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Author: wizand One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 442291  
Subject: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehouse P Date: 1/15/2013 12:30 PM
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There is a White house petition to remove "In God We Trust" from the money. The way these petitions work is if it gets 25,000 signatures in 30 days it will get a response from the White house.

Sign it at:
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-god-we-trus...


Will it change anything? No

Will the response be better than
the petition for the Death Star? No

Do you have to register at the White house? Yes

Should it get more signatures than the
one putting prayer back into school? Yes
(currently at 7,000)

Should it get more than "outlaw offending
prophets of major religions" (37,975) Yes


Wizand
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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416278 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 1:36 PM
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There has already been a petition that challenged the National Motto. It got enough signatures. And it got an FU response - written by the "Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships."

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/religion-public-sq...

That said, I would be happy to return the favor of their FU response with an FU re-petition.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416279 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 1:46 PM
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I signed the last one, and read the response. But, as Ben said, I'd be happy to sign another one since their last response was very much an "FU" response.

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Author: BuyLower Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416308 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 5:08 PM
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Obviously the Founding Fathers were religious. Interesting that the motto did not make it onto coins until the late 1800's and the motto was not adopted until the 1950's in a reaction to communism and the Cold War.

I think this came from one of the latest cases:

The court ruled, “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”

I really don't see the obviousness but it must have something to do with not being religious. I wonder if a Muslim or Buddhist or atheist Justice would view it the same way.

From the 9th circuit hearing on Newdow:

Decided - the 1954 insertion of "under God" was made "to recognize a Supreme Being" and advance religion at a time "when the government was publicly inveighing against atheistic communism"—a fact which (according to the court) the federal government did not dispute. The court also noted that when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the act which added the phrase "under God," he also announced "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty."

Judge Alfred Goodwin from the 9th Circuit remarked: "In the context of the pledge, the statement that the United States is a nation, ''under God'' is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism. The recitation that ours is a nation ''under God'' is not a mere acknowledgment that many Americans believe in a deity. Nor is it merely descriptive of the undeniable historical significance of religion in the founding of the republic. Rather, the phrase ''one nation under God'' in the context of the pledge is normative. To recite the pledge is not to describe the United States; instead, it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and -- since 1954 -- monotheism. The text of the official pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God. A profession that we are a nation ''under God'' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation ''under Jesus,'' a nation ''under Vishnu,'' a nation ''under Zeus,'' or a nation ''under no god,'' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion. ''The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.''


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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416313 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 6:08 PM
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BuyLower:

"Obviously the Founding Fathers were religious. Interesting that the motto did not make it onto coins until the late 1800's and the motto was not adopted until the 1950's in a reaction to communism and the Cold War.

I think this came from one of the latest cases:

The court ruled, “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”

I really don't see the obviousness but it must have something to do with not being religious. I wonder if a Muslim or Buddhist or atheist Justice would view it the same way."


It is not obvious. To test, substitute under Allah (or Vishnu, or Thor) and require the pledge to be said and then imagine the silence from the Christian right when told that it is not religious.

Regards, JAFO

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416314 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 6:24 PM
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I think this came from one of the latest cases

Not so recent. The quote is from Aronow v. U.S., one of the first cases challenging the inclusion of IGWT:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aronow_v._United_States

Albaby

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Author: JediGALT Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416321 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 9:17 PM
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Their Taliban removed Buddha statues.

Our Taliban removes "In God we trust"

Extremists.



JediG

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Author: BuyLower Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416322 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 9:30 PM
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Not so recent. The quote is from Aronow v. U.S., one of the first cases challenging the inclusion of IGWT:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aronow_v._United_States


Quite right, I was reading one of the latest and they referenced it and got confused where I pulled it from.

Is there any decision that addresses the logic of the Goodwin quote?

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416324 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/15/2013 10:29 PM
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Is there any decision that addresses the logic of the Goodwin quote?

Well, probably the majority opinion in Newdow, which can be found (along with the dissent) here:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/03/11/05...

Essentially, the court says that it's not proper to look solely at the words "under God" alone, nor at the 1954 Act standing in isolation. Applying the Lemon test to the Pledge in its entirety, the court found that the Pledge does not create "excessive entanglement in religion," nor is the "primary or principal effect of the Pledge is to advance or inhibit religion."

So the question becomes whether the primary or ostensible purpose of Congress in adopting the Pledge was to advance religion. When looking at that prong, the choice to look at the entire Pledge - and not just the "under God" part - determines the outcome. Quoting from the decision:

In contending the Pledge is an unconstitutional religious exercise, plaintiffs erroneously fixate solely on the words “under God” and disregard the context in which those words appear. True, the words “under God” have religious significance. This, however, does not convert the Pledge into a prayer or other religious exercise. As the Supreme Court has explained, “Focus exclusively on the religious component of any activity would inevitably lead to its invalidation under the Establishment Clause.” Lynch, 465 U.S. at 680. Under the dissent’s rationale, every government action that had any religious component to it would violate the Establishment Clause. But that is clearly not the case, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly told us.

Albaby

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416329 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 1:56 AM
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So the question becomes whether the primary or ostensible purpose of Congress in adopting the Pledge was to advance religion. When looking at that prong, the choice to look at the entire Pledge - and not just the "under God" part - determines the outcome.

In which case the justices were wrong. "Under God" was put in the pledge explicitly to differentiate us from the "godless commies". That was the entire purpose: religion.

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416330 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 7:24 AM
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In which case the justices were wrong. "Under God" was put in the pledge explicitly to differentiate us from the "godless commies". That was the entire purpose: religion.

But the court held that this is the wrong question. You don't ask why "under God" was put in the Pledge; you ask why we have a Pledge of Allegiance. The purpose of adding "under God" might have been religious, but the purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance is not. The purpose of the Pledge as a whole is an affirmation of patriotism and community - not religion - according to the court.

Albaby

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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416334 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 8:34 AM
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But the court held that this is the wrong question. You don't ask why "under God" was put in the Pledge; you ask why we have a Pledge of Allegiance. The purpose of adding "under God" might have been religious, but the purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance is not. The purpose of the Pledge as a whole is an affirmation of patriotism and community - not religion - according to the court.

Al, you are parsing like an OCD lawyer. If it said "under Jesus", would that matter? It wouldn't be any different, would it? It would still be a pledge to nationalism, not religion, right?

Suppose they inserted "one nation, where every citizen believes in a tri-parte God consisting of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit". Any difference then? Suppose it was a whole paragraph instead of a sentence.

When does it become an affirmation of religion? When the first element of religion is introduced, obviously.

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416335 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:06 AM
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Al, you are parsing like an OCD lawyer. If it said "under Jesus", would that matter? It wouldn't be any different, would it? It would still be a pledge to nationalism, not religion, right?

Suppose they inserted "one nation, where every citizen believes in a tri-parte God consisting of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit". Any difference then? Suppose it was a whole paragraph instead of a sentence.


It would probably make a difference. The opinion contains a lengthy exegesis of the term "under God" as a description of the historic traditions of the country, rather than a statement of religious affirmation. Different phraseology would likely change that analysis.

The Lemon test is a complete hash, and I don't think anyone thinks its a great way of figuring out these questions. But that's the law. The Supreme Court has said that government is allowed to make religious statements, provided that the broader context advances a secular interest. Given that, the lower courts are going to apply that law - whether that's OCD or not.

Albaby

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Author: feedmeNOWhuman Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416338 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 10:22 AM
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Obviously the Founding Fathers were religious.



Except for, you know, the important ones like Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc.

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Author: AngelMay Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416340 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 10:57 AM
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In contending the Pledge is an unconstitutional religious exercise, plaintiffs erroneously fixate solely on the words “under God” and disregard the context in which those words appear.


How can the context in which those words appear mean anything except that we believe in god? And those of us who don't are made hypocrites by recitation of the pledge. Therefore, we can't honestly recite it, and we can't safely stand silent.

But then, I guess Atheists don't really matter in this country anyway.

AM

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416343 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:03 AM
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How can the context in which those words appear mean anything except that we believe in god? And those of us who don't are made hypocrites by recitation of the pledge. Therefore, we can't honestly recite it, and we can't safely stand silent.

The court construed California's law as permitting students from reciting the Pledge, or even from having to be present while the Pledge was being recited. That's why it was analyzed solely as an Establishment Clause issue, not a Free Exercise issue.

Albaby

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Author: AngelMay Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416344 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:06 AM
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The purpose of the Pledge as a whole is an affirmation of patriotism and community


Then why keep it in a state where a goodly portion of the community, which is just as patriotic as the rest, is excluded?

AM

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Author: AngelMay Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416347 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:11 AM
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The court construed California's law as permitting students from reciting the Pledge, or even from having to be present while the Pledge was being recited. That's why it was analyzed solely as an Establishment Clause issue, not a Free Exercise issue.

Albaby

-------------------


And of course we know that a student (or anyone else) who removes himself from the area while the pledge is being recited will be welcomed back with open arms by the community. No hard feelings. No questions asked.

AM

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416349 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:20 AM
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And of course we know that a student (or anyone else) who removes himself from the area while the pledge is being recited will be welcomed back with open arms by the community. No hard feelings. No questions asked.

Had someone been able to prove up the implication - that failure to participate in a community recitation of the Pledge would result in a material harm - they might have been able to bring a Free Exercise Clause claim.

But there are two problems with that. First, obviously, you have to prove - not just suggest - that such things will actually happen. Second, and perhaps more importantly, that doesn't just get "Under God" stricken from the Pledge, but it would force the Pledge to be stricken from California schools altogether even if "Under God" were removed. Under the Free Speech clause, students have the right to absent themselves from the Pledge for whatever reason, because they cannot be compelled to swear fealty (or even salute the flag) if they don't want to. But if the collective recitation of the Pledge causes them so much effective harm because of their stigma from abstaining, then the Pledge cannot be recited with or without the "Under God" language.

That's just not going to happen absent a remarkable demonstration of significant harm, such that students can be deemed to be coerced into saying the Pledge by a lack of any meaningful alternative. That seems unlikely.

Albaby

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416351 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:23 AM
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Then why keep it in a state where a goodly portion of the community, which is just as patriotic as the rest, is excluded?

A very good policy question, but not a Constitutional one.

Albaby

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416354 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:31 AM
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That's just not going to happen absent a remarkable demonstration of significant harm, such that students can be deemed to be coerced into saying the Pledge by a lack of any meaningful alternative. That seems unlikely.

Agreed. But it is actually true. The coercion is extreme. Heck, remember the ruckus when Obama didn't put his hand over his heart at some public function? I thought he was going to be impeached.

The coercion is very strong when it comes to this sort of thing (God, guns, etc). I see it all the time.

But I agree the Court will never rule that way, at least not for a few more generations.

1poorguy

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Author: AngelMay Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416356 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:37 AM
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Then why keep it in a state where a goodly portion of the community, which is just as patriotic as the rest, is excluded?

A very good policy question, but not a Constitutional one.

Albaby

--------------


So, basically, there is no argument that can be posed that will sway the Supreme Court from keeping religion (which is exactly what it is) in our faces. And when someone, intellectually, cannot abide the thing and refuses to say it - and is ostracized by his friends, family, and community (and if you have ANY inkling of people at all you know this is not imagination) - and loses his comfortable place in his society - and flies airplanes into government buildings full of workers, customers, and children ... that's ok. Because GOD is the most important thing in this country, right?

Apparently, the Constitution was not written to include everyone. Only those God-believers who mindlessly march in tune with each other with the cross of Jesus going on before.

Sheesh, Al. You know they are wrong. We all know they are wrong. They can couch it in all kinds of flowery legalese, but it boils down to: This is a Christian nation and F you if you don't think so. You don't count.

AM

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416358 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:57 AM
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Sheesh, Al. You know they are wrong. We all know they are wrong. They can couch it in all kinds of flowery legalese, but it boils down to: This is a Christian nation and F you if you don't think so. You don't count.

Well, I don't think the 9th circuit is wrong. The Supreme Court has said outright (in Lynch v. Donnelly) that government is allowed to talk about god and use religious iconography that presumes that a god exists, as long as it is being used in a broader secular context that has a secular purpose. Almost everyone thinks its stupid, since it's led to exercises in "reindeer counting" and "mandatory Santas" and a host of other things. But that's the law, as it stands right now, because the Lemon test is a hash.

Albaby

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Author: SpeedBump13 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416359 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 12:12 PM
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I currently correct the phrase to read "In Teachers We Trust."

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416361 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 12:35 PM
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Essentially, the court says that it's not proper to look solely at the words "under God" alone, nor at the 1954 Act standing in isolation.

So when the first amendment says 'Congress shall make no law...' the court interprets that to mean that an individual law can respect an establishment of religion? Wha?

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416362 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 12:56 PM
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So when the first amendment says 'Congress shall make no law...' the court interprets that to mean that an individual law can respect an establishment of religion? Wha?

To extend this and make it more explicit:

First amendment establishment clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Public Law 84-140: "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That at such time as new dies for the printing of currency are adopted in connection with the current program of the Treasury Department to increase the capacity of presses utilized by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the dies shall bear, at such place or places thereon as the Secretary of the Treasury may determine to be appropriate, the inscription ``In God We Trust´´, and thereafter this inscription shall appear on all United States currency and coins."
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Public_Law_84-140

That is a law respecting an establishment of religion. It should be the end of the argument.

Also:

Public Law 84-451: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That the national motto of the United States is hereby declared to be ``In God we trust.´´"
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Public_Law_84-851

That is a law respecting an establishment of religion. It should be the end of the argument.

Both of those public laws violate the first amendment.

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416363 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 12:58 PM
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Typo: 84-451 should be 84-851. Dangit.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 1:06 PM
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That is a law respecting an establishment of religion. It should be the end of the argument.

Except that it is not. The end of the argument, that is. The Supreme Court has held that the Establishment Clause does not require government to completely separate itself from everything having to do with religion (Lynch v. Donnelly), and that "establishment" requires something more than just a mere mention of the divine. Even while dissenting in Lynch, Justice Brennan wrote:

Finally, we have noted that government cannot be completely prohibited from recognizing in its public actions the religious beliefs and practices of the American people as an aspect of our national history and culture. While I remain uncertain about these questions, I would suggest that such practices as the designation of "In God We Trust" as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form a "ceremonial deism," protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content. Moreover, these references are uniquely suited to serve such wholly secular purposes as solemnizing public occasions, or inspiring commitment to meet some national challenge in a manner that simply could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely nonreligious phrases. The practices by which the government has long acknowledged religion are therefore probably necessary to serve certain secular functions, and that necessity, coupled with their long history, gives those practices an essentially secular meaning.

With four Justices signing on to this analysis (and five agreeing that the creche in dispute was constitutional in the first place), it's pretty difficult to claim that there is no argument to be had. You could argue that all nine Justices got it wrong, and that the Constitution does require the government to completely separate itself from religion altogether - but to claim that no argument is possible at the outset isn't really plausible, given Lynch.

Albaby

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&am...

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416366 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 1:24 PM
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and that "establishment" requires something more than just a mere mention of the divine.

Both of those laws do far more than 'mention' the divine.

Justice Brennan:
I would suggest that such practices as the designation of "In God We Trust" as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form a "ceremonial deism," protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.

This is so clearly false that I don't know what to say. Every bit of the debate about putting the laws in place or challenging their Constitutionality or re-affirming them has been about the phrases' religious content. There is (and has been) no significant non-religious content.

Moreover, these references are uniquely suited to serve such wholly secular purposes as solemnizing public occasions

Publicly speaking to one's invisible friend doesn't solemnize anything. It does the opposite - it makes public occasions farcical and embarrassing.


You could argue that all nine Justices got it wrong

I do, at least specifically about the 2 public laws I listed. There is no secular purpose to making the National Motto "In God We Trust" separate from establishing monotheism and eutheism as official, national orthodoxy. The same goes for requiring its printing on all U.S. currency.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 1:46 PM
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This is so clearly false that I don't know what to say. Every bit of the debate about putting the laws in place or challenging their Constitutionality or re-affirming them has been about the phrases' religious content. There is (and has been) no significant non-religious content.

If you want to successfully argue that a proposition endorsed unanimously by the Supreme Court is clearly false, you'll probably need to do more than simply name it such. The argument made is that by rote repetition in clearly irreligious contexts, the religious import of the phrase has been reduced so much that it is no longer a significant religious statement. It is not establishing monotheism or eutheism as official, national orthodoxy - but merely a motto.

The classic extreme example of this would be the names of the week. Today is Woden's Day - an acknowledgement of the divinity of an ancient Germanic deity, and a affirmation that the day belongs to him. Of course, belief in Odin as an actual divine entity is almost never practiced, and the literal meaning of the word has long since moved away from being a statement about Odin and into a simple convention.

Other examples woud include the rote recitation of "God bless you" or "bless you" in response to sneezing (which almost never actually involve a statement of personal religious belief, but is just a cultural reflex), or the common expletives "damn it" or "goddammit." Literally, they are an affirmation (explicit or implicit) of the existence of a divine entity - but in practice, that literal meaning has been sapped from the phrase.

So the Supreme Court interprets the motto as falling in a similar category of ceremonial deism. It will take some heavy lifting to get it out of that box.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 1:51 PM
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And those of us who don't are made hypocrites by recitation of the pledge

I actually say it without the words "under God" and often I am asked why I do that....being a Scouter and all.

My first response is; "I am saying it in the original form created by a minister for all the peoples of the United States" <p.s. he was a socialist!>

Most folks do not go beyond the first response, except the very pushy Xians and then I have to make the mental decision; is it worth arguing with a wall.....usually not worth it. Then depending on time and response of the questioner you can talk about god, gods, hobgoblins, the orbiting teapot and demanding both a pledge and fealty to what really was a Christian "God"....no matter what Allbaby argues it was the Xian one in the intent. This can lead to question (to them) of why the founding fathers (many Deists) did not create the pledge or demand it or in the Constitution mention one and why they might have detailed many rights of the people but no responsibilities.

It can be a teaching moment if handled with diplomacy.

md

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 2:32 PM
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The argument made is that by rote repetition in clearly irreligious contexts, the religious import of the phrase has been reduced so much that it is no longer a significant religious statement. It is not establishing monotheism or eutheism as official, national orthodoxy - but merely a motto.

What is a motto?

A motto (Italian for pledge, sentence; plural: mottoes (always listed first) or also mottos) is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motto

Or from the dictionary:
a maxim adopted as an expression of the guiding principle of a person, organization, city, etc.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/motto

It is 'merely' expressing, on behalf of the federal government, that the guiding principle of the United States is that we trust in God. It is formally summarizing this - that the 'right idea' (orthodoxy) is the existence of one trustworthy God.



Today is Woden's Day - an acknowledgement of the divinity of an ancient Germanic deity, and a affirmation that the day belongs to him.

Do we have a 1950s law declaring Wednesday the official name of the day? Do we have a debate about the law, a 2006 affirmation of the law and a 2011 affirmation of the law, all with language like:

Whereas, the historical fact of the fundamental trust of the American people upon Woden is irrefutable
Whereas this American trust in the Germanic deity dates from the earliest colonial days, extends to American independence, the establishment of this Republic, and throughout the Nation's history
Whereas the Exeter book states, `Woden wrought the (heathen) altars / the almighty Lord the wide heavens.'
etc.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.+Con.+Res.+411:...
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c112:4:./temp/~c112aR9...

No, we don't. Because that phrase truly has lost its religious meaning. 'In God We Trust' has not. Googling gets me Congress spending no time debating the names of the days of the week, no debate on the names, nothing.



So the Supreme Court interprets the motto as falling in a similar category of ceremonial deism. It will take some heavy lifting to get it out of that box.

All it takes is honesty. To pretend the two concepts are on the same level of non-religiosity is either dishonest or delusional.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 3:15 PM
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Except that it is not. The end of the argument, that is. The Supreme Court has held that the Establishment Clause does not require government to completely separate itself from everything having to do with religion (Lynch v. Donnelly), and that "establishment" requires something more than just a mere mention of the divine. Even while dissenting in Lynch, Justice Brennan wrote:



This is just wrong.
The "mention" in the pledge of allegiance states in no uncertain terms that we are a nation - UNDER GOD. As far as I can see, this is far more than just mentioning religion. It says, without doubt, that we who are the citizens of this nation are UNDER GOD - whether we like it or not. Whether we believe it or not. THAT, my friend, is forcing religion down the throats of people who want nothing to do with it but who are good and patriotic citizens anyway. THAT is wrong. THAT is unfair. THAT should never hold up in a court of law - much less the highest court in the nation.

AM

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 3:16 PM
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What is a motto?

I don't know. What's the motto with you?

(sorry)

Do we have a 1950s law declaring Wednesday the official name of the day? Do we have a debate about the law, a 2006 affirmation of the law and a 2011 affirmation of the law, all with language like:

If someone challenged the 2006 or 2011 resolutions as improper expressions of the religious sentiment of the modern Congress, that would be a very different claim indeed. Although I don't think they would be successful. First, the courts have generally found it permissible for government to comment (even favorably) on the role that religion has historically played in American history and the importance of religious motivations for the founders. Second, and perhaps more importantly, these are resolutions that didn't get passed. Legislators have absolute privilege to say whatever they want, and introduce whatever bills they want. So if my Congresscritter wants to introduce a bill that says that it is the official finding of the U.S. Congress that there is only one God and his name is Jesus, he's perfectly able to do so - and it doesn't violate the Establishment Clause unless Congress takes some action.

Nor would modern enactments likely have an impact on the courts' treatment of the national motto. "In God We Trust" has been on the currency for 150 years, off and on - and continuously for the last century. Modern resolutions can put whatever spin on the phrase they want, but it's not likely to change the analysis. If 56 Congressmen introduced a formal Resolution noting that the word "goodbye" is etymologically derived from "God be with you," and expressing their support for the near-constant affirmation of divinity that ordinary Americans and their leaders make in their day to day lives, it would not change one whit the fact that "goodbye" is today a completely secular parting phrase.

In many ways, these feeble efforts only underscore the point. Religious Congressbeings have long been upset that they keep getting shot down in trying to inject religion into state action...so they've been reduced to trying to re-enervate the handful of religious namechecks that have passed into this "ceremonial deism" status. Nobody notices the IGWT on the currency unless they go looking for it, so the Congressbeings have to make special efforts to call attention to the fact that IGWT is there - and that it has some religious connotation. If it still had much power as a statement of religious belief, you wouldn't see Congresscritters trying to introduce these kinds of Resolutions...

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 3:21 PM
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This is just wrong.
The "mention" in the pledge of allegiance states in no uncertain terms that we are a nation - UNDER GOD. As far as I can see, this is far more than just mentioning religion. It says, without doubt, that we who are the citizens of this nation are UNDER GOD - whether we like it or not. Whether we believe it or not. THAT, my friend, is forcing religion down the throats of people who want nothing to do with it but who are good and patriotic citizens anyway. THAT is wrong. THAT is unfair. THAT should never hold up in a court of law - much less the highest court in the nation.


Again, the Court would disagree that it's forcing religion down the throats of anyone. You're free to not say the words, and free to disagree with them all you like - that's long been settled. The only question is whether inclusion of the phrase in the Pledge represents an establishment of religion, and the Court was unanimous (at least in 1984) that it is not. Even if it expresses a deistic sentiment, it is not an establishment under their analysis. I doubt very much that the Court would reach a different conclusion today.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 3:33 PM
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Again, the Court would disagree that it's forcing religion down the throats of anyone. You're free to not say the words, and free to disagree with them all you like - that's long been settled. The only question is whether inclusion of the phrase in the Pledge represents an establishment of religion, and the Court was unanimous (at least in 1984) that it is not. Even if it expresses a deistic sentiment, it is not an establishment under their analysis. I doubt very much that the Court would reach a different conclusion today.

Albaby

------------------


You have no idea how angry this statement makes me. Not at you, but at our supposed court. To me they are idiots. Prejudiced and uncaring of the citizens of this country. To even THINK that some people should be excluded because of an unnecessary addition to the original pledge is wrong. Ruling it to be ok goes far beyond wrong. I don't care if every justice said it was ok. I don't care if everyone but two people in the entire United States thinks it's ok. Those other two are citizens, too. And they should not have to leave the room, or omit part of the pledge, or be made to feel in any way that they are not included as citizens of this country. ANYTHING else is just wrong.

But of course they would not reach a different opinion today. This is because they are cowards. They don't deserve the position they hold. Further, theirs is the last word - we citizens have no recourse.

So I will continue to never say the words "under God" - and I will avoid as much as possible being present when the pledge is recited. Of course that is my right - as you said. But isn't that a pitiful way for the highest court in the land to treat the people of this country?

AM

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 3:58 PM
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You have no idea how angry this statement makes me. Not at you, but at our supposed court. To me they are idiots. Prejudiced and uncaring of the citizens of this country. To even THINK that some people should be excluded because of an unnecessary addition to the original pledge is wrong. Ruling it to be ok goes far beyond wrong. I don't care if every justice said it was ok. I don't care if everyone but two people in the entire United States thinks it's ok. Those other two are citizens, too. And they should not have to leave the room, or omit part of the pledge, or be made to feel in any way that they are not included as citizens of this country. ANYTHING else is just wrong..

Then we shouldn't have a Pledge at all. Seriously, one of the earliest Pledge cases deal with Jehovah's Witnesses who objected to saluting and pledging to the flag (West Virginia Board v. Bartnette):

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0319...

So you've got at least two people who don't think it's okay to have a Pledge - or even salute a flag - even in the absence of the phrase, "under God." So if they shouldn't be made to leave the room, or omit part of the Pledge, then you're not going to have a Pledge at all. Or any affirmation of citizenship or loyalty, since every such formulation will have someone who disagrees with it on a fundamental philosophical level, so someone is always going to feel excluded.

But isn't that a pitiful way for the highest court in the land to treat the people of this country?

Nope. Congress is allowed to pass bad laws. There's a lot of ill-advised laws that Congress passes that treat the people of this country badly. It's not pitiful for the Court to refuse to stop those laws - they are not a super-legislature. Their role (well, one of their roles) is to keep Congress from passing unconstitutional laws. At least back in the 1980's, there was a pretty broad consensus on the Court that this was Congress' call - whether they agreed with it or not.

Korematsu. That's a pitiful way for the Court to treat people.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 4:14 PM
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Second, and perhaps more importantly, these are resolutions that didn't get passed.

Both were passed. The 2006 one by the Senate and the 2011 one by the House.

The resolution, which went through an expedited process requiring acquiescence of two-thirds of the House, passed 396 to 9, with all but one of the no votes coming from Democrats; two members voted “present.” The Senate had passed a similar measure in 2006 when Republicans controlled that chamber.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/us/house-of-representative...

First, the courts have generally found it permissible for government to comment (even favorably) on the role that religion has historically played in American history and the importance of religious motivations for the founders.

I am introducing these resolutions as supporting evidence that the purpose of the motto is religious in nature - that the phrase and meaning of the motto has not lost religious significance. Are you disputing this or not? You cited Justice Brennan saying the words of the motto are '...protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.' The original debate about the words of the motto in the 1950s and the 2 Congressional resolutions both demonstrate that the motto has significant religious content.

Nor would modern enactments likely have an impact on the courts' treatment of the national motto. "In God We Trust" has been on the currency for 150 years, off and on - and continuously for the last century. Modern resolutions can put whatever spin on the phrase they want, but it's not likely to change the analysis.

How can it not change the analysis about whether the words have 'lost through rote repetition any significant religious content'? What is the non-religious content of the motto "In God We Trust"?

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 4:27 PM
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Both were passed. The 2006 one by the Senate and the 2011 one by the House.

Neither Resolution passed both chambers, which is what you need for a "law" which could arguably establish religion.

I am introducing these resolutions as supporting evidence that the purpose of the motto is religious in nature - that the phrase and meaning of the motto has not lost religious significance. Are you disputing this or not? You cited Justice Brennan saying the words of the motto are '...protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.' The original debate about the words of the motto in the 1950s and the 2 Congressional resolutions both demonstrate that the motto has significant religious content.

Yes, I am disputing that these later efforts to impute a religious significance to the motto means that the motto has a strong religious statement. They're reminiscent of the recent efforts to "put the Christ back in Christmas." They are both an effort to acknowledge the initial deep religious significance that was attached to the motto and Christmas and an implicit recognition that the religious significance has faded over time with broad secular usage.

(Not, of course, that the 2006 or 2011 efforts would have had any bearing on how the Court construed the motton in 1984).

The motto has been on our coinage since the 1860's. It was clearly placed there based on religious motivation, but it's been well more than a century that it's been there. At some point, religious statements can fade into mere custom (a la "God bless you" after someone sneezes, which is hardly considered to import any real religious meaning despite the words) - and politically-motivated efforts to re-inject that initial religious significance back into the phrase aren't necessarily determinative.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 4:43 PM
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If 56 Congressmen introduced a formal Resolution noting that the word "goodbye" is etymologically derived from "God be with you," and expressing their support for the near-constant affirmation of divinity that ordinary Americans and their leaders make in their day to day lives, it would not change one whit the fact that "goodbye" is today a completely secular parting phrase.

To use your analogies:

Wednesday today has content that is entirely non-religious. It refers to the fourth day of the week, the day after Tuesday and before Thursday.

Goodbye today has content that is entirely non-religious. It is used to communicate to another person that you wish them well as you separate by one party leaving.

"In God We Trust" has....what non-religious content?

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 4:55 PM
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"In God We Trust" has....what non-religious content?

Ceremonial deism - it is an acknowledgment of the historical beliefs of the Founders (quite common in the day) that all enterprises owed their success of failure to divine providence. This might not be entirely non-religious - but it is not enough, in the eyes of the Court, to constitute the establishment of religion.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 5:12 PM
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>"In God We Trust" has....what non-religious content?

Ceremonial deism

Deism is religious.

- it is an acknowledgment of the historical beliefs of the Founders (quite common in the day) that all enterprises owed their success of failure to divine providence. This might not be entirely non-religious - but it is not enough, in the eyes of the Court, to constitute the establishment of religion.

First, the idea that it is an acknowledgment of the historical beliefs of the Founders is unsupportable. It was not proposed as "In God We Trusted." Nor does the meaning of a motto support it; mottoes are not past tense. They do not formally summarize the former but now obsolete general motivation or intention of a social group or organization nor the former but now obsolete expression of the guiding principle of a person, organization, city, etc.

There is no non-religious content here.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 5:13 PM
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I currently correct the phrase to read "In Teachers We Trust."

I know of someone who puts the circle with the line through it over the word "God" on all his currency.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 5:18 PM
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> I currently correct the phrase to read "In Teachers We Trust."

I know of someone who puts the circle with the line through it over the word "God" on all his currency.

I line out everything except "We" to replace a divisive motto with a uniting word.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 5:27 PM
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I haven't read ahead yet, so I don't know how Ben rebutted.

In my case, I see both views. When I grew up the pledge and anthem contained the questionable phrases (didn't the SCOTUS shoot one of those down a few years ago?). It was indeed rote. I didn't know what I was saying, nor why I was saying it (beyond the teacher telling me I had to). So the Court has that bit correct.

But...

The original intent of the laws cited by Ben clearly was religious. More specifically to set America apart from the "godless commies" as a "Christian nation". That was the intent, they really didn't make any bones about it at the time, and THAT intent is clearly a flagrant violation of the 1st Amendment.

I think that intent is more important than the rote nature of it to a 2nd grader who doesn't even know what "allegiance" or "indivisible" means yet.

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 5:28 PM
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First, the idea that it is an acknowledgment of the historical beliefs of the Founders is unsupportable. It was not proposed as "In God We Trusted." Nor does the meaning of a motto support it; mottoes are not past tense. They do not formally summarize the former but now obsolete general motivation or intention of a social group or organization nor the former but now obsolete expression of the guiding rinciple of a person, organization, city, etc.

It was not proposed as "In God We Trusted" - but it was proposed 150 years ago. The reason we still have it is because it has passed into ceremonial and traditional status. It is a continued "reference to our religious heritage," to quote from Lynch v. Donnelly.

There is no non-religious content here.

Nor is there non-religious content to the statement, "God bless you" when uttered after a sneeze. But the recitation itself is what has significance - a cultural acknowledgment of the sneeze. There is no non-religious content to the phrase, "God be with you" - corrupted to "goodbye" - but it is now a signifier of parting. The statement, "In God We Trust" has taken on at a minimum that role of acknowledgment of the religious heritage of the Founders, even if it has not completely lost its religious significance. Congress is not required to avoid religion, or eliminate it entirely from its laws.

Almost every local government observes the existence of Christmas. The holiday is entirely religious in origin (which religion is an open debate, since many were co-opted), but has also taken on the role of a secular winter festival. The fact that it has not lost the religious importance entirely does not eliminate the secular observance, which is why the Court ruled that government can have holiday displays that include creches.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 5:46 PM
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Then we shouldn't have a Pledge at all.

I agree with this. It's silly and pointless. I stopped reciting it a long time ago (not that occasion comes up very often, but occasionally it does). First because of the UG bit, but also because I have NO allegiance to a piece of cloth. "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." Really? It's a piece of cloth. I have no allegiance to textiles.

The next bit is, of course, "...and to the Republic for which it stands...". That is better, but the rest of the pledge is so botched as to be meaningless to me.

And, yes, JWs have allegiance only to Jehovah. They will not swear allegiance to any individual or nation. And that's a 1st Amendment protection (as it should be).

So dump the pledge. Works for me.

And while we're at it, dump the anthem. Terrible song. Horrendous. "America the Beautiful" is much better (even with the God reference), or ideal would be "My Country Tis of Thee" (no God reference at all...well, at least in the first verse which is the bit everyone knows; drop the other verses and you're good to go).

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 6:13 PM
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Nor is there non-religious content to the statement, "God bless you" when uttered after a sneeze. But the recitation itself is what has significance - a cultural acknowledgment of the sneeze.

As an individual, you may say that to Ben if you wish. Freedom of speech. But government does not say that when Ben sneezes, nor should they be able to mandate that as part of the "rote response" when Ben sneezes.

Individual (you): OK
Government (the state): NOT OK

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 6:33 PM
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So dump the pledge. Works for me.

And while we're at it, dump the anthem. Terrible song. Horrendous. "America the Beautiful" is much better (even with the God reference), or ideal would be "My Country Tis of Thee"



deja vü


dump the pledge : flag rhymes with rag.

but i like the anthem .... because it ends with a question.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 6:58 PM
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but i like the anthem .... because it ends with a question.

--------


The only problem is that the answer to the question is: NO.

AM

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 7:43 PM
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And while we're at it, dump the anthem. Terrible song. Horrendous. "America the Beautiful" is much better (even with the God reference), or ideal would be "My Country Tis of Thee" (no God reference at all...well, at least in the first verse which is the bit everyone knows; drop the other verses and you're good to go).

1poorguy


Agreed. It pains me to have to hear the SBB sung or played at just about every public event, be it a football game, attending the Hollywood Bowl, or some local shindig. What a silly exercise. The Star Spangled Banner may or may not be a good anthem, but I refuse to sing or stand at the Hollywood Bowl. (Can't afford football games).

Count Upp

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 8:09 PM
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Nor is there non-religious content to the statement, "God bless you" when uttered after a sneeze. But the recitation itself is what has significance - a cultural acknowledgment of the sneeze. There is no non-religious content to the phrase, "God be with you" - corrupted to "goodbye" - but it is now a signifier of parting. The statement, "In God We Trust" has taken on at a minimum that role of acknowledgment of the religious heritage of the Founders, even if it has not completely lost its religious significance.

For 'bless you' or 'god bless you', I find non-religious meanings in dictionaries:
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/american-english/... - may you have good health
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bless+you - idiom: Used to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed.

When I do a google search for the exact phrase, I can find many instances of people using the phrase to convey exactly those sentiments.

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&am...

I can do both for goodbye, as well.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/goodbye - Used to express an acknowledgment of parting
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/american-english/... - said when you are going away from someone else, or the act of saying this when you are going away

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&am...

The same goes for Wednesday.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Wednesday - The fourth day of the week.
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/american-english/... - the day of the week after Tuesday and before Thursday


The results for "In God We Trust" do not have such a result. I have yet to find an instance where someone is using the phrase to convey their acknowledgment of the religious heritage of America's founders. I do a daily Google news search of atheists, atheist, atheism, and "In God We Trust" and have been doing so for the last half decade or so. (Partly to see what is in the news and partly because IGWT as the national motto is a pet peeve of mine.) In that time, I cannot recall a single instance of the phrase being used that way. Feel free to scan for yourself.
https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&am...

The Judges are MSU in order to avoid making a very straightforward and unpopular ruling. There is no secular content to the phrase "In God We Trust." An etymologist looking at how the phrase is used could never support a definition of "In God We Trust - a phrase acknowledging the religious heritage of America's founders."

Actually, on that last bit, I bet somewhere on the web there is an 'ask an etymologist' website...aha! Question about to be submitted.

"Could you please tell me what the phrase "In God We Trust" means? If you were going to supply a definition for a dictionary, what would you say people or governments mean when they use the phrase?

Thanks for your consideration."
http://www.worldwidewords.org/index.htm

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 8:27 PM
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The results for "In God We Trust" do not have such a result. I have yet to find an instance where someone is using the phrase to convey their acknowledgment of the religious heritage of America's founders. I do a daily Google news search of atheists, atheist, atheism, and "In God We Trust" and have been doing so for the last half decade or so. (Partly to see what is in the news and partly because IGWT as the national motto is a pet peeve of mine.) In that time, I cannot recall a single instance of the phrase being used that way. Feel free to scan for yourself.

Well, I doubt you're going to encounter many 'definitions' using Google News rather than the main web search. If you search for IGWT and definition, you'll find (commonly) references to it as the national motto of the United States:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&am...

But you also won't find instances of people using it to convey a religious meaning, either, except in recent times when rightwing political groups have latched onto it. But why have they latched on to it? Because it doesn't have much of a religious meaning any more, and they're trying to give it one. It's frequently cited by those groups, though, for exactly the purpose noted in the Lynch opinion - as evidence of the importance of religion in the philosophy of earlier generations of Americans (along with "endowed by their Creator").

The Judges are MSU in order to avoid making a very straightforward and unpopular ruling.

That's pretty unlikely. After all, that quote was from Brennan, who was the one (along with his fellow dissenters in Lynch) who wanted to throw the baby Jesus out of every public Christmas display in the country. He was reaching that conclusion not to avoid an unpopular ruling, but in trying to make an unpopular ruling.


Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:05 PM
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Well, I doubt you're going to encounter many 'definitions' using Google News rather than the main web search.

I provided definitions and examples of usage in accordance with those definitions. Except for your provided definition of "In God We Trust", where I can find no examples of usage in accordance with your provided definition and where no dictionaries have bothered to define the phrase. (Except identifying it as the national motto and the motto of the state of Florida.)


But you also won't find instances of people using it to convey a religious meaning, either, except in recent times when rightwing political groups have latched onto it.

But I have found many of those instances. Church sermons and group meetings titled "In God We Trust" have been in those news searches several times.

Examples:

A church explains the phrase:
http://nvulc.org/trust.php

A 4 sermon series titled "In God We Trust":
http://www.sunvalleycc.com/sermon/series/in-god-we-trust/

A sermon from a local church (that meets in a public school!):
http://www.northstarchurch.com/messages/in-god-we-trust/

A church curriculum:
http://store.crown.org/product_p/ig420.htm

Another sermon series titled "In God We Trust":
http://www.harvestweb.net/give/generous-giving-model/generos...

Another sermon:
http://www.brewsterbaptistchurch.org/in-god-we-trust/

A teaching series:
http://www.libertychurchnyc.com/2012/10/in-god-we-trust-new-...

etc.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:21 PM
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But I have found many of those instances. Church sermons and group meetings titled "In God We Trust" have been in those news searches several times.

Again, you have a widespread effort of people to infuse the phrase with meaning that isn't really all that present. Most people - I daresay nearly all people - won't look at a coin and think to themselves, "the government is making a statement about the existence of God." Indeed, I suspect that the main reason that it has appeal as the title of sermons or other lectures is exactly that reason - the juxtaposition of the prosaic with the the sacred, with the motto taking the formal role. The anecdote about the penny uses the IGWT in exactly that context - something that the protagonist has to look twice at (three times, actually) before discerning the very hidden message buried beneath the ordinary.

As you noted upthread, you have a particular bee in your bonnet about it - so I'm sure that it leaps out at you. But a quick google search in looking at other points show that atheists and freethinkers will sometimes get a bee in their bonnet about using phrases like "bless you" after a sneeze, "RIP" when discussing the recently deceased, or even just the expletive "damn" - where those phrases have been sucked of all religious meaning altogether.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:29 PM
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Again, you have a widespread effort of people to infuse the phrase with meaning that isn't really all that present. Most people - I daresay nearly all people - won't look at a coin and think to themselves, "the government is making a statement about the existence of God."

I assure you, if the phrase were changed tomorrow to "In Allah We Trust" you would have 300 million angry Americans pounding on the White House doors demanding that it be removed.

What is the difference, again?

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:36 PM
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Most people - I daresay nearly all people - won't look at a coin and think to themselves, "the government is making a statement about the existence of God."

You are wrong.

https://ffrf.org/uploads/legal/newdow_amicus2-11-04.html
I, Sharon R. Chamberlain, being duly sworn, do hereby make the following affidavit:

1. I am the President and sole owner of Chamberlain Research Consultants. I have been in the polling business since 1988.

...

5. CRC was contracted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. to conduct a poll on the use of the phrase "In God we Trust" as seen on U.S. currency. The poll was conducted with 900 adults across the nation. The number of surveys was chosen to provide a sufficient margin of error, in other words, approximately ±3%.

...

10. Attached as Exhibit A is the survey form with raw data, exact questions and their responses.

...

MOTTO TEST: Raw Data

...

Hello, this is ________ from Chamberlain Research. Tonight we're doing a one minute survey with people across the nation. Am I speaking with someone who is over the age of 18? (If not, ask to speak with someone who is, terminate if none).

The United States is currently working on redesigning US currency. The topic of my three questions is the motto "In God we Trust," as seen on US currency.

1. Is "In God we Trust" religious or non-religious?
Religious.......................................550 61.1%
Non-religious................................271 30.1%
Don't know................................... 79 8.8%

2. Does "In God we Trust" endorse a belief in God?
Yes................................................641 71.2%
No.................................................217 24.1%
Don't know.................................. 42 4.7%

3. Does "In God we Trust" endorse religion over atheism? Yes................................................480 53.3%
No.................................................322 35.8%
Don't know.................................. 98 10.9%


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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:40 PM
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I assure you, if the phrase were changed tomorrow to "In Allah We Trust" you would have 300 million angry Americans pounding on the White House doors demanding that it be removed.

What is the difference, again?


And if the phrase were eliminated - or changed tomorrow to "In the Human Spirit We Trust" - you would have tens of millions of angry Americans pounding on the White House doors as well. The number of pounders is not the measure of constitutionality.

The difference, again, is the passage of time and the aging of a phrase or saying from its initial meaning into more of a traditional or ceremonial recitation. "In God We Trust" has been in use in this country for 150 years or so, while "In Allah We Trust" or "In Jesus We Trust" has not. Both of those latter phrases would have a different context than the historical one. "Endowed by their Creator" and "imbued by their God" may be very similar phrases in their literal meaning - but one is an obvious call-out to the Declaration of Independence, and may therefore have an historical (and even literary) connotation that is absent in the latter phrase.

I know that you dismiss this is as OCD lawyering, but the minute parsing of meaning and context is the (unfortunate) legacy of the Lemon test and Lynch v. Donnelly - the problem of counting reindeer. Judges are in the position of navigating this very gray area between permissible and impermissible, guided by the fact that the Supreme Court has never ruled that avoiding "establishment" means avoiding religion altogether.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:42 PM
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You are wrong.

Fair enough - if people are asked about the statement, rather that having it presented to them in ordinary context, they will respond that way.

Still, a quarter to a third of respondents did not share your interpretation of the phrase - even in the context of having their attention called to it, in isolation. How does that jibe with your assertion that it can have no non-religious meaning?

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:47 PM
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And if the phrase were eliminated - or changed tomorrow to "In the Human Spirit We Trust" - you would have tens of millions of angry Americans pounding on the White House doors as well. The number of pounders is not the measure of constitutionality.

Stop moving the goalposts.

1. You claim the phrase's status as the national motto is constitutional because (or partly because) it no longer has religious meaning.
2. Another person claims the phrase still has religious meaning, and gives reasons why.
3. You dispute those reasons as insufficient for finding the phrase unconstitutional, ignoring whether the reasons are sufficient for demonstrating that the phrase is still primarily or significantly religious.

This is at least the second time you've done this in this thread.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 9:56 PM
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Still, a quarter to a third of respondents did not share your interpretation of the phrase - even in the context of having their attention called to it, in isolation. How does that jibe with your assertion that it can have no non-religious meaning?

Not well - but considering that in polling, 21% of atheists believe in God, I'm pretty OK with it. There are a lot of poorly informed people answering polls.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/06/juiciest-rel...
For someone who is both a religion junkie and a numbers junkie, the fabulous new Pew Religious Landscape survey has left me a bit giddy. Every page tells an amazing story...

21% of Atheists believe in god. What this means is that Atheism has become a cultural designation, rather than a theological statement. Some are likely declaring themselves atheists as a statement of hostility to organized religion, rather than to God. This might help explain polls showing rising numbers of Atheists.


Poll results like that don't convince me that atheism is consistent with belief in God, they convince me that a significant portion of people misunderstand the word. Same sort of thing here. I'm sure there are also people who agree with your interpretation of the phrase.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:23 PM
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http://www.adherents.com/people/pw/George_Washington.html

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/16/2013 11:58 PM
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The only problem is that the answer to the question is: NO.
c

yup.

a question worth asking /IMO

and if you think the answer is No,
maybe you try to change it?

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 7:50 AM
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Stop moving the goalposts.

I don't think I was. The number of people who would be upset by a change to the motto isn't really determinative of whether the current motto is constitutional, or whether it is a religious statement. Pass a law renaming "Wednesday" to "Allahsday" for all federal purposes, and you'll get 300 million people banging on the White House door - but as we've discussed, that doesn't establish that Wednesday has a religious meaning any more.

But I think I should clarify this:

1. You claim the phrase's status as the national motto is constitutional because (or partly because) it no longer has religious meaning.

This is not entirely accurate. The national motto is constitutional partly because it has acquired, through age, a sufficient cultural and historical significance that allows it to serve as a ceremonial referent in modern usage without having to be exclusively a statement of current policy of the government. For another example, the other day the President noted in his gun address yesterday that Americans are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights - which is (in context) obviously a callback to the Declaration, not a current statement of religious belief of either the President or the government. That's the "ceremonial" part of ceremonial deism.

This does not mean that IGWT has 100% lost all religious meaning - any more than "God bless you," "God damn it," or RIP have 100% lost all religious meaning. Freethinkers and atheists still quibble from time to time about whether it is appropriate to use any of those phrases. I drew analogies to Wednesday and "bless you" to illustrate how a term that originally has no meaning other than a religious one can take on completely secular usage, but I should not have implied that IGWT had lost all religious meaning altogether. That's the "deism" part of ceremonial deism.

But it doesn't have to have lost all religious meaning. The Court has held - pretty consistently - that avoiding Establishment does not mean that government has to avoid religion altogether. It need not be areligious or irreligious. It simply has to avoid taking steps that would "establish" a religion.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 10:18 AM
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The only problem is that the answer to the question is: NO.
c

yup.

a question worth asking /IMO

and if you think the answer is No,
maybe you try to change it?
---------------------------------------


Thing is... once you have given up your freedoms, they are difficult to ever get back - and I'm too old to storm the Capitol building.

And when the nation - as a whole - resorts to cowardice rather than bravery - I see no way of getting that back, either.

What do you suggest?

AM
....refusing to fly is my protest against loss of freedom. But I may even have to give that up if circumstances demand it at some point in my future. How to protest against cowardice is something I haven't figured out yet. Especially since our bought-and-paid-for "representatives" don't care what I think about anything.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 12:41 PM
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I don't think I was. The number of people who would be upset by a change to the motto isn't really determinative of whether the current motto is constitutional,...

Haven't read ahead, but I don't believe it was the number that was the point. The point was that if you change it all the Christians in the nation will get up in arms because it IS a statement of religious significance to them.

It simply has to avoid taking steps that would "establish" a religion.

As you know, I'm not a lawyer. But I can read the First Amendment, and that's not what it says. Is says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,.... So it's more than simply establishing a religion, it's even respecting the establishment of one. That is much more stringent as it would seem to mean that it cannot make any laws (including what gets printed on our money, mounted in our courthouses, etc) that require anything religious at all. Nothing. Zero. Because if they do then they are "respecting" religion.

Contrary to prior Court opinions, it seems that (even without considering Jefferson's non-binding letter in which he describe his famous "wall") the intent was for government not to have anything to do with religion whatsoever. No laws favoring it, providing tax breaks for it, nor banning it. Nothing.

So I contend that not only is IGWT unconstitutional, but so is UG in the pledge, tax-exempt status of churches, 10 Commandments in court houses, and probably a lot of other stuff I'm not thinking of at the moment.

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 12:48 PM
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As you know, I'm not a lawyer. But I can read the First Amendment, and that's not what it says. Is says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,.... So it's more than simply establishing a religion, it's even respecting the establishment of one. That is much more stringent as it would seem to mean that it cannot make any laws (including what gets printed on our money, mounted in our courthouses, etc) that require anything religious at all. Nothing. Zero. Because if they do then they are "respecting" religion.




As much as I hate the stupid motto and the "under God" yada blah in the Pledge, I don't think you are using "respecting" in the way it was used when the amendment was written.

I think it does not mean "respect" - but more like "concerning".

AM

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 12:57 PM
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I think it does not mean "respect" - but more like "concerning".

OK. That works even better, then.

Congress shall make no laws concerning the establishment of religion. Still sounds to me a like a "hands off" rule; government is not to pass any laws for or against. That would include everything we've been discussing recently.

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 1:13 PM
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Haven't read ahead, but I don't believe it was the number that was the point. The point was that if you change it all the Christians in the nation will get up in arms because it IS a statement of religious significance to them.

Oh - I didn't read it that way. I was thinking of it as being a resistance to honoring Allah, rather than losing the God reference (hence, my later Wednesday comment). That might not have been what Goofy meant, though.

As you know, I'm not a lawyer. But I can read the First Amendment, and that's not what it says. Is says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,.... So it's more than simply establishing a religion, it's even respecting the establishment of one. That is much more stringent as it would seem to mean that it cannot make any laws (including what gets printed on our money, mounted in our courthouses, etc) that require anything religious at all. Nothing. Zero. Because if they do then they are "respecting" religion.

I think AM pointed out below that "respecting" is used in this context as "concerning" or "regarding," rather than "honoring" or "giving respect to."

As for the main point, I think the argument would hold water if the Amendment read that Congress shall make no law respecting religion. But the Amendment doesn't prohibit laws concerning religion - it prohibits laws concerning the "establishment" of religion. Establishment has a particular meaning, especially in this context, and the Court has often looked to parse which actions of government are of such a nature as to be "establishing" religion, and which ones are not:

There is much talk of the separation of Church and State in the history of the Bill of Rights and in the decisions clustering around the First Amendment. See Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1; McCollum v. Board of Education, supra. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the First Amendment reflects the philosophy that Church and State should be separated. And so far as interference with the "free exercise" of religion and an "establishment" of religion are concerned, the separation must be complete and unequivocal. The First Amendment within the scope of its coverage permits no exception; the prohibition is absolute. The First Amendment, however, does not say that, in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. Rather, it studiously defines the manner, the specific ways, in which there shall be no concert or union or dependency one on the other. That is the common sense of the matter. Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other -- hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly. Churches could not be required to pay even property taxes. Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups. Policemen who helped parishioners into their places of worship would violate the Constitution. Prayers in our legislative halls; the appeals [p313] to the Almighty in the messages of the Chief Executive; the proclamations making Thanksgiving Day a holiday; "so help me God" in our courtroom oaths -- these and all other references to the Almighty that run through our laws, our public rituals, our ceremonies would be flouting the First Amendment. A fastidious atheist or agnostic could even object to the supplication with which the Court opens each session: "God save the United States and this Honorable Court."

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0343...

Albaby

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416443 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 4:17 PM
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The purpose of the Pledge as a whole is an affirmation of patriotism and community - not religion - according to the court.

But the presence of a religious phrase now has it affirming religion as well, and I'm pretty sure that violates the 1st Amendment (even if the Court doesn't think so...likely because they have a conservative theistic bias).

Didn't the Court strike down UG from the Pledge a few years ago? I remember a lot of people really upset about that.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 4:49 PM
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Didn't the Court strike down UG from the Pledge a few years ago? I remember a lot of people really upset about that.

Assuming that the capitalized "Court" refers to the SCOTUS, then no. In 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that UG violated the First Amendment. On appeal to the SCOTUS, the Court overturned that decision based on procedural grounds (holding that Michael Newdow, the plaintiff, did not have standing as the non-custodial parent to bring the case). SCOTUS never considered the substantive Constitutional question.

Newdow brought a subsequent case, but he lost - the Ninth Circuit took the hint, and held that the Pledge did not violate the First Amendment.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 4:53 PM
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Thing is... once you have given up your freedoms, they are difficult to ever get back - and I'm too old to storm the Capitol building.

And when the nation - as a whole - resorts to cowardice rather than bravery - I see no way of getting that back, either.

What do you suggest?



no suggestions....

just an observation that what was likely intended to be rhetorical question answered 'yes' for all time....


too old to do much beyond voting for the lesser of the evils

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/17/2013 10:48 PM
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no suggestions....

just an observation that what was likely intended to be rhetorical question answered 'yes' for all time....


too old to do much beyond voting for the lesser of the evils

-------------


I hear you.


AM

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 10:40 AM
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...the Ninth Circuit took the hint, and held that the Pledge did not violate the First Amendment.

Except, of course, it does.

"The hint"?? I thought our courts were supposed to be above all this political, partisan BS. They're just supposed to interpret the law. So much for that notion...

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 10:54 AM
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"The hint"?? I thought our courts were supposed to be above all this political, partisan BS. They're just supposed to interpret the law. So much for that notion...

The hint that the Supremes think that the Pledge is constitutional. Appeals to the Supreme Court are discretionary (with some exceptions not relevant here). The Court doesn't have to take a case. If they're comfortable with the lower court decision, they don't need to grant certiorari - they just let it stand. So when the Supremes pick up a case on review and overturn the outcome, it's a pretty good sign that they disagree with the legal call you just made - even if they dispense with it on standing grounds.

And like I've said upthread, there is a fairly well established body of precedent that these kinds of ceremonial acknowledgments of deism do not violate the Establishment Clause. That quote I cited upthread?:

I would suggest that such practices as the designation of "In God We Trust" as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form a "ceremonial deism," protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.

That's not some rightwing conservative Justice - that's Brennan, a staunch progressive and the leader of the Court's liberal wing for much of his tenure on the Court. This is the guy who dissented (strongly) from Court decisions allowing legislative prayers and creches on public property. And Brennan's dissent in Lynch was joined by all of the other liberal Justices on the Court, including Blackmun and Stevens.

I know that freethinkers and atheists frequently talk about UG and IGWT as if they were the most obviously unconstitutional practices in the world. But when even some of the most liberal justices )the ones who are out there issuing unpopular opinions that creches and legislative prayers are unconstitutional) are saying, "Yes, but of course the national motto and the Pledge don't violate the Establishment," maybe it's appropriate to question just how strong that argument is. It might be right, but it's certainly not the no-brainer that some folks like to think it is, if liberal jurists like Brennan and Blackmun and Stevens were disagreeing with it.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 11:55 AM
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It might be right, but it's certainly not the no-brainer that some folks like to think it is, if liberal jurists like Brennan and Blackmun and Stevens were disagreeing with it.

If we ever get some atheists on the court, it will be a no-brainer to them.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:10 PM
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I agree.

If somehow someone had managed to get "Allah" or "Vishnu" or "Flying Spaghetti Monster" into the Pledge (and on the currency), it would be struck down faster than you could draw your next breath. But because it is "God" (Christian), it's fine.

If they had instead said "The Creator" then it might be a different argument. "The Creator" is invoked by the Founders, and is not specific to any belief system. But "God" is so outrageous I'm deeply saddened that it continues to stand judicial scrutiny.

I suppose I should take some solace that at least the Ninth Circuit is able to adjudicate fairly. It's a start.

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:13 PM
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If we ever get some atheists on the court, it will be a no-brainer to them.

It's pretty unlikely to be a no-brainer, even then. No matter their personal views, or even their views on the substance of the matter, any Justice is going to look at the sizable precedent that's built up over the years construing the Establishment Clause and be cognizant of stare decisis. You'd have to completely upend the entirety of Establishment Clause jurisprudence to adopt a rule that says, for example, that government is forbidden from any involvement in any religious activity, message, or entity - which is really the only context in which this becomes a 'no-brainer'. As soon as you step back from a complete and total barrier, you start having to conduct an evaluation of what types of religious messages/activities are acceptable, and which ones aren't.

The problem for this atheist jurist is that over numerous decades of construing Establishment Clause jurisdiction, even those who have strenuously objected to allowing government to engage in specific types of religious messaging/activity have acknowledged that the EC is not an absolute prohibition on all such messaging or activity.

So unless you're talking about the atheist equivalent of Clarence Thomas - someone who is utterly uninterested in even trying to integrate his legal philosophy into the Court's established precedent - this is going to be an issue that requires some thoughtful deliberation and analysis. Not a no-brainer by any stretch.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:14 PM
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I suppose I should take some solace that at least the Ninth Circuit is able to adjudicate fairly. It's a start.

??? The Ninth Circuit upheld UG in the Pledge when it was brought before them again with the procedural infirmity corrected.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:40 PM
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If they had instead said "The Creator" then it might be a different argument. "The Creator" is invoked by the Founders, and is not specific to any belief system. But "God" is so outrageous I'm deeply saddened that it continues to stand judicial scrutiny.

It is specific to belief systems. It would be no better than "God."

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:47 PM
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No matter their personal views, or even their views on the substance of the matter, any Justice is going to look at the sizable precedent that's built up over the years construing the Establishment Clause and be cognizant of stare decisis. You'd have to completely upend the entirety of Establishment Clause jurisprudence to adopt a rule that says, for example, that government is forbidden from any involvement in any religious activity, message, or entity - which is really the only context in which this becomes a 'no-brainer'. As soon as you step back from a complete and total barrier, you start having to conduct an evaluation of what types of religious messages/activities are acceptable, and which ones aren't.

Evaluating what types of religious messages/activities are acceptable for the government is synonymous with evaluating whether messages/activities are in accordance with the religion(s) established by the government.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:50 PM
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...any Justice is going to look at the sizable precedent that's built up over the years...

Sometimes precedent is wrong. Note that blacks are no longer less than a person. Jim Crow isn't acceptable. Etc. Precedent can be overcome. And has been many times as society (and people) become more enlightened.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:51 PM
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The Ninth Circuit upheld UG in the Pledge when it was brought before them again with the procedural infirmity corrected.

They got it right once. But, yes, they did knuckle-under to peer pressure the second time around.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 12:58 PM
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Evaluating what types of religious messages/activities are acceptable for the government is synonymous with evaluating whether messages/activities are in accordance with the religion(s) established by the government.

I know you believe that's the case. But that's utterly inconsistent with the way every Justice, liberal or conservative, has determined what "establishment of religion" means. Just as the "freedom of speech" does not include all speech (for example, false libelous statements are not protected despite the fact that they are clearly speech), "establishment of religion" does not include every single religious message/activity.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:02 PM
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It is specific to belief systems.

As opposed to non-belief, yes it is. But it is not specific to one belief system. And, using the Court's argument, it would reflect the deistic heritage of the Founders and this nation. As I pointed out, "The Creator" is invoked by the Founders in our original documents. Not "God", but "The Creator".

I wouldn't want to see that either, but am merely pointing out that the Court's argument makes a lot more sense if "The Creator" had been used in the objectionable phrases. "God" is blatantly preferential to a specific belief system.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:10 PM
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albaby1: "I know you believe that's the case. But that's utterly inconsistent with the way every Justice, liberal or conservative, has determined what "establishment of religion" means. Just as the "freedom of speech" does not include all speech (for example, false libelous statements are not protected despite the fact that they are clearly speech), "establishment of religion" does not include every single religious message/activity."

I just wish the judicial system and the NRA remembered that when discussing the 2nd Amendment. Having more or less read the opening clause out of the Amendment by hiolding that there is a "personal" right to bear arms, it would be nice if the courts remembered that such right is no more absolute than the First Amendment.

Regards, JAFO

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:16 PM
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I know you believe that's the case. But that's utterly inconsistent with the way every Justice, liberal or conservative, has determined what "establishment of religion" means.

Any books or articles you recommend that present their arguments? Or should I read the Judges' decisions in the important cases?

I'm not sure I'm ready for the level of depression reading these would involve...but I'm also not sure it would be any more depressing than the present.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:20 PM
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As opposed to non-belief, yes it is. But it is not specific to one belief system.

Neither is "God." It is common to Catholicism, Lutheranism, Prebyterianism, Protestantism, Judaism, deism, etc. They all have different beliefs from each other and are not identical belief systems.


. And, using the Court's argument, it would reflect the deistic heritage of the Founders and this nation.

So?


As I pointed out, "The Creator" is invoked by the Founders in our original documents.

Again, so? Slavery was invoked by the Founders in our original documents. That doesn't make it any less a current violation of civil rights.


I wouldn't want to see that either, but am merely pointing out that the Court's argument makes a lot more sense if "The Creator" had been used in the objectionable phrases.

No, it wouldn't.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:37 PM
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Neither is "God."

It mostly is, actually. Though I'm defining "belief system" more broadly than you. Most of what you listed was "Christian", and that's exactly what I meant. In my (limited) experience Jews don't use that word much (even when writing it they omit the 'o'). I believe it is sinful for them to do so. But I do not claim extensive interaction with them.

"Creator" is very non-specific. Nearly all systems have a "Creator", be it Yahweh, Allah, The Sky Woman, The Great Medicine, Atum, Amun, or even FSM. All are "the Creator".

So, IMO, if the term "The Creator" was used then the Court's arguments would make sense. Not that they are good arguments, but at least they would become consistent. As it stands it seems like the Court is bending over backwards to make the phrases appear to be non-preferential and "OK". Much as Scalia did trying to say "militia" didn't really matter in his 2nd Amendment opinion ("prefatory clause", my butt!).

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:48 PM
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Or should I read the Judges' decisions in the important cases?

Probably the decisions in the important cases (though a basic Con Law book should have summaries of the arguments in them).

Critical would be Lynch v. Donnelly, both opinion and dissent (that's the creche case that I quoted Brennan from earlier):

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0465...

...and Lemon v. Kurtzman, which set forth the Lemon test which governs current Establishment Clause analysis (and which almost everybody thinks is not a particularly workable test, but they're stuck with it):

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0465...

Walz v. Tax Commission of New York upheld property tax exemptions for churches, and Burger's opinion has a pretty good inventory of the Court's rulings leading up to that point:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0397...

I would also suggest Brenann's concurrence in Schempp (striking down school prayer) - not only does he have a lengthy examination of the Clause, but about halfway down he goes through a laundry list of categories of activity that have religious aspects but are not likely to violate the EC (including the motto and the pledge):

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0374...

Note that Brennan backed off the legislative invocation portion of his Schempp concurrence when the Court found that such legislative prayers were acceptable in Marsh v. Chambers, but Blackmun (who ended up being quite a liberal on the Court by this point) joined the majority there:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0374...

As someone who (it sounds like) holds very strong - and perhaps absolutist - opinions on the meaning of the Establishment Clause, I imagine you will probably be very depressed to read all of that discussion. Many freethinkers that I've read spend a lot of time looking at Jefferson's writings, but don't really engage the Court's numerous opinions over the decades.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 1:55 PM
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It mostly is, actually. Though I'm defining "belief system" more broadly than you. Most of what you listed was "Christian", and that's exactly what I meant.

But that's entirely arbitrary. I can define "belief system" more broadly than you and say that "The Creator" is consistent with one belief system - theism. Christianity is just a denomination of that belief system.

"Creator" is very non-specific. Nearly all systems have a "Creator", be it Yahweh, Allah, The Sky Woman, The Great Medicine, Atum, Amun, or even FSM. All are "the Creator".

Only theism has it. Atheism doesn't. Naturalism, a subset of atheism, doesn't. Secular humanism, a subset of naturalism, doesn't.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 2:07 PM
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Thanks for the list.

As someone who (it sounds like) holds very strong - and perhaps absolutist - opinions on the meaning of the Establishment Clause, I imagine you will probably be very depressed to read all of that discussion.

I cannot imagine a coherent position where IGWT isn't an EC violation and....anything else can be. If I find one, I will be pleasantly surprised.

Your analogy of the free speech vs. libel isn't helpful. Libel has a harmed party. Just as the right to travel doesn't include the travel of one's fist into another's nose...Whose rights are being violated when the government is prevented from taking religious positions? What other right is in conflict?

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 2:12 PM
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Well, I disagree, Ben.

Consider this:

http://www.mattsjokes.com/html/bridge_jump_off.html

Are we really going to call all of those variants listed to be different systems? Yes, they have differences (I'm sure), but they're all Christian. Their deity is "God" with son "Jesus".

However, since you and I do agree on the larger question (i.e. there should be no religious references in a government oath, pledge, motto, currency, etc), and the Court is clearly either biased or cowed on this subject**, I'll let it drop at this point.


**Liberal justices can be devoutly religious too.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 2:24 PM
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Are we really going to call all of those variants listed to be different systems? Yes, they have differences (I'm sure), but they're all Christian. Their deity is "God" with son "Jesus".

Are you really going to call all the different variants of theism to be different systems? Yes, they have differences (I'm sure), but they're all theistic. They all have one or more deities with powers above and beyond natural mortals.

I'm saying there is no 'privileged' level of hierarchy where one general set of religious beliefs make a 'belief system' while divergent sets of beliefs below it are 'denominations' or 'splinter groups' or 'cults.' Creator applies to a general set of religious beliefs just as much as God applies to a slightly more specific set of religious beliefs.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 2:30 PM
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Your analogy of the free speech vs. libel isn't helpful. Libel has a harmed party. Just as the right to travel doesn't include the travel of one's fist into another's nose...Whose rights are being violated when the government is prevented from taking religious positions? What other right is in conflict?

That's not why libel is excluded from Freedom of Speech. There's a separate analysis the Court conducts when something is protected speech, but conflicts with the rights and interests of other parties (such as laws against disclosing classified data).

The reason is that when the Founders wrote the First Amendment, libel and slander were punishable by law. They continued to be punishable by law after the Amendment was adopted. There is no indication that when the Founders prohibited laws infringing "Freedom of Speech" that they meant "Freedom of Speech" to include that particular category of speech that had always been prohibited at common law.

So, too, with the Establishment Clause. What activities did the Founders intend to exclude from governmental practice going forward under the category of "Establishment of Religion"? Did that term broadly include the sorts of ceremonial acknowledgments of a deity (such as noting that men are "endowed by their Creator" with rights) or invocations prior to legislative sessions or displays of mottos, or did it embrace only formal support of actual religious institutions (formal Establishment)? Or something in-between?

It's a question of "what does respecting an Establishment of Religion" mean, not a balancing of "under what compelling circumstances might we allow the govenment to Establish a Religion." The latter is the analogous justification for barring speech when there is extreme harm to other parties, but the former is the exercise we go through in determining what is protected by the First in the first place.

Albaby

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416494 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 2:31 PM
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Critical would be Lynch v. Donnelly, both opinion and dissent (that's the creche case that I quoted Brennan from earlier):

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0465...

...As someone who (it sounds like) holds very strong - and perhaps absolutist - opinions on the meaning of the Establishment Clause, I imagine you will probably be very depressed to read all of that discussion.


You ain't kidding. I'm not even done with the first decision and it's already telling me the establishment clause is an empty lie.

"It is clear that neither the 17 draftsmen of the Constitution who were Members of the First Congress, nor the Congress of 1789, saw any establishment problem in the employment of congressional Chaplains to offer daily prayers in the Congress, a practice that has continued for nearly two centuries. It would be difficult to identify a more striking example of the accommodation of religious belief intended by the Framers."

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416495 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 2:41 PM
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You ain't kidding. I'm not even done with the first decision and it's already telling me the establishment clause is an empty lie.

It's not an empty lie. It's just that "Establishment of Religion" is a term that has to be interpreted. You've interpreted it to be an absolute bar to any accommodation of religious belief. That's not the only reasonable interpretation of that term, it's certainly not the interpertation that the Courts have used, and I'm not even sure it's the right interpretation.

Even under the slightly less expansive interpretation, the Amendment has enormous impact. You have nothing like the Anglican Church in America, despite our shared legal heritage with England. U.S. official state churches (like those in Connecticut and Massachusetts) are long gone and aren't coming back. Almost all religious activity is barred from governmental institutions, with only a few specific exceptions remaining.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:11 PM
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Even under the slightly less expansive interpretation, the Amendment has enormous impact. You have nothing like the Anglican Church in America, despite our shared legal heritage with England. U.S. official state churches (like those in Connecticut and Massachusetts) are long gone and aren't coming back. Almost all religious activity is barred from governmental institutions, with only a few specific exceptions remaining.

When the 'exceptions' are justified by reasons that would also justify something like an Anglican Church or an official state church, it remains a lie.

For example, from the Donnelly dissent:
Invoking the celebration of Thanksgiving as a public holiday, the legend "In God We Trust" on our coins, and the proclamation "God save the United States and this Honorable Court" at the opening of judicial sessions, the Court asserts, without explanation, that Pawtucket's inclusion of a creche in its annual Christmas display poses no more of a threat to Establishment Clause values than these other official "acknowledgments" of religion. Ante at 674-678, 685-686; see also ante at 692-693 (O'CONNOR, J., concurring)

...Intuition tells us that some official "acknowledgment" is inevitable in a religious society if government is not to adopt a stilted indifference to the religious life of the people. See Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 232 (1948) (Jackson, J., concurring). It is equally true, however, that, if government is to remain scrupulously neutral in matters of religious conscience, as our Constitution requires, then it must avoid those overly broad acknowledgments of religious practices that may imply governmental favoritism toward one set of religious beliefs.


Governmental favoritism toward one set of religious beliefs is bad except when governmental favoritism toward one set of religious beliefs is "acknowledgment."

'Stilted indifference to the religious life of the people'? Seriously?

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:17 PM
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When the 'exceptions' are justified by reasons that would also justify something like an Anglican Church or an official state church, it remains a lie.

That's not accurate. There's no way to read the Lemon test as permitting an official national or state church. The Establishment Clause is not read as absolutist, but neither is it read to be meaningless. The Court has identified a category of religious "acknowledgments" that are permitted under the First under the justification that they are sufficiently limited that they do not respect the Establishment of Religion; that reasoning would not justify something like the Anglican church.

Albaby

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416499 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:25 PM
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The reason is that when the Founders wrote the First Amendment, libel and slander were punishable by law. They continued to be punishable by law after the Amendment was adopted. There is no indication that when the Founders prohibited laws infringing "Freedom of Speech" that they meant "Freedom of Speech" to include that particular category of speech that had always been prohibited at common law.

OK. That prompts me to ask on what basis the founders thought libel laws didn't violate freedom of speech. Which seems to go back to my original thought of competing rights (if my googling isn't leading me astray.)

http://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/defama...
There is always a delicate balance between one person's right to freedom of speech and another's right to protect their good name...

Defamation law, for as long as it has been in existence in the United States, has had to walk a fine line between the right to freedom of speech and the right of a person to avoid defamation.


I cannot find any similar reasoning behind the EC. I'm still reading through the Donnelly opinions but I'm finding self-contradiction after self-contradiction.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:40 PM
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There's no way to read the Lemon test as permitting an official national or state church.

Sure there is. A national church fulfills a secular legislative purpose, filling people's needs for community and mutual aid. Not having an official church would be a stilted indifference to the religious life of the people - which must be avoided. Our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being, so a church educating children about this Supreme Being serves the secular purpose of supporting those institutions.

The primary effect doesn't aid religion because (insert one) repeated church services have lost, through repetition, any significant religious content. Or because having an official church solemnizes public occasions with official church messages. Or because it allows for meeting some national challenge that could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely nonreligious offices.

I can read it as permitted under the Lemon test with the same justifications given for non-absolute interpretations of the EC very easily.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:45 PM
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Or should I read the Judges' decisions in the important cases?

Probably the decisions in the important cases (though a basic Con Law book should have summaries of the arguments in them).

Critical would be Lynch v. Donnelly, both opinion and dissent (that's the creche case that I quoted Brennan from earlier):



another possible tack: read the articles about crucial cases in the Wiki .. and follow footnotes.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:50 PM
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Only theism has it. Atheism doesn't. Naturalism, a subset of atheism, doesn't. Secular humanism, a subset of naturalism, doesn't.



pantheism ... seems not.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 3:57 PM
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"It is clear that neither the 17 draftsmen of the Constitution who were Members of the First Congress, nor the Congress of 1789, saw any establishment problem in the employment of congressional Chaplains to offer daily prayers in the Congress, a practice that has continued for nearly two centuries. It would be difficult to identify a more striking example of the accommodation of religious belief intended by the Framers."



istr reading the argument that the framers intent was: federal govt wouldn't favor any particular denomination.. the state govt's could keep their state religions

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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416504 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:00 PM
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OK. That prompts me to ask on what basis the founders thought libel laws didn't violate freedom of speech. Which seems to go back to my original thought of competing rights (if my googling isn't leading me astray.)

Your googling is leading you astray, since that's an expression of the public policy issues in determining where to establish what statements are actionable, rather than an analysis of why such speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

For a lay discussion, the wiki entry is a little more precise:

Restrictions that are based on people's reactions to words include both instances of a complete exception, and cases of diminished protection. Speech that involves incitement, false statements of fact, obscenity, child pornography, threats, and speech owned by others are all completely exempt from First Amendment protections. Commercial advertising receives diminished, but not eliminated, protection.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_excep...

In commercial speech cases, the Court employes a balancing test - weighing the government's interest in regulating the speech versus the value of the speech. That's the balance of competing rights. For defamatory speech, however, the Court does not employ any such test - if it is defamatory, it is not protected speech for the purposes of the First Amendment.

This was elucidated most recently in the Court's decision of U.S. v. Alvarez, where the Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act. The Court held:

In light of the substantial and expansive threats to free expression posed by content-based restrictions, this Courthas rejected as “startling and dangerous” a “free-floating test for First Amendment coverage . . . [based on] an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits.”...Instead, content-based restrictions on speech have been permitted, as a general matter, only when confined to the few “‘historic and traditional categories [of expression] long familiar to the bar.’” ...These categories have a historical foundation in the Court’s free speech tradition. The vast realm of free speech and thought always protected in our tradition can still thrive, and even be furthered, by adherence to thosecategories and rules.

(citations and inventory of classic exemptions omitted)

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-210d4e9.pdf

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:02 PM
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The primary effect doesn't aid religion because (insert one) repeated church services have lost, through repetition, any significant religious content. Or because having an official church solemnizes public occasions with official church messages. Or because it allows for meeting some national challenge that could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely nonreligious offices.

Needless to say, these are absurd claims - you don't believe them, and no judge would believe them. And you have omitted the "excessive entanglement" prong, which a national church would certainly fail.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:11 PM
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And you have omitted the "excessive entanglement" prong, which a national church would certainly fail.

If 'our national institutions presuppose a Supreme Being' doesn't fail the excessive entanglement prong, nothing does. How can you be any more excessively entangled when you are fully entangled, with no secular portions at all?



Needless to say, these are absurd claims

Yes. And they are equally absurd when used to justify things other than a national church.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:17 PM
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If 'our national institutions presuppose a Supreme Being' doesn't fail the excessive entanglement prong, nothing does. How can you be any more excessively entangled when you are fully entangled, with no secular portions at all?

Because the Court would disagree that there are no secular portions of our federal government - and I think you would, too - merely because the national motto is "In God We Trust." Whereas if the federal government was actually running a church, that would inarguably constitute an excessive entanglement with a religion.

Yes. And they are equally absurd when used to justify things other than a national church.

Really? Equally absurd? You can see no gradations at all between singing, "And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"," and having an official state religion?

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:28 PM
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Because the Court would disagree that there are no secular portions of our federal government - and I think you would, too - merely because the national motto is "In God We Trust."

It's not because our national motto is "In God We Trust." I don't know why the Justice was writing 'our national institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.' But if our national institutions do presuppose a Supreme Being, then all national institutions are sectarian and none are secular. One more institution presupposing a Supreme Being - a church whose tenets were that there is one God, who is trustworthy and superior to our nation, for example - wouldn't entangle those national institutions any more than they already were.




Really? Equally absurd? You can see no gradations at all between singing, "And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"," and having an official state religion?

I can see no reasons for approving of IGWT as a national motto that could not equally justify having a national church, no. Reading through the opinions have not yet provided any either.



For a lay discussion, the wiki entry is a little more precise

The wiki entry never gets into the reasons why each exception is justified. It's very ad hoc.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:32 PM
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I'm curious, albaby. Do you believe the Court's decision is correct? Up till now you have indicated what the Court has held, and said, and almost argued as their attorney. Which is cool. Makes us work harder arguing against it! :-) But do you think it is correct? You've already said the Lemon Test sucks.

If not, how would you argue against it if you were to go before the Court with a challenge of the IGWT or UG?

Just curious.

1poorguy

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 4:47 PM
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I can see no reasons for approving of IGWT as a national motto that could not equally justify having a national church, no. Reading through the opinions have not yet provided any either.

Degree and historical practice. There are differences in degree and historical practice. One reason that the Court was comfortable with permitting prayer before legislative sessions in Nebraska is because the Founders historically authorized chaplains and prayers as part of the national legislative body. This rationally supports the conclusion that when the Founders wrote of "Establishment of Religion" and forbade it to the federal government, they were not thinking that the term would embrace prayers before a legislative meeting. So the sorts of ceremonial invocations that are similar to that practice can be justified as falling outside of the scope of what the Amendment prohibits.

That same argument could not be made for a national church. The Framers did not set up a national church in those early days of Congress. They didn't do anything like setting up a national church. So the distinction is very simple to articulate.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 5:01 PM
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I'm curious, albaby. Do you believe the Court's decision is correct? Up till now you have indicated what the Court has held, and said, and almost argued as their attorney. Which is cool. Makes us work harder arguing against it! :-) But do you think it is correct? You've already said the Lemon Test sucks.

I think it is very defensible - I would have to do a lot more direct research into the practices and writings of the Founding generation before I could decide whether it is correct.

The plain language and the main object of the Amendment is very clear - they wanted to prevent the Federal government from creating the type of official state churches that were fairly common in the colonies prior the revolution. It is a fair reading to conclude that the Amendment prohibits other measures that are not formal Establishment, but have the same general effect.

However, I think that we always need to be cautious in construing a constitutional provision as prohibiting practices that the Founding generation freely engaged in without much concern or debate. It's not dispositive. There were many provisions about which the Framers themselves vigorously disagreed (hello, general welfare clause!), so the fact that the early Federalist Congress went down one path doesn't necessarily mean that it is the absolute correct interpretation. And there were many things that just didn't really come up (I don't think there's ever been much Third Amendment precedent).

My understanding is that the Founders never acted as though the Establishment Clause created an absolute bar to any government messaging about God or religion, which raises a very strong presumption (in my mind) that the term "Establishment of Religion" doesn't include such actions. But again, I only know what I've read in the actual decisions of the Court - I haven't really read any of the briefs, and for all I know there's some very good arguments on the other side.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 5:19 PM
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In contending the Pledge is an unconstitutional religious exercise, plaintiffs erroneously fixate solely on the words “under God” and disregard the context in which those words appear. True, the words “under God” have religious significance. This, however, does not convert the Pledge into a prayer or other religious exercise. As the Supreme Court has explained, “Focus exclusively on the religious component of any activity would inevitably lead to its invalidation under the Establishment Clause.” Lynch, 465 U.S. at 680. Under the dissent’s rationale, every government action that had any religious component to it would violate the Establishment Clause. But that is clearly not the case, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly told us.


IOW, as long as there's enough "other government" stuff going on around it, it doesn't matter. So I can pray to Vishnu AND hold a town meeting?

-spookysquid

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 5:43 PM
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That same argument could not be made for a national church. The Framers did not set up a national church in those early days of Congress. They didn't do anything like setting up a national church. So the distinction is very simple to articulate.

So? All that means is that the founders didn't set up a national church. It doesn't mean the founders thought it was a violation of the Constitution to do so. It would only mean that the church might miss one element of Constitutional support legislative prayers might have.

This argument that 'what the founders meant by establishment has to be what we will always understand as establishment' is baloney. For example, the people who wrote the 14th amendment explicitly said that interracial marriage bans were not prohibited by it, yet SCOTUS ruled otherwise in Loving v. Virginia.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/10/09/scalias-sp...
...the men who wrote the 14th amendment explicitly told the voters that the equal protection clause would not invalidate state laws against interracial marriage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia#Decision
The court ruled that Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 7:20 PM
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So? All that means is that the founders didn't set up a national church. It doesn't mean the founders thought it was a violation of the Constitution to do so. It would only mean that the church might miss one element of Constitutional support legislative prayers might have.

Whatever the reason, you can't make the same argument. We know that the Founders didn't think that having legislative prayers didn't violate the Establishment Clause. We don't have any similar evidence that they felt that establishing a national church would not violate the EC.

And are you really, seriously suggesting that the Founders felt that the Establishment Clause permitted the federal government to establish a national church?

This argument that 'what the founders meant by establishment has to be what we will always understand as establishment' is baloney. For example, the people who wrote the 14th amendment explicitly said that interracial marriage bans were not prohibited by it, yet SCOTUS ruled otherwise in Loving v. Virginia.

...and Brown dismissed those claims about the prospective application of the Fourteenth by finding of the statements that were made during the passage of the Fourteenth "a]t best, they are inconclusive. The most avid proponents of the post-War Amendments undoubtedly intended them to remove all legal distinctions among "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." Their opponents, just as certainly, were antagonistic to both the letter and the spirit of the Amendments, and wished them to have the most limited effect."

If a similar argument can be made to dispute the practices of the Framers, it would undoubtedly be a powerful counter to the arguments made in this thread. But I'm certainly not aware of any voices in the Founding generation arguing that legislative prayers were unconstitutional. There were vivid and heated arguments about the application of the general welfare clause, the militia clause, the taxing and spending authority....but if there was a division of mind about the Establishment Clause and its application to things like this, it has not found its way into the cases.

Albaby

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 7:43 PM
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Whatever the reason, you can't make the same argument. We know that the Founders didn't think that having legislative prayers didn't violate the Establishment Clause. We don't have any similar evidence that they felt that establishing a national church would not violate the EC.

Recall: I'm saying that all the arguments for IGWT being the national motto not violating the EC also support a national church not violating the EC.


And are you really, seriously suggesting that the Founders felt that the Establishment Clause permitted the federal government to establish a national church?

No. But I also can't understand how they thought legislative prayers were consistent with the EC.



...and Brown dismissed those claims about the prospective application of the Fourteenth by finding of the statements that were made during the passage of the Fourteenth "a]t best, they are inconclusive. The most avid proponents of the post-War Amendments undoubtedly intended them to remove all legal distinctions among "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." Their opponents, just as certainly, were antagonistic to both the letter and the spirit of the Amendments, and wished them to have the most limited effect."

If a similar argument can be made to dispute the practices of the Framers, it would undoubtedly be a powerful counter to the arguments made in this thread. But I'm certainly not aware of any voices in the Founding generation arguing that legislative prayers were unconstitutional. There were vivid and heated arguments about the application of the general welfare clause, the militia clause, the taxing and spending authority....but if there was a division of mind about the Establishment Clause and its application to things like this, it has not found its way into the cases.


James Madison thought that Legislative chaplains (who give those legislative prayers) violated the EC. He was the one who proposed the first version of the Bill of Rights.
http://www.law.northwestern.edu/lawreview/v102/n1/145/LR102n...

The relevant passages begin on page 9.

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Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/18/2013 8:33 PM
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From the conclusion:

On the question of the legislative chaplaincy, the weight of the historical evidence suggests that the principal Framer of the First Amendment, James Madison, squarely and consistently opposed the practice throughout his lifetime. Moreover, he seems to have been the only Framer to have seriously considered the question after 1791—if other Framers or ratifiers gave sustained thought to the constitutionality of the legislative chaplaincy in light of the First Amendment, history has not preserved those reflections. Of course, even if other Framers had pointedly defended the practice, we might, as Judge McConnell suggests, ultimately decide to reject the Framers’ defense of a practice like the chaplaincy if we find their arguments to be illogical and inconsistent with the principle they intended to write into the Establishment Clause. But if it turns out that those Framers who carefully considered the issue were not inconsistent—if key Framers like Madison in fact intended all along for the First Amendment to forbid congressional chaplains and perhaps other similar practices—that would surely counsel a reevaluation of Establishment Clause jurisprudence regarding governmental demonstrations of religious belief.

The historical record as a whole suggests that this view of Madison is the accurate one.


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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416530 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/19/2013 9:41 AM
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I read the article, and find it a pretty weak piece of argument. The author points out - correctly - that during Madison's entire period of public office, he took numerous steps directly participating in the formation and continuation of the Congressional chaplaincy. At no point did he make any effort to stop - or even publicly argue against - the chaplaincy during those decades in public office, despite the fact that he was quite vigorous in challenging other actions he felt violated the Establishment Clause. And against all that, the only thing the author cites after the Clause was adopted is a single passage from a single private letter, written years after Madison withdrew from public life.

How does the author then support his conclusion? With this facile argument:

The most direct evidence of what a person believes is what she says she believes.

So rather than looking at Madison's actions - and inactions - during the time he held enormous political power, the author instead engages in a host of special pleading exercises to excuse and explain Madison's complete failure to make even a peep about chaplaincy during his active role in politics. Yes, he took those votes and refrained from devoting a scintilla of political capital to even mentioning that he though chaplains violated the First - but in his secret heart, he knew that to be the case? Color me unconvinced.

Nor does Madison's secret heart matter in the slighted. When the Court looks to what the Founders might have meant, they look to what the Founders might have meant - not what any one Founder thought, even Madison. They look to what the early Congresses did. For example, Madison (and Jefferson) were staunch believers in a very narrow reading of the Spending Clause - and there were deep political arguments in those early Congresses. But Madison lost, and Hamilton won. Which is why we have Social Security and Medicare and an Interstate Highway System today.

So whatever Madison thought, the Founders overwhelmingly thought that chaplains were perfectly consistent with the First. The article you cite contains a laundry list of prominent Founders that specifically favored the chaplaincy (and then tries to dismiss them with the argument that....well, that their views shouldn't have weight because Madison disagreed with them?). The question was put to the Founders sitting in Congress assembled, and they approved legislative chaplains - and maintained them throughout the entire time that Madison was in office and beyond. The fact that Madison never offered a public argument against these practices - and only a single private one, apparently, and even that never while in office - suggests very strongly that this was not an argument that Madison would win, or even gain any traction on.

So, no - I think the author's conclusion is not the least bit supported by the evidence he presented or his argument. Whatever Madison might have written in his 1822 correspondence, it is completely inconsistent with his political career - and in the absence of any writings commenting on the subject during his lengthy time of office, I'm more inclined to think that Madison felt (correctly) that whatever his personal feelings might have been in 1822, it was too weak a case to plausibly introduce into the public debate. From this article at least, the only conclusion is that the Founders (plural) were firmly convinced of the Constitutionality of the chaplaincy, and any reservations Madison might have had were so weak and unsupported that he declined to even mention them until he was well outside the public realm.

Albaby

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 416547 of 442291
Subject: Re: Remove "In God We Trust"; Whitehou Date: 1/19/2013 3:03 PM
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So whatever Madison thought, the Founders overwhelmingly thought that chaplains were perfectly consistent with the First.

Those votes were not 'overwhelming.' The record looks mixed to me.


Whatever Madison might have written in his 1822 correspondence, it is completely inconsistent with his political career

No it wasn't. The author cited at least one other case where he fought against public money going to chaplains - and in that case, the people putting in the money were choosing which chaplain it was going to.

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