Another kind of God-talk in the public square

In the course of a discussion about that litigious atheist who is seeking to censor “In God We Trust” from the nation’s coins, Pastor Cwirla makes a fascinating point:

Newdow is that new breed of assertive atheist who doesn’t want to hear or see the G-word in public, especially at public expense.  Apparently putting the G-word on currency is the equivalent of state-sponsored religion, contrary to the 1st amendment, or so he argues.  I guess no one ever thought of that back in 1864.  To call this state sponsored religion is a bit like suggesting that a teenager who says “ohmygod” every other sentence is being very religious.  

If we are going to ban the mention of “God” and religious references from the public square, let’s enlist the ACLU and militant atheists in a crusade to ban profanity. (Scatology [bodily function words] and obscenity [words about things that should take place out of sight, "outside the scene," such as sex talk] can, of course, remain.)

Taking God’s name in vain, curses that consign individuals or objects to eternal punishment, and the like are all primitive and atavistic, if you come to think of it. And the speech of unbelievers tends to be full of this supercharged religious language. Its persistence strikes me as an odd proof that the religious impulse is innate and cannot be gotten rid of.

This reminds me of Hazel Motes in Flannery O’Connor’s novel “Wise Blood” who is running away from God and so goes to morally degraded people and places and actions that he thinks are the farthest away from any kind of Christianity. But the bad language of his new companions–”Jesus Christ!”–cuts through him like a knife. Even in the depths of Sheol, He is there.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • JonSLC

    God’s reign is subversive. He works out of human sight to capture the hearts of those who don’t want their hearts to be captured. And he uses his words to do that, often in settings we think of as unlikely. (“Even in the depths of Sheol, He is there.”)

    Could the vehement protests against the mention of God’s name be an unconscious acknowledgment of this? I.e., someone may think, “I don’t even want to hear the name of God, because someone just might take it seriously, and we’ll have another conversion to deal with”?

  • JonSLC

    God’s reign is subversive. He works out of human sight to capture the hearts of those who don’t want their hearts to be captured. And he uses his words to do that, often in settings we think of as unlikely. (“Even in the depths of Sheol, He is there.”)

    Could the vehement protests against the mention of God’s name be an unconscious acknowledgment of this? I.e., someone may think, “I don’t even want to hear the name of God, because someone just might take it seriously, and we’ll have another conversion to deal with”?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    When He showed up to this sin-soaked world 2,000 years ago in the form of a man, they did not want Him.

    Today, we still don’t want Him.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    When He showed up to this sin-soaked world 2,000 years ago in the form of a man, they did not want Him.

    Today, we still don’t want Him.

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    There is no one more “religious” than an atheist.

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    There is no one more “religious” than an atheist.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “To call this state sponsored religion is a bit like suggesting that a teenager who says ‘ohmygod’ every other sentence is being very religious.”

    Really? So if every coin in your pocket read “Ohmygod” instead of “In God we trust”, you’d consider that equally religious (or un-religious)? You’d get the same idea from either message about our country and its beliefs? You’d be happy to pay for the government to print “Ohmygod” on every coin?

    Look, I disagree with much militant atheism, but I really do think he has a point here. We’re paying the government to print what “we” believe on our coins. And even if that’s somehow not an establishment of religion, it’s not even accurate — we, that is, the citizens of the United States, often do not trust in God! This shouldn’t be news to any of you.

    so is it wishful thinking that makes you want this to be on our coinage, or what?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “To call this state sponsored religion is a bit like suggesting that a teenager who says ‘ohmygod’ every other sentence is being very religious.”

    Really? So if every coin in your pocket read “Ohmygod” instead of “In God we trust”, you’d consider that equally religious (or un-religious)? You’d get the same idea from either message about our country and its beliefs? You’d be happy to pay for the government to print “Ohmygod” on every coin?

    Look, I disagree with much militant atheism, but I really do think he has a point here. We’re paying the government to print what “we” believe on our coins. And even if that’s somehow not an establishment of religion, it’s not even accurate — we, that is, the citizens of the United States, often do not trust in God! This shouldn’t be news to any of you.

    so is it wishful thinking that makes you want this to be on our coinage, or what?

  • Jon

    If “In God we trust” is so meaningless, i.e., the equivalent of “omg,” then why not join this man in working to rid it from our currency? None of us like to hear or read “God’s name” used meaninglessly.

  • Jon

    If “In God we trust” is so meaningless, i.e., the equivalent of “omg,” then why not join this man in working to rid it from our currency? None of us like to hear or read “God’s name” used meaninglessly.

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    “You’d be happy to pay for the government to print “Ohmygod” on every coin?”

    That might be appropriate given the state of fiat currency and current Fed policy.

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    “You’d be happy to pay for the government to print “Ohmygod” on every coin?”

    That might be appropriate given the state of fiat currency and current Fed policy.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WCwirla (@6), snark aside, you’d be happy with that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WCwirla (@6), snark aside, you’d be happy with that?

  • DonS

    What rankles, tODD, is busybodies who consume valuable societal resources to attempt to force this phrase off of our coins. It wouldn’t bother me a bit if the phrase “In God We Trust” had never been imprinted on our coins, but I’m not going to accept the establishment of a precedent that it is unconstitutional for us as a country to do so.

  • DonS

    What rankles, tODD, is busybodies who consume valuable societal resources to attempt to force this phrase off of our coins. It wouldn’t bother me a bit if the phrase “In God We Trust” had never been imprinted on our coins, but I’m not going to accept the establishment of a precedent that it is unconstitutional for us as a country to do so.

  • JonSLC

    I see tODD’s point and DonS’s.

    I’ve wondered about this issue in these terms:

    If “In God We Trust” is a sincere expression of Christian faith, then why would Christians want the government promoting it? It’s the Church’s job, not the state’s, to proclaim God’s name.

    If, on the other hand, “In God We Trust” is not a sincere expression of faith, but rather a “ceremonial deism” or something… then why would Christians want the government using the phrase? Wouldn’t Christians prefer that the government omit the phrase altogether?

  • JonSLC

    I see tODD’s point and DonS’s.

    I’ve wondered about this issue in these terms:

    If “In God We Trust” is a sincere expression of Christian faith, then why would Christians want the government promoting it? It’s the Church’s job, not the state’s, to proclaim God’s name.

    If, on the other hand, “In God We Trust” is not a sincere expression of faith, but rather a “ceremonial deism” or something… then why would Christians want the government using the phrase? Wouldn’t Christians prefer that the government omit the phrase altogether?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    As a Christian, I want “In God We Trust” on our currency.

    We get our rights from God and not man.

    Any government that grants “rights” can take them away.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    As a Christian, I want “In God We Trust” on our currency.

    We get our rights from God and not man.

    Any government that grants “rights” can take them away.

  • Matt C.

    tODD @ 4,

    A motto or slogan can be as much a goal as a statement of fact. Kind of like “e pluribus unum” which the new slogan replaced or “Liberty and Justice for all.” Those were never true in all cases either. They’re ideals.

  • Matt C.

    tODD @ 4,

    A motto or slogan can be as much a goal as a statement of fact. Kind of like “e pluribus unum” which the new slogan replaced or “Liberty and Justice for all.” Those were never true in all cases either. They’re ideals.

  • Matt C.

    JonSLC @ #9

    A generic “God” can be known from natural law. It’s certainly far less precise and complete than the Christian idea, but that does not mean it’s useless as ceremony nor that such a ceremony contradicts Christianity. It won’t save anyone, but like the “Higher Power” in AA, the idea has utility in this world.

  • Matt C.

    JonSLC @ #9

    A generic “God” can be known from natural law. It’s certainly far less precise and complete than the Christian idea, but that does not mean it’s useless as ceremony nor that such a ceremony contradicts Christianity. It won’t save anyone, but like the “Higher Power” in AA, the idea has utility in this world.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Don (@8), no doubt if our coins said “In Allah we trust, and in Muhammed his messenger (PBUH)”, you’d have the same attitude. Right? Right? I mean, sure, you’d wish that there wasn’t a precedent like that, but once mistakes are made, the only real mistake is to fix them, especially when busybodies are behind it!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Don (@8), no doubt if our coins said “In Allah we trust, and in Muhammed his messenger (PBUH)”, you’d have the same attitude. Right? Right? I mean, sure, you’d wish that there wasn’t a precedent like that, but once mistakes are made, the only real mistake is to fix them, especially when busybodies are behind it!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@10), surely as a Christian, you realize that “In God we trust” is fairly weak sauce. Why not have our coins read “Salvation is from Jesus Christ alone”? Surely that’s a much better Christian statement. Why go with such a generic statement that every single deistic (or at least monotheistic) person can agree with, if you’re arguing “as a Christian”?

    And in what world do you think slogans on coins preclude our government from taking rights away, or even abiding by the slogans on our coinss?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@10), surely as a Christian, you realize that “In God we trust” is fairly weak sauce. Why not have our coins read “Salvation is from Jesus Christ alone”? Surely that’s a much better Christian statement. Why go with such a generic statement that every single deistic (or at least monotheistic) person can agree with, if you’re arguing “as a Christian”?

    And in what world do you think slogans on coins preclude our government from taking rights away, or even abiding by the slogans on our coinss?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Matt C (@11), so you’re saying that it’s our government’s “goal” that we all would trust in God? Because I’m pretty certain that’s not our government’s goal, nor should it be, nor do I want it to be.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Matt C (@11), so you’re saying that it’s our government’s “goal” that we all would trust in God? Because I’m pretty certain that’s not our government’s goal, nor should it be, nor do I want it to be.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    tODD,

    I want that motto on the coin not for the sake of evangelizing, but for the sake of freedom…then I can speak of Christ Jesus.

    It doesn’t do a lot of good on the coin if the principles of our country was founded upon are not taught to our children.

    Check this out. It ought be seen by everyone in this nation:

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    tODD,

    I want that motto on the coin not for the sake of evangelizing, but for the sake of freedom…then I can speak of Christ Jesus.

    It doesn’t do a lot of good on the coin if the principles of our country was founded upon are not taught to our children.

    Check this out. It ought be seen by everyone in this nation:

  • Matt C.

    tODD @ 16

    A slogan is not a mission statement. It’s meant to express something about its subject. In this case, the subject is the collective people (not the government) and the expression is an ideal (or goal, or picture, etc). The slogan therefore does not express the government’s mission to transform us into God-trusters, but the idea that an ideal citizenry does trust God (broadly defined).

    So what I AM saying is that your objection in #4 based on “inaccuracy” is completely irrelevant to the subject at hand.

  • Matt C.

    tODD @ 16

    A slogan is not a mission statement. It’s meant to express something about its subject. In this case, the subject is the collective people (not the government) and the expression is an ideal (or goal, or picture, etc). The slogan therefore does not express the government’s mission to transform us into God-trusters, but the idea that an ideal citizenry does trust God (broadly defined).

    So what I AM saying is that your objection in #4 based on “inaccuracy” is completely irrelevant to the subject at hand.

  • Matt C.

    That should, of course, be “15″ not “16″.

  • Matt C.

    That should, of course, be “15″ not “16″.

  • John Tape

    Are we certain that having “In God we trust” on coins is not using God’s name in vain? It seems rather disrespectful to me. Sort of like a Jesus bumper sticker. Here is the Holy name of our Lord and Redeemer and we put it on the rear end of a car.

  • John Tape

    Are we certain that having “In God we trust” on coins is not using God’s name in vain? It seems rather disrespectful to me. Sort of like a Jesus bumper sticker. Here is the Holy name of our Lord and Redeemer and we put it on the rear end of a car.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@16), you want a vague, inaccurate motto on our coins “for the sake of freedom”?! Does that make sense to you? Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Matt (@17), you were then one who said “A motto or slogan can be as much a goal as a statement of fact,” when I’d pointed out that “In God we trust” is not a statement of fact.

    And yet, when I asked you (@15) if “it’s our government’s ‘goal’ that we all would trust in God”, you now reply that “A slogan is not a mission statement.”

    I see. A slogan can be a “goal”, but it’s not a “mission statement”. Clear. As. Mud.

    You still haven’t explained why our government should be reminding us that our collective goal is for all of us to trust in God. Nor have you proven that we collectively agree with that goal.

    Again, why not have our currency say something more relevant and less vague than “In God we trust”? Why not have it read “We trust in Christ alone to save us from our sins”? It’s not accurate that we all believe that, nor is it our government’s goal to get us all to believe that, but surely it’s an ideal we all agree to, no?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@16), you want a vague, inaccurate motto on our coins “for the sake of freedom”?! Does that make sense to you? Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Matt (@17), you were then one who said “A motto or slogan can be as much a goal as a statement of fact,” when I’d pointed out that “In God we trust” is not a statement of fact.

    And yet, when I asked you (@15) if “it’s our government’s ‘goal’ that we all would trust in God”, you now reply that “A slogan is not a mission statement.”

    I see. A slogan can be a “goal”, but it’s not a “mission statement”. Clear. As. Mud.

    You still haven’t explained why our government should be reminding us that our collective goal is for all of us to trust in God. Nor have you proven that we collectively agree with that goal.

    Again, why not have our currency say something more relevant and less vague than “In God we trust”? Why not have it read “We trust in Christ alone to save us from our sins”? It’s not accurate that we all believe that, nor is it our government’s goal to get us all to believe that, but surely it’s an ideal we all agree to, no?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    “Steve (@16), you want a vague, inaccurate motto on our coins “for the sake of freedom”?! Does that make sense to you? Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    tODD,

    I know.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    “Steve (@16), you want a vague, inaccurate motto on our coins “for the sake of freedom”?! Does that make sense to you? Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    tODD,

    I know.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 13: Yes, the same attitude, indeed. My opposition is not to “fixing it” legislatively (democratically). My opposition is to “fixing it” autocratically (judicially) through the declaration that we, as a free people, do not have a constitutional right to put “In God We Trust” on our money. So I do indeed believe that our government has a constitutional right to put “In Allah we trust, and in Muhammed his messenger (PBUH)” on our money. Of course, good luck to the legislators who promote such a measure :).

  • DonS

    tODD @ 13: Yes, the same attitude, indeed. My opposition is not to “fixing it” legislatively (democratically). My opposition is to “fixing it” autocratically (judicially) through the declaration that we, as a free people, do not have a constitutional right to put “In God We Trust” on our money. So I do indeed believe that our government has a constitutional right to put “In Allah we trust, and in Muhammed his messenger (PBUH)” on our money. Of course, good luck to the legislators who promote such a measure :).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@21), thanks for clearing that up. (?)

    Don (@22), did you notice the part where “In God we trust” was instated autocratically? As Cwirla notes, for nearly a century, those words appeared on our coins solely “at the request of the director of the US Mint who felt there should be a ‘distinct and unequivocal national recognition of the divine sovereignty’ on the nation’s coins.” No doubt that rankles you equally as this man using the court system.

    And am I understanding you correctly that you oppose any and all judicial review by the courts in the matters of constitutionality? Or how else would you propose that someone challenge government actions as regards the Constitution? Say a state passed a law outlawing your church. Would you oppose taking the state to court?

    As to the constitutional right (your claim) for the government to put clearly pro-Muslim slogans on our coins, I don’t see how that’s not an establishment of religion, and I would oppose it. I don’t see how you couldn’t, except perhaps to make a point in favor of keeping this vague Deism on our coins.

    You allude to that with your note that any such pro-Muslim moves from our government would be woefully unpopular. Most of the arguments being made here are made from the comfort of being in the majority — or at least, so it is assumed. Christians are still in power, right? So the coins should reflect our beliefs! And when we inevitably end up in the minority, those same arguments will be used against us, and we’ll complain that it’s not fair.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@21), thanks for clearing that up. (?)

    Don (@22), did you notice the part where “In God we trust” was instated autocratically? As Cwirla notes, for nearly a century, those words appeared on our coins solely “at the request of the director of the US Mint who felt there should be a ‘distinct and unequivocal national recognition of the divine sovereignty’ on the nation’s coins.” No doubt that rankles you equally as this man using the court system.

    And am I understanding you correctly that you oppose any and all judicial review by the courts in the matters of constitutionality? Or how else would you propose that someone challenge government actions as regards the Constitution? Say a state passed a law outlawing your church. Would you oppose taking the state to court?

    As to the constitutional right (your claim) for the government to put clearly pro-Muslim slogans on our coins, I don’t see how that’s not an establishment of religion, and I would oppose it. I don’t see how you couldn’t, except perhaps to make a point in favor of keeping this vague Deism on our coins.

    You allude to that with your note that any such pro-Muslim moves from our government would be woefully unpopular. Most of the arguments being made here are made from the comfort of being in the majority — or at least, so it is assumed. Christians are still in power, right? So the coins should reflect our beliefs! And when we inevitably end up in the minority, those same arguments will be used against us, and we’ll complain that it’s not fair.

  • Matt C.

    tODD @ 20, you’ve got some reading comprehension issues.

    First, if you relax your single-minded attention to “goal,” you’ll see that I used other words as well. Typically when people use multiple words in reference to the same concept, they each contribute something to said concept because alone, none of them communicate the entire concept (take “in, with, and under” for example). Consequently, if you in your analysis use “goal” **to the exclusion** of the other descriptive words, you’ll end up with an incomplete picture of what was said. That is perhaps why my statements seem so bizarre to you.

    Second, I never said whether it was a good slogan or a bad one, so why should I have already explained why it’s good?

    Reread it and try again.

    As for why not a precise and specifically Christian motto? The government is not a specifically Christian institution. Just because the 2nd and 3rd articles of the creed have little to do with government, however, does not mean that the 1st article has little to do with government. If one has no bearings on humankind’s relationship to the divine, then one does not understand human nature. If one does not understand human nature, one cannot effectively govern humans.

  • Matt C.

    tODD @ 20, you’ve got some reading comprehension issues.

    First, if you relax your single-minded attention to “goal,” you’ll see that I used other words as well. Typically when people use multiple words in reference to the same concept, they each contribute something to said concept because alone, none of them communicate the entire concept (take “in, with, and under” for example). Consequently, if you in your analysis use “goal” **to the exclusion** of the other descriptive words, you’ll end up with an incomplete picture of what was said. That is perhaps why my statements seem so bizarre to you.

    Second, I never said whether it was a good slogan or a bad one, so why should I have already explained why it’s good?

    Reread it and try again.

    As for why not a precise and specifically Christian motto? The government is not a specifically Christian institution. Just because the 2nd and 3rd articles of the creed have little to do with government, however, does not mean that the 1st article has little to do with government. If one has no bearings on humankind’s relationship to the divine, then one does not understand human nature. If one does not understand human nature, one cannot effectively govern humans.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    tODD,

    I tried as best I could to get you to understand the principle of freedom eminating from God(and not men)and the importance of that fact being communicated to a country’s citizenry.

    If you don’t get it…you don’t get it.

    The world will keep revolving.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    tODD,

    I tried as best I could to get you to understand the principle of freedom eminating from God(and not men)and the importance of that fact being communicated to a country’s citizenry.

    If you don’t get it…you don’t get it.

    The world will keep revolving.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@25), it’s not a question of where our freedom comes from — I agree it’s from God (although you frequently hear many here telling us that our freedoms come from our military forces, but that’s beside the point).

    The question remains (a) is printing tiny, vague slogans on our coins really the best way for our government to communicate ideals to its citizens, and (b) should the government be the one who educates us about freedom emanating from God, or is that perhaps actually the church’s job, and it’s best to leave church matters to the church, since the government never does a good job at them?

    As to (b), I would think the answer is obvious, but you never know. As to (a), if this really is such an important matter, then printing easily ignorable slogans in tiny print is pretty much the worst way to go about it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@25), it’s not a question of where our freedom comes from — I agree it’s from God (although you frequently hear many here telling us that our freedoms come from our military forces, but that’s beside the point).

    The question remains (a) is printing tiny, vague slogans on our coins really the best way for our government to communicate ideals to its citizens, and (b) should the government be the one who educates us about freedom emanating from God, or is that perhaps actually the church’s job, and it’s best to leave church matters to the church, since the government never does a good job at them?

    As to (b), I would think the answer is obvious, but you never know. As to (a), if this really is such an important matter, then printing easily ignorable slogans in tiny print is pretty much the worst way to go about it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Matt (@24), I appreciate your concern for my literacy. I’ll look into that.

    “First, if you relax your single-minded attention to ‘goal,’ you’ll see that I used other words as well.” Okay, let’s look at the words you used to refer to “In God we trust”.

    @11, you said it could function “as much a goal as a statement of fact.” Of course, this was in response to my saying (@4) that “In God we trust” wasn’t a statement of fact, which you didn’t dispute. Leaving us, by comment #11, solely with your description of this “slogan” as a “goal”.

    I responded to this remaining description (@15), surprised that you thought it was our government’s “goal” (your word) that we all trust in God. But you said (@17) “A slogan is not a mission statement.” Which doesn’t really qualify as “other words” from you, since you’re saying this slogan is not a mission statement. Though you haven’t in any way explained why it is a goal, but not a mission statement — how are those different to you, and why does it matter?

    So I guess that comment (@17) negates your term “goal,” too, leaving us with your description that the slogan is merely an “ideal”. But not a “goal” or a “mission statement”. Tell me, how many ideals do you have that are not also goals of yours? Wouldn’t that make you a hypocrite? Or merely demonstrate that you don’t actually have the ideals you think you do?

    “Second, I never said whether it was a good slogan or a bad one, so why should I have already explained why it’s good?” Okay … so you think it’s a bad slogan? But you’re just defending it, anyhow?

    “As for why not a precise and specifically Christian motto? The government is not a specifically Christian institution.” Well, nor is it specifically a Deistic institution, but why does “In God we trust” get a pass by this logic? Your argument about the Creed is irrelevant, since that tells us what God says about the government. The question here is what the government should say about God, to which my answer remains: As little as possible; leave that to the Church, thank you very much.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Matt (@24), I appreciate your concern for my literacy. I’ll look into that.

    “First, if you relax your single-minded attention to ‘goal,’ you’ll see that I used other words as well.” Okay, let’s look at the words you used to refer to “In God we trust”.

    @11, you said it could function “as much a goal as a statement of fact.” Of course, this was in response to my saying (@4) that “In God we trust” wasn’t a statement of fact, which you didn’t dispute. Leaving us, by comment #11, solely with your description of this “slogan” as a “goal”.

    I responded to this remaining description (@15), surprised that you thought it was our government’s “goal” (your word) that we all trust in God. But you said (@17) “A slogan is not a mission statement.” Which doesn’t really qualify as “other words” from you, since you’re saying this slogan is not a mission statement. Though you haven’t in any way explained why it is a goal, but not a mission statement — how are those different to you, and why does it matter?

    So I guess that comment (@17) negates your term “goal,” too, leaving us with your description that the slogan is merely an “ideal”. But not a “goal” or a “mission statement”. Tell me, how many ideals do you have that are not also goals of yours? Wouldn’t that make you a hypocrite? Or merely demonstrate that you don’t actually have the ideals you think you do?

    “Second, I never said whether it was a good slogan or a bad one, so why should I have already explained why it’s good?” Okay … so you think it’s a bad slogan? But you’re just defending it, anyhow?

    “As for why not a precise and specifically Christian motto? The government is not a specifically Christian institution.” Well, nor is it specifically a Deistic institution, but why does “In God we trust” get a pass by this logic? Your argument about the Creed is irrelevant, since that tells us what God says about the government. The question here is what the government should say about God, to which my answer remains: As little as possible; leave that to the Church, thank you very much.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 22: No, I didn’t notice CWirla’s comment where he linked (?) to this piece of information. I still don’t see it. However, I’ll take your (his) word for it. Substantively, though, the Director of the Mint does not act “autocratically”. He acts within the scope of authority granted to the Executive Branch under the Constitution and by statutes passed by the legislature. With regard to the imposition of a particular phrase on the nation’s money, were the legislature to determine that to be inappropriate, they are free to reverse the action. All quite democratic. On the other hand, when judges act, under color of an interpretation of the Constitution, there is no recourse save the laborious process of a constitutional amendment.

    Of course, you do not understand me correctly that I “oppose any and all judicial review by the courts in the matters of constitutionality”. Where did I say or even imply that? But I do believe in the “case or controversy” requirement for standing in the courts. If a litigant has not been tangibly harmed by a governmental action, he/she should have no standing to bring suit in court over that action. Newdow has not been tangibly harmed by having to carry money on which is imprinted the phrase “In God We Trust”. In the example you cite, where a state passed a law outlawing my church, I would have suffered a definite harm, and would certainly have standing to sue.

    The 1st Amendment “establishment” clause, refers to a government establishing a state religion. Simply putting pro-Muslim slogans on coinage, by itself, would not establish Islam as a state religion, so, in and of itself, would not be a violation of the Establishment Clause, at least as it was historically intended, and should be understood.

    I have to smile at your last paragraph. I’m sure the minority Christians in Saudi Arabia would love to only have to worry about pro-Muslim slogans on their coinage, instead of whether they will survive to tomorrow. I’m under no illusion that we Christians will remain a majority in this country, but I suspect that when we no longer are, this petty issue will be the least of our concerns.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 22: No, I didn’t notice CWirla’s comment where he linked (?) to this piece of information. I still don’t see it. However, I’ll take your (his) word for it. Substantively, though, the Director of the Mint does not act “autocratically”. He acts within the scope of authority granted to the Executive Branch under the Constitution and by statutes passed by the legislature. With regard to the imposition of a particular phrase on the nation’s money, were the legislature to determine that to be inappropriate, they are free to reverse the action. All quite democratic. On the other hand, when judges act, under color of an interpretation of the Constitution, there is no recourse save the laborious process of a constitutional amendment.

    Of course, you do not understand me correctly that I “oppose any and all judicial review by the courts in the matters of constitutionality”. Where did I say or even imply that? But I do believe in the “case or controversy” requirement for standing in the courts. If a litigant has not been tangibly harmed by a governmental action, he/she should have no standing to bring suit in court over that action. Newdow has not been tangibly harmed by having to carry money on which is imprinted the phrase “In God We Trust”. In the example you cite, where a state passed a law outlawing my church, I would have suffered a definite harm, and would certainly have standing to sue.

    The 1st Amendment “establishment” clause, refers to a government establishing a state religion. Simply putting pro-Muslim slogans on coinage, by itself, would not establish Islam as a state religion, so, in and of itself, would not be a violation of the Establishment Clause, at least as it was historically intended, and should be understood.

    I have to smile at your last paragraph. I’m sure the minority Christians in Saudi Arabia would love to only have to worry about pro-Muslim slogans on their coinage, instead of whether they will survive to tomorrow. I’m under no illusion that we Christians will remain a majority in this country, but I suspect that when we no longer are, this petty issue will be the least of our concerns.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@28), Cwirla’s comment can be found where Veith linked to it, in the original post.

    Anyhow, I am confused what you believe about what is properly within the judicial branch’s scope. On the one hand, you ask “Where did I say or even imply that” “I ‘oppose any and all judicial review by the courts in the matters of constitutionality’.?” On the other hand, you equate judicial action with “autocratic” action (@22), especially in the context of constitutional review. And later lament (@28) that “when judges act, under color of an interpretation of the Constitution, there is no recourse save the laborious process of a constitutional amendment.” Sure sounds to me like you think judicial review WRT the Constitution is, well, bad.

    So as to the question of legal standing, I am sympathetic, but it is exactly situations like this that make me wonder what should be done. If our government were to print flyers declaring that there is no God, mailing them to every home, and force banners to be hung in our schools saying the same, perhaps with the additional stipulation that the Pledge of Allegiance be required in schools — but in altered form, which declares that we are a nation that does not believe in God … if all of this took place, none of which, I understand, would contravene the establishment clause, as I understand it from you, then nobody could do anything to stop it, because there was no “tangible harm”. (Am I right? Not that I agree with you whatsoever re: the establishment clause and what it portends, but hey.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@28), Cwirla’s comment can be found where Veith linked to it, in the original post.

    Anyhow, I am confused what you believe about what is properly within the judicial branch’s scope. On the one hand, you ask “Where did I say or even imply that” “I ‘oppose any and all judicial review by the courts in the matters of constitutionality’.?” On the other hand, you equate judicial action with “autocratic” action (@22), especially in the context of constitutional review. And later lament (@28) that “when judges act, under color of an interpretation of the Constitution, there is no recourse save the laborious process of a constitutional amendment.” Sure sounds to me like you think judicial review WRT the Constitution is, well, bad.

    So as to the question of legal standing, I am sympathetic, but it is exactly situations like this that make me wonder what should be done. If our government were to print flyers declaring that there is no God, mailing them to every home, and force banners to be hung in our schools saying the same, perhaps with the additional stipulation that the Pledge of Allegiance be required in schools — but in altered form, which declares that we are a nation that does not believe in God … if all of this took place, none of which, I understand, would contravene the establishment clause, as I understand it from you, then nobody could do anything to stop it, because there was no “tangible harm”. (Am I right? Not that I agree with you whatsoever re: the establishment clause and what it portends, but hey.)

  • Don S

    tODD:
    There is certainly a role for the judicial branch. It is a constitutional branch of government, and has a constitutionally defined role to adjudicate genuine disputes between parties and to interpret pertinent law (whether regulation, statute, constitution, or treaty) when necessary to adjudicate those disputes. But, it is incumbent on judges to be circumspect in the exercize of their power because it is, for all intents and purposes, absolute and judges are not accountable to the people once appointed. I don’t like the fact that we, as a people, have grown reliant on courts to make our laws for us. That is not the way the Founders intended it, it is highly inefficient, it does not provide prospective guidance (because courts adjudicate, essentially, after the fact, and because courts have, over the years, jettisoned bright line rules for individualized “facts and circumstances” jurisprudence), and it is undemocratic.

    Your hypothetical, wherein our government actively sends flyers to each of our homes, hangs banners in our schools to indoctrinate our children as to atheism, and requires an atheistic pledge of allegiance, again in our schools, is hardly equivalent to the “In God We Trust” numismatic issue we have been discussing. Clearly, in your hypothetical, the government is actively interfering with our parental rights under the Constitution to direct the education and upbringing of our children, for example. Clearly, parents would be able to argue that they had standing because of a tangible harm that was being worked on their children in the public schools, through this indoctrination program.

    However, you seem to believe that, if such court action weren’t possible, then “nobody could do anything to stop it”. Really? Is running to court the only remedy we have? What are we, a bunch of little children that have to run to Daddy to fight our battles for us? If my government were to undertake the hypothetical actions you propose, what about a political remedy? Contact legislators, organize opposition, engage in public relations to alert people to teh actions of their government, protest, vote, etc. etc. It’s a democracy, after all. Make your voice heard, in the time-honored American way.

  • Don S

    tODD:
    There is certainly a role for the judicial branch. It is a constitutional branch of government, and has a constitutionally defined role to adjudicate genuine disputes between parties and to interpret pertinent law (whether regulation, statute, constitution, or treaty) when necessary to adjudicate those disputes. But, it is incumbent on judges to be circumspect in the exercize of their power because it is, for all intents and purposes, absolute and judges are not accountable to the people once appointed. I don’t like the fact that we, as a people, have grown reliant on courts to make our laws for us. That is not the way the Founders intended it, it is highly inefficient, it does not provide prospective guidance (because courts adjudicate, essentially, after the fact, and because courts have, over the years, jettisoned bright line rules for individualized “facts and circumstances” jurisprudence), and it is undemocratic.

    Your hypothetical, wherein our government actively sends flyers to each of our homes, hangs banners in our schools to indoctrinate our children as to atheism, and requires an atheistic pledge of allegiance, again in our schools, is hardly equivalent to the “In God We Trust” numismatic issue we have been discussing. Clearly, in your hypothetical, the government is actively interfering with our parental rights under the Constitution to direct the education and upbringing of our children, for example. Clearly, parents would be able to argue that they had standing because of a tangible harm that was being worked on their children in the public schools, through this indoctrination program.

    However, you seem to believe that, if such court action weren’t possible, then “nobody could do anything to stop it”. Really? Is running to court the only remedy we have? What are we, a bunch of little children that have to run to Daddy to fight our battles for us? If my government were to undertake the hypothetical actions you propose, what about a political remedy? Contact legislators, organize opposition, engage in public relations to alert people to teh actions of their government, protest, vote, etc. etc. It’s a democracy, after all. Make your voice heard, in the time-honored American way.

  • Matt C.

    Todd @ 27

    I’m glad you’ve taken my concerns to heart.

    You said “let’s look at the words you used to refer to ‘In God we trust.’” That’s a good start. Now let’s looks at the other words you didn’t look closely enough at.

    First, you’re taking “can be as much” to mean “is interchangable with.” Second, you’re ignoring the clarifying examples. Third, you’re ignoring the “i” word at the end of my first post (it ends with “deals”) that also describes a slogan. Therefore, your conclusion that at the end of 11, I’m saying “slogan = goal” is false, and frankly, you should know better.

    Since you went off the rails that early, I’ll leave the reading comprehension lesson at that for now.

    You wrote:
    “Okay … so you think it’s a bad slogan? But you’re just defending it, anyhow?”

    Jumping to conclusions. A) I wasn’t defending the slogan at all, I was pointing out the problems with your objection. B) My worldview is wide enough for more options than good and bad. Since you asked so nicely, my opinion is that it’s “fine.” Hardly the most useful slogan for this day and age, but nothing to get your panties in a twist over. If somebody was lobbying for a new and better slogan, I would probably support it. But when a small minority is just saying “oh noes! it says the G-word! I’m offended!” I can’t really get behind that kind of useless fuss.

    You wrote:
    “Well, nor is it specifically a Deistic institution, but why does ‘In God we trust’ get a pass by this logic? ”

    Because it’s not a specifically deistic slogan. Most theistic people could also accept it. Even most pantheists would be able to acccept it. It leaves out atheists, of course, and some flavors of Buddhism, but I find that acceptable. You can’t please everyone.

    I can’t really agree with mentioning God “as little as possible” since that essentially means zero mentions (it’s *possible* that it never cross one’s lips). I would rather say no more than is appropriate. However, acknowleding His importance and existance is appropriate in my opinion. “In God we trust” doesn’t do much more.

  • Matt C.

    Todd @ 27

    I’m glad you’ve taken my concerns to heart.

    You said “let’s look at the words you used to refer to ‘In God we trust.’” That’s a good start. Now let’s looks at the other words you didn’t look closely enough at.

    First, you’re taking “can be as much” to mean “is interchangable with.” Second, you’re ignoring the clarifying examples. Third, you’re ignoring the “i” word at the end of my first post (it ends with “deals”) that also describes a slogan. Therefore, your conclusion that at the end of 11, I’m saying “slogan = goal” is false, and frankly, you should know better.

    Since you went off the rails that early, I’ll leave the reading comprehension lesson at that for now.

    You wrote:
    “Okay … so you think it’s a bad slogan? But you’re just defending it, anyhow?”

    Jumping to conclusions. A) I wasn’t defending the slogan at all, I was pointing out the problems with your objection. B) My worldview is wide enough for more options than good and bad. Since you asked so nicely, my opinion is that it’s “fine.” Hardly the most useful slogan for this day and age, but nothing to get your panties in a twist over. If somebody was lobbying for a new and better slogan, I would probably support it. But when a small minority is just saying “oh noes! it says the G-word! I’m offended!” I can’t really get behind that kind of useless fuss.

    You wrote:
    “Well, nor is it specifically a Deistic institution, but why does ‘In God we trust’ get a pass by this logic? ”

    Because it’s not a specifically deistic slogan. Most theistic people could also accept it. Even most pantheists would be able to acccept it. It leaves out atheists, of course, and some flavors of Buddhism, but I find that acceptable. You can’t please everyone.

    I can’t really agree with mentioning God “as little as possible” since that essentially means zero mentions (it’s *possible* that it never cross one’s lips). I would rather say no more than is appropriate. However, acknowleding His importance and existance is appropriate in my opinion. “In God we trust” doesn’t do much more.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@30), I realize it’s popular conservative sentiment to say that judges “make our laws for us”, but it’s not so. There’s a clear difference between writing and passing a law, and judging whether that law (or any other action), say, is compatible with a higher, pre-existing law. I guess you disagree.

    You say that “in your hypothetical, the government is actively interfering with our parental rights under the Constitution to direct the education and upbringing of our children”, yet you don’t state where the line is between that example and the coin one. Which of the items in my hypothetical sent you over the line?

    And what “parental rights” are you referring to, specifically? Please point me to that part of the Constitution. I can’t find anything about “parental rights” in there, and I’d hate for you to be reading things into the Constitution, since I know you hate that.

    Also, were you shooting for irony when you mockingly asked, “Is running to court the only remedy we have? What are we, a bunch of little children that have to run to Daddy …?” only to later suggest that a better alternative is to “contact legislators”. Right, so using the government (courts) to decide if something is constitutional is acting like a baby. Oh, but running to the government (Congress) to change a law, no matter the constitutionality of anything, well, that’s mighty brave!

    And Don, it’s not a “democracy”. Honestly, you’re a lawyer. You should know that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@30), I realize it’s popular conservative sentiment to say that judges “make our laws for us”, but it’s not so. There’s a clear difference between writing and passing a law, and judging whether that law (or any other action), say, is compatible with a higher, pre-existing law. I guess you disagree.

    You say that “in your hypothetical, the government is actively interfering with our parental rights under the Constitution to direct the education and upbringing of our children”, yet you don’t state where the line is between that example and the coin one. Which of the items in my hypothetical sent you over the line?

    And what “parental rights” are you referring to, specifically? Please point me to that part of the Constitution. I can’t find anything about “parental rights” in there, and I’d hate for you to be reading things into the Constitution, since I know you hate that.

    Also, were you shooting for irony when you mockingly asked, “Is running to court the only remedy we have? What are we, a bunch of little children that have to run to Daddy …?” only to later suggest that a better alternative is to “contact legislators”. Right, so using the government (courts) to decide if something is constitutional is acting like a baby. Oh, but running to the government (Congress) to change a law, no matter the constitutionality of anything, well, that’s mighty brave!

    And Don, it’s not a “democracy”. Honestly, you’re a lawyer. You should know that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Matt (@31), I’m not really convinced you’re reading my posts. E.g. you say I’m “ignoring the ‘i’ word at the end of my first post (it ends with ‘deals’) that also describes a slogan,” when I have an entire paragraph on your use of the word “ideal” (@27), and I even asked you a clarifying question as to how you can claim our government has an “ideal”, yet does not have a “goal” or “mission statement” in the same vein. But you didn’t answer that, so I’m not quite sure where you get off questioning my reading comprehension.

    As to whose “panties” are “in a twist,” I suppose it’s always the other guy, innit? I mean, it seems pretty clear to me that everyone here vehemently opposing this law suit has kinked knickers, because it’s obviously a Big Deal to them. Myself, I don’t personally feel violated every time I use a US coin, but nor do I think that “slogan” is worth defending. My boxers remain smooth.

    As to your “deistic” response, you’re missing the point: Nor is our government a “theistic” institution.

    And, frankly, the fact that so many completely contradictory religions can agree to the slogan points to its worthlessness. There’s no single “god” that we can agree to “trust” in — the Christian Trinity? Allah? Ahura Mazda? Your apparent answer is: Yes, all of those are fine answers. As long as our government “acknowledges” the “importance” of all these “gods”, then it’s done something good, right?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Matt (@31), I’m not really convinced you’re reading my posts. E.g. you say I’m “ignoring the ‘i’ word at the end of my first post (it ends with ‘deals’) that also describes a slogan,” when I have an entire paragraph on your use of the word “ideal” (@27), and I even asked you a clarifying question as to how you can claim our government has an “ideal”, yet does not have a “goal” or “mission statement” in the same vein. But you didn’t answer that, so I’m not quite sure where you get off questioning my reading comprehension.

    As to whose “panties” are “in a twist,” I suppose it’s always the other guy, innit? I mean, it seems pretty clear to me that everyone here vehemently opposing this law suit has kinked knickers, because it’s obviously a Big Deal to them. Myself, I don’t personally feel violated every time I use a US coin, but nor do I think that “slogan” is worth defending. My boxers remain smooth.

    As to your “deistic” response, you’re missing the point: Nor is our government a “theistic” institution.

    And, frankly, the fact that so many completely contradictory religions can agree to the slogan points to its worthlessness. There’s no single “god” that we can agree to “trust” in — the Christian Trinity? Allah? Ahura Mazda? Your apparent answer is: Yes, all of those are fine answers. As long as our government “acknowledges” the “importance” of all these “gods”, then it’s done something good, right?

  • Matt C.

    tODD, We’re talking past each other here. I apologize for my rudeness facilitating that.

    I thought “Since you went off the rails that early, I’ll leave the reading comprehension lesson at that for now.” was sufficiently indicative that I saw no value in responding point-by-point to the rest of your post.

    Since you asked, my answer to the clarifying question:

    You wrote @ 27:
    “Though you haven’t in any way explained why it is a goal, but not a mission statement — how are those different to you, and why does it matter?”

    In answer, I wrote @ 11 (hence my frustration):
    “In this case, the subject is the collective people (not the government) and the expression is an ideal (or goal, or picture, etc). The slogan therefore does not express the government’s mission to transform us into God-trusters, but the idea that an ideal citizenry does trust God (broadly defined).”

    To restate it: A mission statement defines the purpose and funtion of an organization (in the sense you’re using it: the government); a slogan can serve many purposes, but this one on our coins is to express something about an ideal citizenry. Different subjects, different functions. Hence it is a “goal” in one sense (if you want to be a good citizen in this country, you should trust in God, broadly defined), but not at all in the sense you’re trying to apply (the government’s function is to bring it about).

    You wrote:
    “As to your “deistic” response, you’re missing the point: Nor is our government a “theistic” institution.”

    And I, of course, think you’re missing the point. Just because the government is not a church does not mean it must or even can be so completely neutral on and detatched from the idea of God, that it can never comment on Him.

    You wrote:
    “And, frankly, the fact that so many completely contradictory religions can agree to the slogan points to its worthlessness. ”

    So many completely contradictory religions can also agree that “murder is wrong” and yet it’s hardly a worthless statement. Its use is obviously limitted (abortionists, for example, believe murder is wrong but still do it as a profession), but limitted does not mean non-existant.

    You wrote:
    “There’s no single “god” that we can agree to “trust” in — the Christian Trinity? Allah? Ahura Mazda? Your apparent answer is: Yes, all of those are fine answers. As long as our government “acknowledges” the “importance” of all these “gods”, then it’s done something good, right?”

    What I’m doing is objectifying God (i.e. considering the divine attributes without any consideration of the persons). This would be utterly horrible in religion, but can be appropriate in secular government. In general most agree that there is a something that is all good, creator, supreme, and so on as long as you don’t get too specific. This is useful information for the purposes of government in a fallen world.

  • Matt C.

    tODD, We’re talking past each other here. I apologize for my rudeness facilitating that.

    I thought “Since you went off the rails that early, I’ll leave the reading comprehension lesson at that for now.” was sufficiently indicative that I saw no value in responding point-by-point to the rest of your post.

    Since you asked, my answer to the clarifying question:

    You wrote @ 27:
    “Though you haven’t in any way explained why it is a goal, but not a mission statement — how are those different to you, and why does it matter?”

    In answer, I wrote @ 11 (hence my frustration):
    “In this case, the subject is the collective people (not the government) and the expression is an ideal (or goal, or picture, etc). The slogan therefore does not express the government’s mission to transform us into God-trusters, but the idea that an ideal citizenry does trust God (broadly defined).”

    To restate it: A mission statement defines the purpose and funtion of an organization (in the sense you’re using it: the government); a slogan can serve many purposes, but this one on our coins is to express something about an ideal citizenry. Different subjects, different functions. Hence it is a “goal” in one sense (if you want to be a good citizen in this country, you should trust in God, broadly defined), but not at all in the sense you’re trying to apply (the government’s function is to bring it about).

    You wrote:
    “As to your “deistic” response, you’re missing the point: Nor is our government a “theistic” institution.”

    And I, of course, think you’re missing the point. Just because the government is not a church does not mean it must or even can be so completely neutral on and detatched from the idea of God, that it can never comment on Him.

    You wrote:
    “And, frankly, the fact that so many completely contradictory religions can agree to the slogan points to its worthlessness. ”

    So many completely contradictory religions can also agree that “murder is wrong” and yet it’s hardly a worthless statement. Its use is obviously limitted (abortionists, for example, believe murder is wrong but still do it as a profession), but limitted does not mean non-existant.

    You wrote:
    “There’s no single “god” that we can agree to “trust” in — the Christian Trinity? Allah? Ahura Mazda? Your apparent answer is: Yes, all of those are fine answers. As long as our government “acknowledges” the “importance” of all these “gods”, then it’s done something good, right?”

    What I’m doing is objectifying God (i.e. considering the divine attributes without any consideration of the persons). This would be utterly horrible in religion, but can be appropriate in secular government. In general most agree that there is a something that is all good, creator, supreme, and so on as long as you don’t get too specific. This is useful information for the purposes of government in a fallen world.

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    For the ironicallyand sarcastically challenged:

    @4
    “Really? So if every coin in your pocket read “Ohmygod” instead of “In God we trust”, you’d consider that equally religious (or un-religious)?”

    No, I said “a bit like” not “equally.” It was sarcasm. Read.

    “You’d get the same idea from either message about our country and its beliefs?”

    Only if I was ironically-challenged. Our country has no “beliefs.” Only its citizens do.

    “You’d be happy to pay for the government to print “Ohmygod” on every coin?””

    I am never happy paying the government for anything stupid. If Newdow wins his day in court, I’ll be really pissed about taking decent coin out of circulation and retooling the Mint all so atheist boy doesn’t have to see the G-word every time he buys a 6-pack.

    I still think fiat currency is a bigger leap of faith.

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    For the ironicallyand sarcastically challenged:

    @4
    “Really? So if every coin in your pocket read “Ohmygod” instead of “In God we trust”, you’d consider that equally religious (or un-religious)?”

    No, I said “a bit like” not “equally.” It was sarcasm. Read.

    “You’d get the same idea from either message about our country and its beliefs?”

    Only if I was ironically-challenged. Our country has no “beliefs.” Only its citizens do.

    “You’d be happy to pay for the government to print “Ohmygod” on every coin?””

    I am never happy paying the government for anything stupid. If Newdow wins his day in court, I’ll be really pissed about taking decent coin out of circulation and retooling the Mint all so atheist boy doesn’t have to see the G-word every time he buys a 6-pack.

    I still think fiat currency is a bigger leap of faith.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 32, you are the master of the straw man argument.

    I think that I have made quite clear that the judiciary has a constitutional role in interpreting both statutes and the Constitution. Parental rights are clearly established, as interpreted in both Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) and the Yoder case (1972). There is a difference, of course, between interpretation of a constitutional right, and changing that right. One can be opposed to the idea that every time the government mentions “God” it is somehow establishing a religion, yet still see a role for a court interpreting the law. Here’s a hint: if a clear majority of the population has a certain view of things, to the extent that it has passed statutes supporting that view (yes, I am thinking of marriage laws here), and if that view was in place at the time the Constitution was written, as well as for all of human history prior to that time, they you, as a mere judge, should probably not suddenly be finding that the same Constitution, which is silent on the issue at hand, actually requires establishment of the opposite view. That is the epitome of “judge-made” law.

    If you can’t see the difference between a government printing a certain slogan on money, that you yourself described as “weak”, and that same government actively indoctrinating your children against a belief in God, in school, during school hours that you pay for as a taxpayer for the purpose of educating your children so that they can function as adults, then I can’t help you. Unfortunately, there are many more of you out there these days that can’t see proportionality, which is one reason why our courts are clogged with silly cases like the one that started this post.

    And what do you mean by: “Right, so using the government (courts) to decide if something is constitutional is acting like a baby. Oh, but running to the government (Congress) to change a law, no matter the constitutionality of anything, well, that’s mighty brave!”? Are you serious? You don’t see the difference between running to court, and working through your elected representative to change a law the way they are supposed to be changed? I fear for our country when a bright young articulate person like you cannot make this distinction.

    The U.S. is a democracy. It is not a direct democracy, but rather a representative democracy. But, with the exception of the president, we directly elect our representatives. But, we’re not really going to argue about that, are we?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 32, you are the master of the straw man argument.

    I think that I have made quite clear that the judiciary has a constitutional role in interpreting both statutes and the Constitution. Parental rights are clearly established, as interpreted in both Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) and the Yoder case (1972). There is a difference, of course, between interpretation of a constitutional right, and changing that right. One can be opposed to the idea that every time the government mentions “God” it is somehow establishing a religion, yet still see a role for a court interpreting the law. Here’s a hint: if a clear majority of the population has a certain view of things, to the extent that it has passed statutes supporting that view (yes, I am thinking of marriage laws here), and if that view was in place at the time the Constitution was written, as well as for all of human history prior to that time, they you, as a mere judge, should probably not suddenly be finding that the same Constitution, which is silent on the issue at hand, actually requires establishment of the opposite view. That is the epitome of “judge-made” law.

    If you can’t see the difference between a government printing a certain slogan on money, that you yourself described as “weak”, and that same government actively indoctrinating your children against a belief in God, in school, during school hours that you pay for as a taxpayer for the purpose of educating your children so that they can function as adults, then I can’t help you. Unfortunately, there are many more of you out there these days that can’t see proportionality, which is one reason why our courts are clogged with silly cases like the one that started this post.

    And what do you mean by: “Right, so using the government (courts) to decide if something is constitutional is acting like a baby. Oh, but running to the government (Congress) to change a law, no matter the constitutionality of anything, well, that’s mighty brave!”? Are you serious? You don’t see the difference between running to court, and working through your elected representative to change a law the way they are supposed to be changed? I fear for our country when a bright young articulate person like you cannot make this distinction.

    The U.S. is a democracy. It is not a direct democracy, but rather a representative democracy. But, with the exception of the president, we directly elect our representatives. But, we’re not really going to argue about that, are we?

  • Joe

    Don said: “The U.S. is a democracy.” I fundamentally disagree with that statement. The US is a constitutional republic that employs certain limited democratic mechanisms for certain limited purposes. If we were a democracy (direct or representative), we would have no constitutional court with powers of review, no bill of rights and no executive branch that was divorced from the popular vote (i.e. not a prime minister). These things are antithetical to democracy and that is a good thing.

  • Joe

    Don said: “The U.S. is a democracy.” I fundamentally disagree with that statement. The US is a constitutional republic that employs certain limited democratic mechanisms for certain limited purposes. If we were a democracy (direct or representative), we would have no constitutional court with powers of review, no bill of rights and no executive branch that was divorced from the popular vote (i.e. not a prime minister). These things are antithetical to democracy and that is a good thing.

  • DonS

    Joe:

    Yes, I agree with you. Technically, we are a republic. But, in the context of my comment, our government is a democratic government, as opposed to a monarchy or a dictatorship. I was using the term in its broader sense, correct in its context (review comment #30 and you will see what I mean), and tODD was nitpicking because, well, he’s tODD.

  • DonS

    Joe:

    Yes, I agree with you. Technically, we are a republic. But, in the context of my comment, our government is a democratic government, as opposed to a monarchy or a dictatorship. I was using the term in its broader sense, correct in its context (review comment #30 and you will see what I mean), and tODD was nitpicking because, well, he’s tODD.


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