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Religious and the ACLU
Author | 10-09-03 | Robert Wolf

Posted on 10/09/2003 12:34:19 PM PDT by aynfan

Religious Intolerance and the ACLU

By Robert Wolf

Amendment I of the Constitution of the US reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and continues with “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.” This is the so-called Establishment clause we hear so much about.

The phrase separation of Church and State we hear so often comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson 21 years later in which he remarks, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.1

In the 1st part it is clear that there will never be a State religion in America; and it is equally clear, in the second part, that the founders did not intend hostility toward religion.

Philosophical and Historical Factors

Our republic and the constitution were born of the Enlightenment; its Founders inspired by the ideas of John Locke. In the words of Locke, “It is not the diversity of opinions (which cannot be avoided), but the refusal of toleration to those that are of different opinions that has produced all the bustles and wars that have been in the Christian world upon account of religion . . . neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion . . . .If a Roman Catholic believe that to be really the body of Christ which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbour. . . If a Jew does not believe the New Testament to be the Word of God, he does not thereby alter anything in men's civil rights . . . If a heathen doubt of both Testaments, he is not therefore to be punished as a pernicious citizen. The power of the magistrate and the estates of the people may be equally secure whether any man believe these things or no.”

If the Enlightenment can be summed up briefly it embodied the belief in progress through reason. Liberty was its major preoccupation and religious intolerance the chief obstacle to its attainment.

The great men of the Enlightenment were not atheists; they were Deists. For example Voltaire's often quoted lines from “Epistle to the Author of ‘The Three Impostors’” "If God did not exist, he would have to be invented." is incomplete. The line that follows reads, “but all nature cries out to us that he does exist.” The Deists argued that religions were bad only to the extent they promoted superstition and only when combined with the force and fury of the State

Public Displays of Religion

The Rotunda of the US Capitol is an impressive room comprised of 8.9 million pounds of masonry-covered cast iron. Upon its ornate walls are murals that include Pilgrims praying, the baptism of Pocahontas, De Soto planting a cross on the banks of the Mississippi, and, at the very top, the apotheosis of George Washington. Does the Rotunda establish a religion? If so, which one?

A carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments adorns the frieze on a wall of the courtroom at the Supreme Court. Both former and current justices have noted on more than one occasion, the carving "signals respect not for great proselytizers but for great lawgivers."

The ACLU and others should realize what most Americans already know, that there is a clear distinction between acknowledging religion and establishing religion. Accommodating religion is not the same thing as establishing one.

Aside from the many displays of religion themes in public buildings in our nation’s capitol, Congress, from its inception authorized (and still funds) chaplains for the legislature and sessions in both the Congress and the Supreme Court begin with prayer. The Oaths of Office for the president and for legislators bear the imprint of 1st Amendment thinking as well. An office holder is given the choice to swear or affirm. They are not forbidden to swear. The Founders knew that banishing religion from the public square would not result in a vacuum, but in the monopoly of irreligion or in the more modern vernacular Secular Humanism.

Arguments against the Accommodation of Religion

Lately, the courts have tended to interpret the Establishment Clause as meaning that the state should be neutral on the question of whether God exists. Justice Hugo Black wrote that the government may not 'pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.' At the heart of this argument is the notion that disbelief is default nature of man. This is an extremely tenuous position for when we consider human civilization, religion in found in every society throughout history.

It is held by the ACLU and others that it is less oppressive for a religious person to see God stripped from official expression than for an atheist to bear the mention of the word.

It is further argued that because Christianity is the predominant religion in America, if a more liberal interpretation of the establishment clause were permitted official expressions of Christianity would outnumber those of other religions and would constitute a de facto discrimination. In other words, the current interpretation of the Establishment Clause provides relief from discrimination. This is an argument ad absurdum. Discrimination is not eliminated by discriminating against all, even if one is fond of tautologies.

Since ideas have consequences and manifest themselves in reality, such half-baked notions provoke incidents like the following to occur. According to the Muslim American Society, a Muslim student in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was publicly reprimanded by her community college instructor for beginning her class presentation with the words, 'In the name of Allah.' and threatened to prevent her from giving future presentations if she repeated the phrase. In 1990, the US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, ruled that the Philadelphia public school system was correct in firing a Muslim teacher because she wore a hijab, a headscarf worn by women as part of Islam's emphasis on modesty. The court was upholding an archaic Pennsylvania law requiring the termination of instructors who wear religious garb. The law was originally enacted in 1895 to prevent Catholic nuns from teaching in public schools, and has also been invoked to force Jewish teachers to remove their yarmulkes. That is the result of ‘government discrimination against all’ in an area where the constitution wisely advises neither/nor.

Government accommodation in a majority Christian nation might indeed result in discrimination of religious minorities. But those minorities would at least then have the legal standing on which to argue for their right to free religious expression.

Irreligion

Friedrich Nietzsche argued that because "God is dead," man should live by “appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker; suppression, hardness . . . exploitation.” This idea became the foundation of German fascism. When we consider the inhumanity of the anti-religious Hitler, Stalin, and Maoist regimes, how can we say that religion has a monopoly on atrocity.

It is not true that all atheists behave immorally, or that theists behave morally; but on balance, religion's positive contributions to society far outweigh the negative, as long as religion is not combined with the coercive powers of government.

Contributions of Religion

The contribution of religion to law, ethics, and social stability cannot be ignored. Aside from providing an ethical and moral framework, religion tends to inculcate in its adherents the conviction that we are ultimately accountable for our actions. Religion, divorced from superstition, contributes to a strong family unit; it fosters an economic safety net by encouraging charity, and provides a source of strength for those recovering from addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, and other social diseases.

As the United States Supreme Court once stated, "this is a religious nation." The Court has discussed the historical role of religion in our society and concluded that "[t]here is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789." Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 674 (1984).

-1-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aclu; enlightenment; establishmentclause; irreligion; johnlocke; religion; religioustolerance; robertwolf; supremecourt; voltaire

1 posted on 10/09/2003 12:34:19 PM PDT by aynfan
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To: aynfan; BibChr
the founders did not intend hostility toward religion.

This is basic but seems to be more than some can comprehend.

I was listening to a group of adults discussing politics last week when the question was asked if anyone had ever read the Constitution. Out of 8 adults, one did not and the rest pretended like the question was not asked.

2 posted on 10/09/2003 12:53:46 PM PDT by Dataman
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3 posted on 10/09/2003 12:54:45 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: aynfan
The next time some activist ACLU type goes through judicial hearings, I would like to hear them quizzed on how the hell we got from the First Amendment as it is written, to the fictional first Amendment represented by the ACLU, and swallowed whole by an ignorant public.
4 posted on 10/09/2003 12:58:15 PM PDT by AndyTheBear
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To: aynfan
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Main Entry: re·spect·ing
Function: preposition
Date: 1611
1 : in view of : CONSIDERING
2 : with respect to : CONCERNING


In the 1st part it is clear that there will never be a State religion in America;
Factually incorrect.
Around half the states that signed the Constitution had established, official, state religions at the time of their signing. Some even well into the mid-1800's, until their respective state legislatures abolished them.

By default the Federal government can not establish a religion but in also can not unestablish one either since it is specifically forbidden to make any law respecting meaning in view of or with respect to and establishment of religion. The Constitution forbids the Federal government from having any opinion at all one way or another on establishment issues.

I'm not advocating an establishment of any state religion, but it is well withing the rights reserved to the states or to the people to do so if they wish. Great article. Just wanted to make a particular point on how badly the SCOUS has butchered the first amendment.
We are presently having this battle with the federal judges here in Alabama.
5 posted on 10/09/2003 1:06:04 PM PDT by GrandEagle
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To: AndyTheBear
fC ...

When are evolutionists -- liberals - atheist - wiccans ... going to find their own country --- lesser aclu america !

rm7 ...

To: Hermann the Cherusker

**Your claiming of those Deists as Protestants proves my point that Protestantism doesn't really care what a man believes, and certainly not if he believes in Christ or not, so long as it is not Catholicism. **

Thank you for the opportunity to post this. Note only one Catholic..

Denominational Affiliations of the Framers of the Constitution

Dr. Miles Bradford of the University of Dallas did a study on the denominational classifications that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention accepted for themselves. Contrary to myth, the following list, published by Bradford, indicates that only 3 out of 55 of the framers classified themselves as Deists.

Note: only those Denominations whose Confessions of Faith were expressly Calvinistic at this time have been identified as "Calvinist" denominations. While many "Old-School" Lutherans and "Whitfield" Methodists at this time would have identified themselves with a Calvinistic view of Predestination, their affiliation has for the sake of charity been assumed to be non-Calvinist.

New Hampshire

* John Langdon, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist
* Nicholas Gilman, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist

Massachusetts

* Elbridge Gerry, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Rufus King, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Caleb Strong, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist
* Nathaniel Gorham, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist Connecticut
* Roger Sherman, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist
* William Johnson, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Oliver Ellsworth, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist

New York


* Alexander Hamilton, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* John Lansing, DUTCH REFORMED -- Calvinist
* Robert Yates, DUTCH REFORMED -- Calvinist

New Jersey

* William Patterson, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* William Livingston, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* Jonathan Dayton, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* David Brearly, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* William Churchill Houston, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist

Pennsylvania


* Benjamin Franklin, DEIST
* Robert Morris, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* James Wilson, DEIST
* Gouverneur Morris, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Thomas Mifflin, QUAKER
* George Clymer, QUAKER
* Thomas FitzSimmons, ROMAN CATHOLIC
* Jared Ingersoll, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist

Delaware

* John Dickinson, QUAKER
* George Read, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Richard Bassett, METHODIST
* Gunning Beford, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* Jacod Broom, LUTHERAN

Maryland

* Luther Martin, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Daniel Carroll, ROMAN CATHOLIC
* John Mercer, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* James McHenry, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* Daniel Jennifer, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist

Virginia


* George Washington, EPISCOPALIAN (Non-Communicant)
* James Madison, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* George Mason, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Edmund Randolph, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* James Blair, Jr., EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* James McClung, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* George Wythe, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist

North Carolina

* William Davie, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* Hugh Williamson, DEIST
* William Blount, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* Alexander Martin, PRESBYTERIAN -- Calvinist
* Richard Spaight, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist

South Carolina

* John Rutledge, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Charles Pinckney, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Pierce Butler, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* Charles Pinckney, III, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist

Georgia

* Abraham Baldwin, CONGREGATIONALIST -- Calvinist
* William Leigh Pierce, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* William Houstoun, EPISCOPALIAN -- Calvinist
* William Few, METHODIST

327 posted on 09/30/2003 9:47 PM PDT by RnMomof7



fC ...

The definition of an anti christ is pretty much someone who uses the power of the state to force their beliefs ... specious - esoteric - sectarian --- upon others !

Pretty much atheist - statist totalitarians ... power mongerers --- controllers - social engineers (( aclu - evo whacks )) !
6 posted on 10/09/2003 1:06:10 PM PDT by f.Christian (evolution vs intelligent design ... science3000 ... designeduniverse.com --- * architecture * !)
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To: AndyTheBear
"The next time some activist ACLU type goes through judicial hearings, I would like to hear them quizzed on how the hell we got from the First Amendment as it is written, to the fictional first Amendment represented by the ACLU, and swallowed whole by an ignorant public."

Amen to that.

7 posted on 10/09/2003 1:06:34 PM PDT by NH Liberty
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To: aynfan
They are very tolerant of Religion.

They are for the teaching of religion in public schools here in California.

We have an 8th grade humanities course in which students are encouraged to memorize verses form the big book.

ACLU has never stopped this class from teaching religion here in Cally-Fonia!

The class I am referring to is teaching Islam to our kids and the big book they are encouraged to memorize passages from is the Koran.

Islam In California Public Schools.

8 posted on 10/09/2003 1:13:20 PM PDT by Kay Soze (Democrats’ life philosophy is so flawed they need my money to make their lives work.)
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To: aynfan
read later
9 posted on 10/09/2003 1:22:15 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: aynfan
Not to mention that the Constitution was signed "the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven."


Interesting...
10 posted on 10/09/2003 1:23:32 PM PDT by jcb8199
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To: jcb8199
fC ...

Bible and gun grabbers too !

Holy warriors ... bolsheviks --- " a latter-day Politburo (( SAINTS - gods too ))" !

e-as (( another post - thread - poster )) ...

No. The ACLU says the First Amendment protects their right (( atheism )) to free speech, which the Second does not protect your right to keep and bear arms.

I was going to say they don't understand the concept that the militia is made up of the very people referenced in the text of the amendment. But they do get this, and very well. They simply know that when the people are completely disarmed, there is no impediment to the ... ACLU becoming --- a latter-day Politburo.

I'm telling you, gather weapons and ammo now while you still can.

50 posted on 03/28/2002 4:02 PM PST by Euro-American Scum

fC ...

Here's the ... solution (( link )) !

11 posted on 10/09/2003 1:36:27 PM PDT by f.Christian (evolution vs intelligent design ... science3000 ... designeduniverse.com --- * architecture * !)
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To: Kay Soze
The class I am referring to is teaching Islam to our kids and the big book they are encouraged to memorize passages from is the Koran

The American Communist Liars Union?
12 posted on 10/09/2003 1:44:39 PM PDT by LittleJoe
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To: LittleJoe
Funny how when the Berlin wall fell ... leftist had to find another god to hang their God - Truth hating false science - ideology on --- islam - pc brotherhood !

They have the ... wishy (( dnc)) - washy (( rnc )) --- psuedo christians - catholics to help them !

13 posted on 10/09/2003 2:00:04 PM PDT by f.Christian (evolution vs intelligent design ... science3000 ... designeduniverse.com --- * architecture * !)
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To: f.Christian
They have the ... wishy (( dnc)) - washy (( rnc )) --- psuedo christians - catholics to help them !

They practice divide and conquer. They have no real interest in religion of any kind. If they can keep Christians and Pagans demonizing each other, they are happy.

When Christians demonize other Christians they are ecstatic!

That is the nature of the beast.
14 posted on 10/09/2003 2:16:04 PM PDT by LittleJoe
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To: LittleJoe
A lot of practicing self confessed pagans on the FR ... milatant too --- trolls !
15 posted on 10/09/2003 2:23:16 PM PDT by f.Christian (evolution vs intelligent design ... science3000 ... designeduniverse.com --- * architecture * !)
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To: aynfan
The phrase separation of Church and State we hear so often comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson 21 years later in which he remarks, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,

thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

This is the part they leave out when they mention only the last phrase. A good lie always has a little truth in it.

16 posted on 10/09/2003 2:29:10 PM PDT by Only1choice____Freedom (If everything you experienced, believed, lived was a lie, would you want to know the truth?)
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To: f.Christian
Contrary to myth, the following list, published by Bradford, indicates that only 3 out of 55 of the framers classified themselves as Deists.

Look at Dr. Bradford's list. Go back and reread American history. He's got way too many Episcopalians, for starters.

His study makes use of assupmtions that are just not true. Example... Martha Washington attended church every Sunday. George never sat foot inside of a church. What church did George belong to?

This is the stuff that causes people to dislike Christians. No religion can claim to be the only true faith in our free Republic.

Washington spoke about hate and factions. Factions are not limited to political parties.
17 posted on 10/09/2003 2:37:18 PM PDT by LittleJoe
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To: LittleJoe
19th century ideology shoudn't rewrite American history ... projection is a mental device of the insane !
18 posted on 10/09/2003 2:40:07 PM PDT by f.Christian (evolution vs intelligent design ... science3000 ... designeduniverse.com --- * architecture * !)
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To: f.Christian
LOL!!!
19 posted on 10/09/2003 2:55:54 PM PDT by LittleJoe
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To: LittleJoe
George never sat foot inside of a church. What church did George belong to?

The first Geo. W. was a very religious man. I forget the exact place I saw it, but there was a very religious speach he gave at least once, and I'm sure there are many examples you can find.

Jefferson wasn't quite so religious, although he did attend church services in the Congressional House chambers every Sunday. I suspect for purely political reasons.

20 posted on 10/09/2003 3:06:41 PM PDT by narby
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To: GrandEagle
Around half the states that signed the Constitution had established, official, state religions at the time of their signing. Some even well into the mid-1800's, until their respective state legislatures abolished them.

The ACLU will quickly site the 14th amendment, and claim that it imposed the 1st on the states.

In reality, the 14th was adopted immediatly after the civil war, when some southern states claimed they were not bound by the Constitution with regard to slaves, because the federal constitution didn't apply to states. (a truely stupid claim, since if rights granted by the federal constitution didn't apply within the states, then they didn't apply anywhere except Washington DC)

The intent of the 14th didn't have anything to do with religion, and in any event, the 1st is not part of the "rights and privelege[s]" granted by the Constitution. It is a specific limitation on the actions of the Congress.

Of course, this means the other clauses in the 1st, like about the press, are also only binding on the federal Congress, but many states duplicate these things in their own state constitutions (which would be meaningless, unless the 1st amendment truly only applied to the Congress).

21 posted on 10/09/2003 3:14:09 PM PDT by narby
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To: narby
Sure narby, but religious doesn't neccesarily mean Christian.

Jefferson was a Deist who dissed Christians in his writings. I don't think he was as anti Christian as his writing would lead some to believe.

The excesses of the Christian church starting in the 1740's angered many, and was a contributing factor to the revolution. I think he was more likely expressing his anger at the king's church.
22 posted on 10/09/2003 3:38:34 PM PDT by LittleJoe
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To: narby
The ACLU will quickly site the 14th amendment, and claim that it imposed the 1st on the states.
I agree that they probably would (and have here in Alabama), however, if that were so then that would also prohibit the states from having any opinion either. That would then place establishment matters as a right retained by the people as stated in the 10th.

I would have a slight disagreement I with your assertion a truely stupid claim, since if rights granted by the federal constitution…

As evidenced by the Declaration of Independence, the founders considered the individual citizen endowed by our creator with all rights. Understanding the necessity of government, we the people came together and granted the FEDERAL government it’s rights. Those rights are enumerated in the Constitution. Where we don’t disagree is in the fact that the 13th amendment applied to the states. Certain things are forbidden by the Constitution for the states to do (as also called out by the 10th). When the 13th was ratified it forbid slavery.
Unfortunately, in an effort to prevent the newly freed slaves from being citizens some of the southern states just declared them not to be citizens of their state. At times laws were passed and enforced only on these ex-slaves.
Enter the duly ratified 14th amendment. It declared that if you lived in a state, you are a citizen of that state. The Feds do allow the state to make some reasonable residency requirements, but they do not have to. We the people removed that authority from the states. Also included were other remedies which did not forbid the states from making laws (vagrancy for example), but it did stipulate that the states must equally enforce those laws. It also forbid the states from arresting an individual without due process of equally enforced laws. The part that really gets abused is the part that deals with “rights and privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;” This would apply in any area where we the people have granted the Federal Government authority. NOT in every area conceivable!

In the case of the 1st amendment, if Utah wanted to declare Mormonism the Utah state religion they could. If they decided that Utah would become a theocracy, the Federal Government would be required by Article 4, Section 4, to prevent it. We the people have forbid the states the authority to determine their form of government.

The difference to some may just be semantics, but to me it is not. We have no rights granted to us by the Constitution. Our rights are granted to us by our Creator. We have voluntarily relinquished authority in areas that we have specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
23 posted on 10/09/2003 7:29:20 PM PDT by GrandEagle
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To: f.Christian
It's the 18th Century and that century and America are one.
24 posted on 10/10/2003 9:59:50 AM PDT by aynfan
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To: aynfan
This is a very logical, well-thought-out argument.

Unfortunately, the ACLU does not thrive on logic. They are so blind that they cannot see that their acions actually foster religious intolerance from all angles. Furthermore, they are so decidedly anti-Christian that I wouldn't be *too* surprised that if the West became Islamicized, and Muslims persecuted nonbelievers, they would tell protesting Christians to shut up and convert, because "all religions are good anyway, so why not just practice a different one?"

Maybe they'll prove me wrong. But their hesitance to criticize any religion other than Christianity makes me wonder.

25 posted on 10/11/2003 2:59:48 PM PDT by MegaSilver
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To: Only1choice____Freedom
This is the part they leave out when they mention only the last phrase. A good lie always has a little truth in it.

But of course. That's what makes good lies so difficult to detect... even if you swear there's a fallacy in there somewhere, it's difficult to detect since it's more often than not a spin-off of truth. The trick is knowing exactly which truth is in question, and how the final product compares to that truth.

26 posted on 10/11/2003 3:03:59 PM PDT by MegaSilver
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To: MegaSilver
The trick is knowing exactly which truth is in question, and how the final product compares to that truth.

It's also important when dis-crediting a truth (Rush Limbaugh) to include a blantant lie and when the object opens up, the lie is accepted as truth all in the same package.

27 posted on 10/13/2003 11:33:29 AM PDT by Only1choice____Freedom (If everything you experienced, believed, lived was a lie, would you want to know the truth?)
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