published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

A sadly necessary defense of First Amendment liberty

It is not especially surprising that the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 93-0 for a measure that would let public buildings post “historically significant documents” such as the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence.

What is troubling is that such a measure should be necessary in the first place.

Decades of activist court rulings against the free, voluntary religious expression guaranteed by the First Amendment have created the unfortunate misconception among too many Americans that such expression must somehow be confined to churches or homes.

The First Amendment envisioned a far more robust protection for religious speech — including in the public square — saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech ... .”

It is irrational to suggest that a city’s or county’s posting of the historically vital Ten Commandments — which visitors may read or ignore — amounts to an establishment of religion. And any claim that religious faith had little or no bearing on the founding and history of our country demonstrates a lack of historical knowledge on the part of the person making that claim. (By the strict secular rules some seem to want, even the Declaration of Independence might not be posted in public buildings because it refers to God.)

We commend the House for its vote in favor of allowing the public posting of important documents such as the Commandments. We lament the fact that distorted views of the Constitution made that necessary.

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librul said...

At least we now KNOW there is no one in the Tennessee Legislature with any intellectual honesty. I suppose since government buildings will now serve a dual purpose as churches, we can get about burning down all those useless, steepled edifices and put the property back on the tax rolls and to more beneficial uses.

March 21, 2012 at 12:55 a.m.
joneses said...

What amazes me about the atheist like librul is why are they so threatened by something they do not believe exist? These antichrist just keep proving time and time again they have the intellectual capability of a grape. If you are so intellectually gifted how on earth do you think it is easier for you to destroy Christianity versus working on your own tolerance and hate of same? You atheist are to week minded to understand it is easier to work on yourselves than to change billions of people beliefs. Amazing.

March 21, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.
conservative said...

The vote was 93-0 with 6 members not accounted for in the article. Those Demoncrats who voted for the bill have a lot of "splainin" to do with their supporters, that phony separation of church and state thing.

March 21, 2012 at 8:24 a.m.
librul said...

Good morning, Jonesy. Idiot. I'm no more "afraid" of your pathetic mindworm than I am of a doormouse. What I am afraid of is jackbooted, religionist thought police and theocratic statists.

What if teachers were being coerced to teach non-science in science classrooms, or people were being shot in their own churches because they performed legal medical procedures, or medical offices were being firebombed, or what if ... oh wait, that's already happening, isn't it?

The question for you is, what if secular humanists were in the majority and were using the power of government to harass and demonize a minority of citizens who worshipped a robed zombie, taking away their freedoms and rights and referring to them as needing to "work on their tolerance?"

Don't worry, that'll never happen. Secular humanists have no desire to dominate the world or to cram zombie worship down anybody's throat. They stand for principles that are positive, empathetic, egalitarian and promote freedom of inquiry - some qualities you should give some thought to, seems to me.

March 21, 2012 at 8:33 a.m.

lol. Librul you are out of your mind. This law in no way takes any of your rights. How have your rights been violated? You secular humanists need to get over yourselves and learn a little tolerance. You claim your rights are being violated while proposing the violation of the rights of others. Maybe if you self loathing secularists can come up with some sort of credo you can have that posted in the court house as well. Let go of the hate sith lord.

March 21, 2012 at 10:04 a.m.
librul said...

You've been eating too many purple sheep. Yech.

I have the right to regard your god as having no importance whatsoever, just like Zeus, or Thor or any of its predecessors. No one has a "right" to expect their SECULAR government to promote their SECTARIAN beliefs in the buildings of a government that was founded on the principle that no religion should be given even the tacit endorsement of the state. Putting a christian religious text alongside our declaration of independence from a sectarian state is a blatant act in violation of that principle. Our Constitution makes no mention of any god and the Declaration of Independence was written by Unitarians and deists whose reference was to an imagined "creator" - NOT, as the editor wrongly implies, the christian god. So what do we do, build a new wing on every courthouse in the land so every belief system and every sect of every religion can advertise itself? What hooey!

If Payne and Jefferson were alive today, they would be shaking their heads saying "You people haven't learned anything, have you?"

March 21, 2012 at 10:44 a.m.
Livn4life said...

I have to laugh librul when you, with the postings even above, use the word POSITIVE to describe your approach. Hah, I doubt that. But here's my proposition; take out all the positive elements which Christianity in the real sense has brought to humankind and I would like to see how positive your secular only world would be. I will not even begin to list them but your revisionistic re-inventive approach to history keeps you in the dark. Hypocrisy is claiming you are so open and then stereotyping Christians and Conservatives as all non-intellectual and many other labels when used toward you, you cry "Fowl,unfair,intolerant!" The biggest hypocrisy of all is the claim by liberals(intheirestimation)of separation of church and state, yet when it comes to hand outs and so called cultural compassion, suddenly the government/state starts taking the role which really belongs to the church. And you can't cry "the church just isn't doing it" and still claim your separation rant. If it's the church's responsibility and the government assumes it, that is a blatant violation of your separation mantra. But hey, you think you have it all figured out. I wish you the best as you believe in nothing, no one but yourself and what you and the secularity around can bring. That is a big fatalistic when one who is not as unintellectual as you claim thinks about it.

March 21, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.
librul said...

What?

March 21, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

Lets see, the ten commandments..... I seem to remember quite a few of those are actually laws of the land. Enforced by the government. Maybe we should get rid of any and all of those laws because they are associated with a religion. That would be the proper way to separate church and state right? Maybe guns aren't such a bad idea after all....

March 21, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.
Plato said...

They can put up pictures of god in a burning bush, men living inside of a fish, talking snakes and a bronze statue of Ted Neeley himself if they want. What irks me is wasting public time on a piece of legislation designed for no other purpose than to pander to the bible thumpers and garner votes, rather then doing the important work they were elected to do.

March 21, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

FPSE, do a counting of them. Less than half of them are laws of the land. And you know what? A far older code of laws incorporates them, not to mention numerous other independent codes. Why do we have to only refer to one particular version, when there's dozens, if not hundreds of others?

If you want, you can post the relevant statutes of those laws. But only one particular version? Nope.

Especially since you won't make the effort to post all the various versions.

Or can I expect to have another set of Commandments or the equivalent for other religions posted and protected as well?

No?

March 21, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.
ceeweed said...

As long as no one wants to post the word "Gay" on a government building, we should all be o.k. PTL.

March 21, 2012 at 7:36 p.m.
Stewwie said...

happywithnewbulbs,

If you feel so strongly about that, then call your local lawmakers to encourage them to write a bill to enable every single religious document from every single religion ever invented to be put up in the public buildings. Then we'd have all our bases covered, right? Yeah...good luck with that.

The title of the editorial says it all. Great to see unanimous, bipartisan support for this bill that is perfectly legal.

March 21, 2012 at 10:10 p.m.

How about we write just one law, that broadly includes all religions, instead of a law for just one religion? Ok, so technically this law purports to do that, except it names the Ten Commandments by name.

Oh sure, they tried to hide it in a mess of other names, but still, they only picked the ONE religious document to cover. Why not others? Why oh why...

I know. They're trying to fool us.

But they're failing, and just showing they're transparent in their deceits.

Still, I'll demand the right to have other documents covered. I'm thinking there are a few I'd like to see put up.

March 21, 2012 at 11:20 p.m.
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