September 17, 2006

Favoring the Non-Participatory

Justin Katz

If one presses, as in the comments to a post by Don Hawthorne, it is possible to get a straightforward answer. Writes Bobby Oliveira of the Constitutional requirement that religion be banned from the public sphere:

Since everyone will not choose to participate, based on belief systems, you cannot allow some belief system to obtain an advantage because they choose to participate. Therefore, no one gets to participate.

The first thing to note, given timing, is that Bobby has provided a particularly apt bit of evidence for my suggestion in the previous post that liberal demands are increasingly exposing themselves as tyranny. Somehow, in the metamorphosis of the "living Constitution," the mandate for "free exercise of religion" and "freedom of speech" transforms into a requirement that nobody is free to express their religious beliefs in the hopes of affecting the public sphere. Call it "the tyranny of the non-participatory."

The second thing to note, related to the first, is the impossible mind bending that such post hoc legal reasoning as Bobby's requires of those who know better than the authors of the Constitution how to constitute a country. After all, isn't it possible that some groups benefit from universal non-participation of religion in the public debate? I'm thinking, for instance, of those whose religion, such as it is, nigh upon requires them to pollute public airwaves and the entire culture with pornography and graphic violence. For another instance, consider those who speak as if they've a positive right to federal funds for morally questionable research. Why is it appropriate to give them an advantage in the government sector?

The answer is that it is not. Thus rationalize those who would bind their inconveniently disagreeable, and incompatibly religious, fellow citizens.

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this is the same Mayor Laffey

Yes, Bob. This is why some of us are fans. Because public employee unions and Democrat insiders are not.

As for the public square. Let us suppose I am the only Catholic in a town. I am invited in December to put a Christmas display in the public square. For whatever reason, I choose not to that year.

How am I or how is my religion threatened or diminished if people of other faiths or denominations accept the invitation?

Posted by: SusanD at September 17, 2006 10:01 PM

Dear SusanD,

Very good question. Fortunately, like of these things, it's been answered before.

1.) Whether you have or not doesn't matter because the Religion you choose could decide to participate. We're worried about the folks who are either in secret, somewhat how Catholicism started, who just won't participate.

2.) How do you know with certainty that every religion has been asked to participate? You assume so because as a main stream sect, you were. However, the guy who worships Kelly Clarkson as a demi-goddess was not. He's too embarassed to tell the world that he thinks she is the messiah. However, he was left out, his religion is valid, and therefore demeaned.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 17, 2006 10:07 PM

1.) Why are we worried about them if they are in secret or chosing not to participate? There are lots of things going on in secret right now; most are not religious. And most of the bad things that happened in history did not start from secret religious practices or plotting.

2.) Humor me and stipulate that word got out - and it would be hard for it not to - that the displays of all religions are welcome.

Further, that the reticence and insecurity of the Kelly Clarkson guy keeps him off guest lists cannot be a factor in the formulation of this policy.

Posted by: SusanD at September 17, 2006 10:29 PM

"However, the guy who worships Kelly Clarkson as a demi-goddess was not. He's too embarassed to tell the world that he thinks she is the messiah. However, he was left out, his religion is valid, and therefore demeaned."

Ladies and gentlemen, we have here a perfect example of how liberalism rots your mind.

"...his religion is valid..."

This statement is absurd on its face. Nothing further need be said to amplify that. However abundantly clear it is to the rest of us, Bobby and liberals like him will have no idea why we're all laughing hysterically at this accidental peek behind the veil of the liberal mind.

Posted by: Greg at September 17, 2006 11:06 PM

Dear Greg,

For the record, we believe that our Saviour is a carpenter from a land that no longer exists controlled by an invading government that dissapeared 1800 years ago. Without Constantine, Christianity might have dissapeared. You did not get to arbitrate what religions count and which ones don't.

In short, how is his religion not valid?

We all believe in a place, Heaven, we can't find, inhabited by a being, God, we can't see. When it comes to making law, you cannot substitute faith for reason. I let the Islamo-Fascists do that.


1.)We are worried about them because they are created equally and have rights. Just because they are not the flavor of the month, some 15,000 or so recorded years of human history and only 14% includes Christianity, does not mean they lose out.

2.) The reticence and insecurity of the Kelly Clarkson individual is exactly why we must protect his rights. (Please realize that your current argument was once used in order to keep women from voting.)

To Justin's opening post,

the only tyrrany is to suggest that know what is best for all. Especially when it can be argued that what you believe is based on myth and superstition. My faith is strong enough that it can be challenged in this way, sobriety will do that, and it does not bother me. What kind of faith do you have if you need government to prop it up?

Sorry Justin, I'm not changing medical science over myth and superstition.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 18, 2006 12:04 AM

Sorry, we do not have to suspend use of our brains and pretend to believe that the religions that the vast super-majority of the USA believes in (which are mainly of a Judeo-Christian derivation) are of "equal" value or worth to those you've just made up in the last 24 hours based on certain reality TV "stars." I don't know what if any religion you practice, but by cavalierly trying to equate them, you are (probably unintentionally) attempting to mock or degrade the value of our own beliefs.

Secondly, I'm not worried about "those who do not participate" anymore than I am worried about people who don't vote. If you choose not to participate, that is your fault, not ours -- and we shouldn't be penalized for your lack of civic participation.

Unlike liberals, I take the "Establishment Clause" of the US Constitution at face value, based on what the writers of it actually intended the words of it to mean: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF" (capitals added).

Allowing private organizations the ability to organize displays of a religious nature, is not only not a "bad thing," but I think it should be highly encouraged. We need more religion and religious values in the public square, not less. "Establishment of religion" refers to a prohibition of the "establishment" of a specific government sanctioned church. It was not intended to silence the religous beliefs of the vast majority of Americans. Our nation's founders rightly believed that religous values were something "good" that were worthy of government protection -- because one good sign of a tyranny is the attempt to restrict religious speech. Religious speech not only deserves protection, it actually deserves an extra level of protection, because that protection is specifically indicated by the wording of the Constitution itself ("Congress shall make no law ... PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF")

Posted by: Will at September 18, 2006 12:55 AM

Professing to "know what is best for all" is only incidental to a certain approach to tyranny. Tyranny, per se, is marked by oppression, regardless of how its practitioners rationalize their actions.

Unmeritted jibes about the strength of faith are irrelevant. Many of us believe that religion ought to have a stronger role in our government and society in a manner that I've explained to you in recent comment sections — not an exclusionary, but an informative, role. We believe that it is not the job of government to determine which sources of policy preference and motivation are valid — indeed, attempting to do so indicates precisely the brand of tyranny that you cite and effects precisely the brand of establishment that you fear.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 18, 2006 6:12 AM

Keep digging, Bobby. You're rapidly reaching the bottom of the "Kook Fringe" barrel.

Oh, does the "Church of Kelly Clarkson" get tax exempt status?

Posted by: Greg at September 18, 2006 7:10 AM

The Left's desire to impose their world view is never illustrated better than when the "wall of separation" argument is injected into First Amendment discussions. This phrase, lifted from a private letter of Jefferson, has been utilized in Big Lie fashion so well that many people think it appears in the Constitution. Well done Bobby, your side - in conjunction with public education - has done well in the propaganda war against Judeo-Christianity.
That "liberal" public schools have been found to be Constitutionally protected when they decide to put children on prayer rugs and pray the Islamic conversion prayer as a Social Studies assignment shows the blatant and utter hypocrisy of the social engineers. This isn't about religion, just Judeo-Christianity, and the moral superiority of the "underdog" no matter who or how vile. The Left's push for dhimmitude - witness the anti-war lemmings marching with Hezbollah agitators - will likely create a dissonance that they will not recover from.
Amen to that, brother.

Posted by: rhodeymark at September 18, 2006 8:53 AM

Let's take these one at a time:


Let's try this one more time: the Founders intended the Constitution to be a living and breathing document. Taking things at face value is not what they wanted as Madison testified before the House Select Committee that delivered the Bill of Rights.

Secondly, I didn't know it was legal to discriminate against Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and others.

The free exercise thereof section refers to the minority, not the majority, as the Court has continually held.


I fully understand and appreciate the point expressed in your second paragraph. I would submit however, that whenever you get away from the scientific method, you tread upon dangerous territory.


I would suggest that you get a hold of the list from the IRS regarding who has tax exempt status and what they believe in. If nothing else, it will be eye opening.


As a practicing Catholic trained by the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the Benedictans and the Jesuits, my issue is not with Christianity. Much like Martin Luther, my issue is with those who would pervert it.

You want vile: Christianity was used as the excuse for killing Native Americans. Christianity was used to justify slavery. Christianity was used to keep women from voting and is currently being used to debny them rights.

It is hard to believe that this is the same Christianity that ensures my sobriety every day. However, it is.

No religion is 100% clean nor 100% dirty. Our faith should be so strong that we able to examine it almost hourly and separate good from bad. This examination technique is much more exciting than doing things with mustard plants.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 18, 2006 11:48 AM

So, under Bobby's world view, the only people who will have free religious freedom of expression will be athiests?

And how is Christianity currently denying women rights, again?

I know how best to solve this cancer on our society. STOP VOTING FOR LIBERALS! One more Supreme Court justice and we can start straightening this crap out. Two more would be better. For that to happen we need Constitutional Conservatives in power.

Posted by: Greg at September 18, 2006 12:16 PM

And how is Christianity currently denying women rights, again?
Well, it is opposed to the secular sacrament of abortion.
Bobby, I would counter that Christianity didn't do these other things, or give cover to them. Men did. That you can describe them as Christians may or not be accurate, but in all things they were human and prone to error and sin. Do you not know that it was also Christians who moved to redress these things? The killing of Native Americans was never sanctioned as a Christian imperitive, as the recorded words of Columbus and the colonists - the first Christians to encounter them - say just the opposite.

Posted by: rhodeymark at September 18, 2006 1:57 PM


No, atheists, when speaking on religion, don't get to put forth their non-deity theory in an improper manner either.

You should also note that throughout history, the side trying to hold on always loses to the side creating more possibility.


It's goes much beyond abortion. Churches have "sanctified" differences in payscales, criticized women for attempting to enter the workforce and overall been an obstacle to female participation in just about everything.

The recorded words I find most interesting are just two: manifest destiny.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 18, 2006 2:03 PM

"No, atheists, when speaking on religion, don't get to put forth their non-deity theory in an improper manner either."

Please define 'improper manner'.

And one other question. Have you ever won an argument that didn't end in your adversary throwing their hands in the air and saying "I give up, it's like talking to my dog!"?

Posted by: Greg at September 18, 2006 2:16 PM

Dear Greg,

You must do that a lot. I hold the same position that the Court has held, in whole or in part, since 1923. Even major GOP strategists fear the world you'd like to bring about. But that's ok.

The people who really annony on this board are not the people who disagree with me; that's what's make horse races. Maybe sometime I'll list a few (right Rino Cooke?)

My "religous advocacy test" is not complete, but it starting to take shape:

1.) The acivity must be religous and not historical or traditional in manner.

2.) The activity must have some sponsorship by the state. Free speech by the individual must be protected until that point.

3.) The activity must be aimed at an enumeration beyond "few". Personal conversations do not count.

4.) The activity must have a lasting time element. For instance, a major bill is being decided in the Assembly. A few members go off to pray on the bill in a public building. This must be allowed.

5.) The activity must give advance to or demean another faith, belief system, religion, or other organization dedicated to the origins and or endings of life (I think that gets everybody)

I may add more, but to create an establishment, they must satisfy those 5 at the least.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 18, 2006 2:29 PM

So how does the valedictorian of a high school class thanking Jesus in her speech violate your terms there?

And if it doesn't violate those terms, why was her microphone cut off during her speech?

Posted by: Greg at September 18, 2006 2:42 PM

Dear Greg,

In my view, it shouldn't have been.

A Principal might have been a different issue. However, most folks know that the valedictorian does not speak for the school.

We have becomes so litigous in this society, on all sides, that we have forgotten how to express disagreement. Instead, we make sure nothing happens. (This passive-aggressive approach is different than protecting the rights of the minority.) No fault divorces come from this same odd tree.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 18, 2006 9:37 PM