Tag Archives: California

Complaining About Yoga In Public Schools Proof Of Religious Right Hypocrisy

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?When I heard about the religious right complaint over a public school teaching yoga to students it kind of made me yawn because it is so typical. The religious right want their brand of religion to be promoted in public schools but complain about anything that they think isn’t their brand of religion. Some liberal religious people I know don’t think this hypocrisy happens so this post is for them as further proof.
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When Freedom Of Speech Doesn’t Mean What They Think It Means

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Scene of Santa fighting Jesus from American Dad cartoonOn Monday, a federal judge ruled against a group of Christian churches who had sued the City of Santa Monica California to reopen a park for Christmas displays. The 60 year old tradition was ended after a fight between atheists and Christians over displays last Christmas. The city took the action it thought necessary but the churches argued the city was violating its free speech rights. Like usual, the churches don’t know what freedom of speech really means.
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Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights

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The court decision that overturned California Proposition 8 supports the American foundation of equal legal protection and could also be applied to future questions about freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion.

Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. (pp 135 line 3)

Prop 8 Ruling FINAL

The key part is “Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights…”

It remains to be seen if that would actually work but it would be something to try in a future complaint or law suit over religious freedom issues.

Another important point is that civil rights are not open to a popularity contest and never should be.

US Supreme Court rules cross generic

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Last week the US Supreme Court ruled that a transfer of land, holding a cross erected in the Mojave National Preserve in California then sold to a private group after a lower court ruled that the cross violated the 1st amendment, needed to be reassessed in light of their holding that a Latin cross is a generic symbol of war dead. The ruling opens a can of worms that neither believers or non-believers might enjoy.

On April 28th, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Salazar v. Buono that a lower court ruling on a law enacted by Congress to transfer 1 acre of land under a Latin cross to a private group should be reconsidered.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority:

“A Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies would be compounded if the fallen are forgotten.”

Salazar v. Buono

When the case was heard back in October 2009, the following exchange took place:

Peter J. Eliasberg, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said many Jewish war veterans would not want to be honored by “the predominant symbol of Christianity,” one that “signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins.”

Justice Antonin Scalia responded that the symbol in the context of a war memorial carried a more general meaning. “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead,” he said.

Mr. Eliasberg said, “There is never a cross on the tombstone of a Jew.”

Justice Scalia, who is usually jovial even in disagreement, turned angry. “I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that the cross honors are the Christian war dead,” he said. “I think that’s an outrageous conclusion.”

Justices’ Ruling Blocks Cross Removal

So basically the court set aside the lower court ruling, that the land transfer was an attempt to evade the 1st amendment issue, because the Latin cross was a generic war memorial.

Kennedy wrote again:

“It could not maintain the cross without violating the injunction,” he wrote, “but it could not remove the cross without conveying disrespect for those the cross was seen as honoring.”

He added, “The land transfer-statute embodies Congress’s legislative judgment that this dispute is best resolved through a framework and policy of accommodation for a symbol that, while challenged under the Establishment Clause has complex meaning beyond the expression of religious views.”

This illustrates how Christian privilege can blind a person into a bad decision. The majority of the court assumed that the cross was a secular symbol of war dead and not the sectarian symbol everyone else sees. The Latin cross simply does NOT include everyone.

Justice Stevens wrote in his dissent:

“Making a plain, unadorned Latin cross a war memorial does not make the cross secular,” he added. “It makes the war memorial sectarian.”

Making the cross secular also bothers some religious folks:

“I think that most American evangelicals would acknowledge that it probably is, in our culture, more than a Christian symbol,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

That’s fine, he said, “as long as it’s not less than a Christian symbol.”

Land said he’d rather have the cross stay up under Kennedy’s line of argument than have authorities eradicate crosses from cemeteries.

When a Supreme Court justice says the cross is not just about Christianity, it diminishes Jesus’ charge to his followers to “take up their cross and follow me,” said Read Churchyard, an expert on symbolism and iconography at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Is Supreme Court’s Cross Ruling Good For Christians?

The fact is that the court rulings on crosses isn’t an attempt to “have authorities eradicate crosses from cemeteries”. It is to protect the 1st amendment and keep the government from favoring a particular sect when building a memorial to a group of people like war veterans. No one has ever complained about what individual families use to mark their dead in a public cemetery.

Ignoring the fact that not all people are Christian is as disrespectful as erecting a Nativity scene on the lawn of City Hall during holiday season.

Christians pull cross out of ass with Bush’s help

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Well, imagine that. After 17 years of legal fighting and losing, religious conservatives and their vassals within the US Congress finally “won”. President Bush signed a law that allows the Federal government to acquire the Mt. Soledad cross.

I suspected that they might finally pull one out of their ass but I wasn’t surprised when the law was approved in the Senate and went to Bush for his scribble. Come on, it is an election year and the GOP is real danger of being thrown out of the majority in Congress. Members of Congress can now go around and tell their “constituents” that they “saved” the cross.

I’m sure it will look real good on the postage free mailings they will send out. Good for them.

It really isn’t any different than when the GOP went ape over President Clinton “protecting” 1.7 million acres of land in Utah back in 1996. They claimed he did it for politics not the environment. See this article: Federal land grab called ‘political’

It is just more proof that the GOP lies when they claim they are for less government. They are for less government unless it is to protect the special status of a particular religious sect.

I am reminded of an article I posted last year that likened this need for religious symbols on public property as a show of power to the non-believer or anyone not of the same faith. I quoted Marvin E. Frankel, a retired U S Federal District Court judge, and do so again here:

The symbols make a statement-not of religious faith. They are not needed for that. They assert simply and starkly, as I’ve said, POWER OVER the nonbelievers…. In the course of that proceeding, one of the sponsors of the creche was asked about his interest in viewing it while it stood on Scarsdale’s Boniface Circle during the Christmas season. To my surprise as the questioner, it turned out that he never bothered to go look at the creche at all, let alone to admire or draw inspiration from it. But on reflection that should not have been so surprising. The creche was not there for him to see or appreciate for its intrinsic spiritual value in his religious universe. It was there for others, who professed other religions or none, so that the clout of his religious group should be made manifest-above all to any in the sharply divided village who would have preferred that it not be there: This is the low road., followed by at least a good number of those who seek for. their religion and its symbols the imprimatur of government. If it is religious at all, this stance betokens a weak and self-doubting species of faith.

Faith and Freedom, Religiosity in America (quote can be found here: http://candst.tripod.com/leland10.htm)

The only thing that is keeping me from putting my head in an oven is knowing that lawyer for the plaintiff in the cross case, Jim McElroy, said they would file suit in Federal court to block the new law.

But the legal fight that began in 1989 when an atheist veteran sued San Diego over the cross is not over. Philip Paulson’s attorney, Jim McElroy, said he filed papers in federal court in San Diego last week to void the transfer and declare it unconstitutional.

“I don’t think anybody really thinks the cross is going to remain on Mount Soledad. It’s been 17 years of litigation, and every court, every judge who’s ever looked at it has ruled it’s unconstitutional,” McElroy said.

Federal Government Takes Control of a Huge Cross

Enough is enough San Diego – move the dang cross

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I get complimented on my patience all the time. In fact a friend told me at one time that it was one of my flaws.

However when my patience is tested I tend to snap and today I snapped when I read this article on the net:

By The Associated Press

A legal advocacy center founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson has announced it will enter the legal battle to save a giant cross atop San Diego’s Mount Soledad.

A federal judge last week gave the city of San Diego 90 days to remove the 29-foot-high cross or face $5,000 a day in fines.

The Washington, D.C.-based American Center for Law and Justice said Monday that it will support San Diego’s effort to seek a stay of the judge’s ruling.

“We believe that the city of San Diego has strong legal arguments to ensure that the cross on Mt. Soledad remains in place,” said Jay Sekulow, the center’s chief counsel.

News briefs from San Diego County

The article continued that the Mt Soledad Cross has been the subject of a 17 year court fight started by Philip Paulson.

The city has lost every legal hearing and every scheme to keep the cross has failed. The last attempt to change the result was to have a resolution that was on the local ballot to allow the city to offer the parkland the cross sits on to the National Park Service – the reason being that if the land was under the NPS then the cross would stay. A state judge ruled that ballot initiative was unconstitutional. That ruling is being appealed.

Last week the federal judge didn’t seem impressed.

In his ruling, Thompson said he has spent years hearing arguments over the cross, as have other courts.

“Consistently, every court that has addressed the issue has ruled that the presence of the Latin cross on Mount Soledad, land which is owned by the city of San Diego . . . violates Article I Section 4 of the California Constitution,” he said in his order.

And, he said, two cases that came up at the same time as this one – involving a cross on Mount Helix and a cross on the La Mesa city seal – have long since been resolved.

Judge threatens fine to enforce ’91 ruling

Of course the Mayor doesn’t see the writing on the wall:

The mayor said an appeal would be worth the money, but acknowledged he didn’t know what an appeal would cost the budget-strapped city.

Sanders justified continuing the legal battle despite Aguirre’s advice and the city’s dismal record of fighting it in court because, he said, most San Diegans believe the cross should stay.

“Seventy-five percent of the voters said they thought it was extremely important. I think we need to go to an appeal,” he said.

Just move the dang cross!