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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 48 - 7/2/2001
How Fares The First Amendment?
Do you think that the First Amendment protections are in better or worse shape than they were five years ago? What do you currently think about the Bush administration's faith-based initiative and do you think that it will go forward? Under the Constitution's First Amendment right to personal religious freedom, how do we balance out one religion's 'right' to discriminate against another religion whose tenets it may not agree with or to proselytize with another religion's 'right' not to be discriminated against because of their beliefs or to be proselytized to?.
| Reponses: There are 20 responses posted to this question.
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| I Feel That The First Amendment Is More Enforced When It Comes... ||Jul 3rd. at 6:13:10 pm EDT|
|Cougar MorningStar (Walsenburg, Colorado US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I feel that the first amendment is more enforced when it comes to monotheistic religions, they have the right to pray in our schools, but if someone with a different religion wants to practice it, then all of a sudden it's wrong. The founding fathers of this country left England to escape religious persecution, yet somehow the persecution followed them.
| By "first Amendment Protections," It's About How It Is Currently Being Interpreted... ||Jul 2nd. at 8:43:25 pm EDT|
|Lynne-Renee (rural, St. L , Missouri US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
By "First Amendment Protections, " it's about how it is currently being interpreted. The 1st amendment hasn't changed, afterall.
I have *huge* worries considering the appointment of Supreme Court justices. You see, Bush Jr. will be out of office in 3+ years. Those whom he appoints *for life* will have a much greater effect on the rest of our lives in this country.
Think about it, there's always the ACLU and such advocacy groups; even more can be started and existing ones may wax or wane. Who can change the psycho-social mind of a seasoned, 55+ year old judge? Do you think that was an easy job? Do you think they were completely above politics? How do lower court judges (which they've all been) get their seats in your area? Don't know 'bout you, but we vote 'em in with the rest of the politicians.
My area is strongly evangelical Christian. Like an earlier comment, even Catholics are hated/not trusted/barely tolerated. I see little "climate" change in acceptance. My family taught to never discuss the heart of our beliefs-okay, the heart but no details.
There's no excuse to disallow an aberrant Religion. I was assigned the "pro-Nazi" (Spokane case) argument in a university law class. I'm of Irish-Jewish descent. The KKK sees no good in me. However, it was easy for me to argue for their right to speech (and assemble). My argument was based on the "Heckler's Veto." To summarize:
In many court cases, it has been found that just because someone has a minority view, the majority *is not* allowed to "heckle/silence" her. That 1 person out of 1, 000 still has her 1st amendment rights.
Keep in mind, these decisions were made by Supreme Court justices who are changing decade by decade according to the whim of the current President of the United States of America.
(Please VOTE next time-even in your small, local elections. That's where the lower court judges are elected.)
| In One Of His Early Songs, "let Me Die In My Footsteps... ||Jul 2nd. at 7:37:54 pm EDT|
|Gwydion Canu Bleidd (Knoxville, Tennessee US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
In one of his early songs, "Let Me Die in My Footsteps, " Bob Dylan sings these lines: "I've listened to their speeches and not said a word/But now, dear God, let my poor voice be heard." This, to me, is what the First Amendment is all about. Being heard...and also, being understood.
I too have heard that there is a percentage of people who think that the First Amendment goes too far; I sometimes think that there are some people who abuse their First Amendment privileges, too. But I also think that the operative word there is "privileges." Other countries don't grant their citizens such freedom, not even our neighbor to the North, Canada. We have the right to free speech according to the Constitution, but when you get right down to it, it's much more of a privilege than a right. We have the privilege of voting in free elections, too, and this combines with the ideal of free speech.
Last November's election results proved that there are those who don't really think we should be allowed such privileges--Al Gore won the popular vote, but the Electoral College handed the election to Dubya, who is slowly proving himself to be rather less than the president we need in office. And pushing the faith-based initiative as he is, and with his views on Wicca (not a real religion, says Dubya), it is clear what direction this country will go in if we don't allow ourselves to be heard.
By the same token, I also agree that proselytizing and shoving our religious beliefs down others' throats will not win us, as Pagans, any popularity contests among the vast majority of Americans. We must exercise our rights, but do so with caution. I recently moved to the rather conservative bastion that is East Tennessee, and while not afraid to let it be known what I am, I have also been careful not to make a major issue of it.
| I Honestly Think That The First Amendment Protections Are Better Now Then... ||Jul 2nd. at 5:15:38 pm EDT|
|Pandora (Orlando, Florida US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I honestly think that the First Amendment protections are better now then they were five years ago. As for Bush's faith-based initiative, pagans are taking it way out of control. The funded money is desigend to go to religious charities that are very large . Call me crazy, but I haven't seen many pagan charities at all, let alone any big enough to need government money to run. Pagans, on the average, seem to think that "religious tolerance" implies that everyone has to kiss our feet and say that our forms of worship are great. This is just not going to happen-let's be realistic. Fundamentalists of any religion simply do not accept that any other religious group is "right". You can't expect, for example, Southern Baptists to fawn all over us pagans. Also, you cannot blame people for believing what their religion says-no other faith is truthful. We cannot rewrite Christianity to make it more politically correct and less "mean".
Too many times I've seen pagans scream that they are being persecuted for their religion beliefs, when really they aren't liked just because they are so annoying about religion. Don't be stupid! If you pick up a viper, it's going to bite you. Likewise, if you prance in front on conservative religion groups waving your crystal wands and singing praises of the Gods, you're going to get screamed at.
| I Think W. Bush's Initiative Is Hypocritcal If It Does Not Include... ||Jul 2nd. at 4:20:09 pm EDT|
|Sam-I-Am (Lawrencville, Georgia US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I think W. Bush's initiative is hypocritcal if it does not include all faiths. All branches of the military (in essence, the government) have policies and guidelines for Pagan/Wiccan practice for its active duty members. All that considered, W. Bush should not be able to exclude Pagan faiths that the government recognizes.
Unfortunately, rights of free speech trample my desire not to have a headache! we now have laws against road rage, why not laws against religion rage? Now I rather enjoy a healthy debate; I do not enjoy total strangers telling me I'm going to rot in Hell, people like me are the reason this country is faling apart, etc. The right to free speech should have the responsibility to listen attached!
| I Have To Admit That I Wasn't A Really Big Follower Of... ||Jul 2nd. at 11:06:09 am EDT|
|Ciarrai (KC) (Somerset County, New Jersey US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I have to admit that I wasn't a really big follower of politics until lately. But it is pretty scary. This whole faith-based initiative makes me think that they even think that it's wrong to be a Roman Catholic these days. I have Fundamentalist relatives that absolutely feel this way. "If you believed the way that we believe." That's pretty scary coming from your own family. Of course I don't want to come out of the closet w/ them, at least until I'm more educated to have an adult discussion. It's a shame, b/c I decided to stop using my own name on the Sponsor page here for this reason - work & family. I hate being proselytized to (I have been for years, even way b/f my interest in Paganism as a religion) and I refuse to proselyize b/c it is a major turn off. What are we supposed to do? I really don't know what to say. I'm anxious to see what others have to say.
Ciarrai (or KC - initials for my given name and my newly acquired Gaelic equivalent specifically b/c this is becoming a scary place!)
| I Read Somewhere Recently That 20%-odd Of Americans Think The First... ||Jul 2nd. at 3:20:52 am EDT|
|ndinsil (Bozeman, Minnesota US) ||Age: 23 |
I read somewhere recently that 20%-odd of Americans think the first amendment goes too far. I also remember learning that Madison was originally opposed to the idea of a written Bill of Rights, believing that a codified list of rights would imply that those rights are granted by law rather than inherent in humanity as laws of Nature. He was finally swayed (partly from political pressure to get a working central government that the anti-federalists would accept, but also) by the idea that such a writted code would be a useful teaching device, a reminder to all citizens of what we possess by birthright.
I don't know about the last five years, but it does seem we are reneging on our responsibility of eternal vigilance as the cost of freedom. External threats from the power structure certainly are dangerous to liberty, but internal apathy is a catalyst that exacerbates the problem. So many people don't care, or even want to care, about the philosophical implications of Bush's faith-based initiative. Perhaps the cynics are right when they said of the election we got what we deserved.
| I'm Afraid Our First Amendment Protections Are Being Diluted Every Day That... ||Jul 2nd. at 1:50:18 am EDT|
|Kate (Somewhere, Georgia US) ||Age: 64 |
I'm afraid our First Amendment protections are being diluted every day that goes by. We have an appointed president who is determined to keep the religious right happy nevermind what it costs the rest of us. Bush's faith-based initiative is political pay-back. It'll go forward but not as he envisions it. There will be some safe-guards but we'll lose some of our freedom in the doing.
We have the right to worship as we choose. We also have the right to associate with whom we choose. So long as we recognize that others have the same rights we are fine. It's when someone decides they know best what's good for you that the problems arise. Getting in someone's face about your god being better than their god is just plain bad manners. What's so sad is the fact that the ministers of the evangelical churches are encouraging their congregations to be rude. They call it 'saving souls'.
They can only get in your face if you let them. You have the same right to be left alone as they do. They would not tolerate your 'preaching' to them about the Goddess. Quit standing there as if you're somehow exhibiting good manners by listening to them and simply turn and walk away. You have effectively shut them down and you have shown far better behavior than they have. You have done no harm - they get to live with their own karma!
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