Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Cross!

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John Gorenfeld reports:

This wintry season, as the faithful continue to receive alarming reports from the news that Republicans are all that stand between them and the outlawing of Christmas itself by hordes of secular humanists, the two presidents Bush have endorsed a powerful conservative interest group specializing in removing the cross—not from schools or courthouses, but from churches.

Rather than the traditional egg hunt, this group, calling itself the American Clergy Leadership Conference, sponsored a nationwide "Tear Down The Cross" day for Easter, 2003. Last week, leaders in this radical cause presided over a Washington prayer breakfast featuring messages of thanks from the presidents. Former Senator Bob Dole came in person.

Surprise: the American Clergy Leadership Conference is an arm of the Moonies, the faith-based group that just can't get no respect—except, apparently, in DC. George W. Bush's message to the gathering: "Your theme is right on target—faith, family, freedom and peace centered on God."

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  1. The Moonies also got Congress to declare their biggest holiday, “True Parents Day,” a national holiday, under the name “Parents Day.”

    The Senate sponsor was Jesse Helms.

  2. What’s up with the Bush family and the moonies? Seems waaaay weird and creepy to me.

  3. I know this is old news, but I’m weirded and creeped out when a moonie messiah ceremony is conducted in a US Senate building and attended by congressmen:

    http://gadflyer.com/articles/?ArticleID=131

  4. Yep, saw that a while back, mr nice guy. Part of why I’m so weirded out by the whole concept.

  5. Another reason to support the *absolute* separation of Church and State. Regardless of your opinion of religion, its very nature should preclude it from being enmeshed in state affairs. But the current administration seems to salivate at the mere glimpse of anyone throwing around the buzzwords “faith” or “spirituality”.

  6. Discuss: the difference between separation of church and state, the separation between religion and government, and a ban on the state “establishing” a religion.

    Most people seem to think its all one and the same, but they are wrong.

  7. R.C. Dean,

    Then give us your erudition on the subject.

  8. R.C. Dean,

    Are you of the school that argues that Constitution does not bar states from establishing their own state church (like Justice Thomas apparently is)?

  9. Thomas’ opinion depends on a narrow view of the extent to which the 14th amendment incorporates First Amendment restrictions on the States.

    His concurring opinion in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris is at Findlaw, See http://tinyurl.com/36e67 (Concurrance #2)

    I like the results of much of the incorporation doctrine. I think it would be better if an actual constitutional amendment had outlawed established state churches.

    Kevin

  10. “Discuss: the difference between separation of church and state, the separation between religion and government, and a ban on the state “establishing” a religion.”

    The practical application of the establishment clause precludes any sort of state endorsement of religion, not merely official acts designating a certain faith as the official one. As a corrollary, the state may not endorse the tenents of a religion over those of another religion, nor over irreligion, unless it can demonstrate that the doctrine being endorsed serves a legitimate, secular state interest, and not merely the advancement of that religion or its doctrines as such.

  11. Separation of church and state is, I believe, a phrase taken from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, in which he expounded on what he believed the 1st Ammendment to mean. Thus, while the phrase is not in the 1st Ammendment itself, it expresses the intent of those who crafted it.

    Now, separation of religion from government, ie, a ban on the religious belief of individual politicians affecting their official activities, is totally different. Indeed, this would represent an abridgement of the 1st Ammendment’s free exercise clause, and possibly the establishment clause as well (since it would favor the beliefs of the irreligious).

  12. Jefferson Explains to Noah Webster Why The Government Should Stay Out Of Religion :

    “It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several States that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors . . . and which experience has nevertheless proved they [the government] will be constantly encroaching on if submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious [effective] against wrong and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion.”

    In other words…
    1. It’s not necessary
    2. Experience shows government should NOT involve itself with religion because will just screw it up and ruin it for everyone.

    More Excerpts From Letters By Thomas Jefferson:

    [N]o power over the freedom of religion . . . [is] delegated to the United States by the Constitution. (Kentucky Resolution, 1798)

    In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government. (Second Inaugural Address, 1805)

    [O]ur excellent Constitution . . . has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. (Letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1808)

    I consider the government of the United States as interdicted [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions . . . or exercises. (Letter to Samuel Millar, 1808)

    So pray as much – or as little – as you wish.

    Go to church and glorify – or burn, or tear down – the cross as your religion compells you.

    And respect other’s rights to do it or not do it as they respect yours to do the same.

    What’s so hard about this?

    I triple-dog dare any Christian out there (I’m a devout one, BTW) to explain to me how they are not currently worshipping as they wish.

    Then they can explain to me how, once they have achieved the holy grail of the establishment of a state expression of Christianity, just WHICH denomination it will follow.

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