Monday, June 27, 2005

Splitting Hairs

Here's an idea for interpreting the First Amendment's "establishment clause"(Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion). I would define it more literally and more narrowly. If the state of Kentucky decides to tax its citizens to support the Southern Baptist Convention, I would not allow it. That is the very essence of religious establishment.

However, if the Bluegrass States wants to put up framed copies of the Ten Commandments in its public buildings, it should be allowed. Even if construed as a state endorsement of religion, that is not the same as a state establishment of religion. A stricter interpretation of the clause will save us from having the Supreme Court read minds and split hairs over the different settings for the document.

That doesn't mean hard questions would never arise. I would be inclined to not allow mandatory prayer in public school classrooms where children are required to attend.

This whole business of the Court trying to divine religious motivation while state officials pretend to put the Ten Commandments up for secular reasons is nuts. Americans have the right to not believe and to not have religion shoved down their throats, but that doesn't include the right to never be offended or feel some way excluded.

I am influenced in part by my experience in public school. The middle school I attended had a regular moment of silence, a Christian "Crusade Club" and at least one teacher who used his classroom as a pulpit. Mr. Klein, my seventh or eighth (it was a long time ago) grade English teacher frequently discussed his faith and had Chick Tracts at the back of the room with other reading material. Although Barry Lynn would have a stroke over it, his witnessing had no more effect on me than his speling lessons. I could name dozens of other problems at that school that were more pressing than potential First Amendment violations.


Glaivester said...

"speling lessons"

Is that a typo or a joke?

Clark said...

It was a joak.

Andr? Kenji said...

For me, they can put whatever they want in public buildings. But they can´t use taxpayers money for that.

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