The Separation of Church and State may be one of the most deliberately misrepresented and (sadly) misunderstood foundational aspects of our nation today.
All together now: there is a Sistine Chapel-sized difference between the terms “Freedom OF Religion” and “Freedom FROM Religion”. We’ve certainly talked about this subject here before, but further examples of secular intolerance keep popping up with a weed-like persistence. And since they won’t stop, neither will we.
The most recent example is courtesy of the Washington Times:
Atheists are outraged that a Bible sits right next to the mayor’s desk, inside a Pinellas Park City Council chamber, and they’re demanding its removal.
City officials, however, say that’s a no-go. The Bible’s been there for more than 30 years, and laws don’t prohibit its presence, The Blaze reported. The book was an Oct. 19, 1975, gift to council members from the Kiwanis club, and it’s been a traditional fixture ever since.
Freedom From Religion Foundation officials say they don’t care. They sent a letter to city officials, saying the Bible needs to go because it violates the principle of separation of church and state.
“It’s on display. And that certainly is improper,” said president Annie Laurie Gaylor…
This is nothing less than an attempt to have all instances of Christianity closeted off. The Bible has been there for 30 years: has Christianity somehow been imposed upon the citizenry of this town? Are there new laws on the books demanding a 10% tithe to the local parishes, perhaps? Are there Priests listening in on telephone conversations, keeping track of everyone’s sins?
(Ha-ha: of course, that’d be ridiculous. The NSA would never allow the competition…)
But it’s not just religious symbols or texts which are under attack in every corner of the country: it’s even the free expression of thought, and the act of living our faith.
Do you remember this, from February 2013?
Earlier this month, Summer Schreiner, a 15-year-old student at Clearlake Middle School in Cocoa, Fla., was told to change her pro-abstinence t-shirt after officials deemed it “inappropriate.” The teen acquired the shirt, which read, ”Don’t drink and park… accidents cause kids,” at a Christian conference she recently attended.
But the message was apparently too offensive for education officials — so they took action.
“I got through lunch, and on my way back, the assistant principal tells me I need to go to the office and change my shirt,” she told WOFL-TV. ”I was pretty upset. I thought it was silly. It’s not like I was wearing a curse word or something that was promoting violence.”
The school district has doubled-down on its decision to force the young girl to change her shirt, citing a dress code policy that disallows any clothing “which contains sexually explicit or oriented wording.” There is also a restriction on any dress that “infringes on the rights of others.”
“This is not a situation of whether or not the district agrees or disagrees with sexual abstinence among teenagers,” explained Michele Irwin, director of communications for the district. “It’s about the fact there is sexual innuendo on the shirt, and so we believe it violated our dress code policy.”
Now there’s a unique way to look at things: a Christian-based message supporting abstinence is actually just “sexual innuendo”. And these are TEACHERS making this argument? What, is Reading Comprehension only offered as an elective at this school?
With this logic, a shirt saying “Don’t Do Drugs” or “Don’t Drink & Drive” (like the ones handed out in schools from SADD and DARE) could actually be said to be suggestive of drugs and drinking, …correct?
Of course, all this paled in comparison to when we heard about the IRS’ targeting of Conservative groups. Among the many horrifying examples of intimidation was this one, from Alliance Defending Freedom:
Pro-Life Revolution is a Texas-based organization dedicated to helping women in abusive pregnancy situations and presenting the truth about abortion. Like all non-profit organizations, Pro-Life Revolution applied for tax-exempt status in January, 2011. It filled out the necessary paperwork and described the charitable activities it undertook. It expected to receive tax-exempt status with little difficulty.
What it didn’t expect was to be confronted with an IRS bent on silencing its pro-life viewpoint as a condition of obtaining tax-exempt status.
IRS agent Sherry Wan contacted the organization several times requesting more information and telling it on more than one occasion that it must remain “neutral” on the subject of abortion and that it could not “confront” other people with different beliefs on the subject.
At one point, Ania Joseph, President of Pro-Life Revolution recorded a phone call by Agent Wan who told Ania, “You cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else.”
Ania told Agent Wan that simply handing a brochure to a woman was not forcing her religion on them. Agent Wan told her in the phone call, “you have to know your boundaries. You have to know your limits. You have to respect other people’s beliefs.” And lest there be any confusion on the subject, Agent Wan ended the phone call by stating:
“We want you to be aware that, you know, when you conduct religious activities, meanwhile you have to respect other people’s beliefs, other people’s religion.
You cannot use any kind of, you know, confrontation way, or to, or against other groups or devalue other groups, other people’s beliefs. OK?”
There’s much more info on this, along with a video, at the bolded link above.
Thus, a reasonable place to start is to make sure that everyone knows about this mysterious ‘Separation of Church and State’ thing. You know, the one that Liberals always misconstrue as: “if there’s anything even remotely religious near me, I instinctively feel oppressed and offended! Waaah!!”
Dennis Prager brought in John Eastman, Professor of Law at Chapman University, to do a quick video primer on the subject at Dennis’ “Prager University”. It’s well worth a look. More importantly, I’d suggest sharing it with any teenaged kids in your circle of family and friends.
Lord knows: they aren’t being taught any of this in school…