Maybe it Works Better in German

You’d think the reasons would be obvious, but maybe a warning in a severe font will discourage meddling with the First Amendment.

Blind faith is an ironic gift
to return to the Creator of human intelligence.
— Anonymous

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/7/12, which itself was an homage to a mock warning about computers.)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Y. A. Warren

    “”Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order,” Chief Justice Waite wrote in Reynolds v. United States (1878). The U.S. Court found that while laws cannot interfere with religious belief and opinions, laws can be made to regulate some religious practices, e.g., human sacrifices, and the Hindu practice of suttee. The Court stated that to rule otherwise, “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. ”

    This says to me that the laws of the land are to supersede the practice of religion. This should mean that citizens are free from the tyranny of religion, but that is not how the law is being interpreted or enforced. The Abrahamic religions were always tyrannical, but Jesus was supposed to change the monarchical interpretations of scripture. It obviously didn’t take with those calling themselves “Christian.”

    I am tired of those who exempt themselves from the laws of our land because their “god” told them to do so. it is humbug that “Chritians” are being persecuted in the United states; they are simply being brought to account for the hypocrisy of their tactics that persecute those who don’t adhere to their creed and call them on their deeds.

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

      I wonder how such a case would be decided today.

      • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

        March 25 – the Obamacare HHS contraception mandate will be heard by the Supreme Court.

        Y.A. Warren said, “This says to me that the laws of the land are to supersede the practice of religion.” I think these cases qualify as a test of that.

        http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/26/politics/obamacare-court/

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          If they follow the Reynolds precedent, the contraception mandate is valid. Otherwise, shouldn’t Quakers be given an exemption from having to pay taxes that go toward war?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Think also of a Christian Science owner who wanted to deny all healthcare to his employees. (I don’t know if that would be a universal reaction of Christian Scientists, but that’s not the point–one person could say that that’s the way he interprets God’s rules, and that’s enough.)

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Yes, another good example.

        • Y. A. Warren

          It is not only atheists who should fee persecuted BY “Christianity” at this point. The abuses of children and other vulnerable populations that are not open to regular prosecution because of religious status of the abusers is another reason to fight for freedom FROM religion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Agreed. And the fact that governments have come down on such abuses and withdrawn religious exemptions is more precedent for the government insisting that healthcare be provided over religious objections.

        • smrnda

          I think this is a good point. Also, can’t someone just invent a religion and then demand special considerations? I mean, is it the government’s place to decide older religions get preference?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Nicely stated.

    • Rosemary58

      Good points, although I am not sure what Abrahamic religions (pl.) are or were.
      And, yes, Christians are not being persecuted in the U.S. Oddly enough, part of the problem is the support given them by the government. It comes with strings that they don’t like.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        “Abrahamic religions” = religions with Abraham as the founder (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

        Some Christians was the benefits of nonprofit status without fulfilling their end of the bargain (no politics). IMO, Christianity is more like a country club than a charity. Nothing wrong with that, but country club dues aren’t tax deductible.

        • Rosemary58

          Thank you. I thought Warren was referring to something in the OT only.
          Definitely, all religions should not be subsidized by the public taxes. It’s a bad mix.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    You do know that’s pseudo-German, don’t you?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      That was the idea. Do you think that needs to be made clearer?

      • GubbaBumpkin

        It was clear enough to me.

  • Castilliano

    I think it may have backfired.
    It gave me the “Germans (hence, Nazis) took over” vibe, followed by “because we took Christ out of America”.
    It’s strong, but it reads like a state dictum on a propaganda poster to oppress.
    Maybe not the best language to express secularism.
    Just sayin’…

    Swedish?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Interesting.

      This was inspired by a similar computer-focused spoof, so the German was dictated by that. The idea is that, while the initial reaction might be a bit negative, the slightly silly element of the faux German should lighten the mood. At least it did in the original.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        Yeah, I’ve seen the “spitzensparken” version.

    • MNb

      Then take Dutch, the language closest to German. Let me see.

      Aandacht!

      Aan het meddelende volk

      Kontakten met amendement nummer één (1) is verboden. Amerika is géén, herhaal géén Christus-Staat. De Constitutsie is klip en klaar seculeer. Amerikanische grondvaders klip en klaar doen gesproken hebben: Christendom in de Staat Nee.

      Domkoppen! De schijting van Kerk en Staat is beste voor God-mens en voor Seculeer-mens. Kiep koel en kiep je fikken af van de Constitutsie.

      Including a lot of errors, both gramatically and spelling. Alas it’s not clear to me what BobS means with “Alles meddlen Volks”.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        “All meddling folks” (attempts at humor are always dangerous).

        My version had lots of errors. You’re not saying that yours did too, right?

        I understand that Dutch is the modern Germanic language most closely related to English. Perhaps the Angles and Saxons were a common ancestor?

        • MNb

          Thanks! No, I just did not recognize the joke – it’s fun and I edited my “translation”.
          Yes, of course my version had lots of errors too! My German is good enough to recognize most of yours.

          “I understand that Dutch is the modern Germanic language most closely related to English. Perhaps the Angles and Saxons were a common ancestor?”
          I don’t think this is correct. Even today there is no sharp geographic border between German and Dutch. People living near the Dutch-German border perfectly understand each other as long as they speak dialect. The languages form a continuum from the North Sea to the Oder.
          I’d rather say that Frisian (the second language in The Netherlands) is closest to English; to me it sounds like a crossover between English and Danish. It could make sense as the Angles and the Saxons were accompanied by the Jutes and the Frisians when they invaded England in the 5th Century. The Netherlands in that century were largely inhabitated.
          This is a pretty good overview:

          http://www.livius.org/dutchhistory/language.html
          though it should be noted that it is largely written from a Hollandic (ie West-Dutch) point of view. It doesn’t necessarily apply to the border areas.
          As for our descent the Dutch are a side-branch of the nomadic people of the Migration Period. As such we probably originally are closest related to the French; we just happened not to be gallicized, basically because there were no Romans left. That explains why the Dutch-French language border is sharp and has remained stable for 15 Centuries.
          Of course the areas we call The Netherlands since 1839 have received so many immigrants last 15 Centuries or so that the very idea of common descent has become totally meaningless.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Cool. Thanks for the linguistics lesson.

    • Rosemary58

      Hmmm, not sure where the German language is sourced. The U.S. Founders were trying to avoid the tangles between Church and State that were occurring in Europe for many centuries, and they certainly were avoiding a theocracy. In Islamic countries, that has not worked too well.

  • Rick

    Perhaps we should review what the first amendment says.

    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 is the subject here. Again, the noun—subject—actor in this is Congress. In what way have they (Congress) sought to establish a religion? Perhaps you could argue that the judiciary is not covered, so their abridging of free speech of Christians is allowable. That is what we are seeing.

    Give it a rest. You are way out in left field on this first amendment issue. But your tone matches the rhetoric of those who accuse those with differing opinions of being X, Y or Z – deniers. That is intellectual bullying, and it is what goes on here far too often. So perhaps your bold angry font is appropriate.

    • Castilliano

      Perhaps you should review constitutional law.
      From wiki: “This clause (of the 14th amendment) has also been used by the federal judiciary to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states,…”
      And please note what Jefferson wrote in a letter to a Christian denomination worried about political and legal pressure from another Christian denomination. He said they shouldn’t worry because the first amendment has built a wall of separation between church and state. That other denomination would not be able to use their political positions to make laws that aided their power.
      So even at its inception, the 1st amendment was seen to build such a separation, even at the state level.
      Legal precedent has made it operational at every level of government.

      Also, show where the judiciary has abridged Christian free speech.
      Keep in mind, when the law is extricating religion out of government, that does not count. The Christians are still free on their own time & own dime.

      • Rick

        This post is about the first amendment, not whatever may have happened under the 14th. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion…”

        • Castilliano

          The 14th has affected the 1st.
          That effect is relevant, whether you go with the “living document” viewpoint of the Constitution (wherein Constitutional law has shown a clear stance on this) or the “founders’ view” viewpoint of the Constitution (wherein several founders, including Jefferson above, made clear they share that same stance).
          That stance being that government & church should be distinct entities, with no religion favored over any other, no matter the constituency.
          You nitpicking over one word won’t alter the interpretation of those much more fluent in constitutional law, especially those on hand to witness its writing.
          What are arguing on behalf of anyway?
          What rights have you seen taken away? (non-governmental examples only, please)

        • Rick

          The writers of the first amendment almost certainly intended the word to mean the same as it did in the rest of the Constitution (which they had also been a party to drafting.) Nowhere in the Constitution does it suggest that the states as a body were being collectively signified by the term.

          Bob’s use suggests that Christians are pushing their views on government. Such is not the case, but in a more important sense, it is the government pushing religion on the people that is prohibited by the First amendment, not the reverse. People of all sorts of background are expected and encouraged to have their views inform their participation in government. Bob simply has it backwards on the intent, and the inclusion of the 14th amendment into the issue doesn’t change that.

        • Castilliano

          Bob has it both ways as to intent.
          We all agree the government should not push a religion, right?
          But you seem to think that people are free to push religion into government, but can’t you see that in turn pushes that religion through government channels onto others?
          The presence of religion in government is an implicit stamp of approval. One religion should not have more status with the government than another. The government, in order not to push a religion, has to remain neutral to all religions as well as no religion.
          In order for us both to have freedom of religion, we both have to have freedom from others’ religions.

          The 14th may not matter to you (or the founders), but was a major component in the application of the Constitution at all levels.

          And you still haven’t given us any good examples of Christians, outside of a government context, having their freedom of speech nixed.

          And nobody here is arguing that religious people have to give up their opinions or views.

        • Rick

          And nobody here is arguing that religious people have to give up their opinions or views.

          Just asking that they not express them in any way, shape of form that might influence the government in any fashion. that sounds reasonable.

          I have no incentive to give examples of Christian free speech being impeded. There are whole organizations devoted to trying to fight this kind of impediment. If you don’t know about them my listing of them will not broaden your views. Any example I give will change the subject from Bob’s original post, which was Christians influencing society in ways that oppose the Constitution, a specious charge he has offered but provided no evidence to support. And for his charge, you have not asked for examples. How about some consistency here?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Castilliano can speak for himself. My thoughts below.

          Just asking that they not express them in any way, shape of form that might influence the government in any fashion. that sounds reasonable.

          Hey—knock yourself out. The First Amendment binds the hands of Congress (read: government).

          I have no incentive to give examples of Christian free speech being impeded.

          I’d have thought that showing us that it’s a problem instead of some delusion or fantasy would be a huge incentive. My mistake.

          There are whole organizations devoted to trying to fight this kind of impediment.

          There are thin-skinned organizations (The Catholic League comes to mind immediately, and I’m sure you’re right that there are many more) determined to fight secular/atheist/communist excesses within society. But what they think is an excess and what I think are may not be the same thing.

          For example: if gay marriage becomes legal in some state in the US, no Christian has any right to whine about religious freedoms being infringed. Because they’re not.

          Another example: changing the motto from “In God We Trust” or removing “under God” from the pledge. Yet another change that many Christians whine about but which wouldn’t be an infringement on religious rights.

          Or forcing Hobby Lobby to pay for all the health care needs of their employees rather than pretending there’s a line item veto by which companies can pick and choose what they fancy.

          If you don’t know about them my listing of them will not broaden your views.

          Atheists just too stupid to get it?

          And for his charge, you have not asked for examples.

          I was referring to some Christians eager to modify the separation between church and state. You can’t think of examples yourself?

        • Rick

          Since you brought up Hobby Lobby, let’s discuss that one. The Hobby Lobby owners consider termination of a fetus the same as taking a life. Yet the government wants them to be forced to pay for it as if it is the same as “health care.” This seems like a pretty clear infringement of their religious rights. And to have to go to court and fight expensive battles to preserve the right to act out their religious convictions has a chilling effect on businesses too small to fight such gargantuan legal battles.

          I was referring to some Christians eager to modify the separation between church and state. You can’t think of examples yourself?

          I can, but they wouldn’t be the right ones to meet your criteria. I didn’t suggest that you atheists were stupid, as your line of discussion implies. I did state that listing of any specifics would simply change the subject. I know you are not too stupid to have understood that meaning, so I have to understand your use of the term to be simply argumentative. Reducing the conversation to this level does not advance your cause nor sway opponents.

        • Castilliano

          What Bob said. :)

          I witness evidence of Christians (and only Christians) pushing on the 1st amendment several times a week, so requested no such data from Bob.
          Even having been an evangelical Christian, I cannot comprehend the blatancy of such actions. Some flat out state their purpose as being to promote Christianity in or via government. (I’m not lumping you with them.)

          I do not witness the same in reverse, but as you noted, that’s probably due to us having different perspective on such matters. I see such accusations, but almost all of the time I think, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” It’s usually a matter of loss of Christian privilege/government sponsorship. I never see them pushing on churches or individuals (outside of government workers on government time or using government dime.)

          On a less ridiculous note there’s the arguable case of Hobby Lobby re: health care & it’s ramifications.
          My view: The company does not have a religion. The owners do.
          I do not consider it the owners’ obligation to pay from their accounts, I consider it the company’s obligation to pay from its accounts. I can see how the owners view the company as an extension of their wills, but do not agree that it is so. It is a separate entity with separate responsibilities.

          On top of that, there’s that “Law unto oneself” ruling by SCOTUS. If Hobby Lobby set such a reversing precedent, that would give leeway to any private company to push any religious view upon its employees.
          ANY.
          Think about that, and what religions have been used to justify. Think about what other rights owners may feel willing to revoke.
          Jehovah’s Witnesses may refuse to pay for blood transfusions. That Idaho/Oregon Christian batch of whackos may refuse all medical services.
          Legal same-sex partners/spouses may be denied benefits.
          Heck, remarried divorcees may be denied benefits.
          Child out of wedlock? I’m not paying for that!
          And you can probably think up a few more with effort.

          So, good example, but not one I haven’t dwelt on before.
          Any more?

          Cheers.

        • Rick

          As you said, you see it differently.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s a nice list of examples that undo Rick’s case.

        • smrnda

          Correction – Hobby Lobby has argued that contraception is an abortifacient. This is contested by the medical profession, and so their objection that they are being *forced to subsidize abortion* is at least at odds with the medical profession. Their objection is based on a faulty understanding.

          Also, Hobby Lobby provides insurance through another agency. Hobby Lobby does not have a right to demand that an insurance company offer special insurance plans that do not include treatments they do not agree with.

          Given that employer-sponsored health care is the norm for workers, and is even required by law now for large enough employers, the government MUST establish some minimum level of acceptable coverage or else ‘coverage’ can cover nothing useful and still be considered legally adequate. It would be like requiring insurance on vehicles but not establishing any legal minimums: a driver could get a plan that costs little and only covers up to some trival $ and say they are ‘insured.’ Some religions don’t believe in blood transfusions. Some don’t believe in psychiatry. Some don’t believe in the use of medicine at all. Do all of these objections get equal validity? Is the government going to sort out which religious beliefs deserve accommodation and which don’t?

          Employers will do anything to exert control over workers, or get out of giving them benefits simply out of greed. The government, if it intervenes, should be intervening on the part of the workers as they are the weaker party in the arrangement. A worker’s access to health care, to me, is something that should be defended, even if that means health care their employer objects to, and I think in this case, the employer should be told that their religious beliefs don’t count and deserve no protection. Employers should not have veto power over whether workers get contraception. They also are not giving workers free money – the labor of workers made that money, and they have no right to unilaterally decide that workers can’t get contraception. When it comes to employers whining about not being able to prevent their workers from getting contraception, I do not think they have ‘rights’ as corporations are not people, and they do not have religious beliefs.

          A corporation is a legal fiction – an entity separate from the people who own it. It’s a $ grubbing business, and so it can follow the rules like all other money grubbing businesses. If the owners can’t subsidize contraception, they can stop being a for profit agency if it’s that important to them. With the right to make money comes the rules that you have to follow.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And if Hobby Lobby gets to have a religion and pick and choose what elements of the health care plan it deigns to grant, what’s next? I’m sure Hobby Lobby has laid awake at night, worrying about what employees spend their paychecks on. Maybe too much alcohol. Maybe tabloid magazines. Maybe porn. These are all legal, but they may be next on Hobby Lobby’s road to forcing its employees to walk a moral path.

        • smrnda

          Some Christians I’ve talked to *actually seem fine with that* though they forget that we tried the ‘company town’ model before,it was a nightmare, and it required a war in the streets to shut it down.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yet the government wants them to be forced to pay for it as if it is the same as “health care.” This seems like a pretty clear infringement of their religious rights.

          It may be a clear difference of opinion, but the precedent is clear: the rights of the people trump religious freedom in extreme cases like this. Polytheism was made illegal—sorry, Mormons. Slavery was made illegal—sorry Southern pastors who quoted the Bible to support the slavery position. Mixed-race marriage was made legal—sorry anyone who felt that God put races on separate continents for a reason (like the original judge in the Loving v. Virginia case).

          Say that the Hobby Lobby guy was a Christian Scientist and felt that not only did he not want to pay for medical services that he shunned himself, he also felt that enabling his employees to get medical care was an insult to God’s providence. You’d be cool giving that guy his “religious freedom” as well?

          Where does religious freedom end and religious coercion begin? The Hobby Lobby guy has the right to his religious beliefs; he doesn’t have the right to impose them on his employees.

          And to have to go to court and fight expensive battles to preserve the right to act out their religious convictions has a chilling effect on businesses too small to fight such gargantuan legal battles.

          I have to understand your use of the term to be simply argumentative.

          You’re close to the mark. Perhaps “annoyed” would be better.

          Let’s recap. Castilliano said, “nobody here is arguing that religious people have to give up their opinions or views,” which I agree with. If you can’t speak your mind, why should I imagine that my own free speech rights will be protected?

          In response, you said, “I have no incentive to give examples of Christian free speech being impeded. There are whole organizations devoted to trying to fight this kind of impediment. If you don’t know about them my listing of them will not broaden your views.”

          So Castilliano is saying that there’s no real problem here, and you say that not only are there problems, it’s bad enough that there are many organizations dedicated to fighting them. And then, just when you’re about to back up this response with evidence, you say that listing these organizations (I’d actually prefer examples of infringements, not orgs) wouldn’t advance the conversation.

          Hence my rhetorical question.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The writers of the first amendment almost certainly intended the word to mean the same as it did in the rest of the Constitution

          What word? “Congress”?

          What they intended has been overridden by the 14th Amendment.

          Bob’s use suggests that Christians are pushing their views on government.

          No, what concerns me is Christians using the government to push Christianity on the public.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m not sure your point. You must be aware, as Castilliano noted, that “Congress” initially meant the federal government but now is interpreted to mean any government, federal, state, or local.

          They wanted to avoid the loophole where a state government said, “prohibit slavery all you want federally, but in this state, it’s legal.”

        • Rosemary58

          We might have slavery still; the problem started when states began trading slaves across state lines. Interstate trade is governed by Congress. Also, states were “importing” slaves which is also covered by the federal goverment.

      • smrnda

        Congress is the legislative branch. They are the ones that pass laws. The president can veto the laws, sign them, and the court can rule them unconstitutional. Since the executive and judicial branches are not the branches that pass laws, preventing them from establishing a state religion is pointless since it isn’t a function of those branches. In fact, people tend to attack judges who they feel are ‘legislating from the bench’ in making judgments which appear to be additions rather than clarifications of the law.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      In what way have they (Congress) sought to establish a religion?

      As Congress, having “In God We Trust” as the motto. There are other examples, but the bigger issues are at the state and local level—Creationism in schools, prayer in city council meetings, and so on.

      Perhaps you could argue that the judiciary is not covered, so their abridging of free speech of Christians is allowable.

      I guess I’ve not been paying attention. I don’t like the idea of Christians’ free speech being abridged. What have I missed?

  • ThisIsATest

    Just want to make sure that people here understand that this is pseudo-German, mostly unintelligible, with most words either spelled grossly incorrectly or non-existing in German language.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You are correct. If it were actually in German, my many English-only readers couldn’t read it.

  • randomfactor

    Watch das blinkenlights.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, the original was pretty clever.

  • Georgina

    Even my command of the language is better. This is Denglish.


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