Sunday, July 02, 2006

A further thought

I think it should be fairly obvious from my last post that I lend no support to government sponsored religious symbols such as the Mt. Soledad cross or courthouse Ten Commandments. However, you may recall a post I made earlier regarding Wiccan religious symbols on soldiers headstones in which I strongly supported the placement of such a symbol on a tombstone, which is funded and maintained by the government.

While this may seem to be a contradiction, I think there's a very important distinction between the two which I would like to expound upon for a moment.

To me, the main difference is what the two symbols are representing. In the case of a headstone, it represents the faith of a single person. Our first amendment says the government may not respect an "establishment of religion". When paying tribute to a single person, it is not the religion that is being honored, but the person.

However, if a cross, or any other religious symbol, is presented as a memorial to all soldiers, I take exception. Despite the rhetoric of "no atheists in foxholes" and similar accusations for other non-Christian beliefs, not all of those that serve in our nation's military are of a religion that can be represented by a single religious symbol. Thus, to honor those soldiers with a symbol that is not befitting, it is no longer a tribute to the soldiers. Instead it is a tribute to soldiers of a specific religion. When one religion is favored over another, the constitution has been violated.

And there are other places that I feel a proverbial tip of the hat to religion should be made. For example, it would be impossible to mention the settling of this country without discussing the Puritan heritage. No matter how you look at it, that is a fact.

However, most hat tipping done to various religions is not based on fact but is, instead, based on wishful thinking treated as fact because of those that are in power playing religious favoritism. A perfect example of this is the repeated attempts to display the 10 Commandments claiming that they are the foundation for our laws. In reality, only 4 of the 10 commandments (Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, and Thou shalt not bear false witness) are anywhere in our laws. Additionally, those four conventions are universal to all cultures. Thus, claiming that they're somehow derived explicitly from the Christian 10 Commandments is folly given that 60% are conspicuously absent.

So this is where I draw my line. If religious iconography is used to pay tribute to a single person of that faith as opposed to a blanket for those that may or may not be, then it is acceptable. If it is used in a truly historical context as opposed to aspirant hopes, then it is acceptable. If not, then to me, the constitution has been breeched and, majority favoritism or not, such symbols have no place being sponsored, in any manner, by any level of government.

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