Public Forums and Christian Privilege

As you may recall, the Oklahoma legislature placed a Ten Commandments monument at the state capitol a while back after passing a law allowing religious monuments. But now some groups they do not approve of want their own monuments and their Christian privilege spidey sense is getting all tingly.

The Universal Society of Hinduism plans to submit an application to the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission for permission to place a statue of Lord Hanuman on the statehouse grounds.

“If the Oklahoma State Capitol was open to different monuments, we would love to have a statue of Lord Hanuman, who was greatly revered and worshipped and known for incredible strength and was (a) perfect grammarian,” said Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism…

The ACLU sued on First Amendment grounds to have the Old Testament monument removed, and a New York-based Satanist group proposed setting up its own display at the statehouse under a 2009 measure sponsored by Ritze to allow for religious displays.

The Satanists’ plans shocked and disturbed lawmakers, one of whom said he was offended because “this is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state.”

That’s where the Hindus come in.

The fourth-largest faith group in the U.S. – and third-largest in the world – said it would like to join the religious displays to honor Oklahoma’s Hindus and raise awareness about their faith.

And now they’re in a bind. They can either reject both proposed monuments and insist on only having a Christian monument there, which will trigger an Establishment Clause problem, or they can open it up as a limited public forum. And boy, do they hate it when the laws they have to write as though they weren’t designed specifically to allow the government to endorse Christianity are used to promote other religions. It’s a Christian privilege thing — and you would understand.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • rationalinks

    Oh I so hope both permits are granted so the silly Christians can watch their little plan backfire in their faces.

  • pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    “…worshipped and known for incredible strength and was (a) perfect grammarian,”

    was that a shot at the illiteracy of some christians?

  • coffeehound

    WTF? What does “faith based” have to do with his hurt feelings? He doesn’t think believing in Satan requires faith?

  • Scr… Archivist

    This controversy reminds me of the Christian Right’s reaction to gay-straight alliances in schools. Some school boards voted to disband all extra-curricular clubs rather than allow GSA’s. I expect that this kind of surrender is the anticipated response to equal access, and I hope it works.

    By the way, isn’t the monument in Oklahoma City a DeMille movie promo? http://www.kansas.com/2009/12/18/1103589/okla-capitol-to-get-stone-tablets.html

    Maybe we can get some other movie monuments on the capitol grounds. How about “Inherit the Wind”?

  • D. C. Sessions

    Is there a population threshold for these expressions? I mean, the Hindus get in at #3, and from at least some precedent the Jews get in and they’re way down the list. But how about the various North American Native religions? There are, after all, lots of Navajo and Apache in the USA. Do they make the cut?

    And then there are others. Despite the Inquisition, I’ll bet that there are at least a few descendants of the Maya around. They may be keeping quiet about it, sort of like the crypto-Jews in New Mexico, but there must be some. And then there are the Australian natives, and lots of tribal religions in Africa.

    Maybe the Oklahoma legislature could require the size of the monument to be proportional to the cult’s representation in the OK Legislature. Or even to its share of the OK population (not including those living on reservations — there’s Constitutional precedent for that.) That would keep most of them from offending the good Christian people of Oklahoma.

  • abb3w

    I can think of few more effective means to call “monkeyshines” on Oklahoma than putting up a statue of Lord Hanuman.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I can think of few more effective means to call “monkeyshines” on Oklahoma than putting up a statue of Lord Hanuman.

    I would hope that one of them would be explicitly Islamic (can’t have a statue of anyone, but there are plenty of symbolic motifs.)

  • matty1

    There are thousands of people who consider themselves Maya and a fair proportion of them retain at least some of their ancestral beliefs. In Chiapas I once visited a village where it was explained to me that while the inhabitants ticked Catholic on official forms there had been no mass since the last priest was chased out in the 1950’s and the church was used to sacrifice roosters to the Lord of the Rains.

  • raven

    There are thousands of people who consider themselves Maya …

    More like millions.

    Many of them still speak Mayan. Some of those don’t speak Spanish. A few still use their old calendar. A few more still use their old ceremonial sites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1092933945 mikegarber

    “A few still use their old calendar.”

    Can you re-use an old Mayan calendar like you can use an old 1991 calendar for 2013?? Are there magnets big enough to hold them on a frig?? Did Rigid Tools issue calendars for the Mayans?

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/LDORIGINALS Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    pianoman#2

    It’s a dig at the fact that the first 10 commandments monument that went up had several errors of spelling and grammar, and had to be replaced.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.c.pickard matthewpickard

    On that note, the Mount Soledad Cross…. ” A massive cross that serves as part of a war memorial on a San Diego hilltop must be dismantled because it has been found to violate a constitutional ban on government endorsement of religion, a federal judge grudgingly ruled on Thursday. ”

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-judge-orders-landmark-california-cross-taken-down-012849685.html

    A FB friend went apeshit crying over her Christian privilege and of course I argued back bringing up this very case. Last comment to me was that I shouldn’t be offended because… ” if you don’t believe in the symbolism of the cross, then it is just a shape. How can you be offended by a shape?”

    Yep, the cross is just a “shape” everybody, you can go home now. But if the cross is only a “shape” then Christians wouldn’t be fighting like hell when it is removed, because it’s just a “shape.” But that’s not the case now is it?

  • Ben P

    Is there a population threshold for these expressions? I mean, the Hindus get in at #3, and from at least some precedent the Jews get in and they’re way down the list. But how about the various North American Native religions? There are, after all, lots of Navajo and Apache in the USA. Do they make the cut?

    I don’t think they could say “only mainstream religions can put up displays,” that would be awfully close to impermissible content regulation on a limited public forum.

    However, if they could come up with a completely content neutral way of regulating the number of displays, that would likely be permissible. For example, space for displays is granted on a first come first serve basis, or perhaps there’s room for 4 displays, all interested parties are invited to submit applications then the 4 displays will be chosen by drawing.

  • hunter

    I don’t understand why they’re so upset about the Satanists — the way I always understood it, Satan is a Christian deity anyway.

  • raven

    Can you re-use an old Mayan calendar like you can use an old 1991 calendar for 2013??

    Sure. No problem. The Mayan calendar repeats itself.

    What Does the Mayan Calendar Really Tell Us? – Stockton-Heath

    stockton-heath.h ubpages. com › Religion and Philosophy‎

    Jun 2, 2009 – The calendar only repeats itself every 52 years, about the average lifespan at the time. The 52 year cycle is called the “Mayan Century”.

    Why does the Mayan calendar end in 2012? – Yahoo Answers

    answers. yahoo. com › … › Society & Culture › Mythology & Folklore‎

    Oct 17, 2009 – The Mayan Long Count calendar doesn’t end, it merely clicks over … This would then usher in a new age and the calender would repeat itself.

    Are there magnets big enough to hold them on a frig??

    The one I saw was stone, so no. But there is no reason it couldn’t be made of metal.

    Did Rigid Tools issue calendars for the Mayans?

    Probably not. But they still can. A few Mayans still use their old calendar system.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/LDORIGINALS Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    The one I saw was stone, so no. But there is no reason it couldn’t be made of metal.

    Or plastic, for that matter.

  • peterh

    All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others. (Thank you, George.)

  • LightningRose

    “They can either reject both proposed monuments and insist on only having a Christian monument there, which will trigger an Establishment Clause problem, or they can open it up as a limited public forum.”

    The third, and most rational option (but we are talking about Oklahoma), is to repeal the law and move the existing monument to private property.

  • postwaste

    I suspect they may, after all the lawsuits and politicking. The State will decide to not allow any monuments, but since the Ten Commandments one is already established, they will allow it to remain. Stealth move.

  • ianeymeaney

    I so want Fred Phelps and the WBC to put up their signs here, just to show these people up!

  • illdoittomorrow

    Ben P at 13:

    “…perhaps there’s room for 4 displays, all interested parties are invited to submit applications then the 4 displays will be chosen by drawing.”

    I’m imagining the squabbling that would ensue deciding which four brands of Christianity would get in. And then the infighting between those four to settle which is the Real True Faith. Just thinking about it makes me want popcorn.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “Maybe we can get some other movie monuments on the capitol grounds. How about “Inherit the Wind”?”

    I’m rhinking, Buddy JESUS from “Dogma”.

  • TxSkeptic

    “Maybe we can get some other movie monuments on the capitol grounds. How about “Inherit the Wind”?”

    Not in the same philosophical category, but a movie symbol none-the-less, how about a giant fiery Mockingjay?

  • http://www.jafafahots.com Jafafa Hots

    Ghostbusters logo.

  • puppygod

    I don’t understand why they’re so upset about the Satanists — the way I always understood it, Satan is a Christian deity anyway.

    Yes. But he’s a taboo deity. Even mentioning his name is often forbidden / considered a sin. Not to mention actually worshipping or depicting him in any context other than as a “foe”.

    Religions are seriously weird.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    @24:

    Better yet, “Holy Ghost Busters”.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    if you don’t believe in the symbolism of the cross, then it is just a shape. How can you be offended by a shape?”

    As Sam Kinison used to say, the one thing Jesus’d REALLY love to see all over the place, when he comes back, is … Crosses. I mean, talk about your divine PTSD triggers… It might really piss him off; the old “fire and sword” bit… Think a little bit, christians!

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    If it’s one of the Cecil DeMille versions, it’s not even the real 10 commandments, it’s a hollywood precis of them! Moses would have thrown a shitfit!

  • johnhodges

    I have the full text of the Ten C’s, together with the Divinely-commanded punishments for violating same, here:

    http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/the-uncensored-ten

  • gmacs

    I say reject them both and sledgehammer the commandments. I think it’s more important to get rid of the commandments.

    I think that any religious display is acceptable at a courthouse, even if equal treatment is given. However, the 10 commandments are especially odious. Half of them are in direct conflict with the 1st amendment, and it is an actual code, as opposed to an icon or symbol. But, of course, these folks wanted to endorse religion, so now they’ve invited this crap.

    A Star of David or crucifix would be less of a problem than the 10 commandments.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    So, I see a stealth move. The OKC city council, having finessed the 1st Amendment for their KKKristianist asshole KKKonstituents, all go down to the crèche for a news conference. Just as they’re ready to start bloviating about BABY JESUS and how HE wrote the U.S. Constitution, one of the cameramen points to the crèche and says, “Hey, wait! That’s not straw in the manger, it’s NOODLES!! GAH, it’s the FSM!!!