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Sex and the County (A liberal judge quashes a liberal curriculum)
The Weekly Standard ^ | May 16, 2005 | Hadley Arkes

Posted on 05/17/2005 9:33:46 AM PDT by RWR8189

 

A FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE IN Maryland has jolted the local liberal establishment in Montgomery County by blocking a pilot program in sex education. The program was designed to sweep away the "myths"--the lingering moral inhibitions and retrograde theological teachings--that apparently feed reservations, still widely held, about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Judge Alexander Williams Jr. put the kibosh on this plan, and the jolt has had a deeper resonance, not least because Williams happens to be a Clinton appointee. But the lasting tremors come from the fact that the decisive strands in his May 5 judgment are lines of argument that have been used most often by the left: The judge invoked the concern for an establishment of religion, and beyond that, he raised the charge, under the First Amendment, that people with discordant views were being blocked from the public square.

The action in this case came in one of the most liberal counties in Maryland, encompassing the suburbs of Washington, D.C. An advisory committee was put together in November 2002 to recommend a new program of "health education" dealing with "sexual variation." The program, when it was finally written, reflected the liberal orthodoxy of the education establishment. With the claim to teach in an authoritative way about health and sex, the program put forth a series of "myths" to be corrected with "facts." But the myths were not all mythical, nor the facts all factual. And the authors could not restrain themselves from pronouncing on the moral dimness of people holding opposing views, including the theological backwardness of those religions that continue to honor the tradition of Jewish and Christian teaching on these matters.

The committee "informed" students, then, that "approximately 1 in 10" people are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. (That figure has long been discredited; more sober estimates put the figure closer to 2 percent). By any realistic measure, the epidemic of HIV infection is attributable overwhelmingly to the sexual practices of gay men. But the report, offering instruction in health, glides past the issue of fatal diseases by noting merely that "other groups are catching up"--e.g., intravenous drug users and "heterosexual women (17-30 years old)."

The committee assured students that homosexuality is no more abnormal than left-handedness. In contrast, "homophobia rather than homosexuality should be cured." What critics offer as moral reservations are reduced then to a psychological disorder; they do not elicit reasons to deal with their arguments, but therapy. Morality itself, the committee told students, is a "subjective issue . . . based on beliefs and values," which differ among communities according to their histories and conventions.

As for biblical teaching, the committee noted that the Bible contains numerous passages condemning the practices of heterosexuals. Among the things condemned have been "adultery, incest, wearing clothing made from more than one kind of fiber, and eating shellfish, like shrimp and lobster." The implication, of course, is that the Jewish rules on kashrut in eating and clothing are just so many conventions that most thoughtful people would regard as quaint, without moral force. "Fortunately," said the committee, "many within organized religions are beginning to address the homophobia of the church," by which they mean, of course, the Catholic church. By way of contrast they laud, among others, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Society of Friends (Quakers), for supporting "full civil rights for gay men and lesbians." Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Orthodox Jews--these are apparently the retrograde religions, for in holding to their traditional teaching, even as they minister to gays and lesbians, they deny the civil rights of these Americans.

With no sense that there was anything the least problematic in this approach, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to install this new regimen for eighth and tenth-graders in six schools, beginning in May 2005. But the move drew a lawsuit by parents and citizens, organized into the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, along with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX).

Even a judge well seasoned in Democratic politics in Maryland could find something unsettling in this new curriculum; and indeed, it might have been his own liberal sensitivities that set off the alarms for Judge Williams. He professed himself to be "extremely troubled" by the willingness of the board "to venture--or perhaps more correctly bound--into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge." Williams himself had taken a master's degree in divinity and, without revealing anything of his own theological leanings, he remarked on the willingness of the curriculum to suggest that "the Baptist Church's position on homosexuality is theologically flawed."

As Williams noted, the curriculum "juxtaposes this portrait of an intolerant and Biblically misguided Baptist Church against other, preferred Churches, which are more friendly towards the homosexual lifestyle." In particular, the curriculum "plainly portrays Baptist churches as wrongly expressing the same intolerant attitude towards homosexuals today as they did towards African Americans during segregation." Williams observed that Baptists were presented here as "unenlightened" and "misguided" and wanting in the "tolerance" that marked the enlightened religions. In the name of secularism, or detachment from religion, the board was doing nothing less than establishing one segment of the religious in the country as less legitimate, less in accord with the liberality of the laws, and yes, less to be tolerated. So much for the Establishment Clause.

But then there was the other part of the First Amendment, dealing with speech and expression. Here the judge complained that the new curriculum "open[ed] up the classroom to the subject of . . . the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle"--and then presented "only one view on the subject--that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle--to the exclusion of other perspectives." With these objections, Williams issued a temporary restraining order. No lasting harm, he thought, would be inflicted by withholding this pilot program until it could be more fully considered. But the faults in the program threatened an immediate violation of the Constitution and a lasting wrong.

Judge Williams professed finally that he did not understand why the provision of "health-related information" required the defendants to "offer up their opinion on such controversial topics as whether homosexuality is a sin, . . . and whether churches that condemn homosexuality are on theologically solid ground." In that way, he dropped some hints to the members of the school board as to how they might get themselves out of this fix. They might purge from the curriculum any attempts to pronounce on the legitimacy of the homosexual life or to render judgment on which religions are progressive or retrograde.

Judge Williams also gave some fine hints to Republicans in Congress if they would only be alert to them--and to their own legislative powers. After all, if the courts can articulate new rights under the Constitution, the legislative branch must be able to vindicate those same rights. And in vindicating them, the legislators may give them more proportion, more precision--and more bite. Do liberals want public schools purged entirely of religion? Then there should be no move by school boards, principals, or teachers to stamp some religions as favored and others as backward. No underhanded attempts to "establish" the religion of secularism. Do liberals want to break through conventions with "sex education"? Then education it should be: The life-shortening hazards of homosexual behavior should be conveyed, along with information about the other hazards of incautious sex; the record of conversions from the homosexual life should be put in texts along with the inconclusive arguments over the "gay gene."

If education is to be supported through federal aid, then the terms should be stringently set forth and instruction provided in an exacting, even-handed way. Faced with these requirements, the board in Montgomery County might prefer to revert to the curriculum as it used to be, and preserve a decorous silence: No endorsement of homosexual life, and, of course, no wounding words about gays and lesbians.

All of this could be done readily by a Republican Congress, taking up the liberal themes that Judge Williams brought down on the head of a liberal school board. Once again, conservatives may do their most telling work simply by asking liberals to live by their own slogans, and by the laws they hand down for others.

 

 

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of American Institutions at Amherst College and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; US: Maryland
KEYWORDS: culturewars; education; gayagenda; homosexualagenda; judiciary; liberaljudges; maryland; ruling; sexed; sexeducation; sexpositiveagenda; sexualeducation; values

1 posted on 05/17/2005 9:33:48 AM PDT by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.


2 posted on 05/17/2005 9:37:20 AM PDT by clee1 (We use 43 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, and 2 to pull a trigger. I'm lazy and I'm tired of smiling.)
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To: RWR8189
I guess there are a few classical liberals left, instead of the neo-communists that pass for liberals today.
3 posted on 05/17/2005 9:39:45 AM PDT by wolfpat (dum vivimus, vivamus)
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To: RWR8189

a watershed event?


4 posted on 05/17/2005 9:41:39 AM PDT by Ahban
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To: wolfpat

I don't mind liberals on the bench as long as they don't try to rewerite the laws.


5 posted on 05/17/2005 9:41:55 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Anyone who thinks we believe Hillary on any issue is truly a moron.)
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To: RWR8189
The program was designed to sweep away the "myths"--the lingering moral inhibitions and retrograde theological teachings--that apparently feed reservations, still widely held, about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Whereas much of the left is ammoral, those on the left who endorse the Sex Positive agenda (which seeks to end all judgement of all sexual activity and wants everyone sexually active at every age) is immoral.

Looks like some on the left aren't quite willing to go there and indoctrinate children into a life of sexual exploitation.

6 posted on 05/17/2005 9:42:47 AM PDT by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: RWR8189

The weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in Mongtomery County has been music to my ears. I'd tell the members of the liberal majority here to eat their hearts out, but they don't have any......


7 posted on 05/17/2005 9:44:12 AM PDT by tracer
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To: Ahban

More like a "woodshed event" for the Board of Education.... 8~)


8 posted on 05/17/2005 9:45:21 AM PDT by tracer
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To: cripplecreek
...as long as they don't try to rewerite the laws
Or invent new ones.
9 posted on 05/17/2005 9:47:28 AM PDT by wolfpat (dum vivimus, vivamus)
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To: Ahban

Not after the ACLU has them all cowering in fear over lawsuits.


10 posted on 05/17/2005 9:49:23 AM PDT by mlc9852
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To: clee1

[happydances]

That's pretty good news... and amusing.


11 posted on 05/17/2005 9:53:10 AM PDT by HowardDeanScream08
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To: tracer

THe Board of Education is this an Elected Body or is it a Body hired by the School Board?


12 posted on 05/17/2005 10:04:03 AM PDT by 26lemoncharlie ('Cuntas haereses tu sola interemisti in universo mundo!')
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To: clee1

How does this apply to the article?


13 posted on 05/17/2005 10:05:54 AM PDT by em2vn
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To: 26lemoncharlie

Aren't they the same thing?


14 posted on 05/17/2005 10:06:57 AM PDT by em2vn
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To: RWR8189

This is nothing but liberals trying to use the public schools to impose their religious beliefs on homosexuality, pure and simple. They are the intolerant ones!


15 posted on 05/17/2005 10:24:44 AM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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To: em2vn
How does this apply to the article?

liberal judge = broken clock

16 posted on 05/17/2005 10:27:07 AM PDT by Catholic and Conservative
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To: em2vn

Even a liberal judge can make the right call every once in awhile.


17 posted on 05/17/2005 10:39:53 AM PDT by clee1 (We use 43 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, and 2 to pull a trigger. I'm lazy and I'm tired of smiling.)
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To: em2vn

I don't think so. In some parts of the country The Board of Education is an office of the state education system. The School Board are locally elected persons of the community. Just trying to qualify who is who.


18 posted on 05/17/2005 10:45:45 AM PDT by 26lemoncharlie ('Cuntas haereses tu sola interemisti in universo mundo!')
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To: 26lemoncharlie

In my state we have a state board of education but we also elect either a local board of education or a school board. In the latter case it is just a case of semantics.


19 posted on 05/17/2005 11:38:59 AM PDT by em2vn
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To: RWR8189

Did a pig just fly?


20 posted on 05/17/2005 11:46:41 AM PDT by SRay250
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To: 26lemoncharlie

Elected body. I am thinking of running for election to the board next time around. Too bad that Kevlar vests are so uncomfortable to wear in warm weather.... 8~)


21 posted on 05/17/2005 11:58:05 AM PDT by tracer
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To: 26lemoncharlie

Elected body. I am thinking of running for election to the board next time around. Too bad that Kevlar vests are so uncomfortable to wear in warm weather.... 8~)


22 posted on 05/17/2005 11:58:27 AM PDT by tracer
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To: clee1
As for biblical teaching, the committee noted that the Bible contains numerous passages condemning the practices of heterosexuals. Among the things condemned have been "adultery, incest, wearing clothing made from more than one kind of fiber, and eating shellfish, like shrimp and lobster." The implication, of course, is that the Jewish rules on kashrut in eating and clothing are just so many conventions that most thoughtful people would regard as quaint, without moral force.

So is eating shellfish or wearing clothing of more than one kind of fiber just as sinful as homosexuality? What's the proper response to someone who tries to discredit the church's position on homosexuality by pointing out the church's inconsistency in enforcing the other such sins listed in Deuteronomy?

23 posted on 05/17/2005 12:07:01 PM PDT by BlackRazor
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To: BlackRazor; All

Correction: I meant Leviticus in my post #23, not Deuteronomy.


24 posted on 05/17/2005 12:12:51 PM PDT by BlackRazor
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To: BlackRazor

It has to be kept in context. Forget the "morality" aspect for just one second.

In the time of the Old Testament, the dietary laws made sense in order to keep the populace from developing food-borne illness.

Modern science has provided usually reliable methods of dealing with food safety, however science is not 100% foolproof, so orthodox people still follow those laws.

However, modern science still cannot adequately deal with the health and social ills wrought by homosexuality, therefore, and without moral judgements entering into the equation, homosexuality should still be discouraged by the dominant Religions.

As a "moral" matter, I think eating a lobster doesn't rank very high on the sin-o-meter when compared to packin' the fudge.


25 posted on 05/17/2005 12:17:00 PM PDT by clee1 (We use 43 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, and 2 to pull a trigger. I'm lazy and I'm tired of smiling.)
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To: clee1
As a "moral" matter, I think eating a lobster doesn't rank very high on the sin-o-meter when compared to packin' the fudge.

That seems logical enough - unless Gomorrah was the site of the first Red Lobster franchise... ;-)

26 posted on 05/17/2005 12:23:45 PM PDT by Cloud William (Liberals are the crab grass in the lawn of life.)
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To: RWR8189
As far as the judiciary goes, I think that there has been much ado about trying to pack the courts with ideologues from either the right or the left.
To my point of view the judiciary should come from the center, as seen at the time, not from the far right OR left.
They should also hold lifetime appointments at the federal level.

The houses of congress, and the office of the President for that matter, rarely look beyond the next election cycle. The judiciary should act as a leavening factor to keep the right, or the left, from straying too far in either direction.

27 posted on 05/17/2005 12:36:10 PM PDT by Just another Joe (Monthly donors make better lovers. Ask my wife.)
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To: Unam Sanctam

This is nothing but liberals trying to use the public schools to impose their religious beliefs on homosexuality, pure and simple. They are the intolerant ones!

Geez more often then not the comments one sees are about liberals LACK of "religious beliefs". People trying to push a gay agenda scare me...BUT...people trying to push a fundamentalist Christian agenda scare to an equal degree.


28 posted on 05/17/2005 12:40:59 PM PDT by commonasdirt
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To: BlackRazor
What's the proper response to someone who tries to discredit the church's position on homosexuality by pointing out the church's inconsistency in enforcing the other such sins listed in Deuteronomy?

Deuteronomy is in the Old Testament. The laws were designed to teach self discipline, sacrifice and service to God. There was no way for every law to be followed to the letter, which is why there was an annual day of atonement. Homosexuality was condemned in the Old Testament. Many orthodox Jews in our country still follow the laws of the Old Testament.

The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. With His birth, death and ascension Christianity was born. All those that believeth In Him, shall not perish, but haver everlasting life. There is no longer a need to follow the laws of the Old Testament for salvation. The New Testament also condemns homosexuality.

There is no conflict or inconsistency in the Bible or in God's law if it is divided properly. You need to know to whom some verses or chapters were referring to, Christians or Jews. You need to know when the reference was being made, before or after Christ's death on the cross. You need to know who were posing the questions, Pharisee's or perhaps the disciples.

Hope this helps.

29 posted on 05/17/2005 12:45:25 PM PDT by Just A Nobody (I - L O V E - my attitude problem!)
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To: tracer

You get used to it! It's like taking a heavy artillery barrage!


30 posted on 05/17/2005 1:06:03 PM PDT by 26lemoncharlie ('Cuntas haereses tu sola interemisti in universo mundo!')
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To: RWR8189

This judge had to rule this way because if he had supported this, conservative school districts could have created a similar program except from a Judeo-Christian perspective. A judge smart enough to realize that this stuff works both ways.


31 posted on 05/17/2005 2:11:27 PM PDT by joebuck
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To: wolfpat; RWR8189
Just as I suspected: Judge Alexander Williams is an African-American.

African-Americans, as a group, are not too keen on the expansion of "gay rights."

Thanks, Bill Clinton, for ONE decent judicial appointment.

32 posted on 05/17/2005 2:11:50 PM PDT by shhrubbery! (The 'right to choose' = The right to choose death --for somebody else.)
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To: Justanobody

excellent response.


33 posted on 05/17/2005 2:13:00 PM PDT by joebuck
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To: Just another Joe
To my point of view the judiciary should come from the center, as seen at the time, not from the far right OR left.

When you say 'right' or 'left', this is just shorthand we use. We generally know approximately what we are referring to. In reality, these are purely subjective as you can see if you considered the idea of passing an amendment stating exactly this; that judges should not come from the 'right' or 'left'. It would be just a little silly. Who decides what 'right' or 'left' or 'middle' means? The system we have is already designed to avoid extremist judges.

1. A judge is appointed by the president.

2. The judge must also be approved by the Senate.

3. The president is elected by the states, indirectly by the populace of that state.

4. The senators from each state are elected by the populace of that state.

5. Also, the two-party system (not part of the Constition, of course) does not lend itself to extremist office holders.

In any case, it would be very difficult for anyone considered to have 'extreme' views to gain enough power to get like-minded judges in the court. Not impossible, but very difficult. The current situation is just politics. The minority doesn't like what the majority is doing. So what else is new?

34 posted on 05/17/2005 3:36:37 PM PDT by nosofar
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To: commonasdirt

I am pointing out the hypocrisy of the liberal mantra that traditional religious believers are trying to "impose" their beliefs on others. It is precisely what you liberals want to do, not traditional religious believers. They for the most part simply want to have the same freedoms that others have in this country and not have the government impose liberal religious believes through civil same sex "marriage", promotion of the morality of homosexual activity in the public school, exclusion from public office and the judiciary because of traditional Christian beliefs, etc., etc. The Constitution provides for no establishment and free exercise. It does not give you liberals free rein to impose your left wing moral beliefs on sexuality on others!


35 posted on 05/17/2005 4:11:30 PM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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To: joebuck

Thank you. It was difficult to give a "nutshell" response.


36 posted on 05/17/2005 6:34:36 PM PDT by Just A Nobody (I - L O V E - my attitude problem!)
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To: BlackRazor
What's the proper response to someone who tries to discredit the church's position on homosexuality by pointing out the church's inconsistency in enforcing the other such sins

First would be that the church has no right to "enforce" anything beyond it's voluntary congregation, unlike say, a school board?

37 posted on 05/18/2005 5:15:49 AM PDT by anonymous_user (Not everything's a conspiracy.)
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To: nosofar
The current situation is just politics.

As it has been for some time.
My point was that the situation, as it stands now, is the same situation that has been in place for some time.
When one party becomes the majority in the Senate AND has the office of the Presidency, that party tries to pack the courts, through appointments, with judges that have the same ideologies that the majority party does at the time.

Federal judges, being appointed for life, barring unseen eventualities, keep the pendulam from swinging too far in either direction.
IMO, this is what the founding fathers wanted. A leavening effect.

38 posted on 05/18/2005 9:54:31 AM PDT by Just another Joe (Monthly donors make better lovers. Ask my wife.)
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To: Unam Sanctam

You show your true intolerant colors Unam Sanctum. I vote conservative more often than anything else. Your labeling of me as a liberal clearly shows your intolerance. I was trying to point out that there is pressure from BOTH SIDES. I give you the latest Kansas battle on creationist theory vs evolution theory. I agree that BOTH should be covered in class. But having said that I also believe that if it were put to a nationwide vote as to witch is the more likely, sorry, eveolution might well be the winner. I grew up back east and clearly remember blue laws that prevented certain stores from being open or selling certain things on Sundays. I am glad that those half-assed laws were done away with. And considering who was making the laws when they were enacted they were clearly passed because the great leaders of the time thought the public should be in church praying, not shopping. Given the power to do so, fanatical christians would be as likely to push their views and beliefs as much as secularists. I tried to make my point. Sorry if you don't get it.


39 posted on 05/18/2005 6:21:38 PM PDT by commonasdirt
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To: commonasdirt
Given the power to do so, fanatical christians would be as likely to push their views and beliefs as much as secularists.

This sentiment is repeated all the time. I think it is a load of crud. If someone objects to specific issues, like evolution in school or abortion, debate those issues on the merits. To act as if Christians in this nation have any real desire or ability to overthrow the First Amendment's twin guarantees of no establishment and free exercise and establish an Iranian-like theocracy is simply lunatic left-wing land. It is not only untrue, it foments hatred of traditional religious believers which is rampant on the left and destroys our generally tolerant society. Tolerance goes both ways, you know. Secularists could show a little themselves these days.

40 posted on 05/18/2005 6:48:38 PM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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