  • Pretending to believe there is an imaginary man in the sky, snakes can talk, the dead come back to life and virgins can have kids…….”NORMAL”? No one is born believing that shyte. I’d say it’s an abnormality.

  • Absolutely not. It’s dishonest to pretend there is an imaginary man in the sky and all the other ancient mythology, ignorant, primitive superstition and the silly supernatural nonsense that the myths of gods and the scams of religions are made up of, especially when they know it’s all made up BS. Atheist don’t do that.
    Now you can type in all caps about how you have the one true god and make empty stupid threats about how i’m gonna get it from your imaginary god. You bet i’m anti-religious. As much as a human being can possibly be. I know the worst thing in the world when i see it. It’s religion.

  • There is no such thing as a constitutional attorney.

    If you disagree, provide your evidence.

    Freedom From Religion Foundation is not a national state-church watchdog but an anti-religious organization with a very clear agenda.

    If you disagree, provide your evidence.

    Seidel’s team mails out hundreds of threatening letters each year, some grounded, some quite silly.

    If you disagree, provide your evidence.

    Your post was an “Appeal to the stone” fallacy, falsely claiming that a series of claims were false because they were a Poisoning the Well fallacy in effort to avoid a burden of proof that any of the claims themselves were false.

  • Bob Arnzen: The symbolism has already been decided in various court cases. One notably similar case in Maryland being decided last year.

    …or are you renouncing the symbol of Christ’s death on the cross?

  • By itself that is not dispositive of anything.

    Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010) – “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”.

  • Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010) – “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”.

    This case before the SCOTUS involved a cross.

  • The Maryland case was in the 4th district. The 4th district, and the 9th, are well known for giving Supreme Court precedents the one-finger salute.

  • Another Dredd Scott opinion. You’re all for religious symbols on public property as long as it belongs to a selfish, christian supremacist that can’t help pulling their johnsons out and pi$$ing their christianity all over everyone and everything like a dog marking their territory.
    “There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, war and all evil in the state as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, and our Gov.’t will soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they too will be destroyed”.-Wis. Supreme
    Court Justice H.S. Orton, 1890

    “The reason for the separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries”.-James Madison
    What part of keep your crazy azz religious kookery in your home, church, even on the public side walk and off our public property don’t you understand?

  • Glad to see you want to give the Supreme Court short shrift as well.

    Is there any limit to your complete disregard for authority of all kinds and every law which displeases you?

  • Not my problem either and i don’t demand Gov.’t allow monuments saying there is no god on public property either, now do i? Again, religion is based on lies. Reality is based on facts. Now go ahead and show your azz. I know it;s coming. I’ve dealt with thousands just like you before. Go ahead-show your true colors, just like all the other “good christians” who ignored their phony morals, values and principles they love to brag about when they elected that disgusting POS tRump. They elected him because they are just like him. A POS.

  • You never disagree with SCOTUS? Squalling like mashed cats “ACTIVIST JUDGES, LEGISLATING FROM THE BENCH”………Who started that shyt? Glad you support Roe vs. Wade then.

  • Good try, but again, no cigar. The case you linked to, Dawson v. City of Grand Haven (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 29, 2016), is not an Establishment Clause case, it is a Free Speech Clause case. Grand Haven created a limited public forum which is a forum set aside by government for expressive activities. Similar to a traditional public forum, content-based speech restrictions in a designated public forum are subject to strict scrutiny. What the court decided was that if a town creates a limited public forum, it can’t prohibit some from participating while permitting others to do so without having a compelling governmental reason.

    As far as I know, the town owning the Father Marquette Shrine has not declared the site a limited open forum. If they do so, I’m sure the Satanic Temple would love to donate a towering statue of Baphomet so that it may be placed next to the religious Marquette shrine.

  • Cherry picking Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010) is tremendously misleading given that the case is unresolved and was sent back to the lower courts.

  • Oh my, you don’t mean that there is still something to litigate, do you?

    And here you were telling everyone that all was done and done.

  • I live in this small town and let me tell you the christian fanatics have been writing some vicious letters to the local paper about the godless heretics trying to take away their precious cross. Separation of church and state arguments fall on deaf ears in god’s country. As an atheist and uu I just try to keep a low profile around here.

  • Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of your savior is not normal.

    Taking vows of chastity and then claiming to be an authority on family values is not normal.

    Proudly claiming membership in an organization that systematically covers up the rape of children is not normal.

    Blowing yourself up is not normal.

    Flying planes into buildings is not normal.

    If you disagree, please provide your evidence.

  • Over a billion people consider the first two normal.

    The third is a slander.

    Four and five are not the topic of the discussion.

    If you disagree, please provide your evidence.

  • You have in no way shown any evidence that my statements are wrong. I’ll wait.

    The discussion is, “People are free to be anti-religious. Just like the religious are free to be anti non-religious.” Four and five are anti-religion.

  • Hardly. And don’t give me that crap about stalin and mao. The religious have been just as bloodthirsty as any so-called atheist regime. And you sir are nothing but a troll, so bugger off.

  • If you can find me saying “bad thing”, please point that out to me.

    What I said was that it is not what Seidel says it is, he is not what he purports to be, and it takes real chutzpah to suggest that opposing Seidel in court is wrongdoing.

  • I see you joined Disqus Mar 9, 2018 …. just to join this discussion.

    Would I be incorrect that you joined FFRF, asked them to write a letter to the city, and basically started this little sideshow?

  • Bob Arnzen:

    The Maryland case was in the 4th district.

    4th district… what? Court? The 4th district court, right? So a court has decided this.

  • Bob Arnzen: Correct. When other religions are given equal treatment, then The Establishment Clause isn’t violated by our government.

  • Père Marquette is noted by a Michigan historical marker:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marquette%27s_Death_-_Michigan_Historical_Marker.jhttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/Marquette%27s_Death_-_Michigan_Historical_Marker.jpg/686px-Marquette%27s_Death_-_Michigan_Historical_Marker.jpg

    a statute in Detroit:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e4/JMMarquette.jpg

    a statue at Fort Mackinac, Michigan:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c1/Pere_Marquette_Mackinac_2007.jpg/675px-Pere_Marquette_Mackinac_2007.jpg

    a statue at Marquette, Michigan:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/PereMarquetteMarquetteMI.jpg

    a statue at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/16/FrMarquetteStatue.jpg

    a statue at the Chicago Portage National Historic Site:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f8/Chicago_Portage_National_Historic_Site.jpg/426px-Chicago_Portage_National_Historic_Site.jpg

    a statue in downtown Milwaukee:

    https://sirismm.si.edu/saam/scan6/SWI000361_2b.jpg

    a statue in Statuary Hall at the US Capital:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Marquette_NSHC.jpg

    the Marquette Winter Monument in Chicago:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8d/Marquette_Winter_Monument_Chicago.JPG/330px-Marquette_Winter_Monument_Chicago.JPG

    and on and on and on, most of which show him in clerical garb, often with a prominent cross.

    The reason is that Marquette and his companions played the same sort of role in Canada and the upper central United States that the Spanish missionaries played in California. They were undoubtedly Catholic and indisputably historically significant.

    For other religions and irreligions to be given equal treatment the government would note their equally historically significant roles in the history of the same area.

    For example, it would memorialize the great Unitarian exploration of upper Michigan, the noted Atheist settlements in the 17th century in what is now Illinois, and the Muslim Exploration of the Great Lakes region.

    If you have information like that, you should bring it to the attention of the respective states, cities, and towns.

    What is actually going on here is that a small group of loud malcontents, for example poster “christine r” who apparently played a role in starting this fracas, hate religion and look for trivial matters about which to satisfy their need to be annoying and paid attention to.

    Andrew L. Seidel works for an organization that does nothing else, usually as in this case threatening the subject of its current wrath with high legal bills, usually as a result of litigation not by the Freedom From Religion Foundation but by the ACLU, which actually has the legal resources. They present misrepresentations and outright lies such as “Such crosses, without exception, are declared unconstitutional when challenged in court.” When opposed they usually lose.

    I recommend that the Ludington, Michigan, litigate. The more the public knows about the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the quicker the charade that it is a “state-church watchdog” will be dispelled. This monument has absolutely nothing to do with “the Establishment Clause”.

  • I am surprised you can spell “playing nice with others” let alone suggest anyone do it given your track record.

  • The courts have not already decided it cannot win.

    That’s FFRF’s mouthpiece Seidel’s unsupported assertion.

  • If you feel baited, then you know you are in a position of disadvantage. (Think “bait car”.)

    If those things were done in tribute to Michael Jackson or Big Foot, would you honestly say those people were reasonable in their behavior?

  • Acting pro bono doesn’t relieve you of your ethical obligations. If they’re not upfront with their clients about the fact that the clients could be stuck with the other side’s attorney fees, it’s a problem.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    and on and on and on, most of which show him in clerical garb, often with a prominent cross.

    All of those examples give clear representation of the man as the primary purpose. If this cross were replaced with a similar statue or informative marker about Marquette, there would probably be no issue anymore.

    What is actually going on here is that a small group of loud malcontents, for example poster “christine r” who apparently played a role in starting this fracas, hate religion and look for trivial matters about which to satisfy their need to be annoying and paid attention to.

    So you’re making stuff up based on your biases, and attacking the caricature that you’ve built.

    Straw Man Fallacy

    Andrew L. Seidel works for an organization

    …that addresses violations of The Establishment to defend citizen religious rights.

    This monument has absolutely nothing to do with “the Establishment Clause”.

    Incorrect. It’s an obvious religious symbol being hosted on government property. This arrangement is preferential treatment of the related religion by our government, which is a violation of The Establishment Clause.

  • “All of those examples give clear representation of the man as the primary purpose.”

    In a quick review of the case law, I see no cases where something along the lines of a “clear representation of the man as the primary purpose” is used as a criterion.

    “If this cross were replaced with a similar statue or informative marker about Marquette, there would probably be no issue anymore.”

    It would certainly make it harder for you and the other Luddites to make your case, but the FFRF has tried this with even flimsier support.

    “So you’re making stuff up based on your biases, and attacking the caricature that you’ve built.”

    No, I took the time to read the news and commentary in the area itself since the controversy arose.

    “…that addresses violations of The Establishment to defend citizen religious rights.”

    No, it advances the ideas of Anne Nicol Gaylor, who wished to drive religion from the public square, period.

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

    It allows her daughter Annie Laurie Gaylor and Annie’s husband Dan Barker to live in a very nice home in Madison, Wisconsin, draw nice salaries, fund nice retirements funds, drive nice corporate vehicles, travel the country in style, staying in very plush settings, to deliver the “gospel” of “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

    In other words, it looks, tastes, and smells just like the scams of TV evangelists who sucker the rubes with “gods, devils, angels, heaven, and hell” except this ploy is “no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven, nor hell”.

    Religious symbols can be hosted on government property. It is all about context.

  • You may be stuck with the other side’s attorney fees, and I am sure counsel for both sides comported with their ethical requirement to advise their clients, if you maintained a frivolous position – which is why FFRF has been assessed attorney fees in some cases – or did something else that caused the opposing party to incur legal fees defending such as withholding evidence during discovery.

    That is why FFRF is more often the party paying their opponents’ legal fees than being the recipient.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    In a quick review of the case law, I see no cases where something along the lines of a “clear representation of the man as the primary purpose” is used as a criterion.

    Right. Because such representations don’t give the impression of our government favoring one religion to the exclusion of others, like a cross being given special placement on government property does.

    It would certainly make it harder for you and the other Luddites to make your case, but the FFRF has tried this with even flimsier support.

    Either you don’t know what a Luddite is or you need to explain how opposition to industrialization and automation are applicable in this case.

    No, I took the time to read the news and commentary in the area itself since the controversy arose.

    Then you should keep reading. I can help you to better understand The FFRF’s purpose, or you can keep spreading inaccurate information and I’ll continue to correct those errors.

    No, it advances the ideas of Anne Nicol Gaylor, who wished to drive religion from the public square, period.

    I’m not seeing how you got that from her Wiki or any other source unless you include biases and assumptions. Could you elaborate and maybe I can help you with this.

    In other words, it looks, tastes, and smells just like the scams of TV evangelists who sucker the rubes with “gods, devils, angels, heaven, and hell” except this ploy is “no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven, nor hell”.

    I’m glad to see that you recognize the nature of prosperity pastors. Unlike them, those at The FFRF actually do something by defending our shared religious rights from government imposition.

    Religious symbols can be hosted on government property. It is all about context.

    In this case the context is exclusive representation of an internationally recognized symbol, which violates The Establishment Clause. This was brought to the attention of The FFRF when the local government set aside somewhere around $70,000 to restore this religious iconography, functionally forcing all citizens to pay a tithe for Christianity.

  • Bob Arnzen: You didn’t specify which court. This has been decided in a court on more than one occasion. Why do you think it would be different in this case?

  • You do understand that the Federal districts are at odds on a variety of issues, right?

    And that they are settled at the level of the Supreme Court, correct?

    And that therefore the applicable interpretation unless and until the Supreme Court weighs in is which District the case arises in?

    If not, join Mr. Seidel.

  • Right because such representations in and of themselves do not connote the government favoring one religion to the exclusion of others. It’s the context that determines that.

    Either you don’t know how the word “Luddite” is used colloquially or you you’re doing an FFRF imitation.

    I have dealt with the FFRF on and off for over a decade. I know it quite well.

    Have you ever seen the Gaylor home in Madison or visited the FFRF headquarters? Have you examined their last five 990s? If not, how can you elaborate and “help (me) with this”?

    The FFRF actually does something – it provides a focal point for you and your friends to send their moolah to help Gaylor and her hubbie lead the good life.

    The fact that the cross is an “internationally recognized symbol” does not provide a prima facie case of a First Amendment violation.

    Since it isn’t, the accusation that the local government functionally forced all citizens to pay a tithe for Christianity is just that, an accusation.

    This might be an appropriate point for you to reveal your relationship with FFRF, btw.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    You do understand that the Federal districts are at odds on a variety of issues, right?

    Yes

    And that they are settled at the level of the Supreme Court, correct?

    Yes. Did you read my comment? It seems like you didn’t.

    And that therefore the applicable interpretation unless and until the Supreme Court weighs in is which District the case arises in?

    No, apparently you didn’t. Again, you said it can be decided in court. You didn’t say which court, so I addressed that various courts had already addressed this issue of the Latin cross being internationally recognized Christian iconography.

    P.S. Why do you think it would be different in this case?

  • Well, you’re now drifting off and repeating assertions as though they were facts.

    Cite a couple of cases in the Sixth District supporting those assertions.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    It’s the context that determines that.

    Exclusive hosting of an internationally recognized symbol of a religion fails The Lemon Test.

    Either you don’t know how the word “Luddite” is used colloquially or you you’re doing an FFRF imitation.

    How are you thinking that “Luddite” is colloquially used? I’m only aware of it a reference to the anti-industrialization movement, and casually as an expression of a persons opposition to technological advancements. Neither of those make sense in relation to the situation in this article.

    I have dealt with the FFRF’s on and off for over a decade. I know it quite well.

    Then you should have a better understanding of their defense of citizen religious rights.

    Have you ever seen the Gaylor home in Madison or visited the FFRF headquarters? Have you examined their last five 990s? If not, how can you elaborate and “help (me) with this”?

    I haven’t personally visited their facilities, but I am aware of them and I have read their 990’s.

    The FFRF actually does something – it provides a focal point for you and your friends to send their moolah to help Gaylor and her hubbie lead the good life.

    …and address violations of The Establishment Clause. I’ll continue to support that.

    The fact that the crosss is an “internationally recognized symbol” does not provide a prima facie case of a First Amendment violation.

    The continued exclusionary hosting of it after notification does invite it being addressed in court as a violation of The Establishment Clause as it is special or preferential treatment of one religion.

    Since it isn’t, the accusation that the local government functionally forced all citizens to pay a tithe for Christianity is just that, an accusation.

    They scrapped the renovation plan for now. It would’ve been an imposed tithe using government authority and resources which would violate the religious rights of citizens.

    This might be an appropriate point for you to reveal your relationship with FFRF, btw.

    I support The FFRF but don’t work for them in any way.

  • Bob Arnzen: You’ve moved the goalposts. It has been addressed in court. Now your specifying which district.

    Why do you think a court decision would be different in this situation?

  • The Lemon Test is not only mostly phased out by the Supreme Court, it’s not the relevant criterion by which to consider this case.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Luddite

    “Thus the term ‘Luddite’ today is one of reproach, and does not carry connotations of being socially or economically progressive”.

    It is used to describe individuals in the social or economic areas who operate out of black and white contexts, simplistic beliefs, and narrow interests, somewhat akin to the use of “fundamentalist” when discussing Christian beliefs.

    Of course, if one IS a Luddite, one would not recognize that, anymore than twelve men wearing white sheets and hoods in front of a burning cross recognize the applicability of the word “bigot” to themselves.

    The FFRF is not about the defense of citizen religious rights. Period. Amen.

    To “…address violations of The Establishment Clause” I would first support the ACLU, which actually does the legal work the FFRF takes credit for.

    However, that organization has become so politicized I left it almost ten years ago.

    “The continued exclusionary hosting of it after notification does invite it being addressed in court as a violation of The Establishment Clause as it is special or preferential treatment of one religion.” simply says the town should litigate this and stand up to a shake-down by FFRF.

    “It would’ve been an imposed tithe using government authority and resources which would violate the religious rights of citizens.”

    That’s a matter for a court to decide.

  • It has been addressed in A court. I’ve explained that different districts have reached different conclusions, which you have acknowledged, so “Why do you think a court decision would be different in this situation?” unless you’re aware of some case law in the 6th District which makes this disagreement moot.

    I am not.

  • You’re wasting your time arguing with Bobby Joe, just as you would be wasting your time arguing with his co-zygote, Joe Bob. He’s right, you’re wrong.

    That’s it. Always and forever. And if you argue the point it’s him, a just proves you’re wrong. Right?

  • “Of course, if one IS a Luddite, one would not recognize that, anymore than twelve men wearing white sheets and hoods in front of a burning cross recognize the applicability of the word “bigot” to themselves.…

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    The Lemon Test is not only mostly phased out by the Supreme Court, it’s not the relevant criterion by which to consider this case.

    On what basis do you say that?

    It is used to describe individuals in the social or economic areas who operate out of black and white contexts, simplistic beliefs, and narrow interests, somewhat akin to the use of “fundamentalist” when discussing Christian beliefs.

    Thanks! That strikes me in a similar way that misusing the word “literally” in a figurative description.

    The FFRF is not about the defense of citizen religious rights. Period. Amen.

    Again, a baseless, slanderous assessment. Keeping government from giving one religion special preference or treatment maintains the freedom of conscience regarding faith that Madison valued.

    simply says the town should litigate this and stand up to a shake-down by FFRF.

    Why not just take steps to correct or avoid the violation instead of putting taxpayer money on the line?

    That’s a matter for a court to decide.

    As a tax payer I’m fully justified in addressing my tax dollars being used for religious purposes as an imposed tithe.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    It has been addressed in A court.

    Correct. I’ve already said that.

    Why do you think this Latin cross is different from other Latin cross monuments that have been found to be violations of The Establishment Clause in other courts?

  • Lemon Test

    “Justice Scalia , with whom Justice Thomas joins, As to the Court’s invocation of the Lemon test: 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 thelittle 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, 505 U. S. (1992), 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. See, e. g., Weisman, supra, at —- (slip op., at 14) (Scalia, J., joined by, inter alios, Thomas, J., dissenting); Allegheny County v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 655-657 (1989) (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints v. Amos, 483 U.S. 327, 346-349 (1987) (O’Connor, J., concurring); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 107-113 (1985) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting); id., at 90-91 (White, J., dissenting); School Dist. of Grand Rapids v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373, 400 (1985) (White, J., dissenting); Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 282 (1981) (White, J., dissenting); New York v. Cathedral Academy, 434 U.S. 125, 134-135 (1977) (White, J., dissenting); Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Public Works, 426 U.S. 736, 768 (1976) (White, J., concurring in judgment); Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 820 (1973) (White, J., dissenting).”

    “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. See, e. g., Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 679 (1984) (noting instances in which Court has not applied Lemon test). When we wish to strike down a practice it forbids, we invoke it, see, e. g., Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402 (1985) (striking downstate remedial education program administered in part in parochial schools); when we wish to uphold a practice it forbids, we ignore it entirely, see Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding state legislative chaplains). Sometimes, we take a middle course, calling its three prongs ‘no more than helpful signposts,’ Hunt v. McNair, 413 U.S. 734, 741 (1973). Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him.”

    “For my part, I agree with the long list of constitutional scholars who have criticized Lemon and bemoaned the strange Establishment Clause geometry of crooked lines and wavering shapes its intermittent use has produced. See, e. g., Choper, The Establishment Clause and Aid to Parochial Schools–An Update, 75 Cal. L. Rev. 5 (1987); Marshall, ‘We Know It When We See It’: The Supreme Court and Establishment, 59 S. Cal. L. Rev. 495 (1986); McConnell, Accommodation of Religion, 1985 S. Ct. Rev. 1; Kurland, The Religion Clauses and the Burger Court, 34 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1 (1984); R. Cord, Separation of Church and State (1982); Choper, The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment: Reconciling the Conflict, 41 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 673 (1980). I will decline to applyLemon–whether it validates or invalidates the government action in question–and therefore cannot join the opinion of the Court today.”

    “I cannot join for yet another reason: the Court’s statement that the proposed use of the school’s facilities is constitutional because (among other things) it would not signal endorsement of religion in general. Ante, at 10. What a strange notion, that a Constitution which itself gives ‘religion in general’ preferential treatment (I refer to the Free Exercise Clause) forbids endorsement of religion in general. The Attorney General of New York not only agrees with that strange notion, he has an explanation for it: ‘Religious advocacy,’ he writes, ‘serves the community only in the eyes of its adherents and yields a benefit only to those who already believe.’”

    – Lamb’s Chapel and John Steigerwald, Petitioners v. Center Moriches Union Free School District et al, 1993

  • “That strikes me in a similar way that misusing the word “literally” in a figurative description.”

    I don’t write your posts.

    You are not going to write mine.

    Mine is not a baseless, slanderous assessment. A baseless assessment would be “In December, the Freedom From Religion Foundation pointed out that the shrine, as it has always been known and which takes the shape of an enormous cross atop a hill, is unconstitutional.”

    Another would be “Such crosses, without exception, are declared unconstitutional when challenged in court.”

    Yet another would be “The ACLJ claims to be for religious liberty but might more accurately be described as promoting Christian supremacy.”, which is also slanderous along with “… The ACLJ also adamantly opposes any attempt to keep state and church separate”.

    In fact the entire article is a one-sided tout for a partisan in a debate with two sides.

    “Why not just take steps to correct or avoid the violation instead of putting taxpayer money on the line?”

    Why not PROVE it is actually a violation?

    “As a tax payer I’m fully justified in addressing my tax dollars being used for religious purposes as an imposed tithe.”

    As a taxpayer you’re entitled to express your OPINION that tax dollars are being used for religious purposes, and that this is “an imposed tithe”.

    As a taxpayer I’m entitled to point out that this is an allegation, not a fact, unless and until a court of competent jurisdiction says it’s a fact.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    You are not going to write mine.

    I’m not trying. I’m speaking my mind regarding that usage of Luddite in general. You are not going to tell me what to think, write, or say.

    Mine is not a baseless, slanderous assessment. A baseless assessment would be “In December, the Freedom From Religion Foundation pointed out that the shrine, as it has always been known and which takes the shape of an enormous cross atop a hill, is unconstitutional.”

    It’s right there in the text you quoted. People clearly recognize the religious nature by referring to it as a shrine. Our government giving special treatment to this religious iconography is a violation of The Establishment Clause.

    Why not PROVE it is actually a violation?

    Because that would needlessly waste tax dollars in defense of an Establishment Clause violation.

    As a taxpayer you’re entitled to express your OPINION that tax dollars are being used for religious purposes, and that this is “an imposed tithe”.

    Hey there hypocrite. You just rewrote my comment.

  • Bob Arnzen: Not addressing it in various cases doesn’t mean it’s phased out. …but whatever (^_^)

  • Bob Arnzen: Cool. I’ve addressed how this religious iconography is different from the statues and monuments you indicated. Anything else?

  • Bob Arnzen: I agree that @disqus_QrOme5x4pq:disqus’s comment sounds nice, but it’s more of a successful rebuttal than a “try”.

  • You claim that the Lemon Test “has been mostly phased out by the Supreme Court” and then cite a case where the Supreme Court opinion relied heavily on the Lemon Test to determine the constitutionality of a public school policy towards religious organizations (Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District).

    The Court opinion (written by Justice White) addressed Scalia’s bizarre remarks about the Lemon Test:

    “While we are somewhat diverted by JUSTICE SCALIA’s evening at the cinema, [dicta re: the Lemon Test], we return to the reality that there is a proper way to inter an established decision, and Lemon, however frightening it might be to some, has not been overruled. This case, like Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. Amos, 483 U.S. 327 (1987), presents no occasion to do so. JUSTICE SCALIA apparently was less haunted by the ghosts of the living when he joined the opinion of the Court in that case.”

    Scalia was a hypocrite at best. He denounced the Lemon Test and yet joined the majority opinion of the Court when it was invoked. Despite Scalia’s dicta remarks, the Lemon Test is alive and well.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Henry_Memorial

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/Cape-henry-memorial.jpg

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

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/911site_cross.jpg/330px-911site_cross.jpg

    There are literally hundreds of examples like this in local, state, and federal parks and monuments.

    https://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Salazar_v_Buono_130_S_Ct_1803_176_L_Ed_2d_634_2010_Court_Opinion?1520706785

    “…. The court, however, did not acknowledge the statute’s significance. It examined the events that led to the statute’s enactment and found an intent to prevent removal of the cross. Deeming this intent illegitimate, the court concluded that nothing of moment had changed. This was error. Even assuming that the land-transfer statute was an attempt to prevent removal of the cross, it does not follow that an injunction against its implementation was appropriate.”

    “By dismissing Congress’s motives as illicit, the District Court took insufficient account of the context in which the statute was enacted and the reasons for its passage. Private citizens put the cross on Sunrise Rock to commemorate American servicemen who had died in World War I. Although certainly a Christian symbol, the cross was not emplaced on Sunrise Rock to promote a Christian message. Cf. County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U. S. 573, 661 (1989) (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment [***647] in part and dissenting in part) (‘[T]he [Establishment] Clause forbids a city to permit the permanent erection of a large Latin cross on the roof of city hall . . . because such an obtrusive year-round religious display would place the government’s weight behind an obvious effort to proselytize on behalf of a particular religion’). Placement of the cross on Government-owned land was not an attempt to set the imprimatur of the state on a particular creed. Rather, those who erected the [**1817] cross intended simply to honor our Nation’s fallen soldiers. See Brief for Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States et al. as Amici Curiae 15 (noting that the plaque accompanying the cross ‘was decorated with VFW decals’). [*716]”

    “Time also has played its role. The cross had stood on Sunrise Rock for nearly seven decades before the statute was enacted. By then, the cross and the cause it commemorated had become entwined in the public [****11] consciousness. See ibid. Members of the public gathered regularly at Sunrise Rock to pay their respects. Rather than let the cross deteriorate, community members repeatedly took it upon themselves to replace it. Congress ultimately designated the cross as a national memorial, ranking it among those monuments honoring the noble sacrifices that constitute our national heritage. See note following 16 U.S.C. § 431 (listing officially designated national memorials, including the National D-Day Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial). Research discloses no other national memorial honoring American soldiers — more than 300,000 of them — who were killed or wounded in World War I. See generally A. Leland & M. Oboroceanu, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics 2 (2009). It is reasonable to interpret the congressional designation as giving recognition to the historical meaning that the cross had attained. Cf. Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U. S. 677, 702-703 (2005) (BREYER, J., concurring in judgment) (‘40 years’ without legal challenge to a Ten Commandments display ‘suggest that the public visiting the [surrounding] grounds has considered the religious aspect of the tablets’ message as part of what is a broader moral and historical message reflective of a cultural heritage’).”

    (Ed: The FFRF routinely advises governmental bodies that ANY presentation of the Ten Commandments violates the First Amendment, erroneously.)

    “…. Buono maintains that any governmental interest in keeping the cross up must cede to the constitutional concerns on which the 2002 injunction was based. He argues that the land transfer would be ‘an incomplete remedy’ to the constitutional [*718] violation underlying the injunction and that the transfer would make achieving a proper remedy more difficult. Brief for Respondent 54.”

    “…The District Court granted the 2002 injunction based solely on its conclusion that presence of the cross on federal land conveyed an impression of governmental endorsement of religion. The court expressly disavowed any inquiry into whether the Government’s actions had a secular purpose or caused excessive entanglement. Buono I, 212 F. Supp. 2d, at 1215, 1217, n. 9. The Court of Appeals affirmed the injunction on the same grounds, similarly eschewing any scrutiny of governmental purpose. Buono II, 371 F. 3d, at 550.”

    “Although, for purposes of the opinion, the propriety of the 2002 injunction may be assumed, the following discussion should not be read to suggest this Court’s agreement with that judgment, some aspects of which may [***649] be questionable. The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, [*719] the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society. See Lee v. Weisman, 505 U. S. 577, 598 (1992) (‘A relentless and all-pervasive attempt to exclude religion from every aspect of public life could itself become inconsistent with the Constitution’). See also Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. Amos, 483 U. S. 327, 334 (1987) (‘This Court has long recognized that the government may (and sometimes must) [****13] accommodate religious practices and that it may do so without violating the Establishment Clause’ (internal quotation marks omitted)). [**1819] Rather, it leaves room to accommodate divergent values within a constitutionally permissible framework.”

  • George T: As I point out in my reply to Bob Arnzen, the Lemon Test is alive and well. He quoted some ramblings from Scalia from a case where the Court in fact relied heavily on the Lemon Test – and Scalia concurred with the majority opinion despite grousing about the Lemon Test in his concurring remarks!

  • I have a good hunch as to what “sources” you’re relying on, not the least of which is the faulty treatments of the Lemon Test on this organization’s website.

    That is propaganda, not an objective dispassionate look at either the law or the applicability of this so-called test.

  • And I’m speaking my mind regarding that usage of Luddite.

    “People clearly recognize the religious nature by referring to it as a shrine.”

    They refer to it as a shrine because at one time it was called a shrine, not because they go there to worship.

    “Because that would needlessly waste tax dollars in defense of an Establishment Clause violation.”

    In other words, if you and your friends at the FFRF show up and make a Mafia-like “suggestion” this, that, or the other is “an Establishment Clause violation”, despite the fact that FFRF wins perhaps 2-5% of its cases that are actually litigated, for their own “protection” the recipient of this “advice” should roll over and play dead.

    I believe the term we’re looking for is “extortion”.

    “Hey there hypocrite. You just rewrote my comment.”

    No, I summarized it in my own statement. I had to. Did I mischaracterize what you said? No.

  • So, in all the cases where the Court disregarded the Lemon Test, which is basically moribund, the Court in fact, and contra the recorded opinions in each case, did NOT disregard the Lemon Test?

    The fact that it actually did renders Justice White’s comments “bizarre”.

    The Court has not actually applied the Lemon Test since 2000 in Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000).

  • Re: “ACLJ might not charge the Michigan township, but fighting a losing legal battle could still cost taxpayers a pretty penny, hundreds of thousands of dollars actually.”  

    I wonder to what extent outfits like ACLJ make this clear when they press local governments to pursue these ridiculous cases. Do they perhaps dismiss the possibility of it? Or, worse, do they somehow imply they will, themselves, cover these expenses, then later renege on that implication?
     

  • Bob Arnzen:

    They refer to it as a shrine because at one time it was called a shrine, not because they go there to worship.

    Again, indicating the religious nature of the monument.

    despite the fact that FFRF wins perhaps 2-5% of its cases that are actually litigated,

    Can you provide a citation or did you pull this number out of your posterior?

    No, I summarized it in my own statement. I had to.

    Why not admit your error like an adult? You didn’t have to rewrite my comment, hypocrite.

  • It is referred to as a shrine because it was at one called a shrine just like the “Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine” at Baltimore, Maryland.

    Your last two sentences are asking for a bit of a sharp rebuttal.

    I’ll let you think about it before I respond.

    I actually did the math on their cases about three years ago. Unless something wonderful has happened since, I believe that number is pretty fair.

    One of the reasons they lose so often is they file frivolous suits to please their “faithful”. For example, in 2009 FFRF filed suit against the IRS over the parish exemption that allows “ministers of the gospel” to claim part of their salary as an income-tax-free housing allowance. They then dropped the suit and refiled in 2011, in Wisconsin, because they have a zany senior Federal judge there in their hip pocket. In August 2012, she ruled that the suit – of course – could go forward. In August 2013, the Justice Department pointed out that leaders of an atheist group may qualify for the parish exemption. Gaylor stated “this is not what we are after,” claiming that the IRS should not give religious groups any accommodation despite the fact that the Founders considered religion a civic good and that Federal law is rife with accommodations for various non-profit entities.

    In November 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its decision, concluding that the federal tax code provision that treats church-provided housing allowances to ministers as income tax-free must stand.

    In November 2012, FFRF filed a lawsuit against the IRS for not revoking tax-exempt status for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a diocese requiring priests to read a statement urging Catholics to vote; and the institution of “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”,despite the fact that a long history of cases held that these practices were not violations of the tax-exempt status of religious organizations.

    In December 2012 the FFRF filed suit against the IRS for not requiring the yearly filing of a 990 Form for religious institutions, which is required for most non-profit organizations, despite the fact that previous court rulings found that requiring religions to file 990s constituted an excessive entanglement of the government in religion.

    Although it loses case after case, you would never know it reading its website.

    It files the frivolous sorts of suits noted against the IRS primarily because the IRS can’t recover attorney fees.

    Its 2013 990 showed revenues of $3,878,938, with a net surplus after expenses of $1,715,563 and net assets of $11,519,770.

    Approximately 10% of that surplus each years provides current compensation for “co-presidents” Annie Laurie Gaylor and her husband Dan Barker.

  • Bob Arnzen:

    Although it loses case after case, you would never know it reading its website.

    The FFRF notified every member of the cases you just mentioned.

  • Yes, I know.

    As silly as they are, it keeps the donations coming in.

    Thanks for confirming you’re a member.

  • Certainly if, like you, he knows nothing about the topic, he’s wasting time and he’s wasting everyone else’s time, as you have done more than a few times.

  • Actually it wound up with you running out of ammunition and heading for:

    “Bob Arnzen: So… no hunches. Gotcha. Ben in Oakland was right.”

    after I wouldn’t take the hunches bait.

  • This case is not ridiculous.

    Every counsel advises their client of the risks.

    You can’t renege on an implication.

  • Right. There are simply no cases where it applies, despite at least one case per year for the last 20 on the topic.

  • Where is your evidence that the Lemon Test is “basically moribund”? Federal courts still routinely apply it.

    The Supreme Court developed the Lemon Test to help analyze and interpret Establishment Clause cases. But the Court uses several tests to decide Establishment Clause cases besides the Lemon Test, including the coercion, endorsement, and neutrality tests.

    I don’t understand your fixation on the Lemon Test. The Lemon Test has never been overruled and is the standard of judicial review in cases involving the Establishment Clause. But courts have other means of determining Establishment Clause violations if the circumstances better lend themselves to a particular framework.

  • Fine. How about George Washington? I don’t care…you pick. Then show me how those things would be reasonable.

  • I have no fixation on the Lemon Test.

    The fixation on the Lemon Test resides at Freedom From Religion Foundation, which peddles it like a patent medicine to its faithful, thus George T’s fixation on it as an FFRF groupie.

    It is their primary citation in their cases against monuments:

    https://ffrf.org/images/36_Bayview_CitysResponseBrief.pdf

    https://ffrf.org/legacy/quiz/ffrfanswers.php

    “16. According to the “Lemon test,” in order to be constitutional, a law or public act must:”

    “have a secular purpose”

    “have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion”

    “not result in excessive governmental entanglement with religion”

    “all of the above. The 3-pronged Lemon test (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971, which dealt with public aid to private schools) has almost consistently been utilized by the Supreme Court since the early 1970s. ”
    which, of course, is false.

    An examination of this monument requires a much more complex analysis, which the Supreme Court outlines with case references in Salazar v Buono sending it back to the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals.

    https://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Salazar_v_Buono_130_S_Ct_1803_176_L_Ed_2d_634_2010_Court_Opinion?1520706785

    “By dismissing Congress’s motives as illicit, the District Court took insufficient account of the context in which the statute was enacted and the reasons for its passage. Private citizens put the cross on Sunrise Rock to commemorate American servicemen who had died in World War I. Although certainly a Christian symbol, the cross was not emplaced on Sunrise Rock to promote a Christian message. Cf. County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U. S. 573, 661 (1989) (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment [***647] in part and dissenting in part) (‘[T]he [Establishment] Clause forbids a city to permit the permanent erection of a large Latin cross on the roof of city hall . . . because such an obtrusive year-round religious display would place the government’s weight behind an obvious effort to proselytize on behalf of a particular religion’). Placement of the cross on Government-owned land was not an attempt to set the imprimatur of the state on a particular creed. Rather, those who erected the [**1817] cross intended simply to honor our Nation’s fallen soldiers. See Brief for Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States et al. as Amici Curiae 15 (noting that the plaque accompanying the cross ‘was decorated with VFW decals’).”

    “That test requires the hypothetical construct of an objective observer who knows all of the pertinent facts and circumstances surrounding the [**1820] symbol and its placement. See id., at 780 (O’Connor, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment). But see id., at 767-768 (plurality opinion) (doubting the workability of the reasonable observer test). Applying this test here, the message conveyed by the cross would be assessed in the context of all relevant factors. See Van Orden, 545 U. S., at 700 (BREYER, J., concurring in judgment) (the Establishment Clause inquiry ‘must take account of context and consequences’); Lee, supra, at 597 (‘Our Establishment Clause jurisprudence remains a delicate and fact-sensitive one’).”

    “The District Court did not attempt to reassess the findings in Buono I in light of the policy of accommodation that Congress had embraced. Rather, the District Court concentrated solely on the religious aspects of the cross, divorced from its background and context. But a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people. Here, one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.“

    In short, the presence of the cross can only be examined in context.

    That renders the Lemon Test irrelevant at this point, and it voids the presumption of FFRF that the monument in question is a prima facie violation of the First Amendment.

  • Really?

    How did you arrive at ““As for counsel advising of risks … clearly that did not occur.”?

  • So you make a snide remark in response to a comment about playing nice with others. You seem to suffer from an irony deficiency. 🙂

  • The only people who seem to have a problem with them are those with rather hostile views to the notion of religious freedom. Basically theocrats.

  • Oh, so now I see why you don’t like the Lemon Test, because a judge just last year applied it to a case involving a Christian cross in a public park and ruled the cross unconstitutional. Hey, you said the Lemon Test “had been phased out” and was “moribund”!

    Let’s see, the 34-foot white Latin cross that the city of Pensacola owns, displays, and funds looms over the Bayview Park. The cross is also the site of numerous Easter Sunrise services, frequently co-hosted by Christian churches. A plaque specifically referencing Easter sits at the base of a platform near the cross.

    Why would any judge conclude this towering religious symbol owned by the city government, sitting on government-owned property, and maintained by the government be any sort of violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment? That darned Lemon Test!

  • First I had a fixation on the Lemon Test.

    Now, I don’t like the Lemon Test.

    I think we’ve identified who has the Lemon Test fixation.

    Obviously your legal training and background consists of reading Freedom From Religion Foundation’s blurbs and propaganda, like this propaganda piece being commented on.

    Municipal ownership of a 34-foot white Latin cross does not constitute a prima facie Establishment violation, even if it “towers”, “looms”, or does Kabuki dances.

    As Justice Kennedy advises the 9th District Court, simplistic application of the Lemon Test, or a presumption of an Establishment violation, is not the proper approach to determining whether the cross is permissible.

    For example, you suggest that it is “the site of numerous Easter Sunrise services, frequently co-hosted by Christian churches”. If those actions are of private citizens, acting on their own, not promoted or invited by the city, they are irrelevant to the consideration of the local government. As the city correctly notes, regulating or prohibiting citizens’ spontaneous Free Speech would itself be a First Amendment violation.

    However, I do appreciate that as a true believer you find supporting Annie Laurie Gaylor and her husband in the lifestyle they enjoy meaningful, that you find grinding your teeth at crosses a fulfilling hobby, and that creating an atheist version of Jim Bakker’s hucksterism pleases you.

  • OK.
    Before I say good-bye, I’d like to say that I hope you’ll ask yourself why you demand reasonable behavior in every other aspect of your life, but you give religion a pass.

  • I don’t give religion a pass.

    However, I don’t consider it Evil Personified.

    While there is a certain of entertainment in calling the boss at work names behind his back, or mocking your father to a sibling, that doesn’t provide a framework for going on with your life. Like crossing your eyes, it could become permanent.

    Religion, because it is rife with human beings, exhibits all the bad things we associate with human beings.

    In fact it is the worst thing in the world, except for irreligion, which produces zero benefits for mankind, raises no one’s moral behavior, and provides nothing in the way of charity.

    In looking at the choices in sum total that is my assessment, and dealing with smarmers doesn’t produce any light at all.

    In fact, I’ve found it is impossible to have an intelligent conversation on the topic with them. So why try?

  • Do you really think that people cannot be good without religion? That’s a very depressing idea, and I can assure you it’s wrong. My extended family (with one exception) is non-religious. There are 3 doctors, 2 nurses, a cop, several successful business people, and a handful of regular work-a-day Joes. We are good, honest, generous, loving people. Not one bum, not one criminal, no child molesters, no suicide bombers. I have keys to the houses of 4 seasonal neighbors.

    This is the real world. This is not a drill for some afterlife. This is not a test.

  • I said it, because in the case of the Enfield, CT schools, no such warning was ever given the school board. ACLJ promised to pay all the bills … but ended up not paying them all.  

  • If I meant “people cannot be good without religion”, I would have written “people cannot be good without religion”.

    You’re setting up a straw man.

    You, the three doctors, the two nurses, the successful business people live in a sea of laws, customs, morals, and people seeped in religion.

    For a bit of taste of what happens outside the sea, take a look at what happened in Paris in the French Revolution, the tidal wave of sexual depravity that engulfed Germany – particularly Berlin – during the period of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), or Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

    One looks in vain for the atheist counterpart to the Red Cross, Red Crescent, or Red Crystal.

    What we have to look at is the big picture, the overall effect, the values a society holds.

  • Here’s the evidence. First, the promise of assistance: http://articles.courant.com/2010-04-23/community/hc-enfield-cathedral-0423.artapr22_1_ceremonies-at-first-cathedral-gregory-stokes-americans-united  

    Next, the school system’s settlement: http://articles.courant.com/2012-07-18/community/hc-enfield-aclu-lawsuit-settlement-20120718_1_chairman-timothy-neville-peter-jonaitis-alex-luchenitser  

    Obviously the ACLJ did not tell the Enfield school board they’d be on the hook for the other side’s fees.  

    What’s more, I have no idea why you’re demanding this of me. The article we’re commenting on lists more such cases. It’s very common. I can’t imagine why you’re defending what these militant Christianist outfits do … which is to sell municipalities on becoming “test cases” to change the law of the land by promising them it won’t cost anything, then when it doesn’t work out — which is inevitable — they cut and run, leaving other people with big bills.  

    Again, it’s all explained in the article. Did you miss it or something? If you did, demanding things of me is not going to help, because you’re purposely choosing to look away from the unethical behavior of your own ilk. And this is a free country, so you are (of course!) free to do that … but to act as though I — or the OP — is at fault for pointing it out, is juvenile and absurd.  

  • Amusing, but no evidence, so “(o)bviously the ACLJ did not tell the Enfield school board” is your gloss on it, not a fact.

    Neither article left any impression that ACLJ did or did not inform the school board of a potential for paying the other side’s fees.

    There is a plethora of caveats and advisements counsel will provide a client. None of them are newsworthy.

    Btw, no one is “demanding” anything.

    You made a statement, and I asked for evidence supporting it.

    It turns out you made a guess, an assessment, a hunch, or something, but there is no evidence.

  • I knew you would not accept what I told you. There is, quite simply, no way that so many different municipalities would all have signed on with the ACLJ to be their “test cases” if the ACLJ had made the financial risks clear, every time. This is simply too common a phenomenon not to have been a snow job. It defies reason to think so. A couple of them … maybe. But not this many.  

    Again, I get that you don’t wish to think ill of your co-religionists. But they’re in the business of conjuring up “test cases” with an eye toward using the courts to refashion the country into the Christocracy they desperately want. It’s what they do for their living, aside from their theocratic agenda … the same way that personal injury lawyers advertise on TV and promise big payouts to injured parties (they’re supposedly all just SO MUCH smarter than all those vile insurance companies, right?). They’ve been clear about this for a very long time. To presume they won’t whitewash the risks to their (potential) clients, the same way personal injury lawyers overstate their magical legal powers in TV commercials, is something I simply do not find credible. YOU might find it credible, but I’m not that stupid.  

  • Yes, I will not accept what you told me.

    “There is, quite simply, no way that so many different municipalities
    would all have signed on with the ACLJ to be their ‘test cases’ if the
    ACLJ had made the financial risks clear, every time.” is ludicrous.

    The phrase “test case” appears from thin air.

    Every suit with two parties winds up one of three ways: win, lose, or draw and everybody walks away.

    Towns, states, and the Federal government all have attorneys on the payroll or on retainer. All of them are big boys and girls who negotiate with unions, sue, defend suits, pass laws, and on and on. You make it sound like they’re a collection of rubes with a straw hanging out of one side of their mouth getting the patent medicine show from attorneys in a circus trailer.

    Just as the ACLU, AU, and FFRF go around threatening and filing, so there are a plethora of organizations – the American Center for Law and Justice, the Catholic League, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and on and on to defend against them.

    Everyone involved are big boys and girls. You need not worry they’re being fleeced.

  • In 2017, a Federal court ruled that the 34-ft Latin cross at Bayview Park has a “religious purpose” and must be removed from government property (Kondrat’yev, et al v. City of Pensacola, 2017). The court used legal precedent (Lemon Test) in arriving at its inescapable conclusion. You sent me multiple links and opinions regarding the Lemon Test (Scalia, seriously?) and claimed it “had been phased out” and was “moribund.” That proved to be false.

    To circumvent that pesky Lemon Test, maybe you could argue that the Latin cross, a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, has no religious significance and therefore should pass any Establishment Clause test that a court could possibly bring to bear. Peter denying Jesus: “The cross is not a religious symbol, the Bayview cross is part of the history of Pensacola. Yeah, that’s our story. We’re sticking to it. Oh, and don’t forget the sunrise service tomorrow at the base of the cross. We’re busing people in from three different churches.”

    It’s the same reason we still have “In God We Trust” as a motto – monumental Christian hypocrisy. The courts have declared IGWT no longer religious because “any religious freight the words may have been meant to carry originally has long since been lost” and IGWT “has lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.” Maybe you should send an e-mail to the Becket Foundation telling them to defend the cross by arguing “any religious freight the cross may have been meant to carry originally has long since been lost.”

  • So when have they (or you) stopped support for the compulsive liar, cheat and fraud elected as president?

    One would imagine people who extol facts and find swindlers and thieves offensive would turn away from such a figure. 🙂

  • The Supreme Court has not used the Lemon Test since Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000), going on 18 years ago.

    The fact that this or that lower court has cited and used it is interesting but not dispositive of anything.

    The notion that the court reached an “inescapable conclusion” is based on the same assertion that FFRF made in the article being described. No, the mere presence of a cross does NOT constitute a prima face Establishment violation.

    I don’t forget the sunrise service tomorrow at the base of the cross. The churches were not being sued, and unless the government is arranging the services, it’s meaningless.

    If churches hold services at the World War II Memorial, we are not going to close it because it became a religious monument.

    The reason we still have “In God We Trust” as a motto is because the Supreme Court and most of the American people don’t harbor animosity towards religion, and think Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United nee Americans United for Separation of Church and State nee Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and their ilk are a bit off.

    Much like yourself.

  • Within a 10-mile radius of my house there are 33 churches. There is ONE atheist group.

    We meet once a month. None of us are willing to go public. We are afraid for the safety our jobs and our families and our homes.

    You’ve got power in numbers and organization.

    You’ve also got mass delusion and mob mentality. Eating flesh and drinking blood are only acceptable because of this. Done on it’s own, or for any other reason, it would be universally ridiculed, and you know it!

    Why anyone would let their child be involved in an organization that systematically covers up the rape of children is mind boggling. If that was the American Bowling Congress, they’d be completely ruined. Somehow, people are blinded by their faith. God is more important that the children.

    For SHAME!

  • Re: “Yes, I will not accept what you told me.”  

    … due to your fierce, religionistic intransigence. Got it.  

    Re: The phrase “test case” appears from thin air.” 

    Except, it doesn’t … but by all means, please, you just go keep telling yourself that.  

    Re: “You make it sound like they’re a collection of rubes with a straw hanging out of one side of their mouth getting the patent medicine show from attorneys in a circus trailer.”  

    Some of them are like that. Others are, simply, gullible and are easy to swindle. And it’s not because they’re “stupid” or “primitive” or anything … rather, it’s because someone tells them something they’d like to hear, so they just latch onto it. Sort of like religious believers refusing to think ill of their co-believers because they simply can’t let go of the idea that any of their own ilk might, somehow, not be perfectly ethical or something.  

    Re: “Just as the ACLU, AU, and FFRF go around threatening and filing, so there are a plethora of organizations – the American Center for Law and Justice, the Catholic League, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and on and on to defend against them.”  

    Except there’s a difference: That latter bunch of Christofascist outfits are more selective in whom they represent and the cases they try. They only will help dour believers like themselves. The ACLU, on the other hand, the ACLU can, will, and has defended religious believers — in spite of their (very undeserved) reputation as “vile secularists.”  

    Re: “Everyone involved are big boys and girls. You need not worry they’re being fleeced.”  

    So you admit these municipalities were “fleeced.” QED. Thank you!  

    I hope you realize, “fleecing” “big boys and girls” isn’t ethical either … or, maybe you DO actually think that! (Again, because you petulantly refuse to think ill of your own co-religionists.)  

  • “… due to your fierce, religionistic intransigence. Got it. “

    No, you don’t “got it”.

    You did not prove your allegation. What you’re lacking is proof.

    “Others are, simply, gullible and are easy to swindle. And it’s not because they’re “stupid” or “primitive” or anything … rather, it’s because someone tells them something they’d like to hear, so they just latch onto it.”

    Just like you.

    “Except there’s a difference: That latter bunch of Christofascist outfits are more selective in whom they represent and the cases they try.”

    The FFRF, AU, and increasingly ACLU have their own agendae. You happen to like that agenda. As the article demonstrated, they are as fascist as anyone and more than many.

    “So you admit these municipalities were ‘fleeced.’”

    No, I’m suggesting you’re gullible.

  • So, you’re more or less channeling what it felt like to have religion in the Soviet Union, Red China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or North Korea?

    “You’ve also got mass delusion and mob mentality.”

    Well, you have the delusion down fairly pat.

    “Eating flesh and drinking blood are only acceptable because of this. Done on it’s own, or for any other reason, it would be universally ridiculed, and you know it!”

    Actually it was quite the thing in Rome when the Christian faith started.

    Clearly you’re unfamiliar with the mystery religions.

    “Why anyone would let their child be involved in an organization that systematically covers up the rape of children is mind boggling.”

    What organization might that be?

    Or are you saying “an organization that is systematically accused of covering up the rape of children despite the lack of proof”?

    There are more child rapes each year in the public schools in the United States then in any other institution.

    At least we’re past any pretensions you have anything cooking but pure hatred for religion, or that you have any substantial evidence to present.

  • Re: “You did not prove your allegation. What you’re lacking is proof.”  

    The sheer number of municipalities that have ended up in the same boat, is the “proof.” That you subjectively dismiss it, cannot and will never magically make it anything else.  

    Re: “The FFRF, AU, and increasingly ACLU have their own agendae.”  

    As I explained to you, the ACLU’s “agenda” is wider than you and your fiercely religionistic co-believers are willing to admit. They defend believers as well as non-believers and are not the anti-religious zealots the Religious Right claims. Hell, they even defended Rush Limbaugh, of all people!  

    Re: “No, I’m suggesting you’re gullible.”  

    Actually I’m not. It’s YOU who’s gullible. You’ve been swindled into thinking your co-religionists are ethically perfect, when in fact they’re the theocratic equivalent of ambulance-chasers. You’re just too ignorant and blinded by metaphysics to see it. That isn’t my problem … it’s yours. So bellyaching at me over it, isn’t going to help you. Grow up already.  

    At any rate, I will repeat, you admitted municipalities had been fleeced. QED.  

  • “The sheer number of municipalities that have ended up in the same boat, is the ‘proof.’”

    The sheer number “one”, which is what you’ve provided to this point.

    “As I explained to you, the ACLU’s “agenda” is wider than you and your fiercely religionistic co-believers are willing to admit.”

    I am very familiar with the ACLU. I was a member for over 30 years. I quit the same year Alan Dershowitz

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

    did for much the same reason he did. It used to be a civil rights organization. Now it’s a political lobby.

    “It’s YOU who’s gullible.”

    That unsupported shrill invective is the best evidence against you.

    “You’ve been swindled into thinking your co-religionists are ethically perfect, when in fact they’re the theocratic equivalent of ambulance-chasers.”

    Defending religious rights is not ambulance chasing.

    “You’re just too ignorant and blinded by metaphysics to see it. That isn’t my problem … it’s yours.”

    Your problem is you are very loud and know almost nothing.

  • Re: “I am very familiar with the ACLU. I was a member for over 30 years. I quit the same year Alan Dershowitz …”  

    I have no idea why you’re trumpeting the opinions of Dershowitz. He’s knowingly helped sociopaths get away with terrible crimes (O.J. Simpson and Klaus von Bulow, to name just two). I don’t march to his drum, because he’s no bastion of ethics or morality. I wouldn’t use him as your barometer of legality or of right & wrong.  

    So really, I couldn’t give two s—s what Dershowitz’s beef is with the ACLU. I’m also not a member of the ACLU. I only said that your co-religionists accuse it of being anti-religious, which is not true, and that it has a much wider scope than the Christifascist outfits you slaver over.  

    Re: “Defending religious rights is not ambulance chasing.”  

    It is, when one gins up “test cases” in the name of promoting Christocracy, because that’s how one earns one’s living.  

    Re: “Your problem is you are very loud and know almost nothing.”  

    It’s you who knows “almost nothing.” You purposely ignore information because it incenses you to think it might be true. On the other hand, I’m not afraid to think ill of Christofascists and call them out for being what they are.  

  • You’re going to need more than your bigoted hunch on one example to continue your diatribe, two s—s or not.

  • My “bigoted hunch” is not a “bigoted hunch, and is based on knowledge of the Enfield, CT case — in which the ACLJ pushed the school board into pressing its case beyond what the town had originally expected, based on ACLJ’s promise not to leave them in the lurch.  

    Yet, that’s what they did.  

    I cannot “prove” this with documentary evidence. I have both friends and relatives who live in that town, and that some of them (yes!) were and are part of the town government. They were privy to what was discussed. I can provide further explanation as to how all this transpired, if you wish, but I doubt it’s anything you’d accept. Because you childishly and petulantly refuse to think ill of your own co-religionists.  

    One thing I can say about that is, you aren’t alone in that regard. There are still many in Enfield who resent the big payout they had to make, but who still refuse to accept they were swindled by the ACLJ because, like you, they simply refuse to believe that devout Christians could have misled them.  

    So please, go ahead and tell me I’m wrong. Keep telling me that. I know differently — but you just go right ahead and tell me I don’t know what I do, in fact, know to be true.  

    Or, you can act like a grown-up and admit I just might know more about what happened in Enfield than you do. Your choice. If you won’t pursue this mature alternative to what you’ve been doing, that will only further confirm the primitive, tribalistic, and infantile nature of Christianism — which is something I’ve talked about ad infinitum for decades.  

    So either way, I win. Either you concede I might be right about how the ACLJ works; or you won’t, which will just prove me right, but in a different way.  

    At any rate, thanks for playing this game. It’s been fun watching a dour Christianist fall into the trap of his own Christianism.  

  • That dictum is true as far as it goes, but what was the end result of Buono? The litigation at the Supreme Court stage was at a point where the cross was putatively on *private* land after Congress authorized a land swap, recognizing that courts would likely rule it unconstitutional if it remained on public land. That’s exactly what happened recently in Bladensburg, MD. Of course there may be many “religious symbols in the public realm” — in fact the Bladensburg court provided photographs in its decision — but these very large crosses have consistently been found unconstitutional.

  • At this point another lawsuit is pending to expedite the land transfer.

    The litigation at the Supreme Court stage, among other things, contested the transfer to private land.

    Justice Kennedy did not agree with you, or with Seidel, “that courts would likely rule it unconstitutional if it remained on public land”. That determination requires a trial in which facts, including the context of the monument in question, are determined.

    Once that is accomplished, THEN considerations such as an application of the Lemon Test MAY be appropriate.

    That “these very large crosses have consistently been found unconstitutional” is Seidel’s text, but that is simply not the case. Were it the case, Justice Kennedy’s comments would be ludicrous since the mere presence of a cross would be a prima facie Establishment clause violation.

    The Bladensburg fiasco took place in the 4th District which, like the 9th, has apparently adopted some alternative ideas about the First and Second Amendments.

    Eventually a case from one of them will be heard at at the SCOTUS and we’ll see whether Seidel or Kennedy is definitive.

  • There is zero evidence that “the ACLJ pushed the school board into pressing its case beyond what the town had originally expected” either “based on ACLJ’s promise not to leave them in the lurch” or any other promise.

    Based on your imagination applied to one case where you admit “I cannot ‘prove’ this with documentary evidence”, you projected this on to the universe of similar situations apparently predicated on your hatred of religion, religious symbols, and general unAmerican approach to the First Amendment.

    If you “know more about what happened in Enfield ” then the press, the court documents, and the final agreement you’ve got blockbuster information that could be used to disbar ACLJ’s counsel, and you should forthwith scribble it down, get sworn statements and evidential matter supporting it, and submit it forthwith to the proper disciplinary body in that state.

    If you don’t know who that is, I will make it my personal business to determine it for you and communicate not only the agency but the name of person who can act on it.

    If you don’t do that, establishing your “facts”, you lose.

  • Neither I, nor Seidel as far as I know, nor anyone with any understanding of the First Amendment, has ever said that the mere presence of a cross is a prima facie Establishment Clause violation. You’re correct, all of these cases require trials in which the facts and context of the crosses are determined. And they have consistently lost. The Buono case at the Supreme Court stage was not litigating the presence of a cross on public land.

  • I’m only going to tell you this one more time, and I’m going to put it in bold to help you actually read it (instead of just getting your knickers in knots over my insolence): The ACLJ lied to the town of Enfield about its potential liabilities, then refused to help pay up when the bill came in.  

    That’s just how it is. You can tell me over and over again, until you’re blue in the face, that’s not what happened — but it is. And it’s laughable for you to tell me differently, when I have access to the facts of this case and you don’t.  

    I can only assume three possibilities: First, that you are in fact so infantile that you cannot concede that anyone on the planet, other than yourself, knows this case any more than you; second, that you think I’m lying when I say I know this case better than you; or third, that you fully realize you might be in the wrong here but cannot, due to your own pride and Christianist tribalism, admit I know more about this case than you.  

    Re: “If you ‘know more about what happened in Enfield’ then the press, the court documents, and the final agreement you’ve got blockbuster information that could be used to disbar ACLJ’s counsel, and you should forthwith scribble it down, get sworn statements and evidential matter supporting it, and submit it forthwith to the proper disciplinary body in that state.”  

    Actually, I have been involved in remediation efforts. They’ve gone nowhere, mainly because Connecticut state courts have no desire to revisit the case. There is an avenue of attack which is being pursued, and which might actually get somewhere, but it hasn’t fully played out yet.  

    Is that enough for you? (I’ll answer in advance: No, it’s not. Of course it’s not! No cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen like myself could ever possibly know more about any given subject than you … because you got your Jesus and that means your personal knowledge of every subject exceeds mine. Right? Of course!) 

    Re: “If you don’t know who that is, I will make it my personal business to determine it for you and communicate not only the agency but the name of person who can act on it.”  

    Why would you ever do anything? You can’t even concede the possibility that I might know more about this case than you .. because there’s no chance that this cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen can ever possibly know more about anything than a devout, pious Christianist like yourself.  

    Finally, and to be clear: You do not know what you’re talking about, here. You just don’t. But you’re not mature enough to admit it. Go find someone to change your diaper.  

  • “Neither I, nor Seidel as far as I know, nor anyone with any understanding of the First Amendment, has ever said that the mere presence of a cross is a prima facie Establishment Clause violation.”

    https://pantheon-live.religionnews.com/2018/03/07/how-pro-bono-offers-to-defend-religious-monuments-are-stressing-local-governments/

    “…. no court of final resort has ever permitted a giant Christian cross to remain on government property. Such crosses, without exception, are declared unconstitutional when challenged in court.”

    “And they have consistently lost.” No, as Justice Kennedy pointed out.

    “The Buono case at the Supreme Court stage was not litigating the presence of a cross on public land.”

    And Justice Kennedy was reminding the 9th District, which was proceeding as though the mere presence of the cross on public land was a prima facie Establishment Clause violation, of that. And he provided a Law 101 outline of factors to be considered.

  • I am truly happy that this is the last time we are going to hear your so far unsupported assessment that “the ACLJ lied to the town of Enfield about its potential liabilities, then refused to help pay up when the bill came in.” I thought you’d never stop.

    “Actually, I have been involved in remediation efforts. They’ve gone nowhere, mainly because Connecticut state courts have no desire to revisit the case. There is an avenue of attack which is being pursued, and which might actually get somewhere, but it hasn’t fully played out yet.”

    If you happen to get a case number assigned, I’ll do the research and provide information to those interested.

    Until then, I suppose you’ll have to rest on the knowledge that you know more than the author, the courts, or anyone else.

  • The article we are all commenting on does not say that the mere presence of a cross on public land is a prima facie violation of the First Amendment.

  • https://pantheon-live.religionnews.com/2018/03/07/how-pro-bono-offers-to-defend-religious-monuments-are-stressing-local-governments/

    “…. no court of final resort has ever permitted a giant Christian cross to remain on government property. Such crosses, without exception, are declared unconstitutional when challenged in court.”

    imply, verb

    “Indicate the truth or existence of (something) by suggestion rather than explicit reference.”

    Example:

    Big Al: “Ya know, there’s been a lot of fires in the neighborhood. It would be a terrible thing if your drycleaning shop were to have a fire that burned it to the ground.”

  • To be clear: You. Do. Not. Know. What. You. Are. Talking. About.  

    And you have no rational reason to presume I cannot — unless you assume, as I’m sure you do, that having your Jesus in your pocket automatically makes you more knowledgable than a cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen.  

    You just keep demonstrating, with your every comment, the immaturity inherent in Christianism, by refusing to concede I might know more about Enfield CT than you do. Obviously your Jesus has given you vastly more information about Enfield CT than someone whose family hailed from there and who has lived there. Obviously!  

  • only violation if there is anti-religion

    anti-religion is only violation

    violation organization is anti-religion separation

  • We’re talking here about giant Christian crosses along the lines of Mojave, Mt. Soledad, Pere Marquette and Bladensburg. And so far the courts have not permitted any to remain on government property, although I suppose the Pere Marquette cross has yet to be litigated.

  • To be clear: YOU. HAVE. NOT. PRESENTED. ONE. IOTA. OF. EVIDENCE.

    You just keep demonstrating, with your every comment, the immaturity inherent in your beliefs, by refusing to concede that you have to meet a burden of proof.

    Btw, you also demonstrated yourself to be a bit dishonest. In your last post you wrote:

    “I’m only going to tell you this one more time …..”.

  • I think you meant to write “As far as I know, courts have not permitted any to remain on government property.”

    I have this hunch you believe the same about the Ten Commandments.

  • Your hunch is wrong. I have practiced in several courts with the Ten Commandments displayed — in constitutional form. Easier than having to look up Van Orden v. Perry again.

  • Again: You. Do. Not. Know. What. You. Are. Talking. About.  

    You are too immature to understand that your Jesus doesn’t make you more expert in everything than a cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen. It is laughable that you’re so childish as to refuse to understand that you know nothing about Enfield, CT other than the ACLJ was involved in a case there, and being morally and ethically perfect (in your mind) they cannot possibly have lied to anyone.  

    Grow up, Christofascist.  

  • You need some medication and a new attitude and at least one independently verifiable fact.

  • Obviously you know more about a town which I’m familiar with, go to on a regular basis, and previously lived in. It’s all because of the magic of your Jesus. Got it.  

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