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Maybe it Works Better in German

A text-only box written in mock-German demands that people leave the First Amendment alone.

You’d think the reasons would be obvious, but maybe a warning in a severe font will encourage meddling Christians to respect the First Amendment.

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Rick Townsend

    Very cute poster! Finally something we can agree on! The First Amendment states,

    “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.”

    So please tell us—your tag line is pretty serious. Let us know where Christians are making CONGRESS violate the first amendment? It restricts their activity, after all. I’d even like to know what mainstream Christian group leader is advocating that they do so? (I’m sure we can agree that only mainstream groups representing at least 0.3% or 1 million or so US citizens is worth getting our dander up here, of course.) So where is that dastardly Christian group you allude to so we can sign up to fight this atrocious attempt to restrict liberty? (I won’t bother to respond unless you can show us the danger here, as I don’t want to muddy the waters by trifling with insignificant challenges.)

    Fight on, noble warrior! We will follow your leadership in this just cause!!

    • Retro

      Let us know where Christians are making CONGRESS violate the first amendment? It restricts their activity, after all.

      I was thinking our national motto should be changed to “In Allah we trust”.

      I was also thinking that states should enact a law requiring all homeland security documents to recognize humanity’s dependence on Allah.

      I also think states should have in their Constitution a clause that reads: “No person who denies the being of Allah shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.”

      What’s your opinion about this Rick?

      • Rick Townsend

        My opinion on this is that you are describing most of the Muslim nations of the Middle East. No one in the Christian arena is suggesting this. So I am sure you will shift to where the real danger is, radical Islam. They want to impose Shariah law on you, so there is a real and present danger. But the dangers you fear are imposed by Muslims and atheists, not Christians. Let me know how that new agenda works out for you.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          My opinion on this is that you are describing most of the Muslim nations of the Middle East. No one in the Christian arena is suggesting this.

          Muslims made Muslim mottos in the Middle East and Christians made Christian mottos in this country. Looks pretty symmetric to me.

          They want to impose Shariah law on you

          And if you don’t like that idea, let’s keep reinforcing that wall of separation between church and state. I’m sure we’re both happy with Muslims practicing their religion in peace but would get substantial heartburn if they started imposing their religious views on the rest of us through the government. Let’s not give them any ideas by making sure that we eliminate the overlap we have in this country–National Day of Prayer, “In God We Trust,” faith-based initiatives, and so on.

        • Retro

          No one in the Christian arena is suggesting this.

          All I did was take some CURRENTLY existing laws here in the USA, and replaced the word “God” with the word “Allah”

          Whether or not they are being enforced, eight states still have language requiring a belief in God in order to take public office.

          Arkansas: “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.” (Constitution, Article 19, Section 1)

          The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security RECENTLY enacted a state law requiring all homeland security documents to recognize humanity’s dependence on Almighty God. It is also required by law to prominently display a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center that states the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God .

          So this leads to the question: Is this “Almighty God” the same as the Christian God? Also, is the Christian God the same God as Allah?

          If it is the same God, then Christians shouldn’t have any problem with replacing “Almighty God” with “Allah”.

          If it’s not the same God, then the US government is recognizing one religion over another.

          (Just a thought: Since Governor Rick Perry’s State sanctioned 3 day prayer for rain in Texas resulted in massive wildfires, maybe Kentucky should consider asking Almighty God to NOT protect their state.)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Retro:

          It is also required by law to prominently display a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center that states the safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God .

          They make Christianity sound like any primitive religion. We need talismans and spells to make sure that we have protective magic?

          Are we in the 21st century or the 12th?

        • Retro

          They make Christianity sound like any primitive religion. We need talismans and spells to make sure that we have protective magic?

          Are we in the 21st century or the 12th?

          When you stop everything and take a moment to quietly think about it, there’s really no other conclusion one can come to.

          Many Christians today know about the persecution of the early Christians in the Roman Empire. Many of these early Christians were called “atheists” and were persecuted for not acknowledging the Roman gods.

          Some choose to be martyred rather than to simply offer a pinch of incense to the Roman gods for the safety of the empire.

          Many Christians today know this and admire these early Christian martyrs, but then become perplexed or upset when non-believers today won’t conform by acknowledging their God for the safety of the USA.

          Shouldn’t we have learned from history by now NOT to mix religion and government???

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Rick T:

      You know the list as well as I do.

      We’re in an election year, and what’s the top issue for the GOP hopefuls? How pious they are. What they think God thinks about how the country is going. They detest big government … unless it helps them control people’s sex lives, in which case it’s two thumbs up.

      Which is weird, since Article VI prohibits any test for public office. Of course, the citizen can use whatever test he wants, including the outcome of a coin toss, and the GOP has done a bizarrely remarkable job of convincing the public that religion is actually an essential metric in judging presidential timber.

      As you know, Congress isn’t the issue; it’s government. I think it’s the 14th Amendment (1868) that made this change.

      You’ve got Pulpit Freedom Sunday, where pastors are encouraged to ignore the contract they have with the American citizens and get political.

      You’ve got school districts eager to find some crack in the restriction against teaching Christianity in science class.

      You’ve got the National Day of Prayer, faith-based initiatives, religiously driven prohibitions on stem-cell research–that sort of thing.

      Hey–didja hear that Roy Moore, that nut who got fired over his refusal to remove the 10 Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building, is agitating to get reinstated?

      And yeah, I like “In Allah We Trust.” It represents me just as well as the one we’ve got. Maybe we can mix it up a bit and throw in homage to other imaginary deities. Y’know–just in case reality is too big a burden to carry.

      • Retro

        Maybe we can mix it up a bit and throw in homage to other imaginary deities. Y’know–just in case reality is too big a burden to carry.

        Good point, why stop at just one? (Technically, the Jewish God is not the same as the Christian’s Trinity, which is not the same as the Islamic God, which is not the same as the Deist’s Creator God.)

        Maybe a better motto would be: “In God the Creator/Almighty, God the Father, God the Son/Jesus, God the Holy Spirit, Allah, YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah/Elohim We Trust”.

        I think that just about covers the big three monotheistic religions and Deism… but you know those damn Pastafarians are trouble makers and will insist on having their FSM in the Motto as well, but I say to hell with them, they’re all broke and have no money… so why should they care what’s on it???

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Tack on “and Whoever” on the end, and you’ve got a deal!

  • Retro

    My bad! You’re absolutely correct, thanks for pointing out my oversight: I’ll change it immediately to include “and Whoever/Whatever”.

    • Retro

      Now that I think about it, we had better take into account that some Christians believe that God the Son/Jesus was begotten while others think that He was made. Also, there are differences in belief about whether the Holy Spirit/Ghost precedes from both God the Father and God the Son/Jesus, or just God the Father and not God the Son/Jesus???

      …and since God the Son/Jesus was also fully human, maybe to be all-inclusive we should include that too, and list Him as “God the Son/Jesus/human”? It’s so hard to tell because Jesus was really two natures in one, but both were distinct… so maybe it should really be “God the Son/Jesus and/or human”???

      So then, I think the revamped, all inclusive US national Motto should be:

      “In God the Creator/Almighty, God the Father, God the Son/Jesus (and/or/both human, begotten and/or/but not made), God the Holy Spirit/Ghost (preceding from God the Father and/or/but not preceding from God the Son/Jesus (and/or/both human), begotten but not made) Allah, YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah/Elohim, and/or (including/but not necessarily excluding) Whoever/Whatever We Trust”.

      That’s pretty clear don’t you think? I think we’ve got all our bases covered now…

      I think we could still fit the Motto on the paper money, but I’m not sure it’ll fit on the coins.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Jesus was really two natures in one, but both were distinct

        Like a Reese’s Cup? Two great tastes that taste great together.

        I was thinking more of a rotating motto, but I think your all-inclusive one does the trick!

        • Retro

          Like a Reese’s Cup?

          Well, Jesus did want His followers to eat His body, didn’t He?

          I was thinking more of a rotating motto, but I think your all-inclusive one does the trick!

          Well thank you Bob! Just wait until you see my new, updated, all-inclusive Pledge of Allegiance!!!

      • RandomFunction2

        To Retro,

        Maybe the motto should just be: “in something cool we trust”.

  • RandomFunction2

    To all,

    As far as I know, the “In God We Trust” part was added during the Cold War because the enemy happened to be atheist communists (but of course not all atheists agreed with them, just remember B. Russell and Ayn Rand). Now that the Cold War is over and that religion is a far more dangerous threat to peace than atheism, there is no longer any rationale for keeping “In God We Trust”.

    (Or maybe I am confused, and what was added was “under God” in the pledge of allegiance…)

    • Bob Seidensticker

      “In God We Trust” became the official motto (E Pluribus Unum was, I believe, the unofficial motto before) in the early ’50s. “Under God” was added to the Pledge at about that time.

      Yeah, I agree. There are no Communists to differentiate ourselves from. Politicians seem to imagine that being Christian is to be patriotic. (I don’t see the connection.)

      • Retro

        Hey Bob S and RF2! You’re both absolutely right.

        “E pluribus unum” was the de facto motto of the United States until 1956. “Under God” was added to the pledge in 1954.

        Here’s an interesting historical tidbit about the Pledge I bet you didn’t know: The original salute used during the Pledge was not the right hand over the heart… the original salute was to snap your heels together and extend the right arm straight out in front of you with the palm facing down… it was changed for obvious reasons in 1942…

        As you both have mentioned, much of what we think of as “American” actually originated in order to differentiate the USA from our enemies in WW2 and the Cold War.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Are you serious about that Nazi salute thing? I never heard that!

        • Retro

          I’m 100% serious, and I had never heard of it before either.

          I tried to post a picture, but it didn’t work. Look up “Bellamy salute” on Wikipedia.

        • Bob Seidensticker

  • RandomFunction2

    To all,

    Another problem is what George Bush senior said about atheists in 1988. I don’t have the exact quote, but he said that whatever atheists said was stupid and that Americans was one nation “under God”.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      This was when George Bush Sr. was campaigning for president in 1987.

      Robert Sherman (for American Atheist journal) said, “Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?” Bush replied, “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        Wow… this is quite unsettling. Good thing that the president does not have all the powers.

  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Bob,

    Do you really speak German???

    (in the last two centuries, many, perhaps most, of the best theologians were German-speakers)

    • Bob Seidensticker

      You might expect that I could speak German, given my last name, but, as you can probably tell from the faux-German in this sign, no.

      As for the German-speaking theologians, I’ve heard Robert Price comment that there’s still quite a bit of great biblical commentary that’s still only in German. With our focus on new works, we might have to wait until effective computer translation before English readers can get their hands on it.

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        Yes. Anything that has to do with ancient history has been thoroughly studied by Germans. This includes classical Greece, the Roman Empire, the Bible and the Near East. A scholar in those areas is at least expected to be able to read in German. If you are not gifted at languages, you cannot become a biblical scholar, for that would require you to learn ancient Hebrew, classical Greek, English, French, and German, with perhaps some familiarity with a few other languages.

        But theology is not the same thing as that. I was thinking of German theologians like Barth, Bultmann, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Rahner, Moltmann, etc…

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