Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Missing the Trees for the Forest

I am still contemplating the Establishment Clause of the constitution and I have noticed something. Consider these three cases in point.

1. Is there a fundamental difference between a cross in the seal of LA County and a church (with a cross) in a mural paid for by the Town of Chapel Hill and installed in a town-owned building that contains a church with a cross? (By the way, there is another recognizable religious symbol in the mural, see if you can find it. Hint: don't bother telling me this is what the servings look like at the shelter - they don't. Answer here)
2. Is a bible study curriculum not cultural but gospel choir performances of religious songs in elementary schools are?
3. Can someone object to a privately owned newspaper using the heading "Faith and Family" yet be silent to an event organized and funded by the Town of Chapel Hill that included both gospel music and prayer? Yes, I realize the objection to the newspaper heading is on political grounds but that retort is hollow knowing that the person making the objection to the newspaper heading was involved in planning the latter event that presents EC issues.

Perhaps a pattern. Do prominent voices discuss this issue when it applies to those far away (geographically and/or on the ideology spectrum) but show an apparent reluctance to make the same principled points when the issue is closer to home? This might simply be a difference in the scope of focus involved. After all, many of the locals have a national or international perspective. Nothing wrong with that. There is also the consideration that we are more likely to give lattitude to people we know, work with, and trust from personal knowledge but are more skeptical of those more remote. Perhaps that is self evident.

A writer on another local blog (who I do not know) had this to say on #3.

It’s interesting to compare this thread [on the newspaper using the "Faith and Family" heading] to the one on MLK Blvd name change. In one case we have a privite sector paper giving a little space to religion. Perhaps good bussiness; perhaps bad; but still thier bussiness. Many observers have some kind of problem with it. At the MLK event, three of the four music acts were christian. Some of the speakers were clergy and I could have sworn I heard prayer. Oh yeah, the government set it up. I never heard anyone complain. Perhaps the problem is the Republican God Vs. the Democratic one. Perhaps we hate the God of the white people but love the black peoples God. I can’t tell just where Dan Coleman stands on the Islamic God but I’ll bet he’s troubled with Christians who hate Allah.

Though these comments may be more cynical than necessary, it is very difficult to understand the apparent disparity in how this issue is handled by those who have responsibility to the public good, such as elected and appointed public officials. Do not forget the other similarity among these three points - they all are incursions against the Establishment Clause by the majority religion, which was precisely the rationale for the EC.
------- 4/30/05 End comment out old comments section -----> |

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