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Old 06-27-2002, 04:44 PM   #31
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I wonder when the Declaration will be ruled unconstutional.

I wonder when any reference to God in the Constitution will be struck from it due to some radical athiest complaining that they are offended by such language and made to feel like a second class citizen.

Has anyone ever wondered at the fact that as we have gotten farther and farther from religion, that our nation has sunk farther and farther from the kind of greatness that founded it in the first place? The kind of greatness that was present in this nation even as far back as WWII when an entire generation of men carried chest pocket Bibles or yarmulkes into combat?

Has anyone ever stopped to realize that whenever something good has been done or some wrong has been stopped in this country it was due largely to the conscience of religious believers leading the way?

I once read a story about a religious skeptic who became a Christian after visiting Mother Teresa's missions in India. He said it was because he didn't know of any secular humanist doing the kind of work that she was doing. In fact he couldn't even imagine a secular humanist doing the same kind of work that she was doing.

I think that most all of us are naturally good people whether we believe or not, but I think that it takes some kind of relgious belief to be great. God help us if the drive to accomodate unbelievers suceeds in driving all acknowledgement of Him from our public life.
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Old 06-27-2002, 05:05 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally posted by whiteflag
I wonder when the Declaration will be ruled unconstutional.

I wonder when any reference to God in the Constitution will be struck from it due to some radical athiest complaining that they are offended by such language and made to feel like a second class citizen.

Has anyone ever wondered at the fact that as we have gotten farther and farther from religion, that our nation has sunk farther and farther from the kind of greatness that founded it in the first place? The kind of greatness that was present in this nation even as far back as WWII when an entire generation of men carried chest pocket Bibles or yarmulkes into combat?

Has anyone ever stopped to realize that whenever something good has been done or some wrong has been stopped in this country it was due largely to the conscience of religious believers leading the way?

I once read a story about a religious skeptic who became a Christian after visiting Mother Teresa's missions in India. He said it was because he didn't know of any secular humanist doing the kind of work that she was doing. In fact he couldn't even imagine a secular humanist doing the same kind of work that she was doing.

I think that most all of us are naturally good people whether we believe or not, but I think that it takes some kind of relgious belief to be great. God help us if the drive to accomodate unbelievers suceeds in driving all acknowledgement of Him from our public life.
As I was saying to Bubba, this is the type of sentiment that scares me to death. In particular:

"Has anyone ever wondered at the fact that as we have gotten farther and farther from religion, that our nation has sunk farther and farther from the kind of greatness that founded it in the first place?"


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Old 06-27-2002, 06:23 PM   #33
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Thoughts

Well good points on both sides. I am not quite atheist, but definitely agnostic. I totally and completely agree with this particular ruling-- and seperation of church and state in general. Regardless, I do tend to give humanity and the universe we live in more credit than most. I absolutely do not need a god to declare the unalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's really insulting to humanity, I think. And I also need no god to explain the creation of the universe, or even humanity itself. I understand how some people do, but I do not. This said, it is important to recognize the impact the concept of god has on our culture not only in anthropoligical studies, but in politics as well. However, the fact still remains that the term "under god," which was, as mug pointed out, a knee-jerk McCarthy-style reaction, clearly is an endorsement for religion. So the issue is whether the government should be endorsing religion, which, despite trying to intepret the amendment to the contrary, it should not. Or maybe then the real issue then is whether the term "god" equals "an establishment of religion." Maybe not quite in semantics, however the god concept and religion are undeniably and inseperably intertwined and there would be no religion without a god or gods. How much further must we go? Do we pretend that there really is such a fine and clear demarcation between "god" and "church" as if the church could somehow go about its daily business without the existence of a god concept to worship? No, instead of truly and completely respecting all beliefs, those who would erode the seperation of church and state would have us believe this is not so and tilt the argument. Whatever. I could assure you if, in this day and age here in Christian America, we were pledging allegiance to "one nation, under gods" everyone surely would be outraged. After all, there are at least 90,000,000 born-again Christians in America, not to mention any other monotheistic religions which might take offense to such a proclamation. But certaintly the 1,126,000 Hindus in America don't mind when their children are daily subjected to such an affront to their faith in public schools. I could have sworn that written somewhere, we were assured of living in a country that didn't endorse or take preference in any or no religion, but, by god, I could be wrong afterall...

One more note, mug222, I must say I have to agree with most everything you've said in this post. And joyfulgirl, at risk of moving outside the argument, I will agree with you also that the word "god" in america is, by majority at least, loaded as a Christian god.
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Old 06-27-2002, 06:47 PM   #34
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great post, Skeksis...

I absolutely do not need a god to declare the unalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I agree with you here...I also agreed with speedracer's point about this in terms of what the founding father's might have said (i.e. that the above is granted to each individual by the God Almighty) simply because while it does not appear that the majority of them were Christians, many of them seemed to have some kind of spiritual beliefs and a belief in a higher power but that all such references to that have been largely misinterpreted, in my opinion, to mean that they were Christian. I hope that makes sense--I'm fading quickly here at the end of my workday.
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Old 06-27-2002, 07:48 PM   #35
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Skeksis,
Actually, confucionism in China(which is a religion) is based on ancester worship. Not the belief in a God. So again, this idea that GOD=Church or Religion is simply false! In addition there is something of a cultural tradition in the USA with the use of the word GOD, and its most likely because of that fact that this will never change. Imagine going to another country and trying to change one of their cultural traditions. Sorry but here in the USA were not going to let a tiny minority of people define the constitution for the rest of us, its our country too. Oh and oh the Horror that the Hindus have suffered because of the "Pledge". Yes I'm sure thats what most Hindus think about when they go to sleep at night.

I can see how the public school can't lead the class in prayer because is most likely or at least risk endorsing a certain church or religion. The word God clearly does not.

I do question logic and intelligence of the parent that brought this entire thing up. Now his childs home is subjected to death threats and hate messages. I'm sure he is thrilled with the attention he gets and being able to be on TV and all, but what about the effect on his child? You don't need half a brain to realize the outrage that doing this would cause and the fact that his goal is impossible to achieve. Clearly the 8 year old does not need this drama that has been caused by his actions which are futile. Its still his right of course. Its his child. But in my opinion, I can't see how he could be acting in her best interest by doing this. This guy is clearly uneducated as well. Suddenly in his mid-40s he realizes that GOD is on many building in DC and apart of the Declaration of Independence. I wonder if he noticed its on the money he has been using all his life!? The fact is, he is probably not dumb, but just an attention seeker who found a clever way to get on national television.
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Old 06-27-2002, 07:52 PM   #36
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I learned the value of secularism in my Catholic education. This turn of events doesn't bother me in the slightest.

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Old 06-27-2002, 08:48 PM   #37
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Mug,

If you are going to say something about my comments, then I would appreciate it if you addressed it directly to me. Otherwise I get the feeling you are holding me up as some kind of hopeless example. Unless of course, you really do think that there is no use trying to talk to me. Do you think that way about me?

Why are my remarks so "scary"?

Do you naturally assume that because of I associate belief with greatness that I am prescribing wall to wall religion for everyone like it or not? That would be scary if I believed anything even close to that. But I don't. Is that what you are thinking about me?

You might not have termed my remarks like you did if you had only asked me questions about my comments.

You may be relieved to discover that I believe there should be reasonable room for the accomodation of both believers and non-believers in our corporate expression as a nation. By that I mean that respect is a two way street. Since atheists find theistic expression offensive and theists find its absence offensive, I think that we could be adults and be willing to look the other way from time to time. Is it so unreasonable to think that non-believer and believer alike should be able to put up with some discomfort or is only the minority entitled to being comfortable all the time?

I strongly believe that religion should not be oppressive but I just as strongly believe that it should not be banished from our shared public life (and for me public life includes any pledges we make in public as a united people). To do the former would be unfair to unbelievers and to do the latter would be nothing short of dictating what should be the proper place of religion in the lives of believers.

As for the remark that you singled out, why that one in particular? Is it scary for me to have the opinion that our country is in trouble due to too little belief? Is it scary for me to have arrived at my particular conclusion relying on a set of beliefs that I have done quite a lot of thinking about? How do you know what I am like or how I reach my conclusions?

Can you read my mind? Or do you just automatically assume that any religious person's views are "scary" until proven otherwise? Isn't assuming something negative like that usually a mark of prejudice?

I don't feel any disrespect for your views, so could I please get some respect from you for mine?
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Old 06-27-2002, 09:31 PM   #38
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Here's a great commentary on the decision of the 9th Circuit. Like it or not, I think it CLEARLY explains why the decision was made.

As a nation, I believe our greatest strengths are diversity, pluralism, tolerance and liberty. We are a republic. It is CONSTITUTIONAL ,and therefore imperative, that the rights of the individual and the minority always be represented and not suppressed.

http://www.boortz.com/nealznuz.htm :attn:
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Old 06-27-2002, 09:47 PM   #39
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This suppresses NO ones rights! This is about the interpretation of the constitution. The minority has no right to interpretate the constitution for the majority. Ultimately and indirectly, the majority does decide these things because after all, only the majority can make changes to the constitution, and only the majority can elect Judges that reflect their views, of course it is the election of the politician and then the appointment of the Judge, but indirectly, the majority decides.
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Old 06-27-2002, 09:48 PM   #40
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"I absolutely do not need a god to declare the unalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Really?

I may need to clarify my position slightly: while a belief in God, per se, is not necessary to claim any rights, a recognition in something supernatural is absolutely necessary.

Let us take, for instance, the right to life. The "right to life" means, "no one else should take my life." The question I ask is, "why not?" and I believe naturalists - those who believe in a material universe and nothing more - CANNOT provide an answer.

Let's say that I wish to take a naturalist's life, and he claims a right to life, an assertion that I should abstain from the act. I ask the obvious question: why?

The naturalist could say, "I don't want my life taken from me." That fact is true, but that doesn't explain why his concerns should matter to me. He could say, "I have the ability to reason," or "I would feel pain," or "I'm of the same species," but NONE of these facts about our universe says anything about whether the facts are actually relevant in determining my behavior.

Ultimately, I believe a naturalist will fall into a circular argument: "You shouldn't kill me because I have the right to life; I have that right because... well... just because."

Only a higher power - something beyond the material universe - can provide laws that say what man should and should not do. Only a higher power can thus endow something with any rights - including rights inalienable and self-evident.


All of this, I think, distracts from the real issue at hand: whether the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional.

It seems that quite a few of you - most recently Skeksis and joyfulgirl - are praising the decision on your personal preference: "I believe the government should be absolutely secular; the court decision is in agreement with my belief; therefore, I agree with the decision."

That's not the way our process works. This decision hinges, not on personal opinion, but on the content of the U.S. Constitution: "I believe the Constitution mandates an absolutely secular government; the court decision harmonizes with that mandate; therefore, I agree with the decision."

I naturally do not subscribe to the above argument, but THAT is the type of argument supporters need to start making.

And, in order to do that successfully, I believe the supporters of the decision should start pointing out where I am wrong in my beliefs, found in these three main points:

1. The content of the U.S. Constitution is to determine whether something is unconstitutional - how the nation is, not how you personally think the nation should be.

This seems like a "gimme," but I won't be too terribly surprised if someone questions me on this one.

2. When the meaning of the Constitution is unclear, we must interpret the meaning by looking at the intent of the authors.

I'm not surprised that the "living document" supporters disagree with me, but I really think their arguments are weak as water: as I showed above, interpretation without an investigation of intent can lead to SO MANY different conclusions that the document becomes worthless.

A Constitution that can be interpreted to mean anything ultimately means nothing.

3. If one examines the Founders' intent via their actions from within public office, there is no way one can conclude that the First Amendment makes illegal the pledge's "Under God" clause.

There is simply too many instances of the Founding Fathers invoking the name of God to suggest that they were breaking their own rules.
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Old 06-27-2002, 10:02 PM   #41
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Bubba: You may be unable to construct and follow your own moral code, but I and most others certainly are not.

Whiteflag: My comment was in fact directed right at you and at no one else. However, I've been debating religion and politics far too much in the past few days--here and elsewhere--and I simply cannot bring myself to argue anymore right now. View this as a cop-out if you wish to (it may be a cop-out, but I'm pretty sure I'm just fatigued), but understand that I do respect your views and that it was never my intent to do otherwise. And if I was too quick to judge, as it seems I was to some extent, I apologize. I have just been extremely wary considering recent political events.
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Old 06-27-2002, 10:03 PM   #42
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Tweed:

I believe that "great" commentary makes one massive, MASSIVE error:

Just what does “respecting an establishment of religion” mean? I believe that this means that our founding fathers didn’t want the Congress to make any law that could be construed as elevating any particular religion or religious belief to a position superior to that of any other religion or religious belief. In other words, the Congress should not make a law that could be seen as endorsing one particular religious belief over another.

He believes this, based on.... what, exactly?

It's certainly not the actions of the Founding Fathers as they served in the early years of the Congress and the Washington Administration.

(I would say "Congress and the White House," but Washington never lived in the White House: his actions predate even that.)

As I mentioned before, Congress recommended to Washington the proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Specifically, they recommended "to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

And, in the years following the Bill of Rights being ratified, President Washington, a VERY careful servant of the Constitution, CONTINUED to invoke the name of God in his annual address to Congress.

So, if he's not trying to ascertain the intent of the First Amendment's authors, how is he reaching his conclusions?

I'll tell you: his own personal opinion.

He believes so-and-so is how to interpret the First Amendment because it serves his own opinion - and that's a ludicrous way to judge our country's ruling document.
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Old 06-27-2002, 10:09 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by mug222
Bubba: You may be unable to construct and follow your own moral code, but I and most others certainly are not.
Oh, sure, I can do that, but the self-evident truth of "inalienable rights" doesn't require a personal moral code.

It requires an absolute and universal moral code.

Only an absolute moral code allows one to assert to another, "Hey, you SHOULD NOT kill me, because I have a RIGHT to live."

And no humanist in existence can conjure an absolute moral code from the natural universe.

Unless, of course, you care to prove me wrong...
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Old 06-27-2002, 10:19 PM   #44
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Originally posted by Achtung Bubba


Oh, sure, I can do that, but the self-evident truth of "inalienable rights" doesn't require a personal moral code.
No, but it doesn't require religion either. Religion in this instance is completely extraneous. Are you implying that if we removed the few mentions of God in the constitution that it would immediately lose its power, and could no longer serve as a legal and moral backbone to our nation? Frankly, that's ludicrous.
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:00 PM   #45
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No, I'm saying that, if we removed the Almighty from our legal documents, the idea of "rights" vanishes - rights merely become a list of things that we agree are off-bounds, rather than claims that are inalienable and self-evident.

Maybe the most obvious example will provide some clarity. Let's take the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Let's remove the Creator from the equation:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they - claim? - certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

On what basis do men claim these rights?
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