Secular speech protected; religious speech squelched

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HuffPo:

LOS ANGELES — There's no room for the baby Jesus, the manger or the wise men this Christmas in a Santa Monica park following a judge's ruling Monday against churches that tried to keep a 60-year Nativity tradition alive after atheists stole the show with anti-God messages.

U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins rejected a motion from the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee to allow the religious display this season while their lawsuit plays out against the city.

Collins said the city was within its constitutional right to eliminate the exemption that had allowed the Nativity at the oceanfront Palisades Park because the change affected all comers – from Christians to Jews to atheists – and provided other avenues for public religious speech.

The coalition of churches that had put on the life-sized, 14-booth Nativity display for decades argued the city banned it rather than referee a religious dispute that began three years ago when atheists first set up their anti-God message alongside the Christmas diorama.

The judge, however, said Santa Monica proved that it banned the displays not to squash religious speech but because they were becoming a drain on city resources, destroying the turf and obstructing ocean views. Churches can set up unattended displays at 12 other parks in the city with a permit and can leaflet, carol and otherwise present the Christmas story in Palisades Park when it is open, she said.

“I think all of the evidence that is admissible about the aesthetic impacts and administrative burden shows that this was a very reasonable alternative for the city to go this way – and it had nothing to do with content,” she said during a hearing in federal court in Los Angeles.

I'm here to make the emotional appeal. Not a legal one.

This whole Grinch-stench began by a non-resident of the area, Damon Vix, in 2009. Then in 2011:

The 14 scenes depicting Jesus Christ’s birth have long been a popular attraction among area residents and tourists to the southern California city.

This year, however, atheists have taken over most of the two-block stretch, nearly shutting out and angering a group of churches who contend the atheists have organized against the Christians and gamed a city lottery process allocating the holiday exhibit space.

In response, a leader of the atheist group says he’s just looking for evenhanded treatment to present his beliefs in a public space — and goes so far as to say that the city shouldn’t even be allowing any religious or even atheist expression in the park.

That’s why he and his group have put nothing on half of the park exhibit spaces that they’ve secured from the city this year.

The atheists are declaring the politically left-leaning seaside town of Santa Monica as their latest battleground in a national movement to assert their rights.

“I’m part of a growing movement in America of atheists standing up for their rights. It’s a very exciting time for us that we’re having more of an impact in our society,” said Damon Vix, the organizer of the atheist group.

HuffPo:

In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as an homage to the “Pastafarian religion,” which would include an artistic representation of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The secular coalition won 18 of 21 spaces. Two others went to the traditional Christmas displays and one to a Hanukkah display.

The atheists used half their spaces, displaying signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and said: “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?”

Most of the signs were vandalized and in the en

suing uproar, the city effectively ended a tradition that began in 1953 and earned Santa Monica one of its nicknames, the City of the Christmas Story.

What's next? The changing of the name “Santa Monica” to something more palatable to secularists?

Photo: Scott Head AP)

The purpose of the atheist displays is to mock religion; not to celebrate their own non-beliefs. It's crapping on a religion during a time when that religion is celebrating a tradition of honoring the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

It'd be like atheists having a national day devoted to their….um…nonbelief; and instead of those who are religious simply respecting or not participating, wish to crash the party and be recognized; to narcissistically express themselves on someone else's birthday.

All this does is impoverishes our American culture of tradition and heritage.

The intolerance of secular militant extremists for any public displays of religious expression and the reworking of our nation's history, which from its inception has mixed government with religious art, is just sad.

How does religious expression and religious celebration by others harm me, personally? How does a Nativity scene harm me whether it's on public or private land?

I think the Christmas tradition enriches America, in all its religious AND secular expressions. It is history.

Growing up a non-Christian, I still embraced the beauty and joys of the Christmas Season. It's my favorite time of the year. I might not have been raised to believe in Jesus Christ; but it didn't harm or damage me to be exposed to Christianity and to participate in such things as Christmas card and gift exchanges; and Santa Claus…

Whatever happened to being respectful of the beliefs of others, anyway?

You don't have to be Christian to be a part of the celebratory nature of Christmas.

My dad grew up Catholic but is a staunch atheist. My mom is Buddhist. Yet every Christmas my life was enriched because we celebrated the season of joy, peace, and goodwill toward all men. We gave out and received Christmas (not holiday) cards; we exchanged Christmas (not holiday) presents. In school I sang Christmas (not winter) carols and was not told by my atheist dad that I should be offended. I watched Christmas specials- some of my favorites having strong religious themes in them like the Little Drummer Boy claymation or a Charlie Brown Christmas where Linus cites from the Bible.

I feel as though my life was enriched, not impoverished by these experiences. And I never felt excluded or unwelcomed as a non-Christian; nor did I feel threatened or coerced to convert.

Christmas is still a national holiday. It is interwoven into the very fabric of American heritage and tradition. How do you extract the religion out of it without damaging the entire tapestry of American culture?

As SouthernRoots put it a year ago:

Athiests are free to practice their “non-religion”, but they should do it in the privacy of their own homes. It would also be nice if they would stop forcing their beliefs down everyone’s throats

Vix, who doesn't even reside in Santa Monica, and those like him have garlic in their souls and are merely being a Grinch about this, not knowing just how much damage they are doing to American society by eradicating decades of tradition. And there are three words that best describe them: “Stink, stank, stunk.”

Links:

Santa Monica Nativity Scenes

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59 Responses to “Secular speech protected; religious speech squelched”

  1. 1

    Nan G

    Old movies depict literal soapboxes in parks with men atop them spouting personal, political, religious beliefs.
    And, I had been told by older folks no longer with us, this was a depiction of REALITY.
    We really used to have free speech of any type in our parks and public squares.
    But this is about putting up temporary art.
    And that is by a permit process.
    I think it would be KEEN for whichever churches felt slighted in Santa Monica to send preachers to that park.
    Let them preach in public instead of inside four walls.
    Might teach the preachers a thing or two about how to really reach people.

  2. 2

    FAITH7

    AH the TOLERANCE that comes from the LEFT and the non-believers, the hypocrites, the mockers…devoid of a soul or of a spirit….. makes me cringe….

    ….funny though…

    NO ONE COMPLAINS when they get their [ “PAID” ] “Christmas Vacation/Holiday” [Schools-Colleges/Teachers/Professors] STUDENTS get more Vacation time…well, by gosh, a WEEK at least…
    OR
    When the “Congress” and the “Senate” gets THEIR [“PAID”] “Christmas Sabbatical”
    OR
    When People who actually work get [“Paid”] time off….

    Gee, my Gosh!! Funny thing – No one Complains then?!? HUH??!??

    Perhaps they should complain about not having to work on this Sacred Traditional Christian time and complain about getting paid for it as well…

    Soulless People! Haters!!! Hypocrites!!

    Luckily there are only a handful of these HATERS out there….that’s ok, though… what goes around surely comes around…

  3. 3

    FAITH7

    Wordsmith – Sorry, I get riled by the intolerance of people who profess they “are” tolerant. And really are not…. I really do like your piece. I am glad there are people like yourself who can enjoy the beautiful season of Christmas…and appreciate all that goes with it…Peace, Goodwill, Hope…

    I also like the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur a Day of atonement…

    Atheists to me, are empty, juvenile, small people who have an inferiority complex. They really have no meaning in their lives, so, to make them feel better about the ‘void’ in their lives, they press on… making fun of, and mocking Christians and their Faith.

    Quite frankly I’d like to hear their “take” on other “Faiths”… funny thing, I never do…seems Jews, Judaeo Christians, and Christians are easy targets…no real back lash there…

    I see the guy in the photo surely draws a crowd – lol… I am wondering though why is his ‘thing’ fenced in? Why does he/or they feel they need to ‘fence’ their B/S in?? Very Odd I’d say…

  4. 4

    Budvarakbar

    @FAITH7:A fabulous observation — right on — my uber liberal ex hippie school teacher neighbors never seem too out of sorts over the holidays — and that summer vacation — oh man what a drag! — then that “spring break” WEEK — you know the pagan bunny wabbit and weird egg day vacation!

    “Only a handful of these HATERS”– and the rulings always seem to be in their favor — getting dicey out there folks

  5. 5

    retire05

    Perhaps this California (of course) judge should be forced to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If he feels that there is really no event that caused the federal government to declare Christmas Day a national holiday, then he should be forced to hold court on that day. That also goes for Easter Sunday.

    You see, with the left, it’s not about their freedom of choice; it’s about yours.

    They don’t like guns, so they want to prevent you from owning one.

    They don’t like carbs, so they want to limit the number of carbs you take in.

    They don’t like religion, so they want to force yours underground.

    They don’t like big cars, so they want to force you to drive a small, dangerous one.

    It’s not about their right to not like those things, it’s about their power to force you to not be able to have them. There is no tolerance in the intolerant left.

  6. 6

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @FAITH7: You sound like the voice of tolerance. The displays are fenced because Christians would tear them apart if they weren’t. If you’ve never read a treatise about a non-Christian religion, try “The End of Faith”, by Sam Harris, about Islam. The reason most atheists speak and act against Christianity in America is because it’s the national religion. The reason we’re against religion is because it has served to limit people’s rights in the past, and continues the limit the in the present and future. If people would simply keep their religion to themselves, they would not see as much action and speech against them. But they have to inject their mythology into politics. They are the number one social problem today.

  7. 8

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    The date of Christmas, and all the traditional celebrations of Christmas (with exception of its religious connotations), are actually pagan. So, as an atheist, I would not be opposed to celebrate it as a pagan holiday—but as the birth of Jesus? You could still have all the pretty lights and decoration, without the religious messages.

    Atheists oppose all myths, and their purpose is to help the public gain their sanity again. I believe it was considered defilement, according Christianity in America, to celebrate Christmas until the 19th Century (and maybe it was even illegal), because it was associated with paganism. Look it up.

  8. 9

    retire05

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Once again, you embarrass yourself. We have no “national” religion. But since you seem to think we do, which religion is the national religion? You see, you are so damn stupid you don’t understand that Christianity is a tenet, not a religion.

    Now, perhaps you would like to explain what “rights” you have that you think are limited by religious faiths? Would that be your “right” to steal, or perhaps your “right” to murder another human being, or maybe even your “right” covet another person’s wealth, which is exactly what liberals like you do in your redistributive philosophies. You want the “right” to have the government force someone to hand over their money to you.

  9. 11

    retire05

    Liberal1, I see you are as uninformed about American history as you are most other things.

    Christmas was not celebrated in the United States in colonial times, and the early 19th century, as it is now because it was considered pretentious, and was celebrated as a religous holiday. You know, church and all that stuff you don’t subscribe to. The Christmas tree was introduced by the German immigrants, along with Kris Kringle, or Father Christmas.

    Learn some history. You continue to embarrass yourself.

  10. 12

    James Raider

    @ Wordsmith,
    Great piece.

    You don’t have to be Christian to be a part of the celebratory nature of Christmas. . . . . . every Christmas my life was enriched because we celebrated the season of joy, peace, and goodwill toward all men.

    Amen! אָמֵן! ἀμήν! آمين!

  11. 13

    Nathan Blue

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): Unfortunately, you’re just injecting your own mythology into politics, and can’t seem to understand that. Militant American atheists are one of the biggest social problems of the day, because they stand on the backs of 2000 years, or so, of Judeo-Christian law, ethics, and science, yet choose a path of historical ignorance by believing it is profound to reject the very idea of religion. Sorry, junior, but their were “atheists” in the time of Christ and before.

    It’s not new, and it’s not original. Call a spade a spade. You’ve elevated yourself to an intellectually elite position, and you want to eradicate that which you don’t understand. You are the ignorant, hate-filled dullard “Christian” that you seem to rail against so much.

    By the way, Sam Harris is a hack–he doesn’t understand science and he doesn’t understand scholarly inquiry.

    For those of you who don’t know, Harris is working towards a way of “ranking” an individual’s moral and ethical beliefs as falling within a scale of “qualified” or “dismissible.” In Sam’s world, a religious person’s choices and voice can be erased by way of science. Sound’s like a paradise, eh?

    We’ve heard this all before, but for the easily misguided, it sound’s so liberating, so deep. Atheism is a religion. Atheism follows it’s own myths.
    Give me a break.

  12. 15

    Taqiyy.

    I MEAN:

    I’m sitting here, trying to absorb all this.

    And I decide, for some reason, while sitting and thinking… and I’m thinking about a Red Letter Edition, of all things, of the 1611 KJV. And I google and find a free PDF of one. Trying to use my PDF reader, I’m just scrolling down hundreds of pages trying to find the New Testament, and the aforementioned Red Letters which are His Words. I see a tiny thumnail in my scrolling that looks like the beginning of a chapter, and I find Zephaniah. ‘Who the heck is Zephaniah?’,I wonder.

    According to the “experts” all these years, a Minor Prophet…

    Why Minor?

    Because none of his s&&t made sense.

    Until now… more than ever.

    Like almost in focus. And not “through a glass darkly”, as it were.

  13. 16

    Smorgasbord

    For religious events or symbles that were in place before separation of church and State were passed, the grandfather clause should apply. They were there first.

    What religious organizations should do is band together and sue the feds, saying that if there is going to be a separation of church and state, it should be a COMPLETE separation. The government wouldn’t have ANY contrrol over ANY religious event except to ban it from government property. Employees of the religious organization wouldn’t have there income taxed, since it came from a religious organization. The government wouldn’t have ANY say so on what goes on on their property, since there is a SEPARATION of church and State.

    Either there is a COMPLETE separation of church and State, or it is illegal, because the government still has some control over the church. Separation of church and State SHOULD mean that neither one can have ANY influence over the othere.

  14. 17

    Ditto

    So this judge has decided that “no speech” is better than “free speech?” That in itself is a violation of the 1st Amendment. Watch for this ruling to be overturned.

  15. 18

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @retire05: No, not officially, but Christianity is the predominant religion in this country—and how many times have I heard righties say “This is a Christian nation”.

    Sometimes I speak without reconsulting my sources. But it’s fair to say that the influence of the Puritans influenced the fact that, “It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.” And the acceptance of the celebration of Christmas wasn’t universally accepted in the U.S. by the 19th Century. “The North and South were divided on the issue of Christmas, as well as on the question of slavery. Many Northerners saw sin in the celebration of Christmas; to these people the celebration of Thanksgiving was more appropriate. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season. Not surprisingly, the first three states to make Christmas a legal holiday were in the South: Alabama in 1836, Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.”
    http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/in_america.htm

    Thanks for affording me the opportunity to refine my memory of history. I think the important thing here is America did not act as a single element in the acceptance of Christmas in its present form. It is not a black and white issue, as extreme conservatives seem to prefer.

  16. 19

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): If you’re interested in a pretty thorough account of the history of Christmas, check out Michael Medved’s “The Secret History of Christmas”. It’s really good, tracing back each addition to the tradition, and when. Nonpolitical, imo.

    No, not officially, but Christianity is the predominant religion in this country—and how many times have I heard righties say “This is a Christian nation”.

    Yes, “Christian” nation, secular government. Our country’s history is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian values and ethics. It was not founded upon Islamic tenets or Hindu beliefs or Buddhist morality.

  17. 20

    Wordsmith

    editor

    From 2008 on another battle in Washington D.C.: Christmas Symbols Deserve More Respect Than Atheist Insults

    The ludicrous battle over holiday displays at the Washington State Capitol reflects current confusion over coexistence of the nation’s Christian heritage and its Constitutional restrictions on religious establishment. The Olympia idiocy also highlights the radical nature of social changes regularly demanded by secularist and separationist militants.

    The controversy began when The Department of General Administration (which administers the Capitol grounds) granted permission for private citizens to display a nativity scene and a Hanukkah menorah in a relatively obscure passageway of the third story of the Capitol Building. The “Freedom from Religion Foundation” responded with a notorious, officially approved and nationally publicized sign praising atheism and decrying religion for “enslaving minds and hardening hearts.” Subsequent applications poured in for a Buddhist display, a secular Jewish banner, a mannequin of a saint holding a Merry Christmas greeting to atheists, an aluminum pole to celebrate the Seinfeld-invented holiday of Festivus, and a “Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday Display.” The most explosive proposal arrived from Topeka, Kansas, courtesy of the militant Westboro Baptist Church, demanding a large sign with a poem proclaiming that “Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell” and condemning the Jolly Old Elf as the source of the nation’s moral and economic breakdown.

    Overwhelmed with the number of applications and embarrassed by the unwanted media controversy, the Department of General Administration declared a “moratorium” on new holiday displays but allowed the already permitted items (including the Menorah scheduled for installation on the first day of Hanukkah, December 21st) to proceed as planned.

    To those who object to any expression of religious sentiment or symbolism on public property, the Washington wackiness suggested the inevitable result of even the most trivial and well-meaning breach in the “wall of separation” between faith and state. According to this reasoning, once you’ve permitted a nativity scene, there’s no reasonable basis for resisting the Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday Display.

    This argument ignores the lessons of 200 years of national tradition and settled constitutional interpretation. Those who believe that Christmas symbols and Festivus poles equally challenge the First Amendment establishment clause unthinkingly accept some of the pernicious and prevalent distortions of ignorant political correctness.

    Read the rest.

  18. 22

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @Wordsmith: Some would question how secular this g0verment is—since it seem more and more religious views permeate much of the legislation.

    I’ll suggest a book for you to read too, regarding the influence of religion on government: The Family, by Jeff Sharlet

  19. 23

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Some would question how secular this g0verment is—since it seem more and more religious views permeate much of the legislation.

    Can you provide examples of what you mean when you talk of religious views permeating legislation?

    For the first 150 years of our nation, it seems like there was not the same level of intolerance as there is post-ACLU in regards to the free mixing of religious expression and government, including from our Founding Fathers. This seems more like a recent phenomenon, beginning in the last half of the 20th century.

    I’ll suggest a book for you to read too, regarding the influence of religion on government: The Family, by Jeff Sharlet

    Thanks. I’ll try and look into it.

    The Secret History of the Christmas Holiday

    Why was Christmas a subject of bitter, even bloody, controversy for the first 200 years of American history? Why did leaders of several colonies make determined efforts to ban any observance of Christmas? How did the War Between the States, and the development of the Santa Claus traditions, lead to the nearly universal acceptance of Christmas as our great national holiday? What ancient pagan religion also celebrated December 25, recalling shepherds worshipping a great hero who will end up sacrificing himself to atone for evil doers? What do historians say about the real date of Christ’s birth? What did the pre-Christian Vikings contribute to contemporary Christmas observance? What’s the true story behind holiday classics like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”? Why is commercialism a blessing, not a threat, to the Christmas spirit? Michael Medved provides provocative and in-depth answers to these and other rarely answered questions about the most beloved and widely-cherished festival on earth. This scintillating, sentimental and wildly entertaining broadcast will add to the depth and joy of your holiday season, no matter how much you already know about Christmas traditions.

  20. 24

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @Nathan Blue: Atheism is not a religion in the sense that they don’t believe in the supernatural. I used Sam Harris of an example that FAITH7 could read, since she’s never heard criticism of non-Christian religions by atheists. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says. But you certainly fit the extreme right-wing stereotype, by calling someone a derogatory name—hack—just because you don’t agree with them.

  21. 25

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @retire05: Most all movements of freedom in this country have been opposed by Fundamentalist Christians—women’s sufferage, inter-racial marriage, abortion rights, the right for blacks to serve in the regular military, gay rights, etc.

    Most atheistic humanists believe that religion is not necessary to ethics; and, if fact, a code of ethics predates religion.

  22. 26

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @Wordsmith: The current trend of opposing abortion and establishing personhood legislation and the idea that a human being is established at conception, immediately come to mind—as being legislation the has religion at its base. Also, some states have laws the do not allow atheist to hold office—and I think some still do not allow them to testify in legal matters.

    Most of these examples are State Statutes, but, if allowed the succeed, they run the risk of spreading to the Federal Government—for example anti- Roe vs Wade (and plunging women back into the 50’s, coat-hanger abortions).

  23. 27

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @Ditto: Give me a break. Every time an atheist demonstrates or wins a court decision, the right-wing complains it is a free speech infringement. It may surprise you to find that the courts have ruled against the free speech contention on many occasions. But maybe you believe in anarchy.

  24. 28

    skipfoss

    A law should be passed those that don’t beleive in GOD and Christ should not be allowed to take off t5hat day it is not a holiday that wish to observe and ou reps in Washington shooulld not get paid for that time off until they stand up and stop the freaks from violating the civil rightts of those that do beleive. I would love to take this freakVix in a room for about 15 min I would make a beleiver out of him ,a beleiver in pain I am sick of pimps like him and these Muslim ragheads downing Christian people . If you would like to take my chalange Vix let me no when and where I will be there

  25. 29

    retire05

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    While there are some states that still hold a law that atheists cannot hold public office or testify in a court of law, those laws were basically ignored since the early 1800’s, and in 1961 the SCOTUS overruled those archaic state laws. (It is still illegal in Texas to walk your camel on the beach)

    As to abortion, you lay the blame for the dispute against abortion on a religious belief, but yet, it is science, not religion that has proven that from the moment male sperm connects with the female egg, the result of that union has no other option other than developing into a human being. It cannot become a butterfly, a daisy or any other part of nature. The normal progression makes it only one thing; a human being. So just as an acorn has no other option than to grow into an oak tree, a zygote has no other option than to become a human being.

    But here is the difference between the intolant atheists and the tolerant Christians: if you decide to go to an isolated state park, and practice you belief in atheism, no Christians are going to sue the state government for allowing you to do that. You are more than welcome to take your clothes off, chant to the moon, and sign your God-less songs. But let’s reverse that: athesists would quickly file a law suit, demanding that the state no longer let a bunch of Christians to hold a religious ceremony in the state park, demanding that the [non-existant] separation of church and state be enforced. You are not just content to be allowed to believe as you wish, you want to destroy the rights of others to believe as they wish. How many times have I heard atheists say that Christian should limit their freedom of speech to their churches? In the same respect, you should limit your freedom of speech to your atheist gatherings, and not express those opinions on any public forum.

  26. 30

    johngalt

    Lib1 talks a “good game”, but in reality all he/she/it shows is an extreme intolerance towards religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular.

    Tolerance is allowing others to practice their beliefs and traditions. Intolerance is when you purpose to shut those practices of belief and tradition down, simply because you claim not to believe in them. And this is exampled by Vix purposely choosing the time and place that Christians in Santa Monica choose to display their beliefs and traditions, as a time to confront them. Why else choose that time, and that place, to denounce Christian beliefs and traditions, if not to achieve what has happened there?

    I have tolerance for atheists. Heck, I admire a famous one to the point that I’ve used one of her most famous characters as my FA name. As a believer in the Constitution, I believe atheists have just as much right to display their non-beliefs as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. have to display their beliefs. It is only when it is purposely confrontational, as was the case in Santa Monica, that I have a problem with them. Just as I would if it was, say, Jews or Muslims confronting a Christian tradition for the purpose of ending it’s public display. That is not tolerance. That is intolerance, and something that Lib1, and the man Vix, clearly don’t understand.

    Tolerance allows for the different beliefs in the world. Intolerance is when you try to shut down those differing beliefs. Intolerance ruled the day in Santa Monica, it seems. Are we going to let this repeat everywhere else in our country?

  27. 31

    johngalt

    @retire05:

    How many times have I heard atheists say that Christian should limit their freedom of speech to their churches? In the same respect, you should limit your freedom of speech to your atheist gatherings, and not express those opinions on any public forum.

    Well said, retire05. I don’t condone that last as a “solution”, of course, and I’m sure that you don’t either. But it examples the hypocrisy of the atheist when they suggest that all religions practice behind closed doors, but continue to assume a position in public speaking out against those religions. And this type of hypocrisy is rampant amongst liberal/progressives, who wish to tell people where, when, and how they can do things like practice religion and drive their vehicles and shoot their guns and manage their property, but then don’t apply that same limitation of exercise to what they wish to do. Intolerance. Plain and simple.

    But then, maybe I’m just a “bitter clinger” to my guns and religion too. Who knows?

  28. 32

    Ditto

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Every time an atheist demonstrates or wins a court decision, the right-wing complains it is a free speech infringement.

    Religious speech is also protected under free speech. Why are atheists so afraid of someone expressing their beliefs, that they so rabidly campaign to stifle speech of a religious nature?

    It may surprise you to find that the courts have ruled against the free speech contention on many occasions. But maybe you believe in anarchy.

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that some courts have ruled against free speech. Maybe they and you believe in totalitarianism of the State over the peasants.

  29. 33

    Wm T Sherman

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    The only topic in ages that got this creature to go beyond its usual drive-by robotic troll comments: The joy of preventing others from celebrating Christmas. You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch.

    I’m not religious, but I don’t presume to lecture other people whether God exists, or even to be able to make a definitive statement about it one way or the other.

    These Marxists go after Christianity so agressively. Christmas in practice is not a strictly Christian phenomenon at all. And for all the complaints of these Leftist social engineers to the contrary, Christianity is in fact not a source of oppression in this country anyway. You know what is though? College campuses, a.k.a. Leftist indoctrination centers. Marxism itself requires a religious faith in an unproven principle of an inevitable flow of history, and also self-deception about the empirical record of Marxist movements. Marxist revolutions have repeatedly resulted in poverty, tyranny, and mass murder, but supposedly that’s because it’s never been properly tried. It will be different next time. Sure it will. Why don’t you wait for the Great Pumpkin while you’re at it, geniuses?

    Leftists target Christianity, family, private charity, really any kind of tradition that creates non-governmental processes for doing things the government wants to take over. These alternate paths are impediments to expansion of government power and that’s why Leftists try to attack and discredit them.

  30. 35

    Peter

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): In that case I put it to you that every historical figure any skeptic has not seen with his own eyes was a myth. Prove to me that it was really a man named Patrick Henry who said “Give me liberty, or give me death.” What I find amusing is that you have smugly satisfied yourself that you have figured out the universe. Yes, uni, because the silly promoters of the multiverse idea, in their zeal for progress demanding that every possible scenario is being explored concurrently, have neglected to consider that an infinite subset of those scenarios would include an intelligent designer since that is a possibility. So, you assume you have considered every single shred of evidence and that anyone who disagrees with you (any believer in intelligent design) is basing his decision on nothing but blind faith. Does it ever occur to you that I, for instance, might have thought of something you have not? If you are an atheist because you have studied EVERY side of the creation vs natural selection argument with an open mind and decided for your non-belief, then you are to be respected and more power to you. But if you are an atheist because you were pre-disposed to it and have shunned the study of opposing views based on some prior held prejudice, then shame on you and on your little tiny imagination.

  31. 36

    Hard Right

    @Wm T Sherman:

    Have you noticed how they don’t dare go after the muslims the way they go after Christians? Why? Because they fear them. They know they are not the murderous thugs they accuse them of being, or they wouldn’t dare call them such names.
    Leftists, I hope you realize you may be giving some people the idea that the way to protect Christianity is to become as militant and violent as the Islamic fascists. I know leftists like tom and lib pile of #2 will think they will get to declare war on them and eradicate them, but things can spin out of hand much easier than they will ever understand.
    Note: I am not advocating such a thing, but I can see it happening.

  32. 37

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @retire05:

    As to abortion, you lay the blame for the dispute against abortion on a religious belief, but yet, it is science, not religion that has proven that from the moment male sperm connects with the female egg, the result of that union has no other option other than developing into a human being. It cannot become a butterfly, a daisy or any other part of nature. The normal progression makes it only one thing; a human being. So just as an acorn has no other option than to grow into an oak tree, a zygote has no other option than to become a human being.

    That.

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    @Wordsmith: The current trend of opposing abortion and establishing personhood legislation and the idea that a human being is established at conception, immediately come to mind—as being legislation the has religion at its base.

    Isn’t this a prejudicial belief on the part of an atheist? To reject any legislation because what formulated it came from those with religious beliefs? Are only beliefs secular in origin acceptable? Can you imagine the religious making your same argument, but from the opposite side of the fence, saying your legislation is bad because what drives it is atheistic values?

    I don’t know how much opposition to abortion and legislation is driven by religious beliefs. However, even if this is the case, of what difference is it whether one’s opinions are formulated by religious beliefs or non-religious beliefs?

    If a person does good in the world, does it matter if his good deeds were induced by religious values or secular values? Whether he does evil in the name of God or finds justification through secular beliefs, does it matter in the end?

    Most of these examples are State Statutes, but, if allowed the succeed, they run the risk of spreading to the Federal Government—for example anti- Roe vs Wade (and plunging women back into the 50′s, coat-hanger abortions).

    Roe v. Wade was badly flawed legislation. Pro-abortionist and law professor John Hart Ely admits as much.

    And it is hyperbole to claim overturning Roe v. Wade would throw us back to the 50s with coat-hanger abortions. Even before R v. W, 90% of abortions were done in doctors’ offices, not back alleys. According to the U.S. Department of Vital Statistics, there have been zero documented cases of coat-hanger abortions; and in 1972 before R v. W, only 39 women died from illegal abortions.

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Most all movements of freedom in this country have been opposed by Fundamentalist Christians—women’s sufferage, inter-racial marriage, abortion rights, the right for blacks to serve in the regular military, gay rights, etc.

    One movement that I don’t think you can make the claim for: The first real anti-slavery movement was started thanks to Christian evangelists and how they interpreted their religious beliefs.

  33. 38

    Ditto

    @Wm T Sherman:

    These Marxists go after Christianity so agressively.

    Historically socialists have always gone after religions, and not just Christianity, because they want their worker caste to think that “The State” is everything. That you must put your faith, trust and loyalty only in “The State”. That “The State” will provide for your needs (IE. only what you need nothing more). That you must give yourself over unto “The State”. “The State” therefore takes that place previously held by “God”. “The State” too is a jealous entity, and can not abide competition, (divine or otherwise,) and will smite any who do not believe in “The State”.

    That is why the Republican Party must be made to transform and conform to the demands of the whipped-up masses, that they may serve ‘The State” as an ineffective “second choice” that is little more than a poor reflection of the Democratic party, in order to give the appearance of choice where there really is no difference.

  34. 40

    Nathan Blue

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): Nah. You’ve spouted more hate-filled vitriol at this site than most–don’t pretend to take the moral high road. You’re not here to discuss the issues, you’re here to vent your frustrations, using the so-called “far-right” and “ultra-conservatives” as a target.

    Also, a hack is “A writer hired to produce routine or commercial writing.”
    Most non-atheists (the vast majority) think this of Sam Harris. Nothing “derogatory” about it. I don’t agree with his positions because they are flat out wrong–he’s got an agenda, and that agenda doesn’t include reason, rationality, history, science, etc.
    He’s a hack who wants to piss people off, garnering more sales in the process . . . just like Dawkins and Hitchens (God rest his soul). He’s weaponized his frustrations and made it about obliterating a certain group of people to make the world right.

    Sound familiar?

  35. 41

    Nathan Blue

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): Also, Atheism is a religion, because it is entirely dependent on trying to attack, disenfranchise, and otherwise negate other religions, specifically Christianity. New Atheism is a cultural fad, and the result of poor education and cultural ignorance. Most atheists I know are white males disenchanted by their Church experience growing up, and now hate the fact that they are a “minority.” Read into that as you will.

    I’m an ex-athiest, ex-Liberal Democrat supporter. For the record, I consider myself a Moderate/Centrist Independent. I current support the GOP because they offer the only hope of healing the cultural damage done by people like Harris, not to mention that done by entertainers and the media.

    The Left has made this into a cultural civil war in which they want all those who do not share their views to quietly recede into the background, their ideas dismissed and voiced silenced. That’s tyranny, and I won’t stand for it.

    But thanks for trying to dismiss my opinions by calling them “far-right.” You’ve demonstrated exactly what I’m talking about beautifully.

  36. 42

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @retire05: However, just because there is a union of a egg and sperm serves to created the beginnings of a human being, it does not result immediately in a complete human being but simple a mass of protoplasm that differs from other mammals only in the fact that it contains human DNA. Liberals think it’s better to end life at this stage than to have the mother lose her life at the hands of an illegal abortionist, which would be the result in many cases if abortion were made illegal. Besides, it is my understanding that religious people think abortion is wrong because God implants a soul into the fetus and having an abortion is interfering with God’s Will—and has nothing to do with science. Is this incorrect? I would guess that you would find less scientists opposing abortion than non-scientific religious people.

    And as far as the law goes, maybe the laws against atheism holding office or testifying are enforced, or maybe they’re not—I don’t know, and I don’t think you do either. The question was asked for examples of how religious people have influenced legislation, and that was one answer. I would bet that if one were to run for office or testify, and another didn’t want you to do so, the opposition would surely cite this injunction—and, being the law, it would be honored.

    Even though SCOTUS may have ruled these laws ‘archaic’ that doesn’t mean they’re not in force in the individual states. http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Laws_and_other_rules_against_atheists_and_agnosticsscot

  37. 43

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @johngalt: We are not limiting people’s freedom of speech, we’re trying to change attitudes. It seems I recall when there was so much talk about the Muslim Community Center a few years back, you were one of the prominent spokespeople this against it. As I recall, there were only a two or three people who defended their religious freedom on this issue, and you weren’t one of them—speaking of “talking a good game”.

  38. 44

    Kevin

    I know this issue generates a lot of heat on both sides. What I haven’t heard is a sound, reasoned argument which points out the flaws in the following principle:
    The US government should provide no platform or resources to advance the message of any one religion; unless equal access to that platform/resources are granted to proponents of all religions.

    It seems like a pretty simple principle: you want to advance your religious message, great! Do so on your dime and on your property. Seriously, what’s the problem here?

  39. 45

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @Wm T Sherman: What’s Marxism got to do with it? Here’s a news flash for you: All atheist are not Marxists. You may need to take some time to think about that one.

  40. 48

    retire05

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    You want to argue abortion from the point of religion. I do not. Just as the mighty oak started out as a simple acorn, that was fertilized, sprouted and initially resembled nothing more than a very short weed, a human being, as with all things in nature, has a beginning, a period of growth, a period of aging and death. Abortion eliminates two of those natural steps; growth and aging, and simply takes a human from the point of a beginning to the point of death. Abortion basically stops the natural order.

    Athiests are hypocrites; you enjoy the benefits that the religious have created in this nation, yet you rail on those who gave them to you because they subscribe to a philosophy that there is a Higher Power than self. Give up all those freedoms you enjoy due to the religious of this nation, like George Washington, if you are so convinced that those freedoms, since gained by the religious, are not worthy of your beliefs.

    You say you are not trying to limit people’s freedom of speech, just trying to change minds. I see, the squeeky wheel theory. But athesists argue the separation of church and state. There is no such separation. There is only the guarantee that no particular religion will be set aside as the “official” religion of the federal government. Even after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, there were states that had “official” religions. So, if you cannot silence the religous, you take to the courts trying to find a sympathetic judge who will rule against your adversary, the religious. That is not trying to change minds, that is trying to use bully tactics.

    No one is jailing you because you don’t subscribe to the theory that there is a Higher Power than self, or dragging you off to a church. If you don’t like religion, don’t join one. Isn’t that what you say about abortion? If you don’t agree with them, don’t have one? But if like minded people want to stand on a public street corner, or in a park, or on the court house steps, all owned by them as well as you, allow them that freedom of speech and walk away knowing that if you are no longer with earshot, you cannot not be influeced in any way.

    Again, you exhibit the intolerance of the intolerant.

  41. 50

    Ditto

    @Kevin:

    What I haven’t heard is a sound, reasoned argument which points out the flaws in the following principle:
    The US government should provide no platform or resources to advance the message of any one religion; unless equal access to that platform/resources are granted to proponents of all religions.

    There is a flaw in your strawman principle in that it is only considering US Government property, yet by omission you leave out state and local government/public property over which most of these legal battles have been fought. We have not been discussing US government property. Rather disingenuous on your part don’t you think?

    Public property is public. Freedom of speech is the freedom to present your point of view. If you allow free speech on public property, then religious speech must also be allowed. Everyone who jumps on a soap box, or marches, protests, demonstrates is doing so to proselytize their beliefs. Religious speech is based similarly on a system of beliefs. Allowing everyone to speak except those who’s message is religious, is not equality, nor equal protection under the law. If they ban religious speech from public property, then they must in fairness ban all speech there, and the same should apply for government property. To deny religious people to demonstrate, while you allow gays, ethnic groups, the KKK, etc. to assemble on or use such places is patently un-American.