Separation of church and state: Good for religion?

If any more evidence were required that a nation whose Constitution guarantees individual religious liberty does not need members of … Continued

If any more evidence were required that a nation whose Constitution guarantees individual religious liberty does not need members of the clergy presiding over and pontificating at public events, it was provided at the 9/11 memorial ceremony by the numerous references to God and an afterlife from family members of those who died in the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center,

Many talked about their belief that a spouse, a parent, a sister, or a brother was “watching over” them from heaven and that they would see their loved one again. Obviously, I don’t believe in family reunions in an afterlife but my own view is irrelevant. It is the absolute right of any American citizen to stand up and make a personal statement of faith on such an occasion as long as it is personal and does not presume to speak for other citizens or the nation as a whole.

At the same time, is absolutely wrong to to impose group obeisance to religion, whether a particular faith or a general belief in God, by drafting a member of the clergy to provide a religious imprimatur for public ceremonies or the conduct of public business. It is wrong even though such homage to religion has become a common, extra-constitutional practice. It is wrong when the prayers are as bland and nondenominational as those now offered by Senate and House chaplains. It is even more wrong when the prayers are specifically denominational (and most of the legal disputes in this area have arisen because of the insistence of Christian conservatives that they are being denied their right to practice their religion if they are not allowed to exercise dominion over public proceedings).

It is one thing for a grieving survivor to express individual faith that he will see his lost loved one again, and it is quite another for a clergy member to give an invocation insisting that “America” stands for belief in God and that God is watching out for all of us. The former statement is an expression of personal freedom; the latter is an attempt to force those of us who think differently into an equation of religion with patriotism that contradicts both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution..

The real question is why those who want to force their religion into every aspect of public life think that compulsion benefits either religion or government. As the 9/11 speeches demonstrated once again and as public opinion polls consistently show, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe not only in a personal God but in an afterlife in heaven. Many fewer believe in hell, as befits a people captivated by the notion of American exceptionalism.

The heaven in which Americans believe is, more likely than not, a Christian long-term care facility. Judaism holds much hazier ideas about heaven, and a Jewish paradise (whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist) definitely doesn’t involve Jesus’s intervention at the Last Judgement and his sitting at the right hand of God the Father.

Religion has done very well in the United States, largely because the Constitution’s deliberate omission of God and its prohibition against government favoritism of any faith have encouraged a pluralism that existed nowhere else in the world until well into the twentieth century. So why do the representatives of religious conservatism feel impelled to force a minority (albeit a growing one) of religious skeptics, on every possible occasion, to listen to official accolades to a God in whom they do not believe?

The Reverend Martin E. Marty, a Lutheran minister, one of the most distinguished religious scholars in this country, and a contributor to “On Faith,” once suggested to me that all of these seemingly symbolic battles over matters such as school prayer and displays of the Ten Commandments in courthouses are really about “ownership and dominion” rather than faith. These symbolic acts are saying to religious minorities and atheists, “This is our country. Whatever the Constitution says, whatever you may believe, we Christians are the ones in charge.”

In June, Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the Sussex County, Del., County Council, which has turned a deaf ear to repeated complaints about its practice of opening every council meetings with the “Protestant” version of the Lord’s Prayer. The plaintiffs challenging the practice are all long-time residents, one a retired Lutheran minister.

The chief difference between the traditional “Catholic” and English “Protestant” Lord’s Prayer is that Catholics say “forgive us our trespasses” and Protestants (with the exception of Episcopalians) generally say, “forgive us our debts.” Lest you consider this a silly distinction, recall that in England and on the continent of Europe, people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were tortured and killed for having a Bible with the “wrong” version of the prayer. In nineteenth century America, Catholics founded parochial schools to protect their children (until this practice faded away in multi-religious cities long before the Supreme Court prohibited it in mid-twentieth century) from corruption by the evil Protestant words “forgive us our debts” instead of the Catholic “forgive us our trespasses.” Of course, neither version of this Christian prayer ought to open any meeting of elected officials.

In Sussex County public institutions, there is quite a history of sectarian religious practices that offend minorities. Mona Dobrich, who grew up thirty years ago as the only Jew attending public school in Georgetown, Del., became the target of local animosity when, after her daughter’s high school graduation in 2004, she protested a presiding minister’s invocation describing Jesus as the only way to truth. Dobrich, an Orthodox Jew, told the New York Times that when she was growing up, local Christians treated her faith with respectful interest. But she said her own son was mocked in school for wearing a yarmulke. The Dobriches eventually moved away to Wilmington because of the harassment.

The idea that ours is a Christian government and a Christian nation is part of what the historian Richard Hofstadter called “the one hundred per-cent mentality” in his classic Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963). This mindset, Hoftadter argues, reflects “a mind totally committed to the full range of the dominant popular fatuities and determined that no one shall have the right to challenge them. This type of mentality is a relatively recent synthesis of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist Americanism, very often with a heavy overlay of severe fundamentalist morality.” Although this book was written two decades before the political rise of the Christian right, it offers a perfect and prescient description of the ideology that insists on public religious symbolism as part of the “American way of life.”

Those who represent a “100 percent mentality” are outraged when, even though dozens of people who lost relatives in the 9/11 attacks have mentioned God’s personal importance to them, there is no member of the clergy on hand to impose a benevolent God on those in the audience (and you can bet there were some, although they didn’t say so) who consider the terrorist attacks just one more bit of evidence that God does not exist.

As the numbers of American secularists grow, so to do the ranks of the 100 percenters. They sit on school boards that defy generations of Supreme Court decisions and couldn’t care less about how a Jewish student feels when she has to hear Jesus deified before she receives her high school diploma. They have contempt for atheists who don’t appreciate having to sit in audiences at publicly financed events and hear the clergy begging God to bless America in much the same spirit as the priests of Baal prayed for rain.

In 1884, Robert Ingersoll remarked, “In the House of Representatives in Washington I once heard a chaplain pray for what he must have known was impossible. Without a change of countenance, without a smile, with a face solemn as a sepulchre, he said: ‘I pray thee, O God, to give Congress wisdom.’“ That’s why they called Ingersoll the “Great Agnostic.”

Susan Jacoby
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  • quiensabe

    As always, I tend to agree with you, Susan. A bland prayer has no place in a public ceremony. It should have at least three “Glory to Gods” in it.

  • WmarkW

    The issues in Sussex County, DE are one of those things that are only half-about what they’re ostensibly about. Ninety percent of Sussex is agricultural and small towns; the other ten percent is the Atlantic Ocean beach resorts — Dewey, Bethany, Rehoboth and Fenwick. Increasingly in the last 20 years, farmers just inland have been selling their property to developers to build seasonal homes for Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington area residents. About half the county’s housing is not occupied year-round.

    When it’s in-season, the part time residents dominate much of the traffic and commerce in the region, disrupting local lifestyles. Plus there are inevitble controversies like property tax rates for part-time residents who aren’t eligible to vote. The emphasis on religion is party a revolt against yuppification, and the leave-your-brain-at-the-bridge mentality of visitors who do stupid things like drive drunk or rob bus fare home.

    Being someone of secular conservative bent, I understand the local’s position on religion without agreeing with it. Some secular conservatives, like John Derbyshire, think an occasional pro forma prayer is a small price to pay for a population that practices traditional morals. While I disagree, I do think religion often serves as the arena of last resort for people whose lifestyle and values are treated as archaic by the advocates of modernism.

  • Susan_Jacoby

    The Constitution does not promise anyone the right to receive official, tax-supported respect for his or her “lifestyle” or values–whether modernist or anti-modernist. Nor does the Constitution have anything to say about a right to be protected from the annoying habits and attitudes of summer neighbors.I, too, understand the position of the locals on this issue. Their position is that if you’re a Jew or an atheist and you don’t like having your tax dollars support school activities in which a minister tells you that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life–well, tough. What business do you have living in a town settled by Christians?

  • quiensabe

    You’re right on today, Susan! What business do you have living in a town settled by Christians?

  • bethree5

    Hofstadter’s ‘hundred-percenter (“a mind totally committed to the full range of the dominant popular fatuities and determined that no one shall have the right to challenge them. This type of mentality is a relatively recent synthesis of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist Americanism, very often with a heavy overlay of severe fundamentalism “) was very much in evidence in the 1960′s, especially as protests against the Viet Nam war accelerated; the anti-intellectual, anti-’Eastern liberal establishment’ devotee could be found at any bar making aggressive remarks about such threats to civilization as kids with long hair. Go back a generation and you’ll find him wearing a white hood when the moon rises: he is a character who (as your Lutheran friend suggested) makes a power grab when fears are high and thrives in troubled times. It has not a thing to do with religion.

    I for one am happy to see him come out of the shadows and try his wares legitimately as a member of the Tea Party. The light of day may help unmask the fraud, and ultimately will aid in sweeping socially obsolete flotsam from the public ceremony.

  • persiflage

    ‘The former statement is an expression of personal freedom; the latter is an attempt to force those of us who think differently into an equation of religion with patriotism that contradicts both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution..’

    And that really sums up the whole idea of church/state separation. Clergy are official representatives of one religion or another, and ideally would have no ‘official’ standing or presence in public forums that were not specifically set aside as ‘religious’ in nature. It’s just assumed that religion and it’s officiates have every right to intrude anywhere at any time.

    For example, I thought Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to dis-invite clergy from the 9/11 ceremonies in NYC was not only smart, but took some backbone. As was pointed out, he is in the rare position of being beholden to no one – an uncommon circumstance for any public figure. Anyone else would have no doubt buckled under, with various clerical figures droning on and on as they are wont to do.

    I like this idea of church/state separation. When can we get started??

  • persiflage

    ‘The light of day may help unmask the fraud, and ultimately will aid in sweeping socially obsolete flotsam from the public ceremony.’

    Hopefully that’s exactly what happens to that dithering dimwit from Texas, Rick Perry. Voters will soon realize that he’s long on prayer and religious hyperbole, and short on ideas – and that will be the end of him.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t hold my breath either. There’s no shortage of voters that value ideology and hyper-emotionalism over substance. Otherwise, how could a hypocritical incompetent like Perry (or Bachmann) ever become a contender for the Whitehouse?

  • Brianrrs37

    What the proponents do not understand is that government lead prayer divides. If Christians want to know what a theocracy is like, they should move to countries who belt out public prayer to Allah through the speakers of Mosque minarets.

    I see no difference between the captivity of the population listening to that, than the captivity the audience is in under a government that is supposed to be “of the people”.

    “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” Article 11 Barbary treaty, signed without dissent by both houses of congress into LAW by president John Adams June 10th, 1797.

    Freedom of religion is does not constitute our government favoring Christianity over all others.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”
    AND
    “No Religious test” in our constitution clearly demands government neutrality when it comes to public property or events. So you either agree to let it all in, or agree to keep it all out. But what Christians cannot do is say, “It is my tree and I am going to mark it as solely mine”.

  • Brianrrs37

    I hope this does not have any political implications for him, but some will make a stink about it. It is about time some one in politics finally said, “This is OUR day of mourning, not that of one religion, or a billboard for religion”.

    The towers were called “The World Trade Center”, Not “The Christian Trade Center”. Considering over 80 nations and all the world’s major religions had dead represented, it was good that they had neutral proceedings and allowed individuals as individuals to speak for themselves.

    Once you get religious people leading the events under government sanction, the event no longer is about the humanity in all of us, but a contest between who suffered the most.

    The lesson of 9/11 is the same as the Holocaust, the same as as slavery and the genocide of Native Americans. 9/11 is ONE tragic horror that represents the worst of humanity and what humans should avoid in conflict resolution.

    We will never find common ground in attempts at marking territory as long as labels substitute for the compassion all humans are capable of.

  • Brianrrs37

    I’ll make Christians a deal, any time they want to use government to say “God Bless America” Someone should be allowed to stand behind them with a sign of Jefferson’s quote “Question with boldness even the existence of a god”.

    Christians don’t want what is fair, they want a monopoly as to what it means to be an American. Unfortunately for them, there is no requirement in the Constitution to believe in Jesus to be a citizen. As such it is way past time for them to grow up and accept that the days of the back of the bus are over and should be rightfully ditched.

  • Brianrrs37

    Who is talking about taking away your freedom? Not me. “Majority rule” IS NOT what this country was founded on. The Constitution, especially the First Amendment, is an anti-trust law that prevents monopolies.

    So when you falsely claim that atheists or Jews should just accept that they live in a Christian area, how quickly you’d change your mind if you were a Christian living in Iran when they conduct government sanctioned prayer.

    We are NOT demanding you hide your religion. We are merely demanding the neutrality choice of “let us do it to, OR, lets agree that government events be neutral”.

    What YOU DONT have the right to is a monopoly on displays or events as if others owe it to you to sit at the back of the bus.

    There is nothing in the Constitution that mandates prayer before a public event. There is nothing in the Constitution that says that non-Christians are “separate but equal”.

    If the founders intended on Christianity being favored over all others, then why did they fail to use “Christianity” or Jesus in the Constitution.

    WHY if they didn’t want neutrality would they put the words ‘Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”

    WHY not mandate “So help me God” and have a religious litmus test in the oath of office. That would have made it clear that Christians were to be played favorites to.

    BUT THEY DID NOT DO THAT. “NO RELIGIOUS TEST” is in the oath of office requirements.

    And go read the Barbary treaty article 11 “AS THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS NOT, IN ANY SENSE, FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION” Signed without dissent by BOTH houses of Congress into LAW by President John Adams June 10th 1797

    I am an atheist, I AM FOR FREEDOM OF RELIGION, but I will never be for a pecking order or for government favoritism. You want government favoritism for one religion over another, go live in Iran.

  • Brianrrs37

    Don’t underestimate Rick Perry. Bush got elected for one answer in a debate which the right wing swallowed when he was asked who his favorite philosopher was, “Jesus, because he changed my heart”. I remember watching that live and said to myself, “I really hope the voting public isn’t that stupid. Turns out, I was wrong”.

    I’d suggest to defeat Perry, the left focus on his lie in the form of omission on HOW he balanced the Texas state budget. What he never tells right wingers is that he accepted government funds to do that.

    So basically the right uses the tactics of the left and lie and claim that they are not doing the same.

    All focusing on Perry’s religion will do, if we only focus on that, will serve to push the right even further right. I’d say expose both at the same time to SHOW that being religious doesn’t make one honest.

  • SODDI

    The people who want to insert their religion into every nook and cranny of American society do not do it because they think it is “good” for any person or thing.

    They do it to DOMINATE those things, They said it – they do not want democracy or equal time, they want DOMINION.

  • ThomasBaum

    And if they are doing it to cram “Jesus” down other people’s throats than, apparently, they don’t know what Jesus even taught about and why God even became One of us in the first place.

  • SODDI

    “FOR ODIN AND ASGARD!” sounds better.

  • WmarkW

    IRT to Persiflage below: “There’s no shortage of voters that value ideology and hyper-emotionalism over substance. Otherwise, how could a hypocritical incompetent like Perry (or Bachmann) ever become a contender for the Whitehouse? ”

    Bachmann and Perry got a poll bump entering the race because the media loves to cover the new. Candidates like Pat Robertson and Buchanan once did well early in the primary season because of being interesting, but when it all shakes down the Republicans always nominate their best financed and organized canddiate and that’s Mitt Romney. Contrary to what people say, the GOP does NOT nominate far-right ideologues. McCain, GWB as of 2000 and Robert Dole are not embarassments.

    But speaking of ideology and style over substance, can you tell me exactly what Barack Obama brings? He makes speeches that don’t say much so voters can project their idealizations onto him. So far, all his big ideas amount to expanding more government:
    continue and expand Bush’s financial bailouts
    pass universal health care
    convene a committee to recommend spending cuts and then ignore it
    claim that half-trillion dollar jobs program “will be paid for” (without specifying how)

    I don’t see any substance beyond each trillion gets easier.

  • ScottRose

    If Christians don’t want me standing up and saying that the Virgin Birth is a crock, then they should return the favor and realize why I don’t want them standing up to say that it isn’t a crock.

  • YEAL9

    For Baum’s next visit with his “god”:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

  • quiensabe

    Mark Twain favored neither atheists nor Christians but he did have a sense of humor. You, on the other hand don’t seem to be having a very good time, Brianrrs37. Since you are a professing atheist, try to lighten up a bit…this is all there’s gonna be.

    I was not in the least suggesting that Jews and atheists should accept living in a Christian area. I was pointing out foibles we seem to have. Pure humor, Brianrrs37. Pure humor.

  • persiflage

    Mark,

    What you say regarding media hype of the new and the strange is very true. You see Romney as the reasonable choice for GOP candidate, and I can’t disagree. In fact, he’s the only sane choice as far as republican candidates go. However, the GOP has not been functioning with any degree of sanity as far as I can tell. This is not a typical election by any means.

    I hear so much stupid stuff coming from both republicans in the Senate (think Mitch McConnell) and the House (John Boehner) that I really believe Perry could end up with the nomination – if republicans believe they can re-capture control of the government thereby. In all honesty, I think the republican powers that be see Romney as yesterday’s news.

    Since those powers care nothing whatsoever about the fate of ordinary people or the future state of the nation, they will go with the guy that can gutwrentch a win from an largely unsuspecting and exceptionally uninformed public.

    As for Obama, the guy has actually done nothing wrong. Every economist worth their salt believes that government stimulus saved the nation from a catastrophic dive into another depression. Big business has failed to do it’s part – but reaps massive profits quarter after quarter.

    And then, the GOP apparently has been under the influence of a Vulcan mind meld pact to oppose Obama on every issue in order to win back control of the government. The fate of the nation means nothing, compared to a return to absolute power.

    And nothing has happened in congress, because of republican stonewalling. They offer nothing whatsoever, other than total lockstep resistance specified by the Grover Norquist doctrine of ‘no new taxes’. Norquist is of course the neuvo rendition of Karl Rove.

    As we approach the 2012 elections, even Reagan style republicans should be very afraid ………..this is not your grandfather’s GOP – nor is it the republican party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt…….men with a heightened social conscience.

  • WmarkW

    “And nothing has happened in congress, because of republican stonewalling.”

    Why didn’t the Congress that the Democrats controlled last year pass a budget? Remember the government shutdown we almost had in April? That was because there was no 2011 fiscal year budget in place.

    The federal fiscal year began last Oct 2010. By that date, Congress had recessed to campaign, without passing a budget. Then they came back for a lame duck session in December, and still didn’t pass one. Their strategy all along was to make the Republicans draw one up and then trash them for it.

    What excuse does a party that controls the House, Senate and White House have for not getting a budget passed? They fail the bascics of Responsible Government 101, and if they look like impotent incompetents, they deserve it.

  • quiensabe

    Why would you want to stand up and say that?

  • SODDI

    Because the Virgin Birth myth is a crock.

  • persiflage

    ‘What excuse does a party that controls the House, Senate and White House have for not getting a budget passed?’

    Here are some possible answers –

    1) democrats were lazy, disorganized and took their majority for granted (some truth here).
    2) blue dog democrats (basically republicans) stood in opposition to much of the proposed legislation (some truth here)
    3) it takes a super-majority to pass legislation unopposed (which I believe was lacking with democrats during that time frame) – absolute truth here. Repubilcans have been the party of NO for several years running.

    But this all begs the question of why republicans oppose modest tax hikes for the richest Americans and corporations – everyone knows that the Bush tax breaks have done nothing to stimulate hiring, and everyone knows that increasing those tax breaks will be equally uneffective.

    And then we have this – the Bush administration funded two unprovoked wars on credit (for the first time in history) while giving the richest Americans substantial tax breaks i.e. no revenue to finance those wars. This same administration turned a government surplus into a monstrous government deficit in 8 years.

    Expecting the Obama adminstration to staunch the fallout of the worst executive decisions in modern times was beyond unreasonable – but Obama himself probably didn’t understand that when he made pie in the sky promises to a nation that was bleeding from every orifice………..and the bleeding continues.

    As voters prepare to put the party of death back in charge of the nation’s fate, we should all be taking lessons in Chinese – the next economic world leader within 10 years of a new republican administration.

  • persiflage

    Well then, that must make the divinity of Jesus a crock – OK, I’ll buy that. Nobody ascended into heaven after all…..seems reasonable.

  • Carstonio

    The Rev. Marty quote is spot on and chilling. Richard Pryor once noted the lack of blacks in futuristic movies like “Logan’s Run” and suggested that whites weren’t planning on blacks being around. Similarly, the religious right doesn’t seem to conceive of an America where citizens belong to many different religions. No, that doesn’t mean they have some sinister agenda to do away with or forcibly convert citizens of other religions. Their agenda seems to be more about privilege for their religion and its adherents. The principle behind freedom of of religion is that faith is an individual thing. Jacoby rightly condemns the “equation of religion with patriotism that contradicts both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution.” Such an equation tells people of all religions that only adherents of the preferred religion are genuine Americans, and promotes a social atmosphere where belonging to another religion is in a citizen’s disfavor.

  • ThomasBaum

    Say what you want, at least while you can, freedom of speech is still in effect, isn’t it?

    Saying something doesn’t mean that it is true, but being able to say it legally, means that freedom of speech is still allowed legally.

    Why should anyone give up their “freedom of speech” in return for someone else giving up theirs?

  • persiflage

    ‘Say what you want, at least while you can, freedom of speech is still in effect, isn’t it?’

    Yes, but only until Rick Perry is elected President………..

  • YEAL9

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

  • usapdx

    They would change their tone is it was ISLAM push in instead of CHRISTIANITY. The USA government is of the people, by the people and for the people, NOT OF ANY RELIGION period.

  • usapdx

    All persons ellected to a government office in the USA must fully live up to their oath of office and leave their religion and sex life out of government.

  • usapdx

    Never trust a person running for a political office that uses a religion as a political tool.

  • ThomasBaum

    WmarkW

    In the article you cited: “We also cannot overlook the fact that the world is diverse. The Western perception on certain issues would differ from those held by others. We need to be sensitive and appreciative of this reality, more so when it comes to criticising or expressing views on issues related to religion and culture.”

    If one can not express their view on something, as they see fit, then there is absolutely no freedom of speech or freedom of religion, to say otherwise is an abomination and simply a lie.

    Also in the article, “The publication of offensive cartoons of the Prophet six years ago that sparked outrage across the Muslim world, the publicity around the film Fitna and the more recent Qur’an burnings represent incidents of incitement to hatred that fuel an atmosphere of dangerous mutual suspicion.”

    Freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand in hand, if the god of islam is so insecure as to call for violence, then that should speak volumes about who the god of islam is, words are not violence, violence is violence.

    Also in the article, “Freedom of expression has to be exercised with responsibility.”

    Does this so-called “responsibility” mean that someone can not speak what they consider the truth just because someone else might object?

    If this is the case, than how can anyone consider this freedom of speech and/or freedom of religion?

    And then “At the same time, violent reactions to provocations are also irresponsible and uncivilised and we condemn them unequivocally.”

    In other words, according to this, words and violence are the same?

    And then “The implementation of the 2011 HRC Resolution 16/18 would take us a long way in making our world a more peaceful and harmonious place to live in.”

    I don’t know what all of the “2011 HRC Resolution 16/18″ is about, but what is contained in this article, seems point-blank to be one telling the other just what one can say and not say, this is not even close to freedom of religion and freedom of speech and as far

  • persiflage

    ‘go home , or so i hope.’

    Good idea, or are the inmates in charge of the asylum?

  • persiflage

    ‘The Obama administration is working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to criminalize promotion of “Islamophobia.” ‘

    Mark, I had no idea you were a conspiracy theorist. On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine Obama subborning any part of the US Constitution, and on the other hand, Turkey is a despotic and totalitarian secular Muslim government – you don’t want to screw up in Turkey if you happen to be an American. Unfortunately, the US has strong diplomatic relations with Turkey because they are a ‘secular’ manifestation of Islam in the MIdeast – although very far from a democracy.

    And we do have to consider efforts among the Southern arm of the republican party to sponsor anti-Muslim legislation i.e. anti-Sharia Law crap, when Sharie law isn’t any kind of extant factor on the horizon of American juris prudence…….the drumbeat of rightwing Christian political oppression and dominionism surfaces once again. Sharia Law is simply not a possibility in contrast to civil law in the USA, and never will be.

    Islam in general is not a threat to the laws of the land in the USA, but homegrown rightwing ideology definitely is. Does that mean that Americans are not suspicious of Islam? No, it does not. But feeding that paranoia for political gain is a very ugly strategy that once again demonstrates the amorality of the republican party.

    It’s possible that the Obama administration is trying to counter this rightwing strategy from the far right in some way, shape, or fashion – but in no way will his administration propose legislation that undermines constitutional rights along the lines of GOP efforts in the Deep South – and of course, let’s not forget republican Rep. Peter King’s efforts along those same lines a few months back – from the distinctly upperclass whitebread reaches of Long Island sound.

    All in all Mark, I can’t imagine you throwing your support to Rick Perry if he should happen to get the GOP nomination……..I think you’d just refrain from vo

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