Separation Anxiety: Religious Extremes
By Chuck Muth
No issue makes more people look more ridiculous and extreme than the issue of religion in politics. And that's on both the left and the right. This week was no exception. As Ronald Reagan would say, "There they go again."
"The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding the removal of a tiny cross that is among historic symbols on Los Angeles County's official seal," reports Fox News. "The seal 'prominently depicts a Latin cross, a sectarian religious symbol that represents the beliefs of one segment of the county's diverse population' and is an 'impermissible endorsement of Christianity' by the county government," according to the ACLU.
This is just plain stupid. Here, take a look at the seal yourself. But put your glasses on, otherwise you'll likely have a hard time even finding the cross:
"Los Angeles" means "the angels." HELLO! Will the ACLU next go after the city and try to force it to change its name? What next? Saint Paul, Minnesota? La Crosse, Wisconsin? Good grief.
The ACLU, with this ridiculously absurd lawsuit, exhibits a decided hostility toward religion, mistakenly misinterpreting the First Amendment to mean freedom FROM religion instead of freedom OF religion. And LA will now have to spend a boatload of limited tax dollars defending itself against this frivolous lawsuit...or cave in to the extortion, thus emboldening others.
Which brings us to the opposite end of the extreme.
It's no secret that I think former judge Roy Moore went too far with his gigantic shrine to the Ten Commandments, posed under klieg lights in the rotunda of the Alabama state courthouse. That, in my opinion, crossed the fine line which wisely separates church and state, regardless of whether or not the actual words "separation of church and state" appear in the Constitution. (For the record, the word "God" doesn't appear there either; but that doesn't mean HE doesn't exist).
In any event, ex-judge Moore just doesn't seem to grasp the concept of reasonableness and proportion. As has been pointed out by others, wearing a necklace with a crucifix around your neck in the workplace is reasonable and proportionate. On the other hand, lugging a 10-foot oak cross around the office on your shoulder would be a bit over the top.
This common-sense distinction is completely lost on ex-judge Moore.
Another judge ruled that Moore's 2 1/2 ton monument featuring one of the versions of the Ten Commandments had to be removed from the rotunda. Moore told the judge to stick it in his ear. So judicial panel told Moore to take a flying leap and stripped him of his office.
Insisting on making a federal case out of his graven image to a religious document, Moore appealed his ouster to the Supreme Court this week, comparing the fact that SCOTUS opens each session with the words "God save this honorable court" to his giant rock shrine, maintaining that they are both a "public acknowledgement of God."
One is a reasonable and proportional acknowledgement of God. The other is the promotion of a specific and particular religious doctrine. Our motto is "in God we trust," not "in the Ten Commandments we trust." We pledge allegiance to "one nation, under God," not "one nation, under the Ten Commandments." The song is, "God Bless America," not "The Ten Commandments Bless America."
The fact that Moore can't see the difference is all one needs to know about whether or not he was fit to continue serving on the bench.
Why can't the extremists on both sides of this issue simply exercise a little common sense and moderation so the rest of us can focus on the really important issues of our time? You know...like TERRORISM.
May 30, 2004
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at: