Why it matters:

| 26 Comments

In today’s Baltimore Sun, there is an op-ed by New Hampshire Union Leader editorial page editor Andrew Cline. Cline makes an argument that I’ve heard a lot from religious conservatives lately, that the courts go to far when they rule that government “endorsement” of religion is unconstitutional:

I disagree with the wording of that statement. But it defies logic to say it establishes a state religion. And in fact, Judge Jones does not conclude that. Under Establishment Clause jurisprudence, he doesn’t have to.

In the 1984 case Lynch v. Donnelly, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor created a new standard that redefined the Establishment Clause. Government policies don’t have to “establish” a state religion - as the Constitution requires - to be unconstitutional. They simply have to “endorse” a religious point of view. Justice O’Connor succeeded in rewriting the First Amendment, and Judge Jones used that rewrite to strike down the intelligent design statement.

As the Establishment Clause morphs into a general anti-religion clause and judges continue to strike down not the establishment of religion, or even the teaching of it, but the mere practice of pointing it out to students, it is easy to imagine a day when no reference to God, religion or spirituality will be allowed in school.

I think Cline manages to misunderstand a couple of different things here. He obviously doesn’t have a clue about why O’Connor defined the “endorsement” test, or how the circumstances of this case illustrate the value of that standard. He also doesn’t seem to grasp exactly what the Dover School Board was attempting to do.

Read More (at The Questionable Authority):

26 Comments

Interesting.

Mark Noonan, over at Blogs for Bush, made some of the same inferences as Cline in a post not too long ago. Noonan writes, “[b]ut I find it really interesting that the good Judge is striking down this nearly universal belief on the grounds that to even so much as mention it is an establishment of religion in violation of the Constitution — this means that God cannot be mentioned in connection with any biology class.”

I responded.

http://www.hells-handmaiden.com/?p=570

The really interesting thing is that these bogus arguments are incredibly stale in 2005.

Do Noonan and Cline think they’re legal geniuses of some sort?

The arrogance is stunning.

And of course it’s all predicated on a misrepresentation of what actually happened in Dover, and what Judge Jones actually ruled in his opinion.

Pandering to religious rubes: the oldest profession.

Cline whines:

As the Establishment Clause morphs into a general anti-religion clause and judges continue to strike down not the establishment of religion, or even the teaching of it, but the mere practice of pointing it out to students, it is easy to imagine a day when no reference to God, religion or spirituality will be allowed in school.

Oh no! You mean the fundies’ kids won’t be able to wear T-shirts which recite fag-bashing Bible verses on them?

I shed a tear for the demise of all that America stands for. *sniffle*

One wonders if they would be all gung-ho for “endorsement” if it were, say, Islam or Buddhism being endorsed, rather then THEIR religious opinions . … .

I strongly suspect not.

I agree with Lenny. They always cry “persecution” when they are not allowed to impose their religion on other people. Wonder how they would react if the hindu people insisted on sharing time in the xtian churches to teach the controversy.…

Being a hypocrite on the scale of these sorts of “people” means not having to say you are sorry; and being this sort of religious hypocrite means NEVER being able to say you are either sorry or wrong - unless there’s a better pay-off in doing so. Of course, only the most unfortunate of homo sapiens (GWB, very likely a stunning example) ever weld the mask of their hypocrisy upon their original face in such a way that they really no longer understand what that feeling nagging at them is: a horrid, embarrassed, lonely self-loathing.

Ex-Board member William Buckingham made it very clear that government (the school system, controlled by him and several other board members) wanted to establish religion (his flavor, of course). He tried to deny making the statements that lead to this conclusion, but was judged to be lying. This point is missed by folks like Cline and other wingnut “pundits” who seem not to have read Judge Jones’ decision fully.

Comment #67132

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on January 3, 2006 07:55 AM (e) (s)

One wonders if they would be all gung-ho for “endorsement” if it were, say, Islam or Buddhism being endorsed, rather then THEIR religious opinions .… .

I strongly suspect not.

That’s for sure. If in some small county a concentration of muslims try to put a Koran verse in school, conservatives will discover separation of church and state so fast your head will snap.

There is, as usual, the strong undercurrent here that Cline and those who echo such views (a) regard everything as a religion; and (b) divide religions into two categories, theirs and wrong. Evolution falls under the “wrong religion” category. Cline doesn’t seem to be talking about abstract or historical “references to God, religion or spirituality” here; otherwise he’d be perfectly content with the current Dover board’s decision to put ID into their comparative religion classes. In Cline’s view, Cline’s personal faith is limpid truth and excluding that truth rather than suffusing it into every possible school topic is a threat. He asks, in baffled amazement, why the State can’t endorse the truth.

I don’t imagine anyone here thinks Cline would be satisfied with a “reference” to his faith that did not in fact endorse that faith and take it for granted. All scientific disciplines should be presented in the form of “Here’s how God chose to do this, and here are the scriptural references that tell us so. Here is how science has ratified scripture, and there is where science in failing to ratify scripture has not yet properly understood its subject matter.”

Of course Cline would oppose Islam or Hindu viewpoints being taken for granted in the sort of “reference to spirituality” he is promoting. They are wrong. Granted, the plaintiffs who wish to raise their children with different beliefs have cause to gripe about Cline’s preference. But, Cline would probably argue, if his preferences had only been presented in *the plaintiffs’* schooling, the plaintiffs would never have fallen into such error in the first place, they would have seen truth themselves.

I suspect we are drawing a line here that Cline does not draw. We wish solid science to be taught in science class, according to a method Cline (and Behe, for that matter) considers restrictive. It’s just as factually true that the earth is round, as that God MADE it round. And plain perverse to teach the former and omit the latter.

steve s Wrote:

If in some small county a concentration of muslims try to put a Koran verse in school, conservatives will discover separation of church and state so fast your head will snap.

Been there, done that in Tennessee. After one of the Ten Commandment flaps began in the Knoxville area, and they started posting them as “historical documents”, a high school student suggested they also post the Five Pillars of Islam (or whatever it is).

Shot down right quick that was.

NJ

LOL.

NJ Wrote:

Been there, done that in Tennessee. After one of the Ten Commandment flaps began in the Knoxville area, and they started posting them as “historical documents”, a high school student suggested they also post the Five Pillars of Islam (or whatever it is).

Shot down right quick that was.

NJ, can you give us some references for this?

Excellent article. This one merits a bookmark.

Pete Dunkleberg Wrote:

NJ, can you give us some references for this?

Found it. Bless Google News!

http://www.freedomforum.org/templat[…]mentID=15990

NJ

Love this part in the above article:

The ACLU’s executive director, Hedy Weinberg, said she appreciates Cate’s efforts, although the organization would oppose actually posting the Five Pillars of Islam for the same reasons it opposes posting the Ten Commandments.

Damn you ACLU and your infernal consistency! Damn you to hell!!!

Some of the religious right seem to understand Lenny’s point about endorsement. A while back somebody posted this link: www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46828 to a fundamentalist Christian noticing the implications of government endorsement of religion.

Some of the religious right seem to understand Lenny’s point about endorsement. A while back somebody posted this link: www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46828 to a fundamentalist Christian noticing the implications of government endorsement of religion.

David I just don’t see why it would be a problem if they allowed establishment.…unless of course Carol’s,Heddle’s,Blast’s,GWB’s g-d were not the same as all the others.…boy it must be crowded up there! Oh I get it.… theirs is doubleplusgoodest

This bares repeating from the principles of Newspeak.

http://www.newspeakdictionary.com/ns-prin.html

As we have already seen in the case of the word free, words which had once borne a heretical meaning were sometimes retained for the sake of convenience, but only with the undesirable meanings purged out of them. Countless other words such as honour, justice, morality, internationalism, democracy, science, and religion had simply ceased to exist. A few blanket words covered them, and, in covering them, abolished them. All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word crimethink, while all words grouping themselves round the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were contained in the single word oldthink. Greater precision would have been dangerous. What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his own worshipped ‘false gods’. He did not need to know that these gods were called Baal, Osiris, Moloch, Ashtaroth, and the like: probably the less he knew about them the better for his orthodoxy. He knew Jehovah and the commandments of Jehovah: he knew, therefore, that all gods with other names or other attributes were false gods. In somewhat the same way, the party member knew what constituted right conduct, and in exceedingly vague, generalized terms he knew what kinds of departure from it were possible.

Right, k.e. establishemnt would solve their problem IF they could agree on which church to establish and could guarantee that a different group could not take over and establish its religion. The writer on WND found himself in a Christian minority in a mainly Buddhist community. Suddenly endorsement did not seem so attractive to him. Yes, they are counting on creating a Christion nation, but I still don’t see how they will paper over their internal differences.

“Yes, they are counting on creating a Christion nation, but I still don’t see how they will paper over their internal differences.”

Let’s see:

He (she?) who has the most guns, money, congressmen, newspapers, Wall Marts, et al.

You get the idea.

Religions have a way of “managing” the Other to be sure, eh?

Andrew Cline Wrote:

As the Establishment Clause morphs into a general anti-religion clause and judges continue to strike down not the establishment of religion, or even the teaching of it, but the mere practice of pointing it out to students, it is easy to imagine a day when no reference to God, religion or spirituality will be allowed in school.

The “mere practice of pointing it out”? I see that he’s presenting a familiar slippery-slope argument here, but where on the slope does he think we are now? Does he think the Dover ID Policy was merely pointing religion out to students? If so, I have some exciting investment opportunities to email him about.

That letter about public prayer is hardly what I would expect to find in WorldNetDaily. Christian though the writer may be, he takes a decidedly anti-fundamentalist position. I commend WND for including it in spite of themselves.

Hurray! The Dover school board tonight rescinded its Intelligent Design policy!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060104[…]ion_showdown

again, nothing about whether they plan to address the concept in social studies class. They did mention this shortly after the election was over.

I’m just curious as to whether they still plan to do so.

It’s still unclear, even with the vote to rescind the old policy, which was to teach it in biology class.

One thing that always boggles my mind when it comes to people like Andrew Cline.…

Parents have every evening of the week after school to indoctrinate their kids in their religious views if they so desire. They also have the entire weekend (and, of course, especially Sundays for Christians).

And yet it’s NOT ENOUGH! Are people like Cline so lazy that they want the public schools to indoctrinate their kids for them? Or do they want to monopolize every minute of the kids’ lives so that no controversial (to the parents, that is) ideas get mentioned, ever?

It’s amusing to see the hypocrisy of the Fundies when it comes to “establishment” issues. Here’s an example: (This might not qualify as an “establishment” issue, but I think it conveys the same general idea).

There was a blurb in the past few months about a high school girl who wrote an article about Wiccans for her school paper. I forget the details, but it basically boils down to the community being in an uproar about this article with calls to stop this kind of thing from happening again. Now, if the tables had been reversed and the Wiccans had complained about a Christian-oriented article in the school paper, well, you can just imagine the howls.

One more thing: If I remember correctly, the article was merely descriptive of Wiccan beliefs and did not explicitly endorse the practice of Wiccan religion. Yet even the mere mention of the existence of these beliefs was too much for some of the Fundies.

Are people like Cline so lazy that they want the public schools to indoctrinate their kids for them?

He doesn’t want schools to indoctrinate HIS kids. He wants schools to indoctrinate YOUR kids.

HIS kids are already indoctrinated.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on January 3, 2006 12:48 AM.

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