Thursday, August 19, 2010

Religious Bully?

Interestingly, the court in a recent court case in Utah ruled against privately-erected memorials for deceased highway troopers shaped like crosses, saying that they connoted an endorsement of Christianity.

I find it interesting because the predominant religion in Utah, although Christian, does not use the cross to symbolize its religion, and by telling private parties that they can't use certain symbols when erecting memorials, the state is interfering in church. From what I understand of history, the point of "separation of Church and State" was not to keep any person from mentioning religion, but to keep the government from subsidizing a particular religion preferentially. The only ways that would cause a problem is if someone desired to erect a memorial for a state trooper in another religion's symbol for death and was refused, or if the government was somehow paying to have a religion promoted.

To me, this is clearly a case of drawing boundaries around the law which interfere with other core legal principles. By refusing the right to put up memorials with any sort of historically religious connotations, the government is controlling a party's right to religion. But I'm neither a lawyer, nor a historian.

I also find this interesting because I have lately come to realize that fears have become a part of my life which could potentially cause the very things I fear.

By being so afraid of any tint of religion in government, we are giving the government a religion: atheism. Shouldn't the point be to celebrate/tolerate all religions which do not interfere with life, liberty or property, not forbid them? Isn't the point to keep the state from becoming a religious bully?

Odd that the Founding Fathers' attempts to prevent religious bullying are now being used to create it.


  1. Silverrain, if the crosses had been erected on private land you would be correct. However, the memorials are on PUBLIC land--Utah roads. The handling of Public land (land that belongs to all of us regardless of our religion) falls under the establishment clause of the first amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." Through the 14th amendment, this applies to the states. So no religious symbols on public land. This is long settled law.

  2. There is no law establishing a religion in this case. I fail to see how that translates to no religious symbols on public land. If that were true, we would have to extensively revamp our entire governmental symbology, since most of the symbols we use have SOME religious use previously.

    In this case, it isn't a religious symbol anyways, it is a symbol of death.

  3. A cross is a Christian symbol. Explicitly. Ask a Muslim or a Jew how they would feel with a cross representing them, for an illustrative example. Whether a symbol had "some religious use previously" is not part of the equation. What is important is that a cross is a strictly Christian symbol here, in the US, now. Everyone understands this.

  4. A cross is a symbol of death in Christian imagery. Whe re else?

  5. If I am reading this correctly, Utah has said you cannot put up a cross when a police officer dies perhaps in an accident along the road?
    Not even if that officer was a Christian?
    The US gov't was not set up to completely forbid religion but it seems to be read that way these days. Freedom OF religion is to ensure that the people can worship what they want, how they want, or not worship or believe in any god at all if they choose.

    For some reason the gov't has been leaning towards freedom FROM religion. A death nell for a country if I ever heard one.
    This country's founding fathers were very religious. We were founded on a Christian-Judeo basis.
    Now suddenly it's all about political correctness and not offending the atheists, or any of other belief systems... sad.
    Can you hear the crumbling?

  6. The founding fathers were men of the enlightenment.
    Just about to a man they were deists; that is, they did not believe in an interventionist God. As an illustrative example, George Washington never belonged to a church. As another illustrative example, the only mentions of religion in the constitution are negative; actions that people cannot take because of religious beliefs.

  7. Oh, and it's "death knell." Gotta love those silent letters. Though I do like death nell. I see Snidely Whiplash twirling his mustache.

  8. djinn—I suggest you do some research into the symbology of the cross before I can really have a meaningful discussion about it with you.

    And Bev said several things better than I. This isn't really something I care to argue with you.

  9. Silverrain, you are way to smart for that last post. Crosses, today, in the US are symbols of Christianity, and the laws that you so happily mock keep Mormons safe in their jobs, at the least, and especially allow Mormons to build churches and Temples even over massive protests by the in-situ population.

    You are attacking that which protects you.

  10. Silverrain, know any lawyers? Ask them about this topic.

  11. Djinn—Ah, but you see, I'm not talking law, I'm talking common sense.

    Which are, sadly, totally opposite things in most cases.

    And don't be silly. Law is not a take-it-all-or-leave-it sort of thing.

  12. Silverrain, what you call "common sense" others would call a good reason ("it's just common sense, think of the traffic issues, the lighting at night, the parking....) to not let LDS temples and meetinghouses be built in their communities. This law that you so dislike really does protect you whether you appreciate it o not.

  13. The constitution really does protect religious freedom or it does not. It absolutely is a take it all or leave it sort of thing. If not, whose religion should be the one that suffers discrimination? As a hint, Mormon ranks third most disliked amongst US religions according to that Mormon pollster who also help run the "Yes on 8" campaign. We beat Scientology and Islam. Go us!

    You see, if religious freedom isn't protected, who do you think is going to lose it?


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