And God rolled His eyes

And God rolled His eyes

: There is a debate supposedly emerging — even raging — in this country:

One side says that religion is under attack in America.

Another side says America is under attack from religion.

I say both sides are trivializing faith and the First Amendment. And what would God say? I think He would roll His eyes.

There are too many places on this earth today where religion is most certainly under attack: start with China. There are many nations under attack from religion: start with Iran and Saudi Arabia. And, Lord knows, there are too many places where people are attacked because of their religion: try being a Jew or a Christian in the wrong place; try being the wrong flavor of Muslim in the other guy’s turf.

Here in America, we are fortunate enough to have a First Amendment that guarantees our freedom to worship — or not — without government interference, a guarantee millions around the world would die — yes, die — to enjoy. And yet we squander that fortune, that blessing, with silly, egotistical, show-off squabbles.

Here in America, some people think a fight over a creche in the town square is a fight over religion. No, it’s a fight for the sake of a fight. On the one hand, we do enforce separation of church and state — to guarantee freedom of religion from government — and so there is no divine right to put a creche in front of the city hall; I want to tell those folks, put it anywhere else. On the other hand, the bureacrats who stop it as if they are standing between America and jihad are being just as ridiculous; a creche or a Christmas tree next to a mennorah is harmless and is part of the diverse culture of America. Similarly, it’s right for a school to prohibit proselytizing but it’s silly to disallow an instrumental version of a Christmas ditty, as recently occurred in New Jersey. You want to slap both sides in these annual squabbles and just tell them to grow up and count their blessings.

Then there are those in the so-called Parents Television Council who argue that any joke that mentions God is an attack on religion. That’s just crap. Freedom of speech goes hand-in-hand with freedom of religion — that’s why they are both protected in the First Amendment — and there’s nothing with a joke about God. It’s not a sign of a war on God.

And then there are those who say that America has been taken over by a red-state religious jihad because the other side won the election and because a bogus made the insulting presumption that some of us don’t have moral values and because the afore-dismissed PTC manufactured complaints about pop culture the way Tootsie makes Rolls. The truth, as I proved, it that it is a phantom army of the few on the fringe.

I want to slap them all back to their senses. But I also want to slap the media who act as if all these alleged religious wars are real news, worthwhile stories, true trends. No, the truth is that once a year, we get the fake stories about wars over Christmas carols; whenever the PTC puts out another press release or the FCC another fine, we get the fake stories about religious outrage at indecency; whenever the right wins an election, we get the fake stories about the revolt of the religious conservatives. All these stories act as if America — you, me, and your neighbors — changed overnight into surburban Sunnis vs. Shiites.

There is no religous war in America. That ended more than two centuries ago. And now we enjoy the benefits of that struggle. We should be grateful for that and stop squandering it with squabbles.

: There is plenty of reading material on the topic from just the last few days:

: Here is The New York Times Week in Review asking whether Christmas needs to be saved:

But the demands to bring back Christmas are not simply part of an age-old culture war, with the A.C.L.U. in one corner and evangelicals in the other. There is also a more moderate force, asking whether the country has gone too far in its quest to be inclusive of all faiths. Why, they ask, must a Christmas tree become a holiday tree? And is singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in a school performance more offensive than singing “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel”? “It’s political correctness run amok,” said Lynn Mistretta, who with another mother in Scarborough, Me., started BringBackChristmas.org. “I’m not for offending anyone, but we’re excluding everyone, and everyone feels rotten about it.”

: Frank Rich in the same edition of The Times argues soberly that there is a more serious religous confrontation brewing:

As we close the books on 2004, and not a moment too soon, it’s clear that, as far as the culture goes, this year belonged to Mel Gibson’s mammoth hit. Its prurient and interminable wallow in the Crucifixion, to the point where Jesus’ actual teachings become mere passing footnotes to the sumptuously depicted mutilation of his flesh, is as representative of our time as “Godspell” was of terminal-stage hippiedom 30 years ago. The Gibson conflation of religion with violence reflects the universal order of the day

  • Dan

    That was beautiful. Merry Christmas everyone.

  • Jim

    Yes, We as a nation of people are under attack by “Certain” religious sects which have publicly stated that if you are not with nor conforming to our viewpoint and coda, then you are against what we stand for. Until they back off, this squabling will never cease. Fundie’s need to get their act together and shut up with their accusations against other faiths.
    Catholic. Merry Christmas everyone.

  • http:/// Sandi

    First Amendment that guarantees our freedom to worship — or not — …
    Children singing Silent Night doesn’t establish a state religion, especially when no one is forced to sing. Displaying a Nativity scene on public property does not establish a state religion, when a menorah or Islamic crescent is also allowed. Denying these “prohibits the free exercise thereof,” and tramples freedom of speach.
    The problem is too many are starting to get the idea that Christians should hide in a church or their home and (gasp) not let their celebrations of Christmas be seen, lest someone be offended.
    Fortunately the pendulum is swinging the other way.

  • http://junkyardblog.transfinitum.net Bryan

    Whether you folks want to realize it or not, Christianity is under attack in this country. Check out what’s going on in Pennsylvania while you readers warm your toes:

    Four Christian protesters who demonstrated at a Philadelphia homosexual event face a possible 47 years in prison if convicted of felony charges filed against them, while a prosecutor referred to Scripture verses they read as “fighting words.”
    The four are part of 11 demonstrators who went before the Philadelphia Municipal Court in a preliminary hearing this week. Judge William Austin Meehan Tuesday ordered four of the Christians to stand trial on three felony and five misdemeanor charges….
    Eight charges were filed: criminal conspiracy, possession of instruments of crime, reckless endangerment of another person, ethnic intimidation, riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstructing highways.
    None of the Pink Angels was cited or arrested.
    A video of the arrest, provided by the American Family Association’s Center for Law & Policy can be seen here [Windows Media].
    “First, symbols of Christianity are removed from the public square; now, Christians are facing 47 years in prison because they preached the gospel in the public square. Stalin would be proud,” Brian Fahling, AFA Center for Law and Policy senior trial attorney, said in a statement.
    A federal appeals court in Philadelphia denied emergency relief earlier this week despite video footage Fahling calls “undisputed evidence” that shows the Christians cooperating with police and being harassed by the Pink Angels.
    Fahling’s group says the Philadelphia city prosecutor in the case, Charles Ehrlich, attacked the defendants as “hateful” and referred to preaching the Bible as “fighting words,” a characterization, the law group says, with which Judge Meehan agreed.
    Charges were dropped against the remaining seven Christians, apparently because they were not seen quoting Scripture on the videotape.
    The ethnic intimidation charge stems from Pennsylvania’s “hate crimes” law

  • Richard Aubrey

    It may be correct to say that, in the larger sense, no panic is merited.
    It is also correct, and unfortunately overlooked, to note that the incidents happened to individual people who feel themselves victimized.
    The debate overlooks, as well, in its emphasis on Christmas, the school-year long parade of court cases in which public schools actively interfere with voluntary, individual, non-proselytizing religious practice. Not surprisingly, on Christians are the recipients of such attention.
    It goes so far that the ACLU is sometimes on the side of the kid and against the school, which is pretty far, indeed.
    Cumulatively, this is far from unimportant.

  • jeremy in NYC

    Children singing Silent Night doesn’t establish a state religion, especially when no one is forced to sing. Displaying a Nativity scene on public property does not establish a state religion, when a menorah or Islamic crescent is also allowed. Denying these “prohibits the free exercise thereof,” and tramples freedom of speach.
    The display on public property doesn’t establish a state religion, I suppose, if every single religion can have a display of equal size/cost/blah blah blah. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Do the Wiccans get one if they want it? Hindu? Shinto? Scientologists? Does everyonb get a size/expense proportionate to each other? To the % of actual practitioners estimated to be in the jurisdiciton? In the state? In the country? Frankily, I think we’re better off letting anybody spend their own money, and uise their own property, for religious display and avoid these sort of squabbles.
    As for the singing – yeah, let me tell yopu, it feels great to be the only kid sitting over in the corner while everyone else participates in the singing of religious Christmas songs. It makes you feel special. There’s a reason the establishment clause exists, and it’s not so everyone who doesn’t practice Christianity can sit in the corner while the majority does their thing. The alternative is to mix up Christmas and Hanukkah songs, but see above regarding the display issue. I can’t wait to hear you enthusiastically laud your children singing an ode to L. Ron Hubbard.

  • Jenny

    You want to slap both sides in these annual squabbles and just tell them to grow up and count their blessings.
    Hear, hear.
    From what I’ve found, people who ban Christmas carols in schools and Nativity scenes in public places are typically not motivated by religious hatred so much as they are so damn afraid of someone being offended at the fact that– gasp!– someone else might be of another faith than their own! They might be left out! They might be a religious minority! They might get a realistic picture of where their own faith fits in as concerns their own community!
    Criminy. Relax, people. It’s a holiday that means a lot of different things to different people. We’re supposed to relax and have fun, exchange gifts, sing songs, eat too many cookies, and enjoy being with our families. If this includes going to a worship service, more power.
    Merry Christmas, everyone.
    Oh, and while we’re at it– I’m Neo-Pagan.

  • Inspector Callahan

    As for the singing – yeah, let me tell yopu, it feels great to be the only kid sitting over in the corner while everyone else participates in the singing of religious Christmas songs. It makes you feel special.
    So you, as the only kid, gets to decide what the other 29 or so students in your class get to do? It’s somehow better to offend the other 29 than it is to offend 1? Sorry, but that’s twisted logic. It sounds like a tyranny of the minority.
    TV (Harry)

  • Sydney Carton

    Jeff, you’re just plain wrong on this one. Religion in general, and Christianity in specific, is under attack by the secular left. The only reason why this is an issue NOW is because the Christians are finally fighting back because they’re sick and tired of being kicked around like an abused dog.
    “Jesus was on the cover of Time and Newsweek…”
    As I recall, both of these articles attacked the very idea of the Bible Christmas stories, saying in effect that it was a fraud.
    There are too many instances of religious persecution in America. Although of a different degree of severity than in other places like China, I’d still call it persecution. When an officer of the state tells a 5 year old that his candy canes are ILLEGAL, what the heck else is that but persecution? Boot, meet face.
    The “establishment of religion” protected against by the First Amendment was akin to the Church of England where the King was the head of the church. The founding fathers would be aghast at the idea that religion could not be celebrated in public, on public ground, or recognized by public officials.
    Google the “War Against Christmas” if you think that Christians are the ones at fault here. If saying “Merry Christmas” can get you fired at your (government) job, then there is persecution in America and it should STOP.

  • Evan

    Good piece Jeff. I would just ask you one favor. Substitute in free speech for religion and I think your point is just as valid:
    “When it comes to free speech in America, we are not at war. We are blessed. Let’s act like it.”
    And just as you criticize the media for publishing fake stories over Christmas carol wars, maybe that will give you pause before you make another media appearence or write another story about Stern and Michael Powell.
    In any event, hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

  • Jenny

    Google the “War Against Christmas” if you think that Christians are the ones at fault here. If saying “Merry Christmas” can get you fired at your (government) job, then there is persecution in America and it should STOP.
    Sydney, I believe Jeff’s point was that conflicts over religious display and public worship are not widespread and not grounded in any federal laws. But his post does criticize and call up on the carpet the misconceptions and oversensitivity that lead to civil servants getting fired for wishing their co-workers a Merry Christmas.
    Like you, I think it’s obnoxious and hypocritical. Most people would. But unlike China, where expression of any faith is ruthlessly suppressed as a part of government policy, there is no conspiracy to kill off public worship in America.
    Except from maybe the ACLU, which really needs to just lighten up and have a few glasses of eggnog.

  • Sydney Carton

    Jenny,
    “I believe Jeff’s point was that conflicts over religious display and public worship are not widespread and not grounded in any federal laws.”
    Section 1983 of the Federal Code allows claims for violations of the civil rights and the constitutional rights of individuals. Thus, you can sue on grounds that a government is violating your 1st amendment rights. All of these cases necessarily involve a judge’s interpretation of the 1st Amendment. You get conflicting results because some judges are ACLU-idiots, and are anti-religious zealots.
    Other cases involve the defendant settling out of court (after the ACLU gets a hefty check for its work), and removing the display. Most people just fold once they get an ACLU letter because they can’t afford to defend themselves.
    It’s no surprise that the ACLU is anti-religion, as they’ve been directing their resources towards attacking it for years. But finally, there is push-back, and pardon my french but it’s about goddamn time.
    An officer of the government is as free to say a prayer at his office as he is at home. He does not check his 1st Amendment rights at the door. Nor do citizens. This is about FREE EXPRESSION. If something that otherwise would be legal to say, suddenly becomes illegal to say, because it has a hint of religion in it – that is persecution and it should STOP.

  • Danjo

    Dearest Jeff;
    Best article I have read on the subject. Keep up the good work.
    Merry Christmas to all from an atheist.
    Danjo

  • Shinobi

    To say that Christians are being persecuted brings to mind the days of ancient Rome when some of them were hiding underground in order to avoid a death sentance from the Romans. But that’s not what’s going on is it? All that’s happening is that Christians are being encouraged to keep their Christianity to themselves and leave the rest of us out of it.
    Christians have churches where they can put up manger scenes, sing carols. They even have Schools and Universities where they can go if they want religion to be a part of their daily life. No one is stopping them from gathering together as Christians. But it is clearly unfair to expect everyone else to be happy about singing songs and decorating for a holiday they don’t celebrate. I think this should apply to all religions, keep it at the church/ temple/ mosque/ circle etc.
    Oh, and since they are so victimized why were those Christians in PA at a gay gathering? Were they sharing the loving words of Jesus with the homosexuals? Doubt it. Maybe if they hadn’t been Christians they wouldn’t have read a bible passage at the gays, but I certainly hope they still would have been arrested. It’s not okay for them to hate people, it’s not okay for them to threaten people, it doesn’t matter what religion they are, it’s not okay.
    I think its people like those 4 folks in PA that have contributed to societies turn against Christianity (if indeed it does exist). People do not want to hear a message of hate, and there are so many other messages these days. (Buy an iPod and find true happiness, etc.) Obviously not all Christians are full of hate and self righteousness, some are probably lovely like my mother. But I think Christianity has the same problem right now that Islam does, too many extremists makes the whole group look bad.
    Oh and just for the record, I am a recovering Catholic who went to catholic school for 13 years. Happy Christmahanakwanzaka!

  • Jenny

    Section 1983 of the Federal Code allows claims for violations of the civil rights and the constitutional rights of individuals. Thus, you can sue on grounds that a government is violating your 1st amendment rights.
    Too bad that no one’s filed a class-action suit against ACLU on those grounds. Of course, that might be just throwing more Napalm on the fire.
    Sydney, I think that on a fundamental level, you and I agree: Exclusion of public display of faith and worship are actually violations of the First Amendment.
    For the record, the ACLU is not truly “anti-religion” so much as they have their shorts in a knot over anything conservatively Christian. Because of that hypocrisy, I won’t support the ACLU, even though the Pagan community has benefited from their actions.
    Personally, I think Christian groups who cry “discrimination” have a point and deserve to be heard. But there is no persecution on a federal level– there’s merely a few crackpot groups perverting laws for political gain.

  • EddieP

    Merry Christmas!
    Felice Navidad!
    Froeliche Weinachten!
    Merry Christmas to all, and especially to you Mr. Jarvis!

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Blogwhoring, Chrismukkah edition.

  • Richard Heddleson

    I, for one, would be very interested to read an extended discusion between you and Hewlett, two very civil bloggers, about this serious subject. You both make good points, yet this is a topic that isn’t easily resolved doesn’t go away.
    As one reared as a Christian, I am unimpressed by Christmas as it is celebrated today. I have no doubt the celebration has no scriptural basis and would be offensive to Jesus.
    Yet I was struck by the sterility of the public celebration of Christmas at my third grade son’s school assembly. With no mention of Little Baby Jesus, what’s the point? It’s not the end of the semester. It’s not even deep midwinter yet. But it is the winter solstice! So we have reverted to the pagan celebration it was before the Christians co-opted it. And centuries of Western culture are banished from our children’s education and ultimately memory because the name Jesus is taboo in public schools.
    Are we better off?

  • pianoman

    My wife works in a public school and was instructed this year not to say the word “Christmas” in class unless a student said it first.
    This is just a single example, but you can find examples of this all over the U.S. But you won’t find multiple examples of public schools using Christmas as a tools for actively prosletizing non-Christians.
    So it’s not exactly an even fight, is it?
    Raised Baptist, currently non-denominational Christian, attending a church that supports the house church movement in China.
    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  • DSmith

    I’m definitely *not* a Christian (not bragging or complaining, just the facts, ma’am), but I think it’s clear that Christianity is under attack in this country. I’m 50 years old and it’s gotten worse every year, but this year it just seems like it’s *way* over the top.
    Yes, I used to be an atheist. Yes, I felt like that “kid in the corner”, being “forced” to participate in my culture’s rituals or being made to feel an outcast. (in retrospect: Duh!) Yes, I used to get a little surge of glee when the ACLU would swoop down and smite those silly (or evil) theists.
    I was wrong. I don’t mean about God (that’s for another post), but about what was going on with me, and the ACLU, and all that.
    In retrospect, it’s clear that I was just an anti-religious bigot. If religious folks got snubbed, then that made me feel like I had made the right choice by being an oh-so-intelligent and enlightened atheist.
    Since I got quite a bit older, I’ve come to the conclusion that about 95% of the objections to Christ, Christmas, public displays of religion, etc. are just motivated by bigotry. It’s not about the 1st Amendment or any of that. It’s about people having a pissing contest with other folks who don’t agree with them. And I’m seeing a heck of a lot more intolerance and bigotry being directed at the religious than the other way around.
    This year I’m going out of my way to wish folks “Merry Christmas” – it’s my own little protest vote. :)

  • Sydney Carton

    Shinobi,
    What sort of proto-fascist are you? You want people to be arrested for expressing hate? Let me clue you in on something: The First Amendment gives you a right to be a jerk, to express hate, to say “I hate homosexuals,” to denounce in the strongest terms homosexual activity, etc. It also allows the reverse, denouncing religion, hating religion, etc. That is what FREEDOM MEANS.
    “Were they sharing the loving words of Jesus with the homosexuals? Doubt it.”
    They are allowed to say what they want. Freedom of speech means not being arrested for your opinion, religious or otherwise.
    ” Maybe if they hadn’t been Christians they wouldn’t have read a bible passage at the gays, but I certainly hope they still would have been arrested.”
    This is FUCKING OUTRAGEOUS. You want them arrested for reading the Bible!?!?!?
    “It’s not okay for them to hate people, it’s not okay for them to threaten people, it doesn’t matter what religion they are, it’s not okay.”
    It’s not ok, but it is PERFECTLY LEGAL and also CONSISTENT WITH THE MEANING OF FREEDOM. If the ACLU defends the right of the KKK to hold marches of hate, certainly any Christian sect denouncing their sin of the day must receive the same protections. The First Amendment holds a guarantee of FREE EXPRESSION, and last I checked, there’s no clause that reads “except in cases where it’s not ok to hate.” Physical harassment is not allowed. Menacing or stalking is not allowed. Threats of physical action, if persistant, are not allowed. But mere words are just mere words, no matter how hateful or spiteful or offensive.
    If you don’t like that, then you’ve got a lot of shredding to do to the Bill of Rights.
    “People do not want to hear a message of hate, and there are so many other messages these days.”
    I’d gather that people would rather hear a message of hate than have the state arrest anyone that the state believes is expressing hate, because you could be next. Democracy is all about pluralism, taking the good with the bad. Your fascist nannyism has no place in American traditions of liberty and freedom of expression.
    “But I think Christianity has the same problem right now that Islam does, too many extremists makes the whole group look bad.”
    Yeah, all those Quakers and Methodists, they’re sure filled with suicide bombers. Give me a fucking break. You have a bug up your butt about Christianity, but your freedom to express your contempt of it is mirrored by any Christian who is equally free to denounce you. The difference is, you want to ARREST PEOPLE who are “hateful” and most Christians just want to practice their beliefs and be as polite as possible. Also, let me clue you in on another secret: a religious evangelist trying to convert someone or to recruit people is PERFECTLY NORMAL BEHAVIOR, and also is FUNDAMENTALLY PROTECTED under the 1st Amendment. You can slam your door in their face, and be as “hateful” as you want to those Bible-thumpers, but if you try to arrest them then you’re just as bad as the Communists in China.
    “I am a recovering Catholic who went to catholic school for 13 years.”
    Who would’ve guessed. I’m a practicing Catholic who went to public school. And the day you arrest me is the day you’ll pry a gun from my cold, dead hands.

  • http://www.thetearsofthings.net Jerome du Bois

    Jeff:
    Could you please ask your smarter Presbyterian sister why her church doesn’t want anything to do with Israel, and what Jesus might have thought about that?
    Thanks. Merry Christmas.
    Jerome du Bois

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    You know, Evan makes a great point in tying Jeff’s previous screeds aganist infringement on free speech to Jeff’s laissez-faire yawn on religious infringement.
    Both are in the first amendment.
    Why is religion subject to the “no hurt-no foul” rule but free speech is horribly damaged at the mere breath of opinion?

  • Jenny

    So we have reverted to the pagan celebration it was before the Christians co-opted it.
    Ssssh. (Heh.)
    You’re right, though…the entire celebration has become bland and dry because everyone’s afraid to actually express a religious belief. So the entire thing has become secularized and divorced from any religious, or even historical, context. Basically, the kids are celebrating a day off rather than, say, studying the history behind the holiday (What, learning at school? Gods forbid!)
    But more to the point, Richard, I’ll consider your son’s school Christmas celebration to be Pagan when someone shows up dressed as the Grey Mare and starts chasing the young women around.

  • http://ivanlenin.blogspot.com Ivan Lenin

    I second DSmith: as a non-Christian, I feel Christianity is indeed under attack, mostly from our reverend academic and media elites. Mr.Jarvis seems to think that, since the attack is not coming from the government, and since nobody is being killed or put to prison, there is really no cause for concern or debate. I think this is very silly of Mr.Jarvis, because according to such logic, hardly anything happening in the US should be a matter of concern.
    Merry Christmas, komrades!

  • Sydney Carton

    Brett,
    Freedom of religion is the same thing as freedom of speech.
    Any difference in treatment indicates some sort of bias or bigoted opinion. If freedom of religion doesn’t equal freedom of speech, then what the heck is it?
    Mr. Jarvis’s different treatment of the two is incredibly hypocritical, and is extremely telling. He should do some hard thinking on the matter and should figure out WHY he treats them differently. If this “pox on both their houses” post involved Howard Stern and secular (and filthy) speech instead of religion, I daresay that Mr. Jarvis wouldn’t be so evenhanded. He’d rise up to defend Howard Stern. But when it comes to religion, apparrently defending them isn’t to his tastes.

  • http://pubblog.com/v-web/b2/index.php john seward, Just Opinions

    The great blue/red schism that has launched a thousand columns and blog posts, has spawned a pair of matching apparitions staring at each other in the mirror. On the red side of the looking glass we have the fearsome bogeyman of the Christian Right, on the verge of turning what

  • JEH in Georgia

    Thanks for saying exactly what my husband and I think of all the media hype about “Merry Christmas” and religious squables.
    I would like to see your blog published in some mainstream newspapers and read on some TV news programs but “Fat chance”They are too busy making a story out of nothing.
    I join you in “also wanting to slap the media who act as if all these alleged religious wars are real news, worthwhile stories, true trends.”
    Thsnk you and
    MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!
    PS: Several years ago the Presbyterian Church in Atlanta which we attend listed all the non PC hymns that had been removed from the “new and Revised” hymnal.
    The elderly wife of one of the church elders who was also the retired President of a local prep school was so mad she turned to those nearby in the pew and made this statement..
    “Well..
    They can take “Onward Christain Soldiers” out of the hymn book. But I am going to sit naked in my bath tub and sing it at the top of my lungs!!!!! ”

  • tim wg

    I can’t understand why Merry Christmas should be considered Christian.
    As a religious slogan, it doesn’t mean anything, but it does mark the day as the celebration of Jesus Christ.
    To say Merry Christmas, we are greeting one another, but we are not making any overt religious statement. That’s why I think efforts to ban Merry Christmas is nonsensical.
    The effort to politically correct everything is maddening. It excludes people. It restricts freedom of speech and freedom of religion. You can’t have one without the other. It’s time to realize what the ACLU and liberal leftists are doing. They want to pass laws through the back door, meaning without the majority vote, anti-democracy.

  • Aggie Gnostic

    Jeremy in NYC has the right idea:  religion has no place on the public square unless all religions do equally, and that’s impossible.  Everyone still gets to put whatever they want on private property.  They can even get that property exempted from taxes if they are Christians, which many other philosophies cannot.  What the paranoid Christians (always Christians) are fussing over is nothing more than even-handedness.
    I suppose that people who lose a position of superiority and become just one more among equals could consider it persecution, but those outside that privileged group will feel differently.
    If it’s permissible to have a creche, a menorah, a crescent or the Ten Commandments on public property, it should also be permissible for atheists to put up a display declaring “THERE IS NO GOD.  ALL PROPHETS ARE FALSE.”  The neo-Aztecs should be able to erect an altar to human sacrifice (though not to perform any), the Santerians should be able to slaughter real chickens, etc.
    But Sydney Carton (what the Dickens do you mean, using that name) is terribly wrong when he says

    An officer of the government is as free to say a prayer at his office as he is at home. He does not check his 1st Amendment rights at the door. Nor do citizens. This is about FREE EXPRESSION.

    Not so; an officer of the government may do whatever they like in private, but may not use THE OFFICE to promote religion.  Bush is damaging the fabric of the nation by violating this dictum; he is turning the even-handed practice into favoritism, to the detriment of everyone’s freedom.

  • dick

    Aggie Gnostic,
    If we followed your logic, then the officer of the government had better not say a word in his office because something he may say to and for himself would injure the tender sensibilities of an onlooker who is not even involved. Can’t have that, can we?
    I think you seem to believe that anyone doing anything is turning a practice into favoritism to the detriment of everyone’s freedom. One could say the same about affirmative action or serving peas instead of broccoli. You make no sense at all.

  • Sydney Carton

    Aggie Gnostic,
    Essentially, you argue that Bush is not allowed to mention his faith because you think it violates the Constitution. But that is patently ridiculous, as every single President in the history of this country has mentioned their faith in public, while on public property, paid by tax dollars. Some Presidents are more forceful in their discussion of faith than others (notably, FDR, who was certain God was on America’s side in WW2).
    Throughtout American history, state and federal government officers have spoken about or publicly noted various communities as worthy of praise or public recognition. Among those are ethnic groups, religions, trade unions, colleges, private associations (like bar associations), and others. It is idiotic to say that these practices are unconstitutional when it comes to religion.
    When the state taxes you, forces you to go to a particular church or sends you to the stocades if you don’t go, and appoints an officer of a particular religion and starts drafting the cannons of its own faith, THEN you can complain about an “established religion.” Everything else, from recognition of Christmas with Christmas trees or Hannukah with Menorahs, or any other faith, is all just puffery: a recognition of communities. Saying that this is illegal or unconstitutional is pure nonsense.
    George Bush probably says prayers over his meals. He’s always a paid officer, since he never stops being the President until his term is over. He’s on public, taxpayer-supported property. He also says prayers before Congress, and has actually quoted scripture. He’s done it in television addresses from the oval office. So has Clinton, Reagan, Carter, and all previous presidents.
    Fundamental behind a theory of constitutional interpretation is the history of observing the law. If a law written for a park merely says “vehicles are prohibited,” but bicycles have been used for 100 years, it’s reasonable to assume that although a bike is a vehicle, it doesn’t have that meaning under the law. So too does this principle apply to the First Amendment. Despire the ACLU’s desires, there is a history of its practice and the public recognition of religion in America, done not to establish a similar kind of Church of America like the Church of England, but to acknowledge the positive social good of religion, as it would to acknowledge the positive social good of Irish Immigrants on St. Patrick’s day. Despite leftist supreme court justices, I’m confident that this history and tradition will overwhelm the modern revisionists of the law.
    Aggie, the Constitution merely says that no government officer will be required to pass a religious test for office. But Bush, and any of his subordinates in the executive branch, or any other government official, can pray. If it’s fine for the President, it’s fine for the dogcatcher.

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    I’m not a legal guy, so help me with this one:
    Where exactly does it say that there is a constitutional separation of church and state?
    I realize that the first amendment hints at this by not establishing a state religion, but those who invoke this phrase (“separation of church and state”) imply that it intends the strict absence of religion in the business of the state. I don’t get that at all – but again, I’m no legal expert, and maybe I’m not reading the right documents.
    Anyone want to help with this? Because I’d sure like to discern the intent behind the “separation of church and state.”
    And, if our president doesn’t exercise his first amendment freedoms and invoke God where he sees fit, then what the hell? The president should lead by example – beginning with the first amendment.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    Brett,
    Here is a good general discussion of the issue.

  • AST

    The Constitution calls for tolerance, which is how I read the establishment clause and the freedom to worship clause together, but the courts have flipped that on its head and handed a blanket veto to ever individual, e.g. Dr. Newdow, who thinks his/her views should have precedence over everyone else’s.
    We talk all the time about democracy, but I think we are forgetting what it means, namely that the people not the courts make the laws and they do so by majority rule. This hypersensitivity about creches, Menorahs and Santa Claus and Christmas trees is a direct result of the courts’ willingness to interfere with democracy.
    Certainly, there are limits to what majorities should be able to impose on minorities, but decorating evergreen trees with lights is not that big an imposition, compared with forcing one racial group to attend intentionally inferior schools.
    The theme of this whole discussion should be tolerance, because it is intolerance by small minorities that is causing all the trouble. Everybody, including atheists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, must be tolerant of other peoples’ faiths and be willing to allow them all a place in public life. The trouble starts when any group decides that they can’t abide other people expressing faith.

  • jeremy in NYC

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. ”
    The Courts have generally interepreted this to mean that the Congress (and the executive which, after all, implements the Congress’ laws) could not act in some way to favor one religion over another, because that would be “establishing” a religion as the favored state religion. (This was later extended to the state/local gov’t). Basically, government action had to be religion-neutral, and since it was hard to do something regarding a religion without favoring one over another, this turned into the “separation of church and state” you mention – but those words aren’t themselves in the constitution.
    (Mind you, the above is a vast simplification – I don’t really have time nor the copyright approval to reprint my Constitutional Law textbook here). But note: like everything else, there are always carveouts. For example, regarding the “:free exercise” clause – the government is actually allowed to restrict free exercise in certain instances where the law is technically religion-neutral in intent and structure (just disparate in effect) and based on a sufficiently justifiable government rationale – for example, the banning of peyote, or banning yarmulkes in the armed forces, or making people show their whole head in driver’s license photos.

  • http://cellar.org/iotd.php Undertoad

    Here’s my favorite compromise:
    Merry Fucking Christmas
    You’re welcome.

  • http://www.godsowndrunk.blogspot.com Richard

    AST,
    Your basic premise is flawed, as we do NOT live in a democracy, and never have, but rather a representative republic. (Remember the pledge? “…and to the Republic, for which it stands”). The fact is, the framers explicitly rejected a democracy, because they recognized that mob rule is not the best way to run a government. That is why there are so many checks and balances built into our system.

  • http://www.godsowndrunk.blogspot.com Richard

    What bugs me about this arguement is why religious folks feel the need at all to put their decorations on public/goverment property. Churches, malls, homes, stores, etc. all have the right to decorate as they see fit, what’s with the need to have something up on the town square? Does that make your faith any more important?
    That said, I also think some of the lawsuits are pretty silly.

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    lmao, Undertoad… good one, and I’m sure that Jeff is laughing as well :)
    Okay, so having read the Wiki reference (thanks! excellent reference…) and the other comments, does it boil down to this?
    There is no explicit legal separation between church and state. When a government official invokes their faith while performing in their office, they implicitly suggest an “establishment” of religion. Therefore, the tug of war here is between non-sectarian public offices and the private faith of public officials who hold those offices.
    If that’s so, then maybe I’m being simplistic, but it seems to me that our founding documents champion the individual over the institution every day of the week. And if so, wouldn’t the free expression of faith by an individual be more important than the absence of faith from the office?
    Said another way, no individual holds an office forever. Therefore, faith is never “established” for the office that an individual holds, therefore there is no establishment of religion by the free expression of an individual who holds public office. So long as the person who holds the office does not inhibit the free expression of others, no problem.
    Such an interpretation doesn’t seem at odds to me with the whole of the first amendment.

  • http://runscared.blogspot.com/ Jazz

    I *almost* went and started blogging on this, and primarily Hugh’s article, until I read the entire thing. (Thanks for linking to it.) Hewitt is a loon. Plain and simple.
    Basically, in his book, it *IS* ok to attack anyone who is either a “forner” or “one of dem muslims” etc. etc. but if somebody says it’s ok to “chill out” about people dealing with Christianity in their own way, with no violence, etc. then it’s suddenly “an important issue” and they are being injured “by the sneer.”
    Hugh used to be right wing. Now he’s so far gone that he’s dropped off the end of the flat earth.

  • http://runscared.blogspot.com/ Jazz

    Wow. I just finished reading all of these comments, and I have to say… how amusing it would be to read them back to many of you and substitute the word “gay” for “Christian.” After half of you dropped from apopletic fits, the other half would pull out guns. Thanks for the humor. It brightens up the upcoming holidays.

  • Joe

    I’m simply amazed at how some Christians on this board are using words like “persecution” and “discrimination” when discussing whether a Christmas wreath should be allowed at City Hall. If a 90% majority of Americans are Christian, by whom exactly are you being persecuted and discriminated against? Are you being beaten or jailed or enslaved in some way, like Jeff notes is actually happening in parts of the world. No. A few isolated incidents where teachers can’t say “Merry Christmas”. This is what you’re so upset about, and that groups like the “Alliance Defense Fund” and “Bringbackchristmas.org” are spending time and energy and your charitable donations to fight.
    Please, I beg you, use your free time to do things that are actually germane to the religious holiday you’re fighting to celebrate, like promoting peace on Earth and goodwill towards others. That’s all Jeff was asking for.
    Great article.

  • Karl (not Karl)

    Jeff may be right about the pettiness of many of these types of disputes. But it should be noted that what you are seeing from the “bring back Christmas crowd” is essentially a reaction to the actions of the “cleanse the public square crowd.” If the latter stopped, the former would largely disappear.
    Also, Jeff’s quotation of Walcott is a hoot. Walcott cites Jesus on the covers of Time and Newsweek as evidence of how Christian the culture is? Walcott apparently didn’t read the cover stories, which were in no small part about debunking the story of Christmas. And thus is MSM sloppiness piled onto MSM bias. Walcott may be “baiting” Lileks, but he better hope that Lileks doesn’t rise to it.

  • http://www.talesofawanderingmind.blogspot.com David

    Jeff,
    You may not feel under attack, but many of us do.
    When 90% of Americans are Christian we should not have to ask permission of the 10% to display our faith on an EQUAL footing with their faith (or lack thereof). Majority rule and minority rights is the way it was designed – not the minority ruling the majority.
    The Constitution does not mention “separation of church and state” as everyone knows (or should know) – it says government should not establish a national religion, and including Nativity scenes and Christian religious symbols and Christian religious songs in with the symbols and songs of other religions and secular themes is NOT establishing a religion.
    The truth is we would shut up about the attacks on Christianity if secularists and hypocritical organizations like the ACLU would stop attacking it.
    Until then, you are going to keep hearing from us.

  • http://www.conservativelife.com ferrethouse

    I’m not concerned about the attacks ON religion so much as the attacks in the name of religion. The attacks on religion are merely indicative of the growing influence of those who hate Christianity and want it destroyed along with those who adhere to it. They argue their point under the guise of seperation of church and state but once their influence reaches a suitable level they won’t feel so eager to tear down islamic religious symbols. Our Christian heritage lead us to where we are today. Look around the world. I’m not afraid of losing the nativity scene. I’m afraid of what comes next.

  • Quentin

    While I was sitting in a taxi from Marvdasht to Persepolis, in Iran, a very beautiful woman, 21 years old, named Zeeba (meaning literally ‘beautiful’) and forced by law to wear a black chador, which she deeply detested, said to me: religion and politics should not be mixed. I agreed and thought that maybe Iran and the U.S. get along so well with each other because, despite their obvious differences, they are both marked by religion in politics, especially in its most contentious forms. Nowadays I think often about her. Or was she wrong?

  • N.W. Clerk

    I did listen to the sermon Jeff posted a few weeks ago. Among his points was that he doesn’t understand how the crucifixion of Jesus redeems people and that maybe God makes mistakes. And he was giving a sermon.
    I’m an agnostic (former Catholic), but I was left wondering what sort of Christianity accommodates these kinds of thoughts.
    C.S. Lewis once wrote something interesting (IIRC in “The Screwtape Letters”). It was to the effect that the clergy waters down the faith because they think the people will find it too hard, but the actual result is that the people are dismayed by the clergy’s lack of faith. Whether you believe in religion or not, this is what’s happening. Why do you think Evangelicals are gaining converts?
    Of course Jeff isn’t threatened. He offers no resistance. He’s not the one being opposed.

  • Doorknob

    Might I suggest we take a look at Rev. Eric’s series of posts entitled “Atheists Gone Wild?”
    http://www.ericragle.com

  • tim wg

    Jazz said “I *almost* went and started blogging on this, and primarily Hugh’s article, until I read the entire thing. (Thanks for linking to it.) Hewitt is a loon. Plain and simple.”
    Hewitt speaks with authority for many conservatives including myself. Your response is almost comical. Hey liberals!, you lost the 2004 Presidential election partially because of your disregard for Christian and religious sensitivities.
    Christians are still the majority in this country. Instead of downplaying real concerns, you should listen.
    The separation between church and state is a fact, but religious symbols should not be eliminated in the public square.
    This will be an issue in the next election. Wake up or Christians will wake you up, but perhaps too late for liberals to stem their increasing irrelevance.

  • http://blog-me-no-blogs.blogspot.com/ Cosa Nostradamus

    .
    What people seem to forget is that our ancestors came here to escape these absurd, and sometimes deadly religious squabbles. –Not to mention having the government take sides in them.
    There are neighbourhoods in this country now that are majority Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, or Hindu. When your Christian child comes home painted blue like Lord Krishna, or wearing a yarmulke, or chanting namyorengekyo, or praising Allah, see how it feels for those other parents to hear THEIR kids parroting a little subconscious Christianity.
    It’s about choice. Thank Gawd, in this country you can choose to worship whomever, whatever, however. Or not. You can’t choose to avoid your local public schools, courthouse and town square. You shouldn’t have to. Nobody should be allowed to use public facilities to shove their religion down anyone else’s throat, however “nicely” or cutely. People who don’t get that are idiots. Period.
    That’s why we had to enshrine the principle of separation of Church & State in our Bill Of Rights: For the idiots who would slowly but surely drag us back into the bad old days we all came here to escape. Ya wanna Christmas tree on yer front lawn, go for it. Ya wanna manger at City Hall, fuggeddaboutit.
    .

  • Jim S

    And there I always viewed Happy Holidays as good shorthand for Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, what with them being only a week apart and all. I never even gave a thought to it not being Christian enough to keep some people happy.
    tim, I haven’t seen a single Christian who posts things like you wrote that really believe in separation of church and state.
    I pretty much agree with everything that Jeff posted, btw. Where are my limits? Organized prayers in school, no. Moment of silence, sure. Symbols of Christmas on various public squares, no problem. The Ten Commandments on the wall as you face a judge who is supposed to be impartial even if you don’t belong to his religion, nope.
    It’s interesting how many posters here tend to prove Jeff’s point. ferrethouse’s is a real classic. Considering that it’s a given that no agnostic, atheist or even someone who says that he thinks his faith is private matter could be elected to any major office in this country he and those like him speak of Christianity as though it’s a persecuted minority. Who hates Christianity, ferrethouse? Are you trying to equate those who might truly believe in separation of church and state at the same level as Islamic fanatics? Your post seems to say so: “The attacks on religion are merely indicative of the growing influence of those who hate Christianity and want it destroyed along with those who adhere to it. They argue their point under the guise of seperation of church and state but once their influence reaches a suitable level they won’t feel so eager to tear down islamic religious symbols.”. The only thing sadder than that is the number of posters here who probably agree.

  • Eileen

    “But I also want to slap the media who act as if all these alleged religious wars are real news, worthwhile stories, true trends. No, the truth is that once a year, we get the fake stories about wars over Christmas carols…” I am quoting Jeff.
    THEY are as much ‘real’ news, JJ, as all the other first amendment ‘f’ and ‘fcc’ news you wish to bring our way. I don’t deny you your slant, either way, for either 1st amendment issue.
    In fact, I am grateful you have – in the spirit of the holiday season? – touched upon other 1st amendment aspects of our ‘bedrock’ U.S. freedoms.
    Both aspects of the 1st should be cherished and protected, no?
    As someone who was raised a Methodist, went into agnostic la la land for twenty years,,,,and then landed as a spiritualist….
    Does anyone here know what This means? It means I adopt NO religion in particular. It means that I believe any and all faiths which help connect one to the divine – by any name – is fabulous. And even if you don’t believe in any divine at all? Fine, too. For I believe we are all One. Everyone, everywhere.
    Further, I believe the only reason we are here on this Earth is to learn to love better. [Do you have a better reason for the meaning of our existence?] That does not mean denigrating, name calling, undermining, combating…….hurting each other in any way.
    Yeah, as a J.D. I could go off citing the law of religion and free speech, cite my authorities, cite multiple news stories which speak of the current denigration of religion in our society…
    But I prefer to say this,
    Please, cannot we just try and love each other. That is, in fact, our very most bottom line. I believe it transcends all.
    Sending love to all of you, in every holiday season of your life.

  • http://blog-me-no-blogs.blogspot.com/ Cosa Nostradamus

    .
    Nice sentiments. At any time of year.
    If only it were possible, all the time. We wouldn’t need any laws. But, for those who refuse to respect, much less love their neighbours, I’m glad we have our Bill of Rights.
    .

  • http://bythebayou.blogspot.com John

    Facts are so inconvenient. While you’re all busy complaining about the ACLU, the ACLU is taking the side of people’s rights to express their religious beliefs in public.
    Straight out of an ACLU position paper: “Students have the right to pray individually or in groups or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive. Because the Establishment Clause does not apply to purely private speech, students enjoy the right to read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, pray before tests, and discuss religion with other willing student listeners. In the classroom students have the right to pray quietly except when required to be actively engaged in school activities (e.g., students may not decide to pray just as a teacher calls on them). In informal settings, such as the cafeteria or in the halls, students may pray either audibly or silently, subject to the same rules of order as apply to other speech in these locations. However, the right to engage in voluntary prayer does not include, for example, the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate.”

  • Angelos

    Good snip, John.
    Unfortunately, there’s no room for nuance or rational thought in organized religion.

  • tim wg

    The ACLU’s position paper does not match what they’re doing.
    They have consistently tried to drive religious symbolism out of the public arena.
    Their defense of student’s religious expression is pitiful. Other legal defense organizations have defended students from the government censors, not the ACLU.
    BTW, I believe in the separation of church and state, but it isn’t in the constitution. I believe the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If there is a conflict with the constitution and the separation doctrine, the Constitution should be primary especially with regard to Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression.

  • scott

    I agree, and nicely put.

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0107946 Ed Cone

    The Constitution is a rigorously secular document. It IS separation of church and state.
    http://radio.weblogs.com/0107946/stories/2003/09/01/theConstitutionalCureForSeparationAnxiety.html

  • http://blog-me-no-blogs.blogspot.com/ Cosa Nostradamus

    .
    What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” didn’t you understand? It’s real simple: that is your ENTIRE First Amendment protection of freedom of religion, word for word.
    It means that the Government may not create a State religion, as the English did, or designate one, as the Kings of France did, before the Revolution. Which means you cannot use public money, or public facilities for religious purposes.
    It means that the Legislature cannot regulate or proscribe religions or religious practises. Which means you can worship anything you want, any way you want, but not on public (government) property.
    This protects you from “Official Orthodoxy,” as in the Inquisition. It also protects me from having your religion shoved down my throat, or supported by my tax dollars. It’s called Freedom of Conscience. To each his own.
    Again, how would YOU like it if City Hall were bedecked with Wiccan, Satanic, Pagan, Animistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish symbols? How would you like it if your kid came home from school reciting Anton Zandor Lavey’s “Satanic Bible”? How would you like it if the devout Islamic traffic court judge applied Shariah Law to your speeding ticket? All paid for by your Baptist or Methodist or Catholic or Episcopalian tax dollars?
    Get it, now?
    Here: Try reading something BESIDES the Bible:
    Our “Civic Religion”
    .

  • Scott

    I would feel fine if Jewish or muslim symbols
    were used in holiday decorations if there
    were significant representation of those
    groups in the community and they desired it.
    Satanism is not remotely the same thing, and I’ll
    bet you’d be hard pressed to find strong
    community desire for such decorations anywhere.

  • scott

    Sorry,
    not start with the wrong premise, I meant to say I agree with the very nice original post. I haven’t gone through all the comments.

  • kat

    Well, in Canada sharia will soon be law—but Christmas is forbidden there too–they can have a gay pride flag at winnipeg city hall, but they can’t have one saying Merry Christmas. I’d be offended with a freaking gay flag on public property. I resent being forced to observe this gay day shit at work. I don’t believe a freaking thing those gay agendists preach, but they have that right. I don’t appreciate your shoving your atheistic beliefs down my throat but I tolerate them. How soon before you atheistic fanatics forbid the study of art history including paintings from the Renaissance because they contain religious subjects. Should I demand all Greek and Roman pagan symbols be removed from public? Should Indian sculptures not also be forbidden? Those totem poles are scary damned things, right? And they are religious.
    And Halloween parades and parties at school should be stopped–might cause people to believe in witches, right? I don’t want that wiccan crap shoved down my throat. Should we rename it an autumn event? Let’s just sterilize America. You leftist fanatics need to get a grip.

  • http://bythebayou.blogspot.com John

    You know, the proper role of religious observation in public life is something that will probably be debated for as long as the US is what it is today: a democratic nation governed by a Constitution that forbids establishment of religion by the government. It’s an important and worthwhile debate. It’s always a bit depressing when a conversation in that debate reaches the point where people are calling each other “fanatics.”
    I personally am not too bothered by most public observances of things like Christmas, because a large chunk of the population is celebrating… well, not the birth of Christ, but something named “Christmas’ which requires you to run up your credit cards. Anyway. Doing Christmasy thing and calling them “Holiday” is dumb; call it a Holiday Tree but we ALL KNOW it’s a Christmas Tree.
    At the same time, I do think some thought needs to be given to where and how those things are observed. There’s a huge difference between some students in a school getting together to pray, versus prayer as part of the official school day. It is significant when a display is part of a government building. If it wasn’t, putting them there wouldn’t be so important to some people. You can’t insist that it must be there, then deny that its presence means something.
    The debate always seems to end with someone insisting, “we are a Christian nation!” But we’re not.
    As for the “sterilizing America” thing – you know, my non-Christian-raised friends are not offended by – and even enjoy – the variety of displays of Christmas that people create at this time of year. I’ve sat with Jewish friends at Christmas parties at friends’ houses, and had the honor of being invited to seder at Jewish homes. My Houston neighborhood is known for its fabulous Christmas lights, and my non-Christian friends think it’s very pretty. I know a lot of people with a wide range of views, and have never met anyone who had a problem with people loudly and happily celebrating Christian holidays.
    It’s the establishment thing. Those same friends will complain – quite justly, I think – that their employers don’t give them the option of working on Dec. 25 and taking other days off – so they take a meaningless day off and then use up vacation time to observe their own religious holidays. And many of them have told me some very depressing stories of how it felt to be practically the only Jewish kid around.
    A good first step for any majority – racial, religious, whatever – is, when someone in a minority says something is problematic to them, to SHUT UP AND LISTEN. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything, or you have to do everything someone asks. But it’s interesting to me how many people I know who feel like they can’t even express their discomfort with semi-official displays of Christianity without unleasing a rant of “You’re oppressing us Christians! You want to kill Christmas!” and all that nonsense.
    Really, listening is a great thing. You might find that people with whom you disagree are actually just moderates with a different viewpoint, not an army of radicals out to destroy your way of life.

  • Kat

    John”{It’s always a bit depressing when a conversation in that debate reaches the point where people are calling each other “fanatics.”} I agree, and I apologize. I should have said ‘non religious nutjobs’..that seems to be the acceptable term here.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/palamedes20/ Palamedes20

    I just wanted to say that reading Jenkins’ article was very heartening, to hear someone try to discuss both sides of the issue intelligently and honestedly while resisting the attacks that much of these comments have degraded into was a refreshing. Having grown up in a Pentecostal (AG) family with Biblical values taught to us every day (State finalist in Junior Bible Quiz 2 years ) I would think that I understand where much of their hearts and minds are. It is this movement itself, the Pentecostal movement (with many of the “nondenominational” churches that follow most of their ideas) that I feel is causing people to perceive Christians as vigorously attacking any and all that stand against their beliefs while attacking every other religious group (including Catholics, look at Chicks tracks like the ones my father hands out if you do not believe me) when they preach their messages. This group is reactionary in nature, dangerous in their exploitation of ignorance whether through their continous evangelizing in lower income areas around me or their preaching of Creationism as a science.
    I also see the horrible prejudice inherent in university thinking, having attended an above average college for the last 3 years and being subjected to the continuous diatribes of my history professors against corporations and big business that when compared to what I know and learn in my business courses does not hold up. These professors exclude the thinking of many incredible, intelligent writers only because of their conservative views do not mesh with their worldview. (2 classes on Early Modern England without one mention of Burke).
    I happen to work a government job (SEC), where I have been saying Merry Christmas this whole season without one voice of disapproval, whatever agency the earlier comment was referring to probably has more to do with a terrible director then a widespread systemic problem.
    In conclusion excellent writing by Jenkins that made me stop and think (now if he could only discuss fundamentalism from the perspective of a liberal Christian and how to bring growth back to our sects as opposed to Pentacostal ones).
    Great Job.

  • Aggie Gnostic

    A whole bunch of comments just disappeared. Why?

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I don’t believe so. Were you looking at one of the posts following up on this (scroll up)?

  • Aggie Gnostic

    I posted two comments late yesterday afternoon.  They, and a number of others, are gone.

  • Eileen

    Aggie, yesterday at some point (?) I was unable to access any comments here due to a ‘busy or broken server’. Maybe that’s when the Grinch ate some posts.