RumiNations: Free Expression

I was going to wait and start this mid-week column with big fanfare and…Forget that.

My hand is tipped by the imposition of government on the Catholic Church OR the stupid-stubbornness of the Catholic Church in the face of government mandates, depending on how you see it.

The question that came to my mind is who decided that no religious consideration is the neutral position?  Who said removing all religion from public spaces is neutral?  There is nothing neutral about that.   Such a position is clearly anti-religious and infringes on the free exercise – always.

In this short space, I haven’t the room to catalogue how atheism, secularism and humanism meet all the criteria of being religions  You can look it up, and you will see for yourself if you are honest.

But even setting that line of thinking aside, common sense will tell you if religious expression is suppressed or altogether removed from consideration in the public square, we become a culture where only anti-religious expression is allowed and approved.  What does that tell our children?  It certainly does not speak well of our tolerance.  And how does that suppression or removal not infringe on the free exercise clause in the Constitution?  Of course, it does.

Now, I generally believe this nation would be better off if most of the legislation (and consequently the rules and regulations) of the past hundred years were repealed…but there is one piece of legislation I would wholeheartedly support:  As an American you have the God given right to be offended, however, you should not have the right to sue because you feel offended by someone’s speech or free expression – and that must include religious speech or expression.

I know my reading of the constitution is at odds with recent court decisions, and in a moment I will explain why, but first let me say this.  I feel if a community wants to put up a nativity scene at Christmas, I say go ahead.  If a court wants to post the ten commandments on the wall of the courtroom, be my guest.  If a child wants to wear decidedly Christian clothes to school and pray, or even lead others in prayer in the classroom, that is their expression.  It should not be illegal simply because it is religious expression. 

So, what of the courts?  I believe the courts need to look in the mirror.  No court, in particular a federal court should be pro-religious; but they should not be anti-religious either.  The courts in this nation have ruled over and over in favor of the anti-religious (not the neutral) position.  Instead, the courts should be genuinely neutral and stay out of it altogether.   

The courts need to let businesses, schools, communities make their own decisions and if some people are offended by the religious expression of others, they have recourse.  It is called the ballot box.

I believe the courts, constitutionally, should only step in when there is a danger of the Federal government imposing a religion on the population.  When the government starts telling everyone what we must think and believe and how we must act in conformity to government mandates – oh, wait – the government is already doing that.  The federal government with the full support of the courts is already establishing a religion:  the secular, humanist, atheist, anti-religious religion, and God help us if we believe otherwise.

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