Secular Ban on Religious practices implies "Religious Persecution."

Hello fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,

I include those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. I would like to discuss the problem of the secular society double standard on Religious Freedom. I am sure many of you have watch enough news reports about governments both in the United States and outside the United States have past laws that either ban the use of religious images, education, and restriction on public prayer in schools. We are in a society that wants to take God out of the public picture.

Anyways, I do think the recent activities by the secular government to restrict religious freedom is a double standard. When someone from a public school is a devote “Christian” who wants express her faith but is denied by the school administrator because by some threat from the ALCU. The media or the secular society seem to allow Non-Believers to express but believers cannot.

I brought this topic up for discussion because of these two videos. youtube.com/watch?v=8YkuRNNgP-k&feature=related from Youtube concerning Religious Freedom.

and this Video youtube.com/watch?v=VAdiHqnA4Ac

Anyways, I some questions to ask to those “Non-Believers” out there mainly those who are atheists/gnostics.

  1. If you are so offended by our practices of prayers in the public, are you imposing your own beliefs against us by having the government make laws that ban the use of religious images?

  2. Does not the government allow individuals to practice their faith?

  3. Isn’t the banning of religious education, images, prayers, and other like it, consider religious persecution? The last time I check, the the people who came to the United States escape from other countries from the threat of religious persecution?

Anyways, Non-Christians are also welcome to join this discussion.

i got in trouble for having rosary beads in my wallet and a small picture of the virgin mary in my locker at school

Manny, there is a widespread misunderstanding of the US Constitution & the Bill of Rights and what they say about religion. Unfortunately, more than a few misguided judges are included in the group of those who misunderstand.

The First Amendment was written by people who had experienced first hand, or whose immediate ancestors had experienced, the “state” religions of Europe ~ some countries were Catholic and persecuted those that were not, some countries were Protestant and persecuted those that were not, and everybody persecuted Jews, Muslims, and any non-Christian faith, and OF COURSE they persecuted those who had no faith at all.

The Founders wanted to get away from this, so they put the “establishment” clause in the First Amendment. The Establishment clause basically says that the Government is not going to sponsor or promote ANY religion as the “official” religion of the country. In this way, they sought to avoid the problems of the “state” religions of Europe.

It should be clearly noted that the words “separation of Church and State” do not appear anywhere in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any of the other Amendments adopted afterward.

The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect religion from the power of the government, not the other way around. The First Amendment is not there to protect the GOVERNMENT from any religious practice and it is certainly not there to protect the tiny minority that consider themselves “atheists” from ever having to witness someone else practicing their religion.

Something else needs to be said here. The Bill of Rights is very clear that the Government’s job is to PROTECT the rights of the citizens as enumerated. The Government did not GIVE the people these rights, the Government merely has the obligation to see to it that these rights are PROTECTED. This is a very important distinction. If the GOVERNMENT gave the people these rights, then the Government can take them away. But the Government is not allowed by law to do that. Since the Government DID NOT give us these rights, but has the obligation to protect the citizens from any violation of these rights, the Government has a very specific, but very limited role.

In answer to your first question Manny, yes, any denial to those of us to practice our religion IN ANY WAY is not only an imposition of someone else’s views, it is a violation of the First Amendment. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution does not PROTECT those who have no faith from having to view, hear, or otherwise be aware of those who do practice their faith.

Having said all that, and despite the fact that the Atheist activists in this country have made significant inroads and have, as a result, eroded the plain meaning of the First Amendment, we are still luckier than many countries. There are many places where any religious expression results in a denial of many important things ~ eduction, for example. This is just wrong.

To answer Manny’s questions precisely ~

  1. Yes, the imposition of secular views on religious people is, essentially, the imposition of another, secular, religion. As such, it is a violation of the First Amendment and is illegal.
  2. The government doesn’t precisely “allow” the practice of any faith. The government is not permitted to interfere with the practice of any faith. That may be a subtle, but still important, distinction.
  3. The government cannot and should not promote any particular faith as a “state” religion. That does not abridge the rights of anyone to practice their religion as they wish. As such, it is probably not the purview of government to, for example, CONDUCT school prayer ~ as that could be interpreted as favoring one faith over another. But neither is it the role of government to ban discussion of religion or faith. This last point is a more troublesome area and vague generalities are unsuited to productive dialog.

What?!? :eek: What sort of trouble? and by whom?!

Manny, I completely agree with you. Completely! And now because of what Rosary Guy posted I really want to put my Mary prayer card in my locker. I now carry a Rosary in my pocket every day… Never even dreamed of THAT kind of persecution.

Rosary guy, did you say, No, I won’t take it down! What did they do??

Under this new policy of government allowance of Religious ritual, will it allow for a minimum of thirty minutes for Buddhist students to meditate?

If it is taught, will kids receive lessons on the Dhamma of Sidatta Gotama as well? Or the Theology of Islam? Or the workings of LaVeyan Satanism?

If teachers are allowed religious items, can a Buddhist put a statue in the classroom, or a Muslim use calligraphy on the walls?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress ,emphasis mine, is key. States can do whatever they want it is true most (all?) have the same protections in their Constitutions and in fact almost every county in their ordinances. But if say ,Florida, wanted to make the Roman Catholic Church the official state faith they can. Its a common flaw in thinking the language is clear its plain English if a school has people praying or handing out Bibles the Constitution has nothing to say about that unless Congress tries to do so.

Same for Free Speech that is also under the same rules Congress not the States but again that is covered at the State level in most (all?) cases.

Unless there is something you are not telling us, your school is way out of line on this one.

The Supreme Court has held that student initiated prayers on student time and student expression of religious belief is protected under freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

I would see a lawyer on that one. Seriously I would. Your school has violated your Constitutional rights as upheld by our Supreme Court.

I underline my emphasis. The US Government cannot do one or the other. A government have to do both.

The government to me seem to be practicing the Constitutional Right of the “establishment of religion.” At the same time, they don’t seem to support the “prohibiting of free exercise thereof.”

The Government should be able to do both. I fully agree that the government cannot establish an official religion like making Christianity, Islam, or any religion as their official state religion. The practice of public school prayer is not the Proclamation of government of making any religion the “religion of the state.” It is merely a public prayer based on the person’s own religious belief. A non-believer have the right not to take part in any public prayer because it is not his belief. However, he does not have the right to IMPOSE his own beliefs from those who believe in a God or any other deity. That is forcing his OWN ATHEISTIC beliefs against those who are believers.

There must be a balance in this issue. I have taken US. Government Courses in College and I am well aware what is written in the U.S. Constitution. It is true that the Founding Fathers were not Christians but Free Masons, they did held moral ideals of basic Christian moral teachings. They may not believe in a “Christian God” but the belief of the rights of people against oppression is consider to be a Christian value.

This is not persecution. To call it that, cheapens the atrocious sufferings of a great number of Christians,past and present. :frowning: The Ugandan Martyrs were persecuted - this is not remotely comparable to what they went through. When bishops are strung up for their fidelity to their calling, & priests are shot, crucified, burned to death by a mob or thrown in a filthy prison to rot, then you will have persecution. This ain’t it - this is well-off, comfortable, prosperous Christians raising Cain over matters which may well be grounds for justified complaint, but are as nothing to persecution for the sake of religion.

To be inconvenienced, or be treated unfairly, are not persecution. You’re not forbidden to frequent the Sacraments - not like the English & Welsh Martyrs, for many of whom that was a capital offence. Sorry, but I don’t believe anyone on these boards is fit to be compared with them; the very idea is indecent.

Manny, When our elected officials come to Washington, D.C., they take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution.

From what you are writing, some people elected to those offices, are not doing their job. They need to be held accountable and, if they refuse to be accountable, they need to be voted out of office, in favor of someone who be WILL BE accountable to the people. That’s what democracy is all about.

Unfortunately, a lot of us have let our responsibility languish. We have been lazy, we have naively believed that everything is OK. It’s NOT OK. We need to wake up and pay attention. While we have been lazy, people have been running crazy!

…governments both in the United States and outside the United States have past laws that either ban the use of religious images, education, and restriction on public prayer in schools. We are in a society that wants to take God out of the public picture.

To be more specific, in the US the government is not permitted to endorse any one religion over another, nor to prefer religiosity over irreligiosity. Thus, any institution that can be understood as speaking for the government is prohibited from endorsing any religion.

Prayer in schools, for instance, is specifically allowed in the US, as long as it isn’t organized or led by the school authorities. This is entirely proper.

1. If you are so offended by our practices of prayers in the public, are you imposing your own beliefs against us by having the government make laws that ban the use of religious images?

Please remember that atheists and agnostics are not the main issue. The biggest issue is that the majority religion in the US (Christianity) not be permitted to act as if it is “the religion of the US”. The US is prohibited by our constitution from ‘having’ a religion. Citizens are free to follow any religion, or none, and to express those beliefs in schools, congress, anywhere else, except when such expression might be mistaken for a government endorsement of a specific religion, such as Christianity.

2. Does not the government allow individuals to practice their faith?

In fact the US government is prohibited from preventing individuals from practicing their faith. The tension between personal expression and government endorsement is what keeps producing court cases. When is a judge’s Christian belief at risk of looking like Christians will get special treatment in his courtroom, or, worse, that non-Christians won’t get equal fairness? If I worship Ganesh the Hindu deity, what would my impression be when I come into a courtroom and find that image of a guy hanging tortured on a cross? Does it create an impression of prejudice? The impression is bad enough to require prohibition of the image, in my opinion.

3. Isn’t the banning of religious education, images, prayers, and other like it, consider religious persecution? The last time I check, the the people who came to the United States escape from other countries from the threat of religious persecution?

No, it is not. Not in a government setting. The government is prohibited from acknowledging any specific religion as ‘true’ or ‘valid’. When an individual acts as or for the government, they are also prohibited from making their religion part of that action.

As a non-Christian, I am pleased that in the US I cannot be stopped from worshipping my Gods. I am also pleased that the government may not make me get my driver’s license, court decrees or education under the symbols of a religion not my own.

Congress ,emphasis mine, is key. States can do whatever they want it is true most (all?) have the same protections in their Constitutions and in fact almost every county in their ordinances. But if say ,Florida, wanted to make the Roman Catholic Church the official state faith they can.

Actually, later amendments and laws prohibited the individual states from having an established religion.

And “religious test” at the time the Constitution was written, meant receiving Communion in a particular Church.

Washington himself refused to do so, much to Martha’s sorrow.

I do not believe the government restriciting displays of religious devotion in the public/government setting implies “religious persecution.”

If by practicing one’s religion means requiring government/public involvement in religious ritual or providing a venue in a public or government setting that requires all participants in any government function to participate in the religious ritual, NO, it is not religious persecution, it is separation of “church and state”…IF however the government requires people to conduct themselves in oposition to one’s religious beliefs with penalties incured should one exercise one’s beliefs…Yes, it is a form of persecution.

Example,

If a religious group wishes to force prayer in the public sector upon those who do not share those beliefs…it is not persecution…if the government penalizes private gatherings where like minded people can perform those rites and rituals it is a form of persecution.

As a Friend, the only “religious duty” required of me is to “answer that of God” in those I meet and “tread gently upon the earth” and to “mind the Light”. If I wish to sit in Holy Silence before the Light, no one should object UNLESS I require government enforced participation upon those present who do not share my beliefs. As a Quaker, I do not need a building…or alter…or book…or priest…or minister to fulfill my religous obligations…for my obligations are centered not in such things…but in the Light which indwells each and every person I meet.

My faith is not one of rites and rituals…but centered in others…my hand moves in the “sign of faith” not in making the sign of the cross, but in offering a loving touch…or a cup of water offered to one thirsty…my creed is found in the conduct of my life…not in my words. There is no religious restrictions against treating others with dignity and compassion…if my “religious beliefs” restrict the free exercise of another’s faith or restricts them the dignity of self determination…then I should be “persecuted”…

I see some problems here in Tampa and Saint Petersburg street preachers have had major problems at times. I don’t approve of them being so caustic and if one takes out proper legal restrictions. No amplified speaker devices or banners they have harassed just talking and handing out tracts to people if the party would be offended. Last time I looked being offended is not a just reason to restrict speech in the US unless the words promote violence or the like. And there are other restirctions if they would gravely violate the Constitution like polygamy or child marriage if a faith technically allowed them.

But I do feel not taxing churches is supporting them by giving them more money and the resources to promote their faith. And limits our free speech as clergy I for example if I was tax exempt in my ministry I could not speak out for or against a political candidate why should I do that? If I wanted to I don’t but I don’t the restrictions that are in place by taking the exemption.

I see you’re from New Jersey. No wonder. :smiley:

Just kidding. I agree with Nottosmart that this needs the services of a lawyer. It is religious oppression, and depending on the “trouble” you got in, possibly religious persecution. It needs to be stopped!

Jon

I have long planned for my graduation speech to include a prayer or the like… another guy a few years back from my church wrote his speech with religious elements in it, and they proofed it and told him to take it out. But he said it anyway, and nothing happened.

I would personally love to see what would happen if I had a short prayer at the end of my speech. Maybe they would drag me off the stage? :rolleyes: no way…

Also like somebody mentioned before the way there’s two clauses in the first amendment leaves vast room for interpretation, especially by the corrupt. I wouldn’t have so much faith in the government and its laws because their interpretation has already led us into abortion and we’re heading for much more. I mean, “the right to Life, Liberty…” seems clear enough to me, but nooooo. We just can’t rely on the laws to save us because they haven’t always in the past. Some county in Florida has gotten intensely involved in a prayer at a school event court case, and a few objections have caused a landslide in a place where everybody’s a Christian, which our laws uphold.

Religious freedom means everybody may follow or not follow the religion he wants to. It does not befit the government to intervene. If a school offers education in Islam, pupils have to pray to Allah in school then something goes wrong. Now cut Islam and paste Christianity.
Banning each and every religous image in public areas belonging to the state (!) is actually religous freedom at its best, because the state does not influence you in a certain way.
How would you feel when a classroom in which your children learn was filled with Hinduistic imagery or statues of Greek gods? Would you agree to ban those?

I agree to a certain extent. Examine this, if you have an institution that was christian, say such as a monestary and then it was made into a public college; now the monestary is an historical building with a steeple and a cross on the top of it. It came across some students to charge the school with the removal of this cross as it was not representative of their faith; some say they even found it offensive. The school refused and were taken to court. Eventually the court allowed the cross to remain saying that it was part of the historical building and should be preserved.

Now take a moment and imagine if you were to go to India and demand that they remove all hindu images from their public building; or go to Israel and demand that they remove all references to their jewish faith; or go to Palestine and remove from any public building anything that resembles to profess their faith.

The question here is where is the fine line between equality and prejudice?

Actually I don’t imagine to go to foreign countries and tell people there what to do. I’d rather stay in my own and see to it that things are done properly over here first. (In accordance with Lk 6,42 :wink: )
To be honest I don’t care much about crosses at classroom walls or hajibs on teachers’ heads, I rather care about children forced to go to a service, forced to learn religious opinions as if they were objective truths, forced to pray and forced to worship.
But then I don’t live in the USA but in Germany, where the separation between state and religion is a joke. Where the big churches charge taxes collected by our version of the IRS, where religious education in public schools is part of the constitution, where you get fined when you have a BBQ or dance publicly on Good Friday, where blasphemy is a crime, if enough people are willing to start riot over it, …

I can see the picture you are painting; I thought Germany was a free country? Are you referring to a church denomination in particular?
I too don’t live in the USA but where I come from you can lose your job, or be brought to court for believing in something and practising it in public institutions; mind you in our homes we are free to practice; but since when did it infringe on other people’s rights if let us say that I would pray in a classroom or an office. Shouldn’t we have a choice? Each one according to his/her beliefs? Sharing in the diversities rather than minimizing those beliefs? There has been abuse on both sides of the spectrum but we shouldn’t lose sight of the truth.

God Bless

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