Conventional collectivist created authority is a deception in consciousness. You are your own Authority!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Our Municipal Father in Heaven, Part 2

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
“You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.”
I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
“I was offended by that. I really was.”
(From the New York News & Politics Interview: In Conversation: Antonin Scalia)

So Justice Antonin Scalia, a devout Catholic Christian deciding cases on the United States Supreme Court, was mightily offended by a non-believer expressing mild surprise about his religious beliefs.

It just goes to show us how easily people’s tender sensibilities can become offended when it comes to matters of religion, even in a private setting, and, of course, that much more so in a government context when the government is actually promoting religion.

If I were a devout Christian, (like Justice Scalia and the vast majority of my fellow Americans), one who fervently believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, that He is God, was born of a virgin, sent by God the Father as the only savior of mankind from eternal damnation, crucified as the ultimate sacrifice to atone for our sins, resurrected from death and ascended into heaven, I would likewise be offended if my municipal government sponsored religious prayers at town meetings which were not Christian prayers.

If I were like most Christians in America, I would welcome government sponsorship, promotion and support of monotheistic religion in general and Christianity in particular. But -- I would take particular offense to any government sponsored prayer that failed at a minimum to recognize Jesus Christ as God. If I were a Catholic, I might be offended by Protestant style prayers. If I were a Protestant, Catholic prayers might offend me.

Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Wiccan or Mormon prayers would definitely offend my religious sensibilities even though I know that many of those folks probably believe in the same God I do.  I would think that the government has no business promoting those kinds of religions because doing so plainly violates the First Amendment Establishment Clause. 

Moreover, I’d be profoundly offended, enraged to put it mildly, if the town mayor invited an atheist to deliver a government sponsored invocation which called upon those in attendance to stand, bow their heads, and give thanks for the fact that all gods are imaginary and therefore we must steadfastly rely upon logic and reason alone to guide our important government decisions.

Well, of course, anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m not a Christian; they know that I’m a fierce defender of the Establishment Clause because I’m convinced that government is public and religion is private therefore neither should be allowed to interfere with the other. There must be judicially enforced separation between Church and State for the proper constitutional protection of both.

Unfortunately our United States Supreme Court doesn’t quite see it that way. In 1983 it held, for example, (6-3) as a matter of historical context that it is perfectly proper, and not violative of the Establishment Clause, for a state legislature to hire a Christian chaplain at taxpayer expense whose job is to conduct sectarian Christian prayers at every opening session of that government body.

The United States Congress has been doing exactly the same thing for well over 200 years now reasoned the majority. The very first Congress that made the Establishment Clause the law of the land promptly hired a Christian chaplain to conduct sectarian Christian prayers at legislative sessions. Apparently no one was offended by that then so the practice continues to this day with the explicit sanction of the highest court in the land.

We all know, however, that the First Amendment Establishment Clause is hardly the only provision in the Bill of Rights that Congress and the government have been violating repeatedly from day one.

The Fifth Amendment, for instance, supposedly guarantees equal protection of the law and that no person shall be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law. Tell that to the slaves and the blacks who didn’t fully own and enjoy the rights to equal protection and due process until more than 150 years after the Bill of Rights became law and nearly 70 years after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified.

In Part 1 of this essay, Our Municipal Father in Heaven, I boldly predicted citing several compelling reasons why the five current Christian Catholic Justices on SCOTUS will once again throw the Establishment Clause under the constitutional bus for the purpose of sanctioning government sponsored sectarian Christian prayers at the municipal level of American government.

I’ve just now read the transcript of oral arguments before the court in the current case. As a libertarian and defender of the First Amendment it offers me no reason for optimism. SCOTUS is probably going to use the same reasoning above – 5 to 4 this time I predict -- to stamp its judicial seal of approval for government sponsored Christian prayers at municipal sessions.

After all, the President of the United States, Congress, and prominent members of both major American political parties have each filed legal briefs with the Court formally requesting SCOTUS to sanction municipal government Christian prayers.

Of course they have. They represent the vast majority of Christians who want the government to support, promote and sponsor their religion. They don’t give a damn about the minorities which the Constitution was written to protect. All they care about is placating their constituents.

Even the lawyer who argued my side of the case, to my utter astonishment, caved in almost completely conceding that government sponsored prayer is permissible – “as long as the prayers aren’t overly sectarian in nature” – he lamely argued.

Too bad though that the conservative Justices plainly indicated that they aren’t especially inclined to involve themselves in the business of censoring or determining the content of government prayers.

This lawyer even went so far as to concede that the Court can ignore the sensibilities of non-believers or pantheistic believers when fashioning their rationale allowing government sponsored prayers.

Yes, the Court understands and will perhaps try to formulate a decision allowing government sponsored prayers which might mitigate any potential offence to Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and other monotheists, but a substantial non-believer minority in America will be forced to endure a clear violation of their constitutional First Amendment rights in perpetuity.

That’s because, in spite of the Establishment Clause, we Americans have an establishment of monotheistic religion and an official government God in America. He’s engraved on all of our coins, our currency, in our national motto and pledge of allegiance.

Our elected government officials, bureaucrats, agents and employees at every level of government bow their heads in prayer to this God every day and ask us all to do the same during the performance of government functions. They don’t care who is offended or whether anyone has a right to be offended.

Justice Scalia can be offended but atheists cannot. As far as he and his SCOTUS are concerned we are all, believers and non-believers alike, expected to bow our collective heads and pray to our government God: Our Municipal Father in Heaven. 

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