Pick your Battles

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Pick your Battles

Post #1

Post by McCulloch »

Plagiarized from theophilus40

In the past Christianity has had a strong influence on American culture. That influence has grown much weaker and that fact is reflected in their laws.

In spite of objections from the religious, abortion is legal and there is a movement to legalize suicide by the terminally ill. Almost all states have no fault divorce laws which make it easier to end a marriage and many of them allow marriage between two members of the same sex.

Swimming against the stream, some American Christians feel that they have an obligation to do all they can to change the direction their country is going by working to change the laws to bring them into conformity to their religious proscriptions, regardless of constitutional protection of religious influence on the lawmaking process.

They see valid attempts to remove objects of worship and symbols of religion from the public space as an attack on Christianity. Often our first impulse is to fight to support the removal of these symbols. This can be a mistake. Those symbols for the most part do us no harm. Here are some examples.

“In God we trust� is the American national motto and appears on all of their money. Secularists rightly want it removed. Christians should want the same thing because except for a small minority their country isn’t trusting God and it is hypocritical to publicly proclaim that they do. Furthermore, since money is issued by the government, it is a violation of the separation of church and state to use the money to proclaim religious dogma.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.� The words “under God� were added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954. Of course those who don’t believe in God and those who wish to keep religion and patriotism as two entirely separate things would like to see them removed. The United States of America is in fact, the first nation in the world with a constitution that does not invoke any deity and constitutionally separates church and state. In that sense they aren’t really under God and it would be an act of honesty to remove the words from the pledge.

A lot of people are opposed to the presence of Christian symbols such as crosses and Nativity scenes on public property and Christians devote money and energy fighting their efforts. The attempt to use Christian symbols in the public sphere is a symptom of their country’s moral sickness and not its cause. You can’t cure an illness by treating the symptoms.

If we win all of the battles over symbols so that “In God we trust� is removed from their national motto, the words “under God� are removed from the pledge of allegiance, and crosses and Nativity scenes are removed from public property, it will do nothing to persuade others to respect the Separation in the First Amendment. It is likely that it would be a cause of resentment that would make it more likely for some people to reject constitutional secularism.

One tactic used in warfare is to trick the enemy into wasting its resources by attacking targets that are of no strategic value. Religions are masters of this and they are often successful. We must oppose any actions by our government that are contrary to the separation of church and state or might limit our freedom of speech but we need to avoid wasting time and energy fighting over minor issues.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #2

Post by Divine Insight »

Religionists who want to put their religion into national law only confirm the secular position that religions are extremely dangerous.
Spiritual Growth - A person's continual assessment
of how well they believe they are doing
relative to what they believe a personal God expects of them.

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Re: Pick your Battles

Post #3

Post by Box Whatbox »

[Replying to post 1 by McCulloch]

I agree with the general idea, McCulloch. If people want to believe in some higher purpose, or some other such woo, that's fine. We should concentrate our fire on the real infringements of liberty, not the minor details.
If they want to argue for civil laws to suit what their God dictates, then we are entitled to ask them to support their claims with evidence. The claim that the US is in any special sense 'under God' is an extraordinary claim and would require extraordinay evidence.
Fortunately where I live (England) the question of religious faith has been, until recently, fading into the background where it belongs.
Tony B Liar brought it to the foreground in his anxiety to cosy up to the US, but moderate skepticism is such a deep part of the UK culture that I don't think we have too much to worry about.
Things seem to be calming down faith-wise in the US too. Let's hope so.
America has a great history of liberty, freedom of thought, and scientific rationalism. It's tragic to see what the xtian Right is doing to that tradition, but where there is freedom of speech there is still hope.

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